This article argues that the religious epistemology of the rabbinic tradition, which preserves and respects multiple perspectives in intellectual debate, is best understood in comparison to the definitions of truth proposed by philosophical pragmatists, in particular William James and W. V. Quine, and in contrast to those of philosophical liberals, in particular J. S. Mill. Both the rabbis and the pragmatists emphasize the harmony that innovation must maintain with extant webs of meaning. Conceptions of objectivity and subjectivity in Jewish medieval rationalism and in early modern mysticism are considered and compared with those of latter-day European and American epistemology. This article makes a case for a fundamentally pluralistic conception of truth and argues that it is exemplified in the social interaction of the talmudic sages.
Shlomo Dov Rosen; RABBINIC SUBJECTIVITY: Innovation, Dispute, and Pluralism in a Revealed Religion. Common Knowledge 1 January 2017; 23 (1): 120–142. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-3692665
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