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Two Models of Jewish PhilosophyJustifying One's Practices$
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Daniel Rynhold

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199274864

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2005

DOI: 10.1093/019927486X.001.0001

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

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

Chapter:
(p.48) 2 Rationalizing the Commandments II: The Soloveitchikian Method
Source:
Two Models of Jewish Philosophy
Author(s):

Daniel Rynhold (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/019927486X.003.0003

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

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