The Duties Of The Heart
by Rabbi Bachye, Tr. by Edwin Collins
This slim volume translates from the Rabbi Bachye, who wrote one of the first systematic treatments of philosophical Ethics in 12th century Spain. This was during a period of Jewish intellectual cross-fertilization with Islamic culture. Although Bachye was an orthodox Rabbi, he treats Ethics (the Duties of the Heart, in his words) as a universal science, derived from first principles such as the belief in God. This short book also runs very deep.
BACHYE'S "Guide to the Duties of the Heart" is the unique work that first linked the ethical science of the West with the emotional and spiritual morality of the East. It combines, in an artistic unity, elements drawn from the philosophy and contemplative mysticism of the Arabs, from Biblical and Rabbinic Judaism, and from Greek thought. By exhibiting the spiritual foundations of universal Ethics, and of the moral law of the Bible, in the light of pure reason, Bachye prepared the way for finding that common ground on which, wholly or in part, all the moral religions, and all the non religious systems of morality, are rooted. Therefore, although actually written in Spain, a land of the West, it forms a fitting opening volume for the "Wisdom of the East Series."