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8.11.15

I wanted just very quickly to say that the idea of the Enlightenment of education being the redemption of mankind meant secular education. Also, I wanted to add that Allen Bloom thought that the main idea of the Enlightenment was to take power from Kings and the Priest and give it to the intellectuals. But that was because he was a political philosopher. There was an equal part of the enlightenment that was directed towards education.

But this was not in the Yeshiva or religious kind of sense of education. [The Enlightenment thinkers were thinking about secular education.]

On the opposite side of things the other side of the enlightenment was towards spiritual wholeness and a revolt against reason.This side of things received its greatest expression in the Romantic period. But it began right at the start of the Enlightenment.


Each of these areas has positive values and also can decay into negative value.
It was Allen Bloom in his Closing of the American Mind that saw these two streams colliding and creating a crisis, or maybe even an explosion that would destroy both.

In Lithuanian yeshivas there is an attempt to remedy this situation with  a return to the Middle Ages. That is what we call learning Rishonim (medieval authorities). The idea here is that the Middle ages was a time when there was tremendous human effort spent of resolving the clefts between Faith and Reason. [Besides that it is true that Rishonim are on a vastly superior level than later authorities. This is not just propaganda. You can see it almost anywhere.]

But a simple return to the Middle Ages would only reproduce the exact conditions that made the enlightenment necessary and inevitable. Thus I am not in any better place than Allen Bloom to offer any answers. However, I do think the Litvak (Lithuanian) yeshivas are definitely n the right track.

My own approach is to take the Rambam's idea Torah, Physics Metaphysics and just to go with that.
That is I try have a kind of wholeness and balance between the two poles. Balance does not mean unconnected parts. I don't separate Reason and Faith. Think of car parts all lying in a pile. That is you have every single components of a car but they are not connected. That is not a car. A car has the same components, but they are all attached properly. That is the idea of Faith and Reason that I have. For me Faith and Reason are two components that are attached, and work together.

I should mention that I have a lot of reason to think that self education is important. So when I talk about Torah, Physics, and Metaphysics I am not talking about universities but rather what you do in the privacy for your own home. I got this idea from my own father. Also I should mention this was how Abraham Lincoln got his education. He was self taught. And besides that I discovered in university anyway that most of the learning had to be done on my own. The professors were there to bring me up to a higher level of expertise than what I could do on my own. But the ground work always had to be done by myself.
 When the Rambam says  Physics and Metaphysics he is referring to the two books of Aristotle by those names. However he means the  disciplines as the ancient Greeks understood them. You can see this when he says what teh sages of the Talmud call מעשה מרכבה and מעשה בראשית they means Physics and Metaphysics as the ancient Greeks understood them. So even though he had a chance to say he means the books of Aristotle exclusively he did not say so. So he clearly meant the disciplines themselves.