RAJIV GANDHI NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF LAWPOLITICAL SCIENCE (MAJOR) PROJECTCOMPARISON BETWEEN GRECO-ROMAN AND HEBREW THOUGHT Submitted By: Submitted To:Naaz Singh Dr. Shveta DhaliwalRoll No.17114BIBLIOGRAPHY 1.
Hawker, Robert – Poor Man’s Commentary 2. Sarit, History of Rational Thoughts 3. Superstition’ in the pigeon”. Journal of Experimental Psychology 4.
Goddard, Ethan – Rational Faith 5. K. E. Eduljee – Zoroastrian Heritage 6. Gabriel Bronstein – Akhenaten and the Cult of the Aten 7. Greco-Roman Religion and Philosophy, World Religions Reference Library 8. The Value of Reason in the Stoic Philosophies of Epictetus and Aurelius By Rocco A. Astore 9.
Epictetus. Encheiridion: The Manual for Living. George Long 10. Internet Encyclopedia of PhilosophyTABLE OF CONTENTTOPICPAGE NO.
INTRODUCTION4EARLIER PHILOSOPHY 6GRECO-ROMAN THOUGHT8HEBREW THOUGHT13COMPARISION 16INTRODUCTION: REASON AND FAITH Faith is the belief in the truth of something that does not require any evidence and may not be provable by any empirical or rational means. Reason is the faculty of the mind through which we can logically come to rational conclusions. Faith and reason are two ideologies that exist in varying degrees of conflict or compatibility. Rationality is based on reason or facts. Faith is belief in inspiration, revelation, or authority. The word faith sometimes refers to a belief that is held with lack of reason or evidence, a belief that is held in spite of or against reason or evidence, or it can refer to belief based upon a degree of evidential warrant. Rationalists point out that many people hold irrational beliefs, for many reasons. There may be evolutionary causes for irrational beliefs — irrational beliefs may increase our ability to survive and reproduce.
Or, according to Pascal’s Wager, it may be to our advantage to have faith, because faith may promise infinite rewards, while the rewards of reason are seen by many as finite. One more reason for irrational beliefs can perhaps be explained by operant conditioning. For example, in one study by B. F. Skinner in 1948, pigeons were awarded grain at regular time intervals regardless of their behaviour.
The result was that each of pigeons developed their own irrational response which had become associated with the consequence of receiving grain. 1Believers in faith — for example those who believe salvation is possible through faith alone — frequently suggest that everyone holds beliefs arrived at by faith, not reason. The belief that the universe is a sensible place and that our minds allow us to arrive at correct conclusions about it, is a belief we hold through faith. Rationalists contend that this is arrived at because they have observed the world being consistent and sensible, not because they have faith that it is. 2Beliefs held “by faith” may be seen existing in a number of relationships to rationality: Faith as underlying rationality: In this view, all human knowledge and reason is seen as dependent on faith: faith in our senses, faith in our reason, faith in our memories, and faith in the accounts of events we receive from others. Accordingly, faith is seen as essential to and inseparable from rationality.
According to René Descartes, rationality is built first upon the realization of the absolute truth “I think therefore I am”, which requires no faith. All other rationalizations are built outward from this realization, and are subject to falsification at any time with the arrival of new evidence. Faith as addressing issues beyond the scope of rationality: In this view, faith is seen as covering issues that science and rationality are inherently incapable of addressing, but that are nevertheless ‘Superstition’ in the pigeon”. Journal of Experimental Psychology 38 (2): 168–1721 Hawker, Robert – Poor Man’s Commentary2entirely real.
Accordingly, faith is seen as complementing rationality, by providing answers to questions that would otherwise be unanswerable. Faith as contradicting rationality: In this view, faith is seen as those views that one holds despite evidence and reason to the contrary. Accordingly, faith is seen as pernicious with respect to rationality, as it interferes with our ability to think, and inversely rationality is seen as the enemy of faith by interfering with our beliefs. Faith and reason as essential together: This is the Catholic view that faith without reason leads to superstition, while reason without faith leads to nihilism and relativism. Faith as based on warrant: In this view some degree of evidence provides warrant for faith. “To explain great things by small.” 3 Goddard, Ethan – Rational Faith 3EARLIER PHILOSOPHERS ON REASON AND FAITH Zoroaster: Zoroaster, cited as the chronologically first philosopher in the world, believed that within the limits of circumstance, human beings are endowed with free will, the freedom to make choices, the ability to separate good from bad, the ability to separate right from wrong, and the ability to reason.
