Friday, December 28, 2007

Indigenous America[s], Scientific Endeavor lhvdl Yahadut
[much work to be done on this; probably over many posts, more links to come]
"Western civilization, unfortunately, does not link knowledge and morality but rather, it connects knowledge and power and makes them equivalent" - Vine Deloria

Knowing by independent acquisition of Creation, 'scientific' engagement of the world in a somewhat Rambam sense, though 'scientific' in the same way Vine Deloria describes indigenous American cognition and 'right living'. Classic mussar and the predilection for tying proper epistemology with proper ethics as Deloria describes in Sakan'ku Skonks' criticism of the inadequacies of western science as a stand-alone path of knowledge - because in a sense, right knowledge is wed to right ethics. Is and ought are in relation to one another (IOW, not necessarily only derivative of each other), and there are different kinds of relationships. There is value in imprecision, of reckoning in coming to know in the world - where perhaps many maxims(?) are not systematically written up as a whole map because we live in lieu of Nevuah, the means of certainty in meta-matters. Or at least not taking as Revelation the attempts to do so (historical and present)... Restraining ourselves from doing so prevents binding the maxims themselves to transient meanings, interpretations of that time by (keeping a loose grip on them as it were).

(losing focus here, so watch your step)
Remembering that Canon (however it came to be), was closed not by mere consensus of 'the people' or some intelligensia - it was established and sealed under the Nevuah of the last Neviim (neviut/Bat Kol, etc that is available since then is not systematic - it is reckoning; there being no mandate to accept Bat Kol, or the oft-spoken lack of framework for interpreting dreams, for example). "Sealing" ensured that only those exposed to the Oral aspect of Revelation be able to take part in 'orienting' as Jews (w/o neviim, one needed the 'common knowledge' of the people to make sense of things). No one could claim access to Nevuah once the canon of prophecy was sealed.

Also the issue of the Nations without Torah revelation/Jewish experiences, and possible relationship of Nations to their scientific and general knowledge through [what is generally called in Western Thought] religious experiences (recent book likely fruitful for this comparison, previous posts).

Such reckoning could also be an acknowledgment of the reality of Galut; our prime axis of orientation in the world was Removed. We are not only no longer in our land, we are unredeemed and scattered. having landmarks as opposed to maps helps organize from many points on a globe (also the inherent politics and falsehoods of 2D maps.

That even our Scriptures use Second Things, i.e. history/science of the day, cosmology of the day, etc (2D map stuff...again inherently political), to reckon in accord with, to orient ourselves by, First Things - spiritual concerns; the lives of the Avot, the ethics of Israel and her kings, Bereshit and Creation of the universe by a Singular diety, etc. That the content of Tanach when read as 'mere' data for map-making may be 'in error' - the fault is in the attempt to make a map of it. It is for reckoning in a multidimensional universe for which maps are inadequate beyond their manmade purpose. But the world is indeed real, and our inclination to map is not erroneous in itself - it hearkens to when we were settled in the Land, fulfilling many of our obligations, when we had Neviim walking among us, etc. The maps we make and the fragments we have aren't to be taken as the land itself, the universe itself (though in a popularly-spoken sense we have little choice; "everything is in it", etc, etc...but that can also be the easy way out of not living out the God-Given Torah from which we reckon in HKBH's world).

Why am I thinking of anthropomorphism now, and Shedim and such in Tanach/Talmud as the Rationalists took them? I don't know how this is relevant so tread lightly here; to admit Malachim is not to admit "angels", nor is admitting shedim is to admit "demons", let alone fairies or boogiemen or flying pigs; those are non-Jewish terms with their particular concepts resulting from particular (and actually increasingly vague, in the modern era), relationships and understandings/ignorances of Creation - and we need constant counsel that we are not in 'The Real World' - we are in Creation, a multidimensional place. I guess this bit would relate to not taking Rambam (and related), mandates about being 'rational' and seemingly-"scientific" to mean materialism and selective-'rationalism' of our day in all their ignorance and arrogance (as presented by Vine Deloria in the essay above and recent criticisms of 'Scientism', etc).
Quiblings about 'fantasy world' of 'primatives' in a different light when you acknowledge that, to be irrational in the Subarctic forests of Canada or in the thick of the Amazon - is to be dead. the people who've lived their deeply, accumulated the vast net of relations and understandings of Creation that they have had compose, in a sense the working, relative, reckoned rationality.

About Vine Deloria's comment on Western Civilization; I mostly agree with it in good part because I don't think Yahadut is as wed to Western Civilization as we think we are, as partial parent of it. Long, long ago, the child reaches a certain age, we are no longer responsible for it, and we need to stop defending Edom's descendants that are consuming and assimilating our people - among many - and the Earth portion of Creation, into oblivion.[tribal]


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