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BOOK REVIEWS 109 At the same time I do not think that Mesch's analysis of what ibn Caspi had to say about prophecy is itself entirely free of criticism. Let me mention two cases in point: (1) Ibn Caspi claims that Moses was a "perfect prophet," but that his prophecy as prophecy differed from lesser examples of this class only in degree and not in kind. Mesch presents this theory but raises no questions about it. Yet the thesis is self-contradictory. As any student of Plato's later dialogues will confirm, the paradigm of any class is not a member of that class. Since an ideal (the F) functions as the standard (metron) by which an instance (an F thing) is judged to belong to a given class (F), as standard it cannot belong to that class. In other words an F thing is said to be F by comparison with the F. For anything to be F in the sense of predication it therefore cannot be F in the sense of identity. Hence if in fact it is the case that Moses is the perfect prophet, necessarily he differs in kind from anyone that merely is a prophet. (2) Given that Maimonides asserts that he and Aristotle have different views on a given question that is not a root belief of the Torah when in fact Maimonides maintained that the true view of all three is the same, it remains to be explained why Maimonides should say there is a disagreement when in fact there is none. It is not enough to say, as both ibn Caspi and Barry Mesch do, that Maimonides did not intend the masses to know everything. It also must be explained why Maimonides judged it necessary to conceal certain claims from the masses--namely that while God created forms, matter is eternal, or that prophecy cannot be withheld from those who properly are prepared to receive it, or that divine providence only extends to the species and not to particulars except indirectly through the mediation of the human intellect. Until such an explanation is given the account is only partial. The reader should not be misled about the value of this study by my noting the above criticisms. It is the job of the reviewer to find criticisms and indeed there are very few points to which I can raise questions about Barry Mesch's Studies in Joseph ibn Caspi. The book is an instance of sound reasoning applied to careful schoIarship of a work of unquestionable importance in the history of Jewish philosophy. Mesch has made a valuable contribution to modern studies in medieval Jewish philosophy. NORBERTSAMUELSON Temple University The Concept o/Benevolence. Aspects o/Eighteenth-Century Moral Philosophy. By T. A. Roberts (New York: Humanities Press, 1973. Pp. i -t- 119 $6.25) This short book, which is part of the New Studies in Practical Philosophy series edited by W. D. Hudson, deals with Hutcheson, Butler and Hume. Roberts' emphasis throughout is on the problematics of benevolence in moral philosophy and philosophy of mind. The author seems content to survey the respective principal works (Inquiry Concerning Moral Good and Evil, Sermons, Treatise)but admonishes that because of limitations of space and scope, the book has no pretense to historical scholarship. Nonetheless he does not offer his conclusions as bearing on moral philosophy or philosophy of mind, but as historical observations about the three figures studied. Hutcheson. The discussion of Hutcheson centers on the foundational role of benevolence in morality. Roberts interprets Hutcheson to have construed benevolence on a quasi-perceptual model: that is, given that one cannot make oneself feel benevolence and that the feeling of it is not mediated by thoughts or concepts, Roberts describes it as a natural response to certain qualities encountered in the object. It seems to me that so construing benevolence has the advantage of affording Hutcheson grounds for rejecting its reduction by Hobbes to self-love; but there are also disadvantages, for inasmuch as benevolence is likened to perceiving, it is removed from the range of things that make for merit. 110 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY Moreover, though he acknowledges the objectivity of benevolence, Roberts...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 109-112
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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