Most of Gersonides' discussion of divination in the second book of the Wars of the Lord follows the mainstream Aristotelian tradition in linking the phenomena of prophecy and veridical dreams. In chapter six, however, he introduces a categorical distinction between these two phenomena. Prophetic divination results from an emanation of knowledge from the Active Intellect to the hylic intellect regarding a particular aspect of the order of the sublunar world. The imagination then receives this knowledge and translates it into images. Non-prophetic divination, on the other hand, results from an emanation of knowledge from the celestial bodies directly to the imagination. Thus both the immediate agent of the emanation and the faculty receiving it differ in these two phenomena. Both philosophical and religious considerations lead Gersonides to posit this distinction. It allows Gersonides to underscore the absolute superiority of prophetic divination while maintaining a naturalistic world view. At the same time it offers an explanation for why the ability to divine the future belongs especially both to those of perfect intellect and those of deficient intellect. While the distinction drawn by Gersonides is exceptional, it does not reflect a radical departure from the philosophic tradition. The idea that divination results from an emanation whose agent is the souls of the heavenly bodies is presented by Avicenna. The idea that the primary faculty involved in prophetic divination is the hylic intellect is maintained by a number of philosophers. Gersonides combines these ideas with the conception common to the religious traditions that prophetic divination is completely distinct from regular veridical dreams. The article concludes with a brief discussion of some of the inconsistencies and conceptual difficulties in Gersonides' treatment of divination, particularly in regard to the role of the Active Intellect.
|Translated title of the contribution
|Veridical Dreams and Prophecy in the Philosophy of Gersonides
|Number of pages
|דעת: כתב-עת לפילוסופיה יהודית וקבלה
|Published - 1989