Racheli Haliva

Mar 7, 2022

Isaac Polqar

A Jewish Philosopher or a Philosopher and a Jew?

Walter de Gruyter 2020

To date, scholars have skilfully discussed aspects of Polqar’s thought, and yet none of the existing studies offers a comprehensive examination that covers Polqar’s thought in its entirety. Isaac Polqar: A Jewish Philosopher or a Philosopher and a Jew? (Walter de Gruyter, 2020) aims to fill this lacuna by tracing and contextualizing both Polqar’s Islamic sources (al-Fārābī, Avicenna, and Averroes) and his Jewish sources (Maimonides and Isaac Albalag).

The study brings to light three of Polqar’s main purposes; (1) seeking to defend Judaism as a true religion against Christianity; (2) similarly to his fellow Jewish Averroists, Polqar wishes to defend the discipline of philosophy. By philosophy, Polqar means Averroes' interpretation of Aristotle. As a consequence, he offers an Averroistic interpretation of Judaism and becomes one of the main representatives of Jewish Averroism; (3) defending his philosophical interpretation of Judaism.

From a social and political point of view, Polqar's unreserved embrace of philosophy raised problems within the Jewish community; he had to refute the Jewish traditionalists’ charge that he was a heretic, led astray by philosophy. The main objective guiding this study is that Polqar advances a systematic naturalistic interpretation of Judaism, which in many cases does not agree with traditional Jewish views.

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Ari Barbalat holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of California in Los Angeles. He lives in Toronto with his family.

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