Rostyslav Dymerets. Traditionalism and Rationalism in Jewish Philosophy

Traditionalism and Rationalism in Jewish Philosophy

By Rostyslav Dymerets

(International Solomon University)

Source: Judaica Ukrainica 1 (2012): 49–69

Publication date: December 1, 2012

Publication type: article

Language: English

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In this paper, an attempt is made to define characteristic features of philosophical traditionalism and rationalism as well as to analyze some characteristic examples of their paradigmatic appearance in certain pieces of Jewish philosophical thought, in particular, Talmud, Philo of Alexandria, and Saadia Gaon.The paper shows that the structure of Jewish philosophical thought is built up not on the basis of a derivation concept or that of predication of meanings to the subjects different from those the meanings were abstracted from, but on that of implementation of double-sided articulation of names: on the side of the Creator, in the revealed Scripture and in the world of things which designate and penetrate human existence. On the side of humans, this appears in their appealing to the Creator in their ritual-articulation actions to which each human expression is in a way related. Via such an expression a human gives back to God that part of what she or he was able to take from Him and, therefore, is able to return, designating each time this very ability of him or her by an adequate personal attitude towards Him to Whom she or he thus appeals. This structure is based not on sensible entities which pure rationalists would lay, as a priori elements, into the basis of a derivation system from which those entities afterwards, by applying methods of abstraction and generalization, can be reduced to the status of ontological entities, but on appealing to the higher source of all the creatures which can reach the source just by precise reconstruction of the structure of God’s creation represented by different symbolic articulations-events which revealing is comprehended in works of Jewish philosophy.

Keywords: Jewish philosophy, philosophical traditionalism and rationalism, Talmud, Bible, Genesis, Exodus



Gabbai, Meir ibn, Rabbi. Avodat ha-Kodesh.  Lemberg, 1857.

Gaon, Saadia. The Book of Beliefs and Opinions. Translated by Samuel Rosenblatt. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 19