Page:Eight chapters of Maimonides on ethics.djvu/61

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THE EIGHT CHAPTERS—I

41

of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling, the last of which is found over the whole surface of the body, not being confined to any special member, as are the other four faculties.

The imagination is that faculty which retains impressions of things perceptible to the mind, after they have ceased to affect directly the senses which conceived them. This faculty, combining some of these impressions and separating others from one another, thus constructs out of originally perceived ideas some of which it has never received any impression, and which it could not possibly have perceived. For instance, one may imagine an iron ship floating in the air, or a man whose head reaches the heaven and whose feet rest on the earth, or an animal with a thousand eyes, and many other similar impossibilties which the imagination may construct and endow with an existence that is fanciful.[1] In this regard, the Mutakallimun[2]


  1. M. defines imagination in Moreh, I, 73, Tenth Proposition, Note. It is the opposite of the intellect which "analyzes and divides the component parts of things, it forms abstract ideas of them, represents them in their true form as well as in their causal relations, derives from one object a great many facts, which—for the intellect—totally differ from each other, just as two human individuals appear different to the imagination; it distinguishes that which is the property of the genus from that which is peculiar to the individual,—and no proof is correct unless founded on the former; the intellect further determines whether certain qualities of a thing are essential or non-essential. Imagination has none of these functions. It only perceives the individual, the compound in that aggregate condition in which it presents itself to the senses; or it combines things which exist separately, joins some of them together, and represents them all as one body or as a force of the body. Hence it is that some imagine a man with a horse's head, or with wings, etc. This is called a fiction, a phantasm; it is a thing to which nothing in the actual world corresponds. Nor can imagination in any way obtain a purely immaterial image of an object, however abstract the form of the image may be. Imagination yields, therefore, no test for the reality of a thing." Further (ibid. II, 36) it is stated that part of the functions of the imagination is to retain impressions by the senses, to combine them, and chiefly to form images. The most perfect developement of the imaginative faculty results in prophecy. See infra, p. 47, and n. 3.
  2. The Mutakallimun were a sect of dogmatic or religious philosophers who tried to harmonize Mohammedan theology with Aristotelian philosophy. Starting with the "word of God" (kalām, Λόγος), as contained in the Koran,