The Candle Within

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10 Responses

  1. Nathan says:

    Science does not deal with spiritual matters such as:
    the soul, the afterlife, good versus evil or G_d.

    Since these matters are beyond the scope of Science, there is no logic in attempting to explain them scientifically.

  2. dr. bill says:

    I do not invest too much in criticizing Pinker; if he is proven more insightful over time I would not really be disturbed. We are created betzelem elokim; what that might mean precisely as long as i have effective free will and stand in relation to God is of secondary consequence. I know it would force major parts of our literature to be read more allegorically, but frankly some of the literalism that people assume is equally troubling.

    Many aspects of Greek philosophy, particularly their non-linear and mechanistic view of history were an anathema to chazal. But some aspects had redeeming value then and certainly in medieval times. There are many medrashei chazal that are less categorical and in fact quite complimentary.

    We tend to equate Greek values with those of the Syrian Greeks who were the protagonists in the Chanukah story. They were to Greece somewhat like Reform Jews are to the Orthodox; same general family but different values and behavior. Remember Rambam addresses Aristotle reverentially.

  3. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    There is nothing so inconceivable as that matter should be conscious of itself – Blaise Pascal

  4. Bob Miller says:

    Dr. Bill,

    Do we have evidence that the typical Syrian Greek held views different from those of the typical Greek back in Greece? Possibly, Aristotle and his circle were an exception to the rule in some respects.

  5. Phil says:

    Concerning the comment by Nathan, above:
    True, these matters are beyond the scope of science, but they are not beyond the scope of science to determine how these matters came to be believed. Then again, I think science is at its weakest in trying to do so.

  6. dr. bill says:

    Bob Miller, I cannot answer your question directly; it suffices to say that Aristotle was hardly an exception. Greece was the source for much of civilization’s mathematics, astronomy, etc. as well as multiple philosophic and literary schools; the Seleucids were not.

  7. Jonathan Mayer says:

    This should be of particular interest to former editor of the Jewish Observer, Rabbi Rosenblum.

    Mishpacha Magazine got an exclusive interview with the YU rosh yeshiva Rav Herschel Schachter’s and is running a cover feature on his views on Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik of Boston.

    The fact that a charedi magazine is running this has caused great excitement in the Modern Orthodox community. They see it as bridging the rift between them and the charedim. Since the Jewish Observer ran a very negative obituary on RJB Soloveitchik after his passing in 1993, there existed a seemingly unbridgeable gap between the two Orthodox camps.

    The Mishpacha article is truly groundbreaking and sensational.

  8. Bob Miller says:

    Dr. Bill,

    What about my main question about your assertion that Syrian Greeks had different values: “Do we have evidence that the typical Syrian Greek held views different from those of the typical Greek back in Greece?”

    The Seleucids did not need to innovate in philosophy, etc.; the heavy lifting had been done before Alexander and his men set off to build his empire.

  9. dr. bill says:

    Bob Miller, Sorry, i know nothing of the man in the street or the political leaders in either greece or syria. I only want to make sure Yavan is not completely characterized by their seleucid tribe. chazal, our intellectual elite, interacted more with their chochmah ( filtering, rejecting and accepting) than their people or midot.

  10. Ori says:

    It’s really hard to generalize about the Greeks. In many ways they were the most culturally creative people of the ancient world, and therefore the most diverse.

    However, it is definitely not true that they only thought about the physical world. Geometry existed before them as a practical discipline, to measure fields(1). They abstracted it and, AFAIK, invented the concept of a mathematical proof. Plato believed that the physical world is just the shadow of a realer world of what we now call “platonic forms”. Plato and Euclid’s books were acquired by a lot of people, evidence that there were many Greeks who thought them relevant.

    Of course they thought Judaism was crazy. Try to imagine hearing about it for the first time as an adult, having grown up with no divine revelation beyond fairly horrific fairy tales. Wouldn’t you think the same?

    (1) That’s what the term literally means. “Geo” is earth, “metr” means to measure, as in the common length unit.

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