8/03/2005

Reading List Update, and the Rav's use of Scheler

Some stuff that I'm reading I'll be blogging about in the very near future. Wanted to update the list first:

Still reading (but sparsely):
- Expanding the Palace of Torah (Tamar Ross)
- Jewish Nationalism (Hebrew- Eliezer Schweid)
- In Time of Nations (Emmanuel Levinas) -this one not so sparsely
- Kelim Shvurim (Hebrew - HaRav ShaGa"R)
- Lo Bashamayim Hi (Hebrew - Prof. Shalom Rosenberg)

Add to the list:
- The Hedgehog and the Fox (Isaiah Berlin). This book isn't at all what I expected, and I'm not sure I'll get through it.
- The Social Construction of Reality (Peter Berger). This one's an eye opener.
- Apologia Pro Vita Sua (John Henry Newman). One of the first and best to address the conflicts between modernity and orthodoxy. His contemporary intellectual heirs include R' Lichtenstein, R' Shalom Carmy, and the Pope. Not too shabby.
- Seinfeld and Philosphy (William Irwin). Dumb book. Won't leave the john.

On Order:
- The Heretical Imperative (Peter Berger).
- Judaism and Imperialism (or somesuch) (Seth Schwartz).
Both of these books look seriously at s/t that currently really interests me, namely, the impact of a dominant culture on religious minorities, and the reactions of those minorities.


Here's a passage from Berger's 'Social Construction' (p. 8, anchor edition, 1967), discussing Scheler's sociology of knowledge:
'...the 'real factors' regulate the conditions undre which certain 'ideal factors' can appear in history, but cannot affect the content of the latter. In other words, society determines the presence (Dasein) but not the nature (Sosein) of ideas. The sociology of knowledge, then, is the procedure by which the socio-historical selection of ideational contents is to be studied, it being understood that the contents themselves are independent of socio-historical causation and thus inaccessible to sociological analysis. If one may describe Scheler's method graphically, it is to throw a sizable sop to the dragon of relativity, but only so as to enter the castle of ontological certitude better.'

Does that passage sound familiar? MAybe it reminds you of this:
'However, the mutual connection between law and event does not take place within the realm of pure halakhic thought, but rather within the depths of the halakhic man's soul. The event is a psychological impetus, prodding pure thought into its track. However, once pure thought begins to move in its specific track, it performs its movement not in surrender to the event, but rather in obedience to the normative-ideal lawfulness particular to it.'

The latter quote is from R' Soloveitchik, zt"l, in 'Mah Dodech Mi-dod' (p. 77 in Divrei Hagut Ve-ha'arakhah). I confess a lot of joy in making connections like the one that exists between these paragraphs. I'm inspired by the way that the Rav uses Scheler's conceptualizations to articulate his grandfather's vision. That's what they mean when they talk about 'Torah U-Madda'. 'Yaft Elokim le-Yefet, ve-yishkon be-oholei Shem'

[Whether or not I buy into that particular vision is a separate issue. ]
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