The ability to reason, see differences and make choices from available options, enables man to make choices in his thoughts, words and deeds. 4Pharaoh Akhenaten: Akhenaten, the Pharaoh of Egypt, refused to acknowledge gods who failed to reveal themselves in some sort of physical form. Aten, the “sun-disk god” was the only god he had “proof” of. And while he was ruler, he commanded that all other gods be eliminated from the historical record, and no person in his city would pay respect to any invisible abstraction. Akhenaten was considered one of the earliest rationalists in history, although it has been suggested that his measures were to secure his political hegemony over religion, rather than due to his convictions of reason. 5Lao-Tzu: Lao-Tzu, the founder of Taoism, is not universally accepted as a historical figure. However, Taoist philosophy is centred around faith in the Tao, an undefined body that is the focal point of all energies. Taoism rejects analysis and study in favour of simplicity, and can thus be considered an anti-intellectual faith.
Harmony with the Tao cannot be achieved through explanation and reasoning, and must be pursued spiritually. Taoism as a religion has one of the most inequitable trade-offs between reason and faith. Ancient Vedic Philosophers: Earl Vedic philosophy’s outlook on reason and skepticism can be summarised by the myth of philosopher Yajnavalkya’s response to Gargi Vachaknavi, as contained in the Brihardarnayak Upanishad.
Gargi questioned him with queries and doubts about his dogmatic beliefs, to which Yajnavalkya responded with a threat to decapitate her lest she not stop her questioning. Gargi responded to the threat by falling silent. The myth went on to state that when another contentious philosopher, Shakalya, did not stop questioning, his head indeed fell off. In spite of the Nasadiya Sukta of the Rig Veda, which encouraged unending questioning and inquiry, Vedanta was essentially reactionary and dogmatic. The orthodoxy of unquestioned faith was challenged by a handful of philosophers such as Ajit Keshkambal, Ashwaghosa, Makhali Ghosal, Prakhud Katyayana and Payasi.
Ajit Keshkambal was a contemporary of Buddha who denied the truth of afterlife and deemed Yagyas useless. Payasi ridiculed the priest class by asking why they K. E. Eduljee – Zoroastrian Heritage4 Gabriel Bronstein – Akhenaten and the Cult of the Aten5didn’t commit suicide if they believed Heaven to be utopian, and the Lokayatas questioned the logic of animal sacrifice. 6 Sarit, History of Rational Thoughts6GRECO-ROMAN THOUGHT ON REASON AND FAITH History of Greco-Roman Thought Greek schools of thought on reason and faith had widely diverging views on reason and faith that do not constitute a monolith. The gods and goddesses or the Greco-Roman religion had impacted the ancient Greeks and Romans tremendously.
The people worshipped their deities daily. Religious rituals and ceremonies distinguished even the major life cycle events, such as birth, marriage, and death. Greek myths had made an effort to explain the mysteries of nature and life, including but not limited to the origin of the world and the creation of the seasons. Greek and Roman religion had no definite rules of “proper” behaviour; in addition, there was no set of specific religious beliefs or principles to adhere to. Each civilian was able to determine how he or she was supposed to behave. The only requirement was to participate in the public’s official worship ceremonies. Due to this unspiritual life, there were many opportunities to speculate what a good life meant and for how nature is constructed.
Where religion had answered these questions in other cultures, Greco-Roman philosophy contributed to the discussion of these questions. This is what made Greco-Roman philosophy radical in the history of human thought. Greco-Roman philosophy had created the basis for the future Western Philosophy and had been the central religious and philosophical system of the western world until the 5th century C.E. It was perceived as humanities first effort to presenting rational explanations for the workings for the world without mythological content or the operation of gods to explain existence. 7The Roman Empire adopted much of the Greek pantheon after their occupation of the Hellenic Peninsula.
Cultural assimilation led to the emergence of a Roman philosophy that was deep-rooted in Hellenic philosophy but also supplementary to it. The Peloponnesian War in Greece was very damaging to the Greco-Roman belief system. The belief system had declined after Alexander the Great had conquered Greece. The Olympian Gods had seemed powerless to the people of Greece and soon after, the Greek Pantheon’s influence had weakened. By the 4th century C.
E., Christianity had replaced it. Similarly, the gods of the Roman Pantheon also lost their reign after Augustus had come to power. The Roman emporers were worshiped as gods after their death, and the traditional gods were forgotten. By the end of the 4th century C.E., Theodosius had authorized the ban of the practice of Greco-Roman Philosophy. 8Greco-Roman Schools of Thoughts on Reason and Faith Greco-Roman Religion and Philosophy, World Religions Reference Library.
