Non-Materialism

In the comment section to this post , I stated that I am soldier in the army of G-d.

In response, Tim Kindred stated that, he “will never recognise anyone as a soldier who does not represent a recognised government, or political movement and wear upon their person a distinctive mark of that government so as to permit them to be recognised as such,” and that “Religions are not recognised as lawful governments, therefor[e] they cannot have “soldiers”.”

Answering, Daniel Harr, one of Dean’s World’s most erudite contributers, stated that one may draw an analogy between being a soldier in the US army and being a soldier for G-d without equating the two entities in a simplistic fashion. (See the attached post for more context.)

Indeed, I agree with Daniel that one may draw such analogies in the way he described, but at the same time I wish to offer a response going in the opposite direction.

Generally, when we observe and describe the world we tend to look deeply at entities, abstracting the concepts and dynamics from the material instance in which they are embodied. Once we have abstracted the concepts and dynamics from the instance that is their material shell, we then classify material entities, comparing and contrasting as we go along.

Accordingly, one can certainly abstract what he sees as the conceptual structure embodied within an entity like, say, an army or a soldier, and find its twin in, say, a religious group serving G-d or any group ‘fighting’ to further a certain goal. And, conversely, someone else is able to disagree with the identification, pointing out what he sees as critical differences between said entities.

The question I am posing, or trying to answer really, is what is the ontological status of those abstract concepts and dynamics; and, relatedly, what is the ontological status of the various entity classifications we base on them.

An ardent materialist would argue, I think, that since materialism is an approach that “regards matter and its motions as constituting the universe, and all phenomena, including those of mind, as due to material agencies[,]” all conceptual underpinnings underlying material entities are no more than tools created by and in the minds of men to relate to their material surroundings, possessing no real existence outside of the mind.

The Torah, though, sees the world as a material manifestation of spiritual worlds, a low level of which being the conceptual structure underlying and embodied within it. Accordingly, not only do the conceptual underpinnings of the material exist outside of the mind, but also they are truly the main element of existence, the material being only their physical manifestation.

These spiritual underpinnings are the entities as they exist in the Torah. This idea is one of those that are encapsulated in the Talmudic phrases “The Torah precedes the world” and “the Holy One Blessed Be He looked in the Torah and created the world.”

Indeed the Torah sees our duty as bringing the material world to fully and perfectly reflect its true character, namely , the way it exists in G-d’s mind (so to speak) or , to say it differently, the Torah.

For example, Torah sees material kingship as the reflection of the kingship of G-d himself, with the awaited Davidic monarch its most perfect material manifestation. This is indeed why Jews are required, upon seeing any real king, even that of another nation , to make a declaration blessing G-d for bestowing his kingship upon humanity. Similarly, in the presence of a sage we bless G-d for placing his wisdom upon humanity, and so on and so forth.

Accordingly, and finally, when I stated that Jews are the army of Hashem and that I am a soldier in it, I meant it in the utmost.

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2 Responses to Non-Materialism

  1. Maximus says:

    I would like to see a continuation of the topic

  2. naftali says:

    Hi Maximus,

    I will take that into account. Additionally, I”d like to suggest that you seek out your local Chabad institution and ask them to study with you a book named “Shaar Hayichud vehaEmunah” , published in the work known collectively as “Tanya”. Further, you can ask them to study with you the concept of Machshava Hakdumah DeAk, especially as it is expounded upon in the book known as “Derech Miztvosecha”,( the whole book is itself a great place to start for these studies).

    They will know of all these references, and they will be delighted that you came; that’s what they are there for. Also, you can show them this web-page and the “about” section, so they will know where you are coming from.

    Finally, if you like the writing on this blog, you may want to join the “Dean’s World” blog community, where I post most often, and participate in the comments. deanesmay.com .

    By the way, i find your blog interesting and i hope to link to it from “Dean’s World” later on today.

    Naftali

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