Ibn Gabirol’s Theology of Desire: Matter and Method in by Sarah Pessin

By Sarah Pessin

Drawing on Arabic passages from Ibn Gabirol's unique Fons Vitae textual content, and highlighting philosophical insights from his Hebrew poetry, Sarah Pessin develops a "Theology of hope" on the middle of Ibn Gabirol's eleventh-century cosmo-ontology. She demanding situations centuries of obtained scholarship on his paintings, together with his so-called Doctrine of Divine Will. Pessin rejects voluntarist readings of the Fons Vitae as opposing divine emanation. She additionally emphasizes Pseudo-Empedoclean notions of "Divine hope" and "Grounding aspect" along Ibn Gabirol's use of a very Neoplatonic approach with apophatic (and what she phrases "doubly apophatic") implications. during this approach, Pessin reads claims approximately subject and God as insights approximately love, wish, and the receptive, established, and fragile nature of man or woman. Pessin reenvisions the total spirit of Ibn Gabirol's philosophy, relocating us from a collection of doctrines to a fluid inquiry into the character of God and man or woman - and the bond among God and individual in hope.

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Extra info for Ibn Gabirol’s Theology of Desire: Matter and Method in Jewish Medieval Neoplatonism

Example text

Ur al-awwal) . . is that it is a self-standing substance, sustaining diversity, and one in number . . ur al-awwal” as “prime matter,” I worry in this latter case, as in the case of “Will” earlier in the chapter, about misleading readers. Not only does the term “materia prima” (prime matter) hide that it is a Pseudo-Empedoclean notion of “first element” (central to various Pseudo-Empedoclean Arabic textual traditions) at play in Ibn Gabirol’s text, but in conjuring up images of Aristotelian physics and metaphysics the term “prime matter” might serve as an invitation to some to misread Ibn Gabirol as himself a misreader of Aristotle.

O God, save he whose intellect is master over his nature. . Lust (al-haw¯a) is a constituent element in the nature of man . . 16 Given that the current project speaks only of desire in the sense of Ibn Gabirol’s exalted and grounding God-born and God-directed desire, readers are urged not only to avoid tacitly misconstruing my talk of desire in this project in negative corporeal terms related to lust, but also to avoid a tacitly Christian lens through which the notion of desire, heard in connection with ´er¯os, might be construed as inferior to a spiritual notion of ag´ap¯e.

In the context of the Fons Vitae, matter (rooted in the pure material Grounding Element that, as we will see in Chapters 6–7, permeates through all existence and is itself arisen from God’s own Essence) is the locus of the most positive, grounding desire at the core of being. As such, at the very start of our study (before even going into further details about Ibn Gabirol’s unique cosmoontology), we can appreciate how in his emphasis on matter at the core of all things, Ibn Gabirol is emphasizing that reality – and with it human being – is grounded first and foremost in a desire-to-be that itself directly manifests the trifold desire for wisdom, goodness, and God (a trifold desire that throughout this project we will refer to as the “desire for goodness,” or as the “desire for something of the goodness of God”).

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