Jewish Kalam - Rambam's Characterization - Principles of Kalam According To Rambam

Principles of Kalam According To Rambam

In Book I Chapter 73, Rambam presents the 12 premises of the Mutakallim┼źn, and disputes most of them. The premises are, in brief, as follow:

  1. Existence of atoms: The world is composed of small particles which are not divisible, and which have no identifying essential properties (only accidents).
  2. Existence of vacuum: There exist certain spaces which are devoid of all substance and material.
  3. Time is discrete: Time is made up of fundamental instants which are not themselves subject to further division.
  4. Every body is subject to accidents: Any body must have either an accident (non-essential feature) or its opposite. A body cannot be without accidents.
  5. These accidents exist in the atom.
  6. An atom has one-instant duration: An atom does not persist (its accidents do not persist) more than one moment of time. God must repeatedly create these accidents at each time instant, or they permanently go out of existence.
  7. Accidents in bodies also do not persist and must be recreated. This and the previous principle constitute a denial of causality.
  8. Only substance and accident exist: Bodies differ only in regard to their accidents.
  9. Accidents subsist in a common substratum: An accident cannot subsist in another accident.
  10. Any state of affairs which can be imagined is admissible in intellectual argument.
  11. All kinds of infinity are impossible.
  12. The senses may be in error: The senses should not be trusted in matters of demonstration.

Not all of these principles were elements of the Jewish Kalam as practiced by particular thinkers. For example (Wolfson 1967), atomism was a principle embraced by Karaites but not by the Geonim or later Karaites. Wolfson considers it doubtful whether any Jewish thinkers ever embraced the denial of causality.

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