Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

2011 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Philosophical Psychology, Jewish Tradition

  • James T. Robinson
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9729-4_395


During the Middle Ages (especially c. 900–1500) the Jews developed a rich and varied tradition of philosophical psychology, ranging from the stoically-inspired theories of Saadia Gaon to the Neoplatonism of Isaac Israeli, from the Aristotelianism of Maimonides and Gersonides to the anti-Aristotelianism of their sharpest critic, Hasdai Crescas. Jews made original contributions to the technical discussion of the soul, in discursive treatises and commentaries on philosophical texts. They also discussed the soul in traditional texts and genres – commentaries on Bible and rabbinic literature, sermons, and liturgical poetry – thus introducing “foreign” ideas into the very heart of classical Judaism.

This brief survey of Jewish psychological writings during the Middle Ages will focus on major figures and systematic works of philosophy and theology; it will make only occasional reference to the exegetical, homiletical, and liturgical material. The major developments will be presented chronologically, beginning with Judaeo-Arabic writings from the Islamic world, then turning to Hebrew texts from Christian Europe.

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • James T. Robinson
    • 1
  1. 1.The Divinity SchoolUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA