"Your intent is desirable, but your deeds are not."
- The Rabbi's view on philosophical inquiry
- R' Saadia Gaon's view on philosophical inquiry
Saadia Gaon, The Book of Beliefs and Opinions
…It behooves us to give an account of the bases of truth and the vouchers of certainty which are the source of all knowledge and the mainspring of all cognition. Discoursing about them in keeping with the aim of this book, we declare that there are three [such] bases. The first consists of the knowledge gained by [direct] observation. The second is composed of the intuition of the intellect. The third comprises that knowledge which is inferred by logical necessity.
Following up [this] enumeration with an explanation of each of these roots of knowledge, we say that we understand by the knowledge of observation whatever a person perceives by means of one of the five senses; that is, by means of sight or hearing or smell or taste or touch. By intuition of the intellect, we mean such notions as spring up solely in the mind of a human being, such as approbation of truthfulness and disapproval of mendacity. By the knowledge derived from logical necessity is meant conclusions, which, unless they are accepted by the individual as true, would compel his denial of the validity of his rational intuitions or the perception of his senses. Since, however, he cannot very well negate either of these two, he must regard the said inference as being correct. (Introduction, 5)
The Sages of the children of Israel have also said with reference to him who has not fully studied the subject matter of wisdom: “Ever since the number of disciples of Hillel and Shammai increased who did not wait upon scholars sufficiently, there has been an increase of the number of disagreements” (Sota 47b, Sanhedrin 88b). This utterance of theirs indicates to us that when disciples do complete their course of study, no controversy or discord arises among them.
Let, therefore, the worried fool refrain from ascribing his failings to the Creator, exalted and magnified be He. Let him not say that it was He who had implanted the doubts in him. Rather it was his own folly or his worry that had hurled him into these doubts, as we have explained. (Emunot ve-De'ot, introduction, 3)