Saturday, August 28, 2010

Vlog Post 3 -- Emotion in Judaism

This vlog entry is a response to a blog post by E-man wherein he argues that truthiness is the way to go the following: "if a person simply chose to follow G-D because of rationale, that service of G-D would be stone cold and there would not be a very great connection to G-D."


  1. Baruch-

    I think you misunderstood my idea. The Parsha was talking about the Jewish people who had a revelation from G-D and saw His miracles constantly. They knew G-D existed from clear evidence. However, it was not until they were emotionally involved that they could truly follow Him and come to connect with Him.

    In essence, I think I am saying exactly what you think is probable. A person can come to believe in G-D through logical thought. However, they can not really come to connect to G-D until they are emotionally moved to follow Him.

    That was the point I was trying to get across, sorry if it was unclear.

  2. You're drawing a REALLY sharp distinction here between "reason" and "emotions." I don't think such a sharp distinction makes very much sense. Either that, or you're a solipsist, and skeptical about the existence of the physical world.

  3. Also, your point is taken, I need to find a new name for my blog.

  4. E-man,

    I'm addressing your assertion that one must have feeling involved in order to choose to follow God.

    The step from a rational belief to a rational (but total) submission to the halakha is not a far one logically at all. As Heschel has noted, "God is of no importance unless He is of supreme importance."

  5. Daniel:

    I think I'm more a Socratist. But I'm not a philosopher (I'm an aspiring historian) so what do I know? :p

    I was responding to the assertion that one must have emotion involved in order to choose to follow God. Why? Shouldn't one do his best to transcend those biases which counter the knowledge which stems from personal experience (i.e. reason)?

  6. The human condition does not allow one to follow from pure reason. I can know something is right, but still not really connect to it or follow it until my emotions are involved with it.

  7. Now you're essentially saying that one can rationally figure out that there is a God but until he's felt some sort of personal emotional connection, he can't choose to follow God (whereas originally, I should note for posterity, you were saying that the unemotional one could choose to follow God but it would be an unfulfilled following).

    I think you're trying to have your cake and eat it too. I think if one can come to the conclusion that there is a God based on (what I believe is inevitably faulty) logic, then he can choose to follow God based on that logic. If he is wired to require some subjective emotional experience to believe in God, then he will also require such an experience to follow God. But he can't come to the conclusion that there is a God rationally and then require a supplementary emotional experience post-facto to follow God. If he (thinks he) realizes that there is a God, he will come to the super-logical realization embodied by the Heschel quote I mentioned earlier.

  8. Here is a good example, gravity. Gravity is an invisible force that exists. If I jump off a tall building, gravity will bring me down to earth and I will die.

    What prevents a person from jumping off a building? Is it the knowledge that gravity exists and therefore he will fall down and die? No, it is FEAR, an emotion, that prevents that person from jumping and injuring himself or herself or killing himself or herself. You can rationally know something, but that can only really become ingrained into your psyche through an emotional attachment.

    Why is it so hard to shoot a person that you are friends with, but it is easier to shoot a stranger? (In a case where you need to shoot this person for your own survival) Emotions play a very strong role in non-tangible ideas.

    Death and gravity are just two examples of non-tangibles that require an emotional involvement in order to really connect and grasp those ideas. I think the idea of G-D is similar to this.

  9. Very Kierkegaardian.

    Off-the-cuff and I think this'll be my last word:
    Fear of death has motivated a lot of human endeavors, good and bad. But is the reason -- even the partial reason -- a person shouldn't jump off a building because he fears it? Maybe he is less afraid of eating a cyanide-injected fruit, but does that make it any more moral? Of course not. A person generally fears getting out of his comfort zone. Fear isn't a reason to avoid something. Like most emotions, it is a motivating factor which one should try to get over and replace with calm reason. When the reason for not jumping off the building is better than "I'm afraid," you have a more purposeful and thus more spiritual life.

  10. You don't have to respond to this but I don;t think you understand my point. A person needs proper motivation. Cold rational thought does not provide real motivation to do almost anything. Yes, a person needs to come to rational conclusions. However, the emotions are what help the person get motivation and ultimately act or not act depending on the case.