2007.7 ibid8Socratic Thought: Socrates’ most important contribution to Western thought is his dialectic method of inquiry, known as the Socratic method or method of “elenchus”, which he largely applied to the examination of key moral concepts such as the Good and Justice. It was first described by Plato in the Socratic Dialogues. To solve a problem, it would be broken down into a series of questions, the answers to which gradually distill the answer a person would seek. To illustrate the use of the Socratic method, a series of questions are posed to help a person or group to determine their underlying beliefs and the extent of their knowledge. The Socratic method is a negative method of hypothesis elimination, in that better hypotheses are found by steadily identifying and eliminating those that lead to contradictions. It was designed to force one to examine one’s own beliefs and the validity of such beliefs. Therefore, Socrates could said to be a champion for didacticism and reason.
Moreover, Socrates’ theory of knowledge supported the ideal of endless inquiry into facts 9and reason, as he believed that knowledge wasn’t exhaustible. Platonic Thought: During the time of Plato in Ancient Greece, religion was irrationally theorised to account for acts of nature that were unexplained. The myth of Zeus’s lightening bolts and the necessity to appease the gods with offerings, along with other beliefs, may be said to relate to our human nature. It is our human nature to question; Plato considered the bringing of our existence, the nature of reality, and the notion of the soul. Plato’s philosophy was based on his theory of a soul divided into three components, reason, will and appetite. Plato proposes that when we reason about what to do, we are equally and inseparably concerned with two sets of aims or concerns: grasping the truth and gaining knowledge on the one hand, and acting and acting well on the other.
That is, from the perspective of practical reasoning, the goals of grasping the truth and gaining knowledge is inseparable from, and equally fundamental as, the goals of acting rationally and well. 10Aristotelian Thought: Both Plato and Aristotle found a principle of intellectual organization in religious thinking that could function metaphysically as a halt to the regress of explanation. In Plato, this is found in the Forms, particularly the Form of the Good. The Form of Good is that by which all things gain their intelligibility. Aristotle rejected the Form of the Good as unable to account for the variety of good things, appealing instead to the unmoved mover as an unchangeable cosmic entity. This primary substance also has intelligence as nous: it is “thought thinking itself.
” From this mind emerges exemplars for existent things. 11 The Socratic Problem: Some Second Thoughts by Eric A. Havelock9 Plato on Practical Reason and Practical Knowledge, C.
M. M. Olfert10 Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy11Both thinkers also developed versions of natural theology by showing how religious beliefs emerge from rational reflections on concrete reality as such.
An early form of religious apologetics – demonstrating the existence of the gods — can be found in Plato’s Laws. Aristotle’s Physics gave arguments demonstrating the existence of an unmoved mover as a timeless self-thinker from the evidence of motion in the world. 12The logical works of Aristotle were compiled into a set of six books called the Organon around 40 BC by Andronicus of Rhodes or others among his followers. The books are: 13- Categories – On Interpretation – Prior Analytics – Posterior Analytics – Topics – On Sophistical Refutations Aristotle’s analytics laid forth the basis of syllogism and deductive reasoning that are still widely used as empirical methods. Stoic Thought: In contemporary everyday usage, “stoic” is considered to mean “unemotional”, due to the Stoic philosophers’ championing of reason and logic over emotion.
According to the Stoic philosophers, the Greek Epictetus and Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, virtue comes through a proper understanding of nature, its processes, as well as one’s place in it. 14According to Epictetus, those who knowingly defy how nature has fixed them to exist, are damaging their ability to reason by living inauthentically. Moreover, to Epictetus, when one’s ability to reason is impure, it follows that it is much easier for one to blame all others except one’s self for one’s mistakes. To Epictetus, this damaged, or irrational way of viewing reality, is never 15wise to embrace, since focusing on what one cannot change can never assist in making one’s life better. Conversely, those who live by reason, Epictetus believes will face the least amount of resistance in their lives. That is, those who accept that fate has set the parameters of life and live according to how they understand themselves to be, without veering away from that understanding, ibid12 Pickover, Clifford A. (2009). The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 13Milestones in the History of Mathematics The Value of Reason in the Stoic Philosophies of Epictetus and Aurelius14By Rocco A.
Astore Epictetus. Encheiridion: The Manual for Living. George Long 15have an easier time living happily than those who do not. From this, people, by living in an unperplexed way, can more easily focus on their self-cultivation, and in doing so, harness themselves to become virtuosos of their humanity It is also worth addressing why Epictetus values reason. According to him, all things in life are ephemeral, or transient.
