Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Great Regulars: For one thing, by conceiving of religion as an elite

training regimen, [Peter] Sloterdijk implies that a religion is justified only by its saints. Anyone who is not a saint is insignificant, and so the average person's experience of religious meanings--whether metaphysical doctrine or spiritual consolation or tradition or identity or communion--is dismissed out of hand. This is false to the lived reality of religion for most people, and shows how tendentious Sloterdijk's equation of religion with "practice" really is.

Then there is the question-begging insistence that metabiotics, Sloterdijk's discomfitingly biological philosophy, will do in the absence of metaphysics.

from Adam Kirsch: New Republic: Against Cynicism: A philosopher's brilliant reasons for living


The problem of the workmen in the Holy of Holies is also considered as a case of "deriving benefit" from something prohibited--in this case, the benefit of getting to look at the holiest spot in the world, ordinarily prohibited to everyone but the high priest. Indeed, the rabbis wonder whether it might not be a kind of sin to derive any kind of pleasure from the Temple, even by looking at its decorations, listening to the music played there, or smelling the incense. This seems strange: Surely these things were designed specifically for the pleasure and awe of the Jews who worshipped in the Temple? Why build a beautiful structure and fill it with music and perfume if people are not allowed to enjoy it?

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: In the Shadow of the Divine, Reaping Unintended Benefits at the Edges of the Law


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