The extensive research of Heidi Ravven, professor of religious studies, on the relationship between the philosophy of the 12th century philosopher Moses Maimonides and that of the 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza is the subject of a chapter in a new book, Maimonides and Spinoza: Their Conflicting Views of Human Nature (University of Chicago, 2012) by Joshua Parens. Parens addresses Ravven’s treatment and interpretation of the subject in the final chapter of his book.
Ravven has published four articles and one forthcoming book chapter on the influence of Maimonides upon Spinoza’s thought regarding the relationship between religion and politics, the human moral capacity and the interpretation of the Bible. Her work on Maimonides and Spinoza has appeared in two articles in The Journal of the History of Philosophy and as a lead article in Philosophy and Theology in an issue devoted to Spinoza and Biblical Hermeneutics. The issue, titled “Maimonides and Spinoza on the Garden of Eden and the Genealogy of Morals,” was edited by Ravven and Spinoza scholar Lee C. Rice. Ravven’s fourth article recently came out in The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy.
A final summary essay that fills in the broader background of the relationship between the Arabic and Jewish philosophical tradition and the Latin Christian trajectory of philosophy is forthcoming in a chapter of Ravven’s book, The Self Beyond Itself: An Alternative History of Ethics, the New Brain Sciences, and the Myth of Free Will (The New Press, 2013). Chapter 4 brings in Augustine and the Latin Augustinian tradition in contrast with the Arabic Aristotelian, and particularly Maimonides, and then traces how his moral psychology is expanded and transformed by Spinoza.