Welcome! This site is a space promoting rigorous philosophical analysis of any aspect of Judaism. We look forward to your participation. THIS WEBSITE HAS MOVED! IT CAN NOW BE FOUND AT http://www.theapj.com/blog

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Philosophy in Halakhah and Philosophy of Judaism: Introducing “Philosophy in Halakhah: The Case of Intentional Action”

The relationship between Judaism and philosophy has been the subject of discussion at least since Late Antiquity. Often, however, philosophy is reified as a distinct body of knowledge, the views of Epicurus and his followers, Aristotle’s corpus, or the very idea of the self-sufficiency of human reason, and viewed as either in conflict or agreement with an equally simplified notion of revelation, the word of God unambiguously revealed. In contrast, analytic philosophy allows us to see philosophical methods as regimented extensions of everyday argumentation, while a focus on halakhic texts reveals the role of human reason and debate in mediating the application of God’s will to the world. In this spirit, Jed Lewinsohn does a masterful job demonstrating the relevance of current philosophy for Talmudic learning in his article “Philosophy in Halakhah: The Case of Intentional Action.” His discussion is grounded in traditional lomdus, extended by knowledge of contemporary philosophy, and, most importantly for both traditional learning and contemporary philosophizing, guided by a keen intellect. His essential goal is simply to “[d]emonstrate different ways halakhic texts can be read philosophically” (98). Along the way though, he engages in detailed analyses of positions presented in the Talmud, by post-Talmudic commentators, as well as philosophers of action, discusses the epistemological and religious implications of finding philosophical positions embedded in halakhic views, and speculates on the theological consequences of what he takes to be the mainline halakhic view of action.