Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Rambam's Thought in Our Times. Part 1 - Tecnician's Summary.

Technician has posted further on Rambam’s theology in context of contemporary thought. As I have done before here are his comments in their original format. I will address and expand with my own ideas where and as I see fit in coming posts. I think I understand most of what he wrote and time will tell if I really do. In the meantime, those of you who understand, agree or disagree let us hear from you.

Blogger- But wait – all this stuff is still dogmatically medieval and incorrect science.

Answer- even Maimonides limited knowledge to what was epistemologically provable and therefore the metaphysical aspects of science and God’s essence are unknowable. We only know God’s existence through his actions in the material world, not his essence or the scientific proofs for creation. It is already a non-dogmatic position of a liberal theist.

Blogger – no this is still medieval. You cannot prove God and science works without God.

Premise 1- we acknowledge that Hume formally disproved the proofs for God. Then, in the Enlightenment - Voltaire, Thomas Paine, and Diderot destroyed them in public. Only a tyro or a charlatan would take the permission to deceive by ignoring Hume.

Premise 2 – Leibnitz and others reformulated the arguments without the medieval elements. Then, Kant formulated a moral argument.

P3 – Nihilists, materialists, and positivists in Germany socially destroyed the arguments again.

P4 - At the turn of the 20th century, Hermann Cohen reformulated the arguments as postulates of reason. It is not proof but a logical postulate to avoid the other approach of P3- the nihilists and materialists. We accept God as the giving reason and moral order to creation; Man’s role is to hear the moral call from God and act to make the world a better place.

P5 – as a Jew and former reform seminary student, Cohen formulates his approach using Maimonides and not Aquinas. Maimonides in the 20th century automatically means through the lens of Cohen. Leibowitz, Soloveitchik, Leo Baeck, Ken Seeskin, and most others formulate their approaches to Maimonides using Cohen.

Conclusion – When we say Maimonides we are already non-dogmatic and use this as shorthand for a general approach. Especially, since we are more concerned with fighting superstition and creating a moral order than with epistemology.

Blogger- Isn’t epistemology the most question so that you do not delude yourself into a false religion?

Answer: No, at this point it is already a choice among sophisticated liberal theologies. And saying that one is a Maimonidean already is shorthand for denying the dogmatic approach. And if you do not have answers, then aren’t you as dogmatic as those claiming Mesora?

P1 – Herman Cohen as above is my starting point

P2 - Bertrand Russell et al created an Anglo tradition of philosophy shorn of the social sciences and focusing on logic and verification. Cohen is wrong. All German philosophy is just misguided mysticism. Laws of science are only verified induction without proof.

P3 – Everyone from Einstein to Copleston wrote responses to this new approach. Einstein “God does not play dice with the universe” Conclusion – There is no formal proof on each side and it is acceptable to choose either. Tayku

P4 Read the debate of Copleston and Russell. Copleston makes argument from causality, moral order, and the need for a synthetic a-priori, pace Kant and Cohen. Russell rejecting Kant’s denies the need for any of the three.

P5 Russell is a strong agnostic knowing that he cannot prove his position, and follows Occam’s razor. Copleston is a weak agnostic choosing to return to Kant.

P6. Neither position is dogmatic, irrational, or relying on tradition. To follow, Kant, the Neo-Thomists, or Neo- Maimonides is a liberal non-dogmatic approach. The debate turns over the ability to accept a synthetic a priori- in this case causality.

P7 Russell’s position also undercuts science because without a synthetic a priori, then laws of science are only induction not real laws like in Newtonian physics. Yet, on the engineering level every day we work as if Newton is true.

Conclusion- it is acceptable to work with religion and Maimonides even if no proofs or laws.

Conclusion – Maimonides is more useful than Copleston or other defenses of metaphysics because of his rational Judaism.

I am sorry if that was not clear and it seemed that accepting Maimonides was dogmatic. My beloved Soloveitchik, Leibowitz and Faur and others are already within the limits of Kantian thought.

Blogger: What of Dennett, Harris, Dawkins and all the other skeptics?

P1 – In the last 25 years evangelicals and Yeshivish Jews take the permission to deceive and write dogmatic non-liberal proofs for God. Most of these are based on false dichotomies, the God of the gaps, if I find a fault with science then religion is true, or bad versions of the medieval arguments. In all of them they write as if Hume never wrote.

P2 – Scientists and atheists are mad at this and respond by rejecting religion entirely.

Conclusion – Blogger only knows P5. Maimonides is red flag of dogmatism with pre-determined conclusion. Blogger naively speaks about science as if it too could not be disproved, not by atheists but by philosophers of science.

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