Religious Language (A): Negative Theology and Divine Perfections

Daniel Davies

in Method and Metaphysics in Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199768738
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918980 | DOI:

Series: AAR Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion Series

Religious Language (A): Negative Theology and Divine Perfections

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This chapter begins to address Maimonides’ doctrine of negative attributes. Maimonides draws strict limits around what humans can know about God and argues that language cannot refer properly to God in any respect. The chapter argues that Maimonides’ position does not mean that he denies that God is perfect. Rather, he denies that human thought or language can reflect God's perfection. Human language gains its meaning from the way in which people use it. Since God's absolute, uncreated perfection is totally unlike perfections in the created world, language cannot be used univocally of God and created beings without compromising God's unity and transcendence.

Keywords: negative attributes; perfections; language; transcendence

Chapter.  6974 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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