The Kashrut of Thought | Part Two
The Kashrut of Thought | Part Two
Logic and Jewish philosophy
By Richard Abbott, UK
One common misconception is the idea that if a premise is logical then it is true. This idea, in of itself, is illogical and untrue. Logic is a system of thought guided by reasonable principals and could as easily be described as ‘process thought’. If the rules are followed the conclusion will be reasonable, except that if not all information is considered that conclusion will be erroneous.
Logic begins with an accepted belief (an axiom), follows pattern of reasonable assumptions and arrives at a conclusion. However, if a second logic uses the same rules but begins from an alternative axiom, the both conclusions may be equally reasonable but directly contradictory.
These could be described as parallel lines of logic. Parallel in that, due to their consistent rules, they travel in the same direction but, due to their differing axioms, they will never intersect and so cannot prove or disprove each other.
One example would be the existence of G-D.
If an atheist starts from the axiom that G-D doesn’t exist and follows their own logical reasoning they will conclude the non-existence of G-D.
Equally so if a monotheist starts from the axiom that G-D exists and follows their own logical reasoning they will conclude that G-D exists.
These two lines of reasoning are parallel and can never intersect and so can never prove or disprove each other.
I have had debates with atheists over the existence of G-D knowing that each of us would consider each other’s position fallacious. Regardless of the futility of the debate itself I used the contest to illustrate the idea that G-D was not testable.
I accept the nature of G-D as untestable as part of Jewish faith; in that He is transcendent, incorporeal and ineffable, so I am happy that my position requires emunah or faith.
However I posit that emunah in itself does not preclude the absence of critical thought, which is understood as part of Jewish philosophy by the word Hakirah.
The pervasive acceptance of logic, a Greek system of thought, as the predominant meta-thought theory in the western world should not be misconstrued as being inherent to human intelligence, it was an invented system of thought and others are available. If Hanukkah has taught us anything, it’s that the success and pervasiveness of another belief does not, in of itself, justify it or make it true. In that case the Hellenisers sought to eradicate Judaism as a contender to Greek thought, let’s not allow that to happen today if Judaism is seen as incompatible with modern non-kosher thought.
Before logic was invented we allowed Torah to guide our systems of thought and sought to understand the world through HaShem’s lens. This process has been our strength, our prosperity, our salvation and redemption and the various incarnations of hellenisation in each era has meant our assimilation and destruction.
There are of course things we find perplexing about Torah, ideas which are inconvenient, un- fashionable, challenging. Does this make them untrue or invalid?
Take the Beit Hamikdash.
HaShem created us a sanctuary in the universe. Earth.
He furnished it with everything we would ever need; warmth, rain, air, plants to consume, other humans to love, Torah to learn from and He built in a way we could understand.
Then, within that world He allowed us to create a sanctuary for Him, with strange rules and
restrictions, alien to us but obvious to Him. From these strange rules and restrictions we come to understand that the ways of the world are not the ways of G-D. The ways of the world are simple, provable, soluble, easy.
The ways of HaShem are vast, heavenly, perplexing, astounding.
I can prove to you that two plus two is four with ease. I can demonstrate it with a few pieces of fruit and our shared ability to count in the same manner.
I cannot as easily prove to you that energy is equal to matter at the constant squared when the constant represents the speed of light. I believe it to be true, but I cannot justify my belief.
If you were to tell me that E=MC2 was invalid because it is not demonstrable in the way that 2+2=4 is – free for all to understand – then your argument would be flawed, incomplete.
G-D cannot be tested by the limits of our understanding, nor by the laws of our Universe as He, by definition is undefined by either.
If He could be understand within the bounds of either then it would not be G-D we were discussing, but some far smaller, limited thing.
A chicken cannot fathom the limitlessness of the farmer, a robot cannot fathom the limitlessness of the inventor, a baby cannot fathom the limitlessness of the mother.
But this is not to say that the farmer, inventor nor mother fails to exist.
CLICK HERE For part One