Oscar Hoffman, an excellent Professor of Sociology at the Bucharest University, kept telling us, his students:
“For a proposition to be ‘true’ it is not enough for it to be ‘logical’, it also has to make sense from the epistemological point of view.”
Rather hard to swallow, specially for young individuals… and since most students tend to be … well… at least young at heart… it wasn’t simple for us to follow him.
Here’s a story that might help.
“Wrong. The one with the clean face. Examine the logic. The burglar with a dirty face looks at the one with a clean face and thinks his face is clean. The one with a clean face looks at the burglar with a dirty face and thinks his face is dirty. So the one with the clean face washes.”
“Wrong. Both wash. Examine the logic. The one with a dirty face thinks his face is clean. The one with a clean face thinks his face is dirty. So the burglar with a clean face washes. When the one with a dirty face sees him washing, however, he realizes his face must be dirty too. Thus both wash.”
“Wrong. Neither washes. Examine the logic. The one with the dirty face thinks his face is clean. The one with the clean face thinks his face is dirty. But when clean-face sees that dirty-face doesn’t bother to wash, he also doesn’t bother. So neither washes. As you can see, you are not ready for Talmud.”
“Wrong. And perhaps now you will see why Harvard and Yale cannot prepare you for Talmud. Tell me, how is it possible that two men come down the same chimney, and one emerges with a clean face, while the other has a dirty face?”
OK, but where’s the promised link?
Well, who wrote the Talmud in the first place?
A countless number of people who have figured out there’s no such thing as a definitive answer for any question?
That books should be written to help other people develop their minds, not to ‘mold’ them?
That books should be read as an exercise for the ‘thinking muscle’, not in (vain) search for ‘the absolute wisdom’?
Still looking for that link?
Keep reading, only take greater care when choosing them books.
(another version of the same story ends up like this:
“Wrong. Do you now see, Sean, why Socratic logic is an insufficient basis for studying Talmud? Tell me, how is it possible for two men to come down the same chimney, and for one to come out with a clean face and the other with a dirty face? Don’t you see? The whole question is “narishkeit”, foolishness, and if you spend your whole life trying to answer foolish questions, all your answers will be foolish, too.”