Discover more from Rationalist Judaism
My New Favorite Word
I have a pretty good vocabulary, but I don't like to use difficult words unnecessarily. I prefer that whatever I am saying or writing should be easily comprehensible; for example, I would rather say that a certain book needs to be written rather than to describe it as a scholarly desiderata. And books which use words like "ontological" do not appeal to me.
However, sometimes there is such a word for which there is no adequate simpler alternative. And I have decided that the word "epistemology" perfectly encapsulates the difference between rationalists and non-rationalists.
Epistemology refers to the concept of how knowledge is acquired. There are fundamental differences in how people reach their opinions about things, and this comes into sharp contrast with the topics of my books. How do we decide if Chazal erred in science? Do we evaluate their statements in light of science? Do we evaluate science in light of their statements? Do we look at what the Rishonim say? Do we follow what the Gedolim say? And if so, which Gedolim?
I recently noticed a long-defunct and short-lived blog, "Banned In Bnei Brak: The Natan Slifkin Controversy." It's worth taking a look at, especially the comments. The author of the blog is open about his belief that there isn't even an issue to debate with regard to who is right:
..."controversy" implies that there are two sides arguing - perhaps not of equal strength but each with it's own merits. And to pit one man against practically every Gadol - including some who initially supported him, as we shall see - is perhaps not best described as a "controversy."
It's all about epistemology.
(Hat tip - the person who shares a ride with me in the morning on Tuesdays.)