Chapter

Rationalizing the Commandments II: Rationalizing the Commandments II: The Soloveitchikian Method

Daniel Rynhold

in Two Models of Jewish Philosophy

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199274864
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602450 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019927486X.003.0003
Rationalizing the Commandments II: Rationalizing the Commandments II: The Soloveitchikian Method

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The apparently contrasting method of rationalization of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik is subjected to a detailed critical analysis. Following a summary of Soloveitchik’s general method of descriptive reconstruction as presented in The Halakhic Mind, we first consider the scientific model of rationalization that Lawrence Kaplan finds within Soloveitchik’s reflections on halakhah. Despite humanistic and hermeneutic strands reminiscent of those found in the later thought of Wilhelm Dilthey, it is argued that ultimately this method remains a scientific explanatory method that attempts to subsume particular instances under general laws. There is, however, a contrasting model of rationalization found in The Halakhic Mind that is far more Gadamerian in tone, focusing on the meaning of the commandments rather than on their explanation. Some of the implications of the differences between the two models are discussed, though both models are argued to be highly conservative and lacking the capacity for objectivity.

Keywords: descriptive reconstruction; Dilthey; Explanation; Gadamer; Halakhah; Hermeneutic; meaning; objectivity; rationalization; Soloveitchik

Chapter.  22023 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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