The distinctive intellectual and spiritual life of the West springs from the creative tension between Greek philosophy and biblical faith. This course explores that tension by bringing several Platonic dialogues into conversation with some of the more famous narratives from the Babylonian Talmud. These texts tell stories about exemplary human beings—the philosopher Socrates and the Talmudic sages—who inquire rationally into all things in search of humanly essential truth, but who know, or learn by suffering, that intellectual majesty must be tempered by the humility of faith and guided by the common good. Our readings illuminate the different (but surprisingly compatible) ways in which Socrates and the sages understood the relationship between man and God or the gods, the limits of reason, the paradoxes of politics, and the moral errors to which those who quest after wisdom are prone.
Dr. Jacob Howland
Jacob Howland is McFarlin Professor of Philosophy (emeritus) at the University of Tulsa. He earned a BA from Swarthmore College and a PhD from Penn State. His research focuses on ancient Greek philosophy, history, epic, and tragedy; the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud; Kierkegaard; and literary and philosophical responses to the Holocaust and Soviet totalitarianism. His most recent book is Glaucon’s Fate: History, Myth, and Character in Plato’s Republic (Paul Dry, 2018). His other books include Plato and the Talmud (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and Kierkegaard and Socrates: A Study in Philosophy and Faith (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
Meet the Instructor
Tikvah aims to make all of our courses available to as many qualified students as possible. In the event that Tikvah needs to add additional sections, this course may be taught by a different faculty member with a similarly high level of expertise.