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Maimon, Salomon (1753/4–1800)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-J035-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 20, 2024, from

Article Summary

Educated as a rabbi in Lithuania, Shlomo (Salomon) ben Yehoshua migrated to Germany and adopted the surname Maimon in honour of Maimonides. His criticism of Kant’s dualism and his monistic account of the human mind as an imperfect expression of God’s infinite mind influenced Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. Kant regarded him as the critic who understood him best.

Maimon’s system combines rational dogmatism with empirical scepticism. As a rational dogmatist, he argues that cognition requires the absolute unity of subject and object. Maimon therefore criticizes Kant’s dualistic divisions between the mental form and extra-mental matter of knowledge, and between the faculties of sensibility and understanding. Experience in Kant’s sense – empirical knowledge – is possible only if these dualisms are merely apparent. Our finite minds must be imperfect expressions of an infinite, divine mind that produces the form and matter of knowledge. Through scientific progress, our minds become more adequate expressions of the infinite mind. Kant has not refuted Hume’s scepticism, which could be refuted only if science became perfect. Perfect science is an ideal for which we must strive but which we will never reach.

Maimon is deeply indebted to Maimonides, but he reformulates Maimonidean ideas in light of modern mathematical physics and deploys them within a Kantian investigation of the possibility of experience. The result is a unique encounter between medieval and modern philosophy that decisively influenced German idealism and remains philosophically interesting.

Citing this article:
Franks, Paul. Maimon, Salomon (1753/4–1800), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-J035-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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