Page 105 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 8 (1949-1950)

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ficent premises. He feels and knows much more than he can give
a reason for, and he is not disposed forever to be arguing over
first principles. Conservative by temperament and, I believe,
also by preference, he has been satisfied to take some things for
granted rather than heed every voice summoning him to go in
search of
un grand Peut-etre.
Knowing the transmutation of
thought and having witnessed the rise and decline of systems
and their disappearance like the traces of a ship, he has been
somewhat hesitant to follow every
ignis fatuus
whither it might
lead. In his opinion there was perhaps never an age whose “rash
and headlong spirit” stood as much in need of curbing as our
Though he might concede the “ traditional” God-idea to be ill-
defined and though he might even go as far as to admit that the
various proofs of the existence of the Deity so much in vogue in
the Middle Ages and in such high favor then with Jewish, Moslem,
and Christian thinkers, had not fared too well under the pressure
of modern thought, he would nevertheless maintain that for the
religious, (he should be glad to welcome a metaphysics which
retained God and persuaded the irreligious), it was as reasonable
as Jean’s Supreme Mathematician or Whitehead’s Principle of
Concretion. He regards the “I AM THAT I AM” as well-founded
a hypothesis as the
to prSton kinoun,
Aristotle’s Prime Mover, or
as any god brought forward by the philosophers and scientists
and written with a capital, and as having this further merit that
it embodied a recipe for action, a
sine qua non
in a religious as in
a scientific law.
Concomitant with this view, Professor Ginzberg, I should say,
was prepared to charge the dogmas of Revelation, Providence,
Immortality with fresh meaning and to allow for their restate-
ment and reinterpretation in as many different ways as the mind
and heart of man require. He should, however, historian that he
is, resist dismissing them as the refined superstitions of less en-
lightened generations and would “suspect the originality that can
not move except on novel paths.” The grand themes of religion
constituting for him not “abstractions but the flesh and bone
realities” of the human soul, its energies and impulses, its thoughts
and hopes, he would reject as futile the attempt to reduce them
to an arithmetical equation.
Similarly, he would argue that the selection of Israel had far
more to do with the experience of the people than either with
“pure” reason or dogma. I t was a conjuncture of historical cir-
cumstances, a complex of ineffaceable facts, he would insist, that