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Maimonides’s Measure of Man



In order to obtain a correct estimate of ourselves, we must reflect on the results of the investigations which have been made into the dimensions and the distances of the spheres and the stars. The distances are clearly stated in radii of the earth, and are well known, since the circumference and the radius of the earth are known. It has been proved that the distance between the centre of the earth and the outer surface of the sphere of Saturn is a journey of nearly eight thousand seven hundred solar years. . . The distance between the centre of the earth and the surface of the sphere of the fixed stars can by no means be less, but it may possibly be many times as great: for the measure of the thickness of the body of the spheres has not been proved, and the least possible has been assumed, as appears from the treatises On the Distances. The same is the case with the substances which are between every two spheres. . . Now consider the enormous dimensions and the large number of these material beings. If the whole earth is infinitely small in comparison with the sphere of the stars, what is man compared with all these created beings! How, then, could any one of us imagine that these things exist for his sake and benefit, and that they are his tools! This is the result of an examination of the corporeal beings: how much more so will this be the result of an examination into the nature of the Intelligences!

Maimonides (??? ?? ?????), The Guide of the Perplexed (????? ????????)(ca. 1180 CE)(M. Friedländer transl. 1904)

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