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Moses Narbonne, also known as Moses of Narbonne, mestre Vidal Bellshom, maestro Vidal Blasom, and Moses Narboni, was a medieval Catalan philosopher and physician. He was born at Perpignan, in the Kingdom of Majorca, at the end of the thirteenth century and died sometime after 1362. He began studying philosophy with his father when he was thirteen and then studied with Moses and Abraham Caslari. He studied medicine and eventually became a successful physician, and was well versed in Biblical and rabbinical literature.
Eventually he traveled to the Crown of Aragon, where he is known to have lived and studied in Cervera (1348-1349), Barcelona and Valencia, and later in Toledo, Burgos and Soria (1358-1362), in the Kingdom of Castile. In 1362 he returned to Perpignan and died there. During the outbreak of the Black Death when persecution of Jews was widespread, ben Joshua was forced to flee Cervera when an angry mob attacked the Jewish community there. During his stay in Barcelona, he wrote a commentary on the medieval philosophical tale Hayy Ibn-Yaqzan, in which he called to appropriate autodidactisicm as a pedagogical program.
Moses was an admirer of Averroes; he devoted a great deal of study to his works and wrote commentaries on a number of them. Perhaps Narboni's best known work is his Treatise on the Perfection of the Soul.
He believed that Judaism was a guide to the highest degree of theoretical and moral truth. In common with others of his era he believed that the Torah had both a simple, direct meaning accessible to the average reader as well as a deeper, metaphysical meaning accessible to thinkers. He rejected the belief in miracles, instead believing they could be explained, and defended man's free will by philosophical arguments. Because of these and other beliefs, he was not accepted by many in the rabbinical Jewish community for fear of his figurative membership in the school of extreme rationalism which gave rise to questions of his legitimacy as an authority on Jewish law, custom and philosophy.
He died at an advanced age as he was returning to his native land from Soria.
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