Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eternal Revolution
Jacobs' statement in an otherwise insightful quote, that;

"The only reply to [no certainty in any human knowledge, surely no certainty in prescientific traditions] is that traditional knowledge is not human at all but divine and therefore guaranteed to be free from error."

...a 'fundamentalist', absolutist "Maximalist" approach to the Mesorah - is a statement common to other formerly-religious (but far less educated) people who abandoned Torah; to acknowledge history and evolution within the tradition at all (for many) - in any way, to any degree (for most) - wipes away "everything" they ever believed - which is now "all" a lie - despite clearly having not learned everything the Mesorah has had to say about the Mesorah.

It strikes me as tantamount to former "believers" in evolution who become dissenters of it or believers in "Intelligent Design" evolution, who find the slighest fault in their particular approach to the issues of how things occurred, to anomalies in the system, amount to system-wide viruses that cause everything supporting the general theories of evolution to collapse - where, to put it bluntly, evolution AS IT OCCURS has no regard for anyones theories about it. Or physics student in the 80s who comes to find graduate school to be "Iconoclasm 101" subverting much of what they assumed; did the physical universe all of a sudden cease to exist?...Essentially everything must be evolved IN THE WAY THEY BELIEVE IT (or they way they believe they believed it..) or essentially nothing evolves as they see it.

Similarly with the Mesorah, for such a secularized maximalism, everything must in substance and essence be Divine, or in substance and essence, none of it is - no room for "divine sanction" (where God accepts what humans have done or said; HKBH arbited every single step and decision - or none of them), or "Kashering" of previous legalisms or pre-Sinaitic narratives - or arguments in Gemara - even where the Mesorah being defended features these very notions in various "minimalist" perspectives (on aspects ranging from Torah through Gemara).

As deep as the Conservadox Hadar-niks and "Orthoprax" may go in "learning" and behaving in accord with Torah, it is, believed, by most of them, to be in essence thoroughly human - or at best first and foremost human; both the 'tradition' and 'human' being of course understood as materialistically and reductionist as possible so as to uphold one of the essential "modern" bona fides...(where their first allegiance lies). For such reformers, Torah, Revelation, Mesorah, "Jew", Hashem - are mere concepts "boldly and magnificently" (embarrassing chutzpahdik emphasis on "boldly"), redefined anew "every generation" (despite how few of the educated rabbim and the general masses of believing, practicing Jews seem to bother to keep up with the[ir] "corrections" and "''clarifications" of the underpinings...); in this strange, neo-archaic Cosmology, an ever-changing "Creation" of which we are part is the self-evident measure and ruler for determining Change as such;

We may say broadly that free thought is the best of all the safeguards against freedom. Managed in a modern style the emancipation of the slave's mind is the best way of preventing the emancipation of the slave. Teach him to worry about whether he wants to be free, and he will not free himself. Again, it may be said that this instance is remote or extreme. But, again, it is exactly true of the men in the streets around us. It is true that the negro slave, being a debased barbarian, will probably have either a human affection of loyalty, or a human affection for liberty. But the man we see every day--the worker in Mr. Gradgrind's factory, the little clerk in Mr. Gradgrind's office--he is too mentally worried to believe in freedom. He is kept quiet with revolutionary literature. He is calmed and kept in his place by a constant succession of wild philosophies. He is a Marxian one day, a Nietzscheite the next day, a Superman (probably) the next day; and a slave every day. The only thing that remains after all the philosophies is the factory. The only man who gains by all the philosophies is Gradgrind. It would be worth his while to keep his commercial helotry supplied with sceptical literature. And now I come to think of it, of course, Gradgrind is famous for giving libraries. He shows his sense. All modern books are on his side. As long as the vision of heaven is always changing, the vision of earth will be exactly the same. No ideal will remain long enough to be realized, or even partly realized. The modern young man will never change his environment; for he will always change his mind.
Chesterton, Orthodoxy, "the Eternal Revolution"

The whole chapter is much worth reading and quoting. I left a letter out of "slightest fault" above, but many readers (provided I had any), likely read the letter in where it really did belong - for all it's absence. Systems, such as the statement above, are multidimensional, intertextual, multi-cognating (reading and "knowing" the letter is there despite its physical absence), and also abound with contradictions and inconsistancies. "Dispassionate, objective reflection and analysis" a "new revelation" to the Orthoprax and OTD secularists, would indeed "prove" these system-wide problems to be fatal for a claim of Divine engagement - "proofs" of "systemic failure" that similarly abound and flourish in all facets of the abounding, flourishing physical, biological facets of creation and human ventures. One could argue that they would not exist if they were 'perfect' systems - according to notions of perfection formed by imperfect human judgement.


At 7/26/2009 7:13 AM, Blogger Pierre Sogol said...

>"Dispassionate, objective reflection and analysis" would PROVE these system-wide problems to be fatal and terminal...

Gravitational physics which got us to the moon would have been considered utter foolishness 100 years before to the "dispassionate, objective reflection and analysis" of the day. The human *spirit* that latent font of surging creativity unparalleled within Creation, that "something MORE" from less...trumps the "objective analysis" of the day, of every day.


At 7/26/2009 7:27 AM, Blogger Pierre Sogol said...

It's obvious that the rules by which we came to better understand the relationship of the planets to physics on earth (and reach the moon), etc, were not violations of previously-KNOWN laws (despite the postmodern convictions of former college peers) - the previously-*known* facts were understandings we come to find out were themselves nested within DEEPER understandings - regarding laws nested within laws, at times rendered orthogonal to each other by our perceptions; they appear to be in contradiction, due to the naturally-occuring limits of previous perspectives - which were necessary to reach the vantage point of making new and fruitful errors (one could even say that proposed obligations to "know" there is a divine are intended for us to reformulate DEFENSES for the faith each generation - but with the caveat that old 'fortifications' may not be as strong as the new, GIVEN the new challenges of each generation).

But the glorious venture of confusion and resolution (that is science) would never have gotten off the ground if not for fundamentally Biblical presuppositions that would (given hundreds of thousands of years of human history emerging no other such insight), seemingly HAVE to be Told to be known. If we presume a God Who Speaks to us, an Omnipotent God who can do as he wants (Bohr to Einstein" Don't tell God what to do!") - both of which are MAXIMS of our Tradition (and outside the perview of philosophical/empirical critique) - many of the seeming tempermental/"climatic" challenges that come and go with examined life on earth are rendered more manageable, more "weatherable".

At 7/26/2009 7:32 AM, Blogger Pierre Sogol said...

HKBH, being Omnipotent, could 'do' any number of universes possible or actual (Shemitot, etc) - but He Covenanted with this one, post Mabul and at Sinai; Creation bears witness ("Testifies"), to this lawfulness - which, when regarded as Creation - is lawful BY COVENANT, by contract not by whim (the universe is not "completely random"; there are laws of nature - otherwise science would be pointless). God will 'work' with this people, this world, by certain rules; though Omnipotent - He TELLS us "this is what I'm going to do, this is how I'm going to do it".


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