Josef Stern, "Maimonides on the False Prophet: The Epistemology of Prophecy and the Maimonidean Circle"

Roz and Ralph Halbert Endowment in Jewish Studies 

One problem that occupies Maimonides throughout his writings on prophecy is how to distinguish the true from the false prophet. Although the false prophet is usually understood to be someone who deliberately misrepresents himself as a prophet when he is not, he can equally be one who is deceived as much as one who deceives. This paper addresses the epistemological problem that underlies this possibility: under what conditions is one justified in claiming to know a claim made on the basis of prophecy? Maimonides raises this problem in his legal code, the Mishneh Torah, and there and in the Guide of the Perplexed offers two different solutions, both of which turn out to be problematic. Against the solution proposed in the Guide in particular, Maimonides raises a skeptical argument concerning human knowledge of metaphysics. The upshot is what I call the Maimonidean Circle, which I compare to the better known Cartesian Circle and whose implications I explore for the validity of the Law.

In partnership with the Department of Philosophy.

Josef Stern is the William H. Colvin Professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago. For more information, please click here. 

This event is free and open to the public. No registration required. Please be advised that seating is limited.

Date & Time
Monday, March 16, 2015 - 4:00pm - 5:30pm

Jackman Humanities Building, Room 418, 170 St. George Street