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Lecture

Fackenheim (Lecture Schemata 6)

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 1200
Professor
David Matheson
Semester
Winter

Description
6   Fackenheim:  Life  in  command     How  the  transcendent  can  ground  a  meaning  of  life:  The  commandment     relationship     The  values  of  commandment     So  far,  we  haven’t  heard  much  from  the  transcendentalists  about  how  it  is,  exactly,  that  the   transcendent  could  ground  a  meaning  of  life,  i.e.,  about  the  way  in  which  our  lives  might   relate  to  a  transcendent  being  or  realm  so  as  to  have  a  meaning.  In  his  contribution,  Emil   Fackenheim  attempts  to  address  this  issue.     In  Fackenheim’s  view,  the  way  in  which  our  lives  relate  to  the  transcendent  so  as  to  have  a   meaning  (the  "meeting"  between  us  and  the  transcendent,  as  be  puts  it)  is  best  thought  of-­‐-­‐ at  least  according  to  the  religious  tradition  that  he  represents,  Judaism-­‐-­‐in  terms  of   commandment:  there  is  a  transcendent  being,  God,  and  we  are  related  to  it  by  appropriately   responding  to  the  commands  (about  what  we  should  do)  that  it  gives  us.  As  Fackenheim   puts  it:     [T]he  Divine-­‐human  meeting  assumes  structure  and  content  in  Judaism  through  the  way   man  is  accepted  and  confirmed  as  a  consequence  of  this  meeting.  In  Judaism  God  accepts   and  confirms  man  by  commanding  him  in  his  humanity  […].  (32-­‐33)       How  does  this  relationship  of  commandment  give  rise  to  a  meaning  for  our  lives,  however?     Fackenheim  goes  on  to  explain  that  it  gives  rise  to  a  meaning  because  it  implies,  or   confirms  for  us,  four  basic  things  about  ourselves  and  our  lives  that  are  especially  __________     ______________________________________:     Responsibility   Agency   Partnership   Security     Responsibility:  that  we  are  commanded  by  an  infinite  (read:  all-­‐perfect,  i.e.,  personal,  all-­‐ good,  all-­‐knowing,  all-­‐powerful)  being,  and  can  respond  to  its  commands  appropriately,       confirms  that  we  are  ________________________________________________________________________________     ________________________________________________________________________________________________________;   hence  our  human  lives  ones  that  matter,  since  we  can  be  held  responsible  for  them.  (We   don’t  command  non-­‐responsible  things,  e.g.,  rocks,  chairs,  etc.;  only  responsible  ones.)     So,  says  Fackenheim,  "there  is  a  dimension  of  meaning  in  the  very  fact  of  being  commanded   as  a  human  by  the  Divine:  to  be  thus  commanded  is  to  be  accepted  as  humanly   responsible."  (33)     2   Agency:  that  we  are  commanded  by  an  infinite  being,  and  can  respond  to  its  commands       appropriately,  confirms  that  we  are  _______________________________________________________________,       not  merely  ____________________
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