That is, material possessions, the body, feelings, relations to others, and even the rational soul itself are all fleeting. Therefore, one may conclude that because people’s abilities to reason are impermanent, implying that rationality is pointless to take care of, Epictetus would highly disagree. One reason why he would claim that reason is precious, and hence, worth keeping safe, is that it reflects a higher order, and it is humanity’s greatest gift. In other words, securing one’s ability to correctly reason is paramount, due to it being the defining characteristic of one’s self, which one must deal with as long as one endures. 16To Marcus Aurelius, the divine essence that permeates throughout the natural order is rational. Moreover, one may claim that since the universe runs according to the dictates of an orderly and structured Providence, it follows that what is natural is rational, and what is rational is natural. From this, it is arguable that in Aurelius’ eyes people who are rational are being natural since human reason ultimately derives, and is part of, that divine providence that displays and operates with a rational structure. In other words, because the cosmos unfolds in a comprehensible way, and thus, displays rationality, it is the case that people as part of that natural order necessarily possess reason too.
By being innately rational, Aurelius believes that people who live by reason are in tune, or at one with who they are, since they are not only recognizing but also participating in, and copying, the higher immaterial aspects of the universe. 17Skeptic Thought: Pyrrho of Elis (c. 360-c.
270 B.C.) is the earliest figure in ancient Greek skepticism. on record. He seems to have written no text and to have held common opinion in no consideration, hence attributing no relevance to the most basic and instinctive habits. Probably influenced also by the Buddhist tradition of his time, Pyrrho viewed the suspension of judgment as a means to achieve that freedom of disturbance that alone can lead to happiness. His goal was to keep each human’s life in a state of perpetual inquiry.
Indeed, the mark of skepticism is the suspension of judgment. In its most extreme form, known as academic skepticism ibid16 Contemporary Relevance of Meditations, by Andrew Lang17and first formulated by Arcesilaus of Pitane, there is nothing that should not be doubted, including the very fact that everything can be doubted.HEBREW THOUGHT ON REASON AND FAITH Jewish Philosophy on Reason and Faith: The 14th Century Jewish philosopher Levi ben Gerson tried to reconcile faith and reason. He wrote, “The Torah cannot prevent us from considering to be true that which our reason urges us to believe.” His contemporary. Hasdai ben Abraham Crescas argued the contrary view, that reason is 18weak and faith strong, and that only through faith can we discover the fundamental truth that God is love, that through faith alone can we endure the suffering that is the common lot of God’s chosen people. Moses Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher, allowed for a significant role of reason in critically interpreting the Scriptures. But he is probably best known for his development of negative theology.
Following Avicenna’s affirmation of a real distinction between essence and existence, Maimonides concluded that no positive essential attributes may be predicated of God. God does not possess anything superadded to his essence, and his essence includes all his perfections. The attributes we do have are derived from the Pentateuch and the Prophets. Yet even these positive attributes, such as wisdom and power, would imply defects in God if applied to Him in the same sense they are applied to us.
Since God is simple, it is impossible that we should know one part, or predication, of Him and not another. He argues that when one proves the negation of a thing believed to exist in God, one becomes more perfect and closer to knowledge of God. He quotes Psalm 4:4’s approval of an attitude of silence towards God. Those who do otherwise commit profanity and blasphemy. It is not certain, however, whether Maimonides rejected the possibility of positive knowledge of the accidental attributes of God’s action. 19Islamic Philosophy on Reason and Faith Islamic philosophers in the tenth and eleventh centuries were also heavily influenced by the reintroduction of Aristotle into their intellectual culture.
Avicenna (Ibn Sina) held that as long as religion is properly construed it comprises an area of truth no different than that of philosophy. He built this theory of strong compatibilism on the basis of his philosophical study of Aristotle and Plotinus and his theological study of his native Islam. He held that philosophy reveals that Islam is the highest form of life. He defended the Islamic belief in the immortality of individual souls on the grounds that, although as Aristotle taught the agent intellect Jewish Encyclopaedia 18 Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy19was one in all persons, the unique potential intellect of each person, illuminated by the agent intellect, survives death. Averroes (Ibn Rushd), though also a scholar of Aristotle’s works, was less sympathetic to compatibilism than his predecessor Avicenna.
But in his Incoherence of Incoherence, he attacked Algazel’s criticisms of rationalism in theology. For example, he developed a form of natural theology in which the task of proving the existence of God is possible. He held, however, that it could be proven only from the physical fact of motion. Nonetheless Averroes did not think that philosophy could prove all Islamic beliefs, such as that of individual immortality. Following Aristotle in De Anima, Averroes argued for a separation between the active and passive intellects, even though they enter into a temporary connection with individual humans.
