Sunday, May 31, 2015

Philosopher of the Week

This is my favorite modern Jewish philosopher this week: Samuel Lebens. I came across his work actually by accident just recently, but what I've seen so far appears intriguing. [It doesn't hurt that he kind of looks like Ted Mosby and has a great English accent.] I thought it was worth sharing, especially given the paucity of jblog material lately.

He also has separate paper which I found rather interesting about  the epistemology of religious experience, which I quote below:

"My intention in belittling the role of belief isn't to adopt the fashionable desire to replace Orthodox Judaism with orthopraxy. [...]I claim that that epistemology places very little emphasis on classical propositional belief and is generally much more interested in attitudes, postures, make-belief, and non-propositional knowledge. Orthodox Judaism, indeed religion, so conceived is at once more demanding – because it asks for much more than mere belief and practice – and more human –in that it embraces attitudes and emotions that more autistic conceptions of religion ignore."
The paper is worth reading in full and I linked to it above. It gives a rather different perspective on traditional Jewish belief and behaviors and how propositional beliefs, though he surely considers them critical, are hardly the focus and are in fact among the weakest points of contact for those invested in religious life. He argues that "make-believing" that certain ideas are true is important than merely holding certain propositions to be factual. Worth a read, check it out.
I'm going to read more of his material when I have some time.

1 comment:

G*3 said...

He makes an interesting point, something I realized a while ago: That the theology of OJ subgroups is very different, but it works as long as we all practice more or less the same and can eat in each other's homes.

The fact that different groups hold of what is essentially different religions, from the polytheism of kabbalisitc sefirot, to the "God of the DMV" of the yeshivishe world with his boxes you need to tick, to the near-deism of the Maimonodeans, and yet all the groups have very similar practice, points to the theology being post-hoc constructs built to support the practices.