50.02 Inquiry (pps.39-40)

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The importance of philosophical inquiry is pressed home through the centuries.159

. . . whenever the Torah, according to what appears from the external meaning of its words, disagrees with some things which are clear from the point of view of Philosophic Thought. it is proper that we should interpret them in a manner which is in agreement with Philosophic Thought. In this (way) none of the tenets of (our) revealed religion will be destroyed. . . . How much

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159 Cf. Bleich, With Perfect Faith, p. 10. “Bahya also posits an obligation to engage in philosophical investigation directed to the rational demonstration of the objects of belief: ‘. . . Scripture expressly bids you to reflect and exercise your intellect on such themes. After you have attained knowledge of them by the method of tradition which covers all the precepts of the law, their principles and details, you should investigate them with your reason, understanding, and judgment, till the truth becomes clear to you and false notions dispelled; as it is written, “Know this day and lay it to your heart that the Lord, He is God” (Deut. 4:39).’ ”
Cf. Stitskin, Eight Jewish Philosophers, p. 70. “Bar Hiyya .. . states that ‘This biblical reference [“From my flesh, I shall behold God” (Job 19:26)] gives us permission to investigate the views of the classical philosophers and their theories of creation.’ ”
Cf. Bar Hiyya, Sefer Hegyon ha-Nefesh, chap. 1, as quoted in ibid., p. 80. “It is, therefore, incumbent upon every intelligent person endowed with reason and judgment to inquire and to investigate the unique and superior quality of mortal man.”
Cf. ibid., p. 160. “Solomon ibn Gabirol (1021-1058), the first Jewish philosopher in Spain, begins his magnum opus, Mekor Hayyim, with the master addressing his pupil as follows: ‘Inasmuch as by virtue of your native endowments and diligence you have acquired abundant knowledge in the study of the philosophic discipline, you may proceed to inquire about matters close to your heart, and especially about the supreme question concerning the aim of human life, why was man created?’ ”
Cf. Ibn Falaquera, Sefer ha-Nefesh, Introduction, as quoted in ibid., p. 138. “The scholars have also asserted that the mark of perfection is twofold: to love knowledge with utmost devotion and to choose the purest of activities with meaningful intentions.”


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