Saturday, October 08, 2011

This embarrassment


For Yom Kippur:
Philosophy may be defined as the  art of asking the right questions....in it, the awareness of the problem outlives all solutions...In religion, on the other hand, the mystery of the answer hovers over all questions. Philosophy deals with problems as universal issues; to religion the universal issues are personal problems. Philosophy, then, stresses the primacy of the problem, religion stresses the primacy of the person.  
The fundamentalists claim that all ultimate questions have been answered; the logical positivists maintain that all ultimate questions are meaningless. Those of us who share neither the conceit of the former nor the unconcern of the latter, and reject both specious answers and false evasions, know that an ultimate issue is at stake in our existence, the relevance of which surpasses all final formulations. It is this embarrassment that is the starting point for our thinking. 
      -- Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man 

3 comments:

Jon Myerov said...

This bit represents both what I love about Heschel and what draws my sense that his mind could have been directed to other subjects with much better results for everyone.

When we strip away the grandeur and gravity of what Heschel says, what are we left with? Mere self-absorption.

mtraven said...

I am pretty new to Heschel so am finding his perspective intriguingly fresh. I'm not sure I can separate out his point of view from his subject though. Doesn't seem any more self-absorbed than anyone else trying to do careful thinking about the nature of the transcendent.

Anonymous said...

Seems like bullshit to me. Hard to improve on the mythic Pyrrhos for bald honesty.

Hopefully Anonymous

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