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ChristianKl comments on Tsuyoku Naritai! (I Want To Become Stronger) - Less Wrong

111 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 March 2007 05:49PM

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Comment author: ChristianKl 15 June 2016 04:48:11PM 2 points [-]

The case of Maimonides is well-discussed in Persecution and the Art of Writing by Leo Strauss. Maimonides considers it bad to teach the secrets of the Talmud to people who aren't worthy and thinks that the Talmud contains wrong statements to mislead naive readers.

Issues of secret knowledge and mechanisms to keep knowledge from getting picked up by people are found in many spiritual traditions.

There a key distinction between esoteric and exoteric works. Reading esoteric works literally usually means to treat them as being exoteric.

If you look at someone like Richard Bandler who founded NLP, Bandler often tries to teach esoterically whereby he's not explicit about what he wants to teach. If you understand how he teaches than you won't take a story about a personal experience that Bandler recounts as literal but as a vehicle for the transmission of esoteric knowledge.

When Maimonides wanted to teach esoterically he also argues that the esoteric knowledge is more important than the literal truth. Maimonides is likely making a lot of decisions that are different when he teaches that are different from those that Bandler makes, but both consider esoteric knowledge to be important.

People who value exoteric knowledge like Greek philosophers or modern scientists tend to be a lot more literal than people who value esoteric knowledge. Especially at the level of teachers. That doesn't necessarily mean that the average lay-person understands that certain claims about knowledge aren't to be taken literally.