Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Diverse Approaches of Rambam and Rav Kook

I have long considered Rambam and Rav AY Kook as prototypes of two diverse hashqafot

Rambam -
On an Aristotelian quest to define the ONE unique truth. And as a corollary, to dismiss other points of view as valueless or worse. His middah is of EXCLUSIVITY

Rav Kook -
On a Mystical Quest to seek and to find the good and value in each member's contribution to the whole. And as a corollary, debating Torah is an end in itself since the process refines the multi-faceted nature of Torah. His Middah is INCLUSIVITY As Rashi says, a blacksmith strikes the anvil and 70 sparks fly out in different directions.


What I have been unable to do is to reconcile these approaches. B"H I have met those rarest of individuals who don't see these two approaches as irreconcilable.
In the meantime, I find those stuck on ONE definable exclusive "Truthers" to be very difficult to debate with. They seem to go beyond saying "I'm right" and add implicitly or explicitly "And You're wrong". For some reason I find quibbling with such people difficult and/or annoying. Maybe someone in the readership can help me past this chasm?



micha said...

As one of those quibblers, I'm likely not going to succeed, but here are two disjoint answers:

1- Kantian: Who said the two can be resolved. Maybe it's an atinomy, or as RYBS would put it, an "unresolvable dialectic"?

2- Hegelian synthesis: The Maharal explains machloqesin as being the consequence of trying to fit Hashem's Truth into the limitations of this universe and the human mind. We are projecting the infinite onto a finite "surface". Just like with shadows, two shadows of the same object but made by light shining on it from different angles will look like very different things. Light shining on a cube face-on will cast a square shadow. If you move the light to point corner-on, you will get a hexagonal shadow. Both correctly describe reality -- but contradict.

The Rambam exclusivity approach is trying to understand the shadow we have before us as well as possible, for the "pragmatic" reason that this is the path we have from where we are in history and development as a people up "the Mountain of G-d". The Kookian inclusory approach is one that focuses on knowing more of the unknowable Truth by comparing different "shadows".

Off on a totally different topic, your words align with a recent observation of mine (still half-baked): R' Chaim Brisker focused on chiluq, R' Shimon Shkop -- on hitztarfus. R' Chaim divided things down in a reductionist manner looking for the one cause of the din, and thereby found different shitos or cases revolving around different causes. R' Shimon was more likely to see a din as being at the convergence of multiple causes, which is actually more like physical causality.


Rosten said...

Take a look at David Bohm.

micha said...

Rosten: Can you be more specific please? Are you speaking of Bohm being a polymath? Or some particular aspect of De Broglie-Bohm or Holonomic Brain theories? Or some quote from Thought as a System? Or something else?