Larry, Curly, and Mo: The Three Aspects of Man
I’ll get back to systems of השגחה another time. For now, I have something else to share
If you look at the various Jewish philosophers of the past 1,000 years, you’ll see that they point out that we can categorize the motivations for behaviors people into three distinct categories.
The first includes all our instinctual behaviors: if we’re hungry, we look for food. If we’re tired, we look for a place to sleep. At this level of motivation, the differences between us and animals are negligible. The Rambam’s term for this type of behavior is “כח טבעי” – “the natural drive”. The מהר"ל calls these “כוחות הגופניים” – “physical drives.”
The next level is harder to define. It includes such motivations as jealousy, restlessness, revenge, hatred etc. An animal sees something and either wants it or doesn’t. It doesn’t see something, decide it doesn’t want it, but then change its mind when it sees that another animal has it. That’s a peculiarly human trait. Likewise, animals may attack animals that they see as threats, but they don’t take revenge just because the other animal wronged them in the past. But Man does. These motivations are either called “כח החיוני” (according to the Rambam) or “כחות הנפשיים” according to the מהר"ל.
Finally, we have the finer motivations of man. Ones that center on Man’s sense of dignity and identity. This also includes motivations that emerge from our intellect, our moral compass, our philosophies, and our religions. These motivations are far removed from the base requirements of food and shelter. The Rambam calls these the “כח נפשי” (confusingly, this is the same name the מהר"ל used for the previous step), and the Maharal terms these “כחות השכליים”.
Note: this is based on the מהר"ל ספר דרך חיים - פרק ד משנה כב.