[Avodah] God's existence

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Mon Jul 27 13:54:22 PDT 2020

RDR mentioned the Kuzari before I found the time to reply.

I think what changed was in the discipline of philosophy. In the days
of the rishonim, Philosophy was itself a kind of religion. Look at the
opening paragraphs of ch. 1 of the Kuzari -- the king's survey includes
a Philosopher (1:1), a Muslim, a Christian, and then the chaver. A
Jewish Philosopher was a Scholasticist. Such that Rihal, even though
the Kuzari is a book of philosophy as we now use the term, saw himself
as anti-Philosophy.

Then came the scientific method and people realizing the power and
limitations of testing things empirically. The tensions between the
Empiricists, who trusted these methods, and the Idealists, who wanted all
knowledge to be as sound as Math, coming from self-evident postulates.
And then the Kantian Revolution through to Existentialism and now
Post-Modernism, etc... Philosophy less based on a confidence of being
able to prove what's out there and more focused on describing the world
as experienced.

I argued here a few years back that this is what drove the popularity
of universal hashgachah peratis. It's less a break from how rishonim
understood HP than looking at a different topic. To the rishonim,
a discussion of HP is all about its contrast to nature, randomness,
bechirah chofshi, etc... Nowadays, the discussion of HP is about what
it is we have bitachon in, how much hishatadlus do we need to invest
given that what happens is decided by hashgachah...

R Yehudah haLevi had a lack of faith in the idea that we can decisively
prove that's really out there. That's for Greeks, who lack the more sure
source of data -- mesorah. (1:13, 1:63) That mesorah part isn't very
Modern in terms of the discipline of philosophy, but not believing we
can ever really prove anything... Well, take this quote from 1:13:
    "Now ask the philosophers, and you will find that they do not
    agree on one action or one principle, since some doctrines can be
    established by arguments, which are only partially satisfactory,
    and still much less capable of being proved."
Sounds downright Post-Modern!


Micha Berger                 Zion will be redeemed through justice,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   and her returnees, through righteousness.
Author: Widen Your Tent
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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