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Monday, 25 July 2011

Heschel's Concise Dictionary of Hebrew Philosophical Terms now available opensource online

My Rabbi sent me the link to a blog called "On the Mainline," which looks like it might have some more useful stuff. (Correction: definitely interesting stuff, see also the writer's other blog, English Hebraica)

The Six Pillars of Jewish Wisdom

What on earth is the philosophy of Judaism?
There are six elements. Each has roots in the Pentateuch. It is part of the mystery of Jewish identity that these principles produce techniques that are fecund and unembarrassing in the hands of avowed secularists.
1. The Imago Dei
Man, says the Torah, is made in the image of God. That indicates: (a) that man is not God; and (b) that man has some of God’s attributes, and is accordingly worthy of respect (although not worship). The tension between (a) and (b) generates the energy of Jewish ethics.
In the hands of Christian theologians, the notion of the Imago Dei has become a liability. That is because they have engaged in over-elaborate exegesis of the creation story in Genesis. They have derived over-dogmatic conclusions about God’s nature (and hence man’s nature), from the description of God’s attributes there. The dogmatism has gone in several different directions, but here’s one example. In the creation story, God is rational; he has a plan, which he utters into existence. That indicates, says one line of Christian theological speculation, that man is only properly human if and insofar as he is rational too. You can go straight from that conclusion to Kant, whose metastasis throughout medical ethics has done incalculable harm. Kant, if he’s being consistent, denies full human status to everyone and everything that is incapable of reason – whether a stone, a dog, a child, or an adult in Permanent Vegetative State.