Arabian theologian and moralist; born at Tuz, Khorasan, 1058; died there 1111. His works exerted a great influence upon Jewish thought in the Middle Ages. Both the students and the adversaries of philosophy found in them rich material. From his "Maḳaṣid al-Falasifah," in which he expounded logic, physics, and metaphysics according to Aristotle, many a Jewish student of philosophy derived much accurate information. Without going so far as David ben Judah Leon, who asserted in his "'En ha-Ḳore" that Maimonides drew his Peripatetic theories from the "Maḳaṣid" (comp. Steinschneider, "Hebr. Bibl." ii. 86), it is certain that the work was to some extent used by the author of the "Moreh" (comp. Scheyer, "Die Psychologie des Maimonides," p. 80).

His Views.

Far greater influence was exercised by Ghazali's "Tahafut al-Falasifah," a sequel to the "Maḳaṣid." After having expounded in the latter work the teachings of the philosophers, he shows in the "Tahafut" their weakness. He makes a critical analysis of twenty points—sixteen of which belong in the domain of metaphysics, and four in that of physics—and demonstrates their contradictions. The most interesting criticism is that on the theory of causality. According to Ghazali, there is not necessarily any connection between phenomena that usually occur in a certain order; he asserts that the divine mind has ordained that certain phenomena shall always occur in a certain order. Ghazali was followed in his attacks on philosophy by Judah ha-Levi, who in his "Cuzari" often used the phraseology of the "Tahafut." Ḥasdai Crescas also received inspiration from the same source, though he gave it far more original expression. How far Ghazali was sincere in his attacks on philosophy is a matter of controversy. Averroes, in his "Tahafut al-Tahafut," refutes Ghazali's criticisms and reproaches him with duplicity, while Moses Narboni, in his commentary on the "Maḳaṣid, affirms that Ghazali wrote a small work entitled "Maḳaṣid al-Maḳaṣid," in which he answered the objections which he himself had raised in the "Maḳaṣid." In fact, in some Hebrew manuscripts the "Tahafut" is followed by a small treatise in which Ghazali establishes some metaphysical points which he combated in the former as undemonstrable.

His Ethics.

It was not, however, through his attacks on philosophy that Ghazali's authority was established among Jewish thinkers of the Middle Ages, but through the ethical teachings in his theological works. He approached the ethical ideal of Judaism to such an extent that some supposed him to be actuallydrifting in that direction (comp. Gedaliah ibn Yaḥya, "Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah," p. 92b, Amsterdam), and his works were eagerly studied and used by Jewish writers. Abraham ibn Ezra borrowed from Ghazali's "Mizan al-'Amal" (Hebr. "Mozene Ẓedeḳ," p. 40) the comparison between the limbs of the human body and the functionaries of a king, and used it for the subject of his beautiful admonition "Yesheue Leb"; Abraham ibn Daud borrowed from the same work (pp. 173-175) the parable used by Ghazali to prove the difference in value between various branches of science ("Emunah Ramah," p. 45); and Simon Duran cites in his "Ḳeshet" (p. 24) a passage from the "Mozene ha-'Iyyunim," which he calls "Mozene ha-Ḥokmah."

Ghazali's principal works began to be translated into Hebrew as early as the thirteenth century. Isaac Albalag seems to have been the first to translate the "Maḳaṣid al-Falasifah" ("De'ot ha-Pilusufim," with explanatory notes). It was translated again in the following century, under the title "Kawwanotha-Pilusufim," by Judah Nathan (Maestro Bongodas). The "Maḳaṣid al-Falasifah" was the subject of many commentaries, the most important of which is that by Moses Narboni. Partial commentaries were written by Isaac ben Shem-Ṭob (metaphysics) and (probably) by Elijah Habillo (metaphysics and physics). Moses Almosnino cites a commentary by Elijah Mizraḥi which is no longer extant. The last commentator of the "Maḳaṣid al-Falasifah" was the Karaite Abraham Bali (1510).


Besides these there are to be found in the various European libraries about eleven anonymous commentaries on the "Maḳaṣid." Less favored was the "Tahafut al-Falasifah," which was translated only once ("Happalat ha-Pilusufim," by Zerahiah ha-Levi, 1411). A small treatise of Ghazali's containing answers to philosophical questions was translated, under the title "Ma'amar bi-Teshubot She'elot Nish'al Mehem," by Isaac ben Nathan of Cordova (fourteenth century). This treatise is supposed to be the same as mentioned by Moses Narboni under the title "Kawwanot ha-Kawwanot." It was published by H. Malter, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1897. Jacob ben Makir (d, 1308) translated, under the title "Mo zene ha-'Iyyunim," a work in which Ghazali refuted the philosophical ideas which are rejected by religion. The ideas expressed in this work are the same as those given by Baṭalyusi in his "Al-Ḥada'iḳ." Specimens of the "Mozene ha-'Iyyunim" were given by Dukes in "Oẓar Neḥmad" (ii. 197). Of Ghazali's ethical works the "Mizan al-'Amal" ("Mozene Ẓedeḳ") was translated by Abraham ibn Ḥasdai ben Samuel ha-Levi of Barcelona, who clothed it in Jewish garb by substituting Biblical and Talmudic for Koranic quotations, The "Mozene Ẓedeḳ" was published by J. Goldenthal (Leipsic, 1839). Ghazzali's work on the various conceptions of God, "Mishkat al-Anwar fi Riyad al-Azhar bi-Taufiḳ al-Anhar," was translated by a certain Isaac ben Joseph Alfasi ("Maskit ha-Orot be-Pardes ha-Niẓẓanim"), and a specimen of the translation was given by Dukes in "Shire Shelomoh." Moses ibn Ḥabib cites the "Mishkat" in his commentary on the "Beḥinat 'Olam" (p. 105), where he compares the Law to the sun. Johanan Alemanno ("Ḥesheḳ Shelomoh") recommends Ghazali's hermeneutic methods, and compares the order and graduation of lights in Ghazali's theory with those in the theory of the cabalists.

Nathan Ghazzati.(From Coenen's "Sabethai Zevi," Amsterdam, 1669.)
  • Steinschneider, Hebr. Uebers. pp. 296 et seq.;
  • Munk, Mélanges, pp. 366 et seq.;
  • Schmoelders, Essai sur les Ecoles Philosophiques chez les Arabes, p. 220;
  • Kaufmann, Die Attributenlehre, passim;
  • idem, Die Spuren Bataljusis in der Jüdischen Religionsphilosophie, p. 20.
K. I. Br.
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