This position entails the conclusion that no individuated intellect survives death. Yet Averroes held firmly to the contrary opinion by faith alone. 20Christian Philosophy on Reason and Faith St.
Augustine emerged in the late fourth century as a rigorous defender of the Christian faith. He responded forcefully to pagans’ allegations that Christian beliefs were not only superstitious but also barbaric. But he was, for the most part, a strong compatibilist. He felt that intellectual inquiry into the faith was to be understood as faith seeking understanding (fides quaerens intellectum).
To believe is “to think with assent” (credere est assensione cogitare). It is an act of the intellect determined not by the reason, but by the will. Faith involves a commitment “to believe in a God,” “to believe God,” and “to believe in God.” In On Christian Doctrine, Augustine makes it clear that Christian teachers not only may, but ought, to use pagan thinking when interpreting Scripture. He points out that if a pagan science studies what is eternal and unchanging, it can be used to clarify and illuminate the Christian faith. Thus logic, history, and the natural sciences are extremely helpful in matters of interpreting ambiguous or unknown symbols in the Scriptures.
However, Augustine is equally interested to avoid any pagan learning, such as that of crafts and superstition that is not targeted at unchangeable knowledge. Thomas Aquinas: Unlike Augustine, who made little distinction between explaining the meaning of a theological proposition and giving an argument for it, Aquinas worked out a highly articulated theory of theological reasoning. St.
Bonaventure, an immediate precursor to Aquinas, had argued that no one could attain to truth unless he philosophizes in the light of faith. Thomas held that our faith in eternal salvation shows that we have theological truths that exceed human reason. But he ibid20also claimed that one could attain truths about religious claims without faith, though such truths are incomplete. In the Summa Contra Gentiles he called this a “a two fold truth” about religious claims, “one to which the inquiry of reason can reach, the other which surpasses the whole ability of the human reason.” No contradiction can stand between these two truths. However, something can be true for faith and false (or inconclusive) in philosophy, though not the other way around. This entails that a non-believer can attain to truth, though not to the higher truths of faith. 21 ibid21COMPARISON BETWEEN GRECO-ROMAN AND HEBREW THOUGHT The synthesis of the opposing Hellenic and Talmudic philosophies of reason and faith, respectively created what may said to be a dual philosophy of faith and reason by the Christian philosophers.
Hellenic philosophy shaped Roman philosophy, which was widely propagated through the territories occupied by the Roman Empire, which included the birthplace of Christianity. Christianity, meanwhile, due to sharing the Old Testament with Judaism, inherited a number of their philosophies, such as the story of Abraham’s emphasis on faith rather than reason or emotion. This created an amalgamation of the two philosophies. Acivenna’s interpretation and translation of the Republic reintroduced it to the philosophical theologians of the day, including St. Augustine, who incorporated the teachings of Plato into his own writings.
Gnosticism, a Christian religion formed around the philosophy of nihilism, also included Platonic elements. Martin Luther, too, voiced an appraisal of Platonic philosophy and praised it as being close to the teachings of Christ. However, points of clashes also arose between Hellenic and Hebrew thought, for example, one being the contradiction of St. Anselm of Canterbury’s ontological proof of God with Plato’s philosophy of Forms.
Plato outlined what he called the Forms. He believed that the essence of something was not the shape of it or the matter of which it was constructed or its color or any other physical property. He believed that we are able to recognize an object because we know its essence through its Form.
The Form to him was some ethereal thing that no one could see or touch but that existed nonetheless. So, in Plato’s mind, their was the Form which didn’t exist in time or space and there is the manifest of the Form, which is what we see. The Form of a triangle is an idea not created by humans, but the triangle that we see is.
In Platonic philosophy, the triangle Form is greater than the physical representation of it because it is more perfect in form. A Form has no flaw, so therefore, it cannot be less than something that exists in the physical world. Anselm outlined what he called the Ontological Proof of God’s existence. In this argument, he postulated that something that exists only in our minds is not as great as something that exists in the real world.
He further noted that everyone agrees that God, whether they believe in his existence or not, is the greatest power there is. Therefore, he concluded that because we can imagine God, the greatest of all beings, he must exist because to not exist would mean that he is not the greatest power in existence. The crux of it is that a real God is more perfect than an imaginary God.Anselm says something that exists is greater than something that is but an idea. Plato says that something that exists is less great than something that is an idea. Here is the problem. Both the ideas cannot be true.
They clearly contradict each other. 22 An Examination of God’s Existence, Sam Cox 22