In this classic study, Herbert A. Davidson examines every medieval Arabic and Hebrew proof for the eternity of the world, the creation of the world and the existence of God which has philosophical character, disregarding only those that rest entirely on religious faith or fall below a minimum threshold of plausibility. Classifying the proofs systematically, he analyses and explains them, and traces their sources in Greek philosophy. He pursues the penetration of some of these Islamic and Jewish arguments into medieval Christian philosophy and, in a few instances, all the way into seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European philosophy.
Unique in both its classification of the proofs and its comprehensiveness, this work will once again serve medievalists, historians of philosophy and historians of ideas.
‘This book is a tour de force of real scholarship, methodical analysis, and painstaking classification… Davidson’s canvas is vast. All the major Islamic and Judaic philosophers are here and the book is thus assured of a ready sale among students and scholars of both.’
– Philosophy East and West
‘Extraordinarily successful… Davidson’s book is an invaluable contribution to the understanding of the history of ideas; it is also a stimulating essay of philosophical analysis.’
– Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies
‘A towering achievement. At the height of his powers here, Davidson has gone back to the sources to assemble all the significant medieval Islamic and Jewish proofs for the eternity of the world, for the creation of the world, and for the existence of God… It is most welcome to see the medieval Islamic and Jewish philosophers treated so rigorously in their own right, not merely as precursors to Aquinas, or, even worse, as puppets dangling in a history of medieval thought. This book provides as clear an indication as one could hope to have of the health and vitality of Greek wisdom before its (re)discovery in (Christian) Europe.’