Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rambam and Intellectual Honesty

In his introduction to Sh'mona P'rakim, Miamonides says that he will quote many different philosophers in his essay, even some who not Torah oriented, or even Jewish. This does not bother him, as 'we accept the truth from wherever it comes'.

However, he says, he will not quote these sources by name, partly because there are many who would see the names, and assume that if the quote comes from a non-Torah person, it must be tainted, containing no 'good' in it at all. Thus, Rambam leaves the names out, hoping that the statements will speak for themselves. (Rambam's student, R' Ibn Palkira, states this even more clearly: 'We examine not the speaker, but what he says.')

During a discussion at Mishmar, I mentioned this Rambam. Some took issue with my unqualified acceptance of this lesson.

We must remember that God's seal is Truth. If something is true, it does not matter from where it comes. It must be accepted. This principle of the Rambam was used by many commentators throughout Jewish exegesis and halacha. In all aspects of life, but especially in the pedagogic arena, this idea must be embraced. It stresses the importance of intellectual honesty and truth over dogma. It is the difference between education and indoctrination.