1) Given our new intuition, why would any "hero" arise, who would dare engage "the deep"?
2) What would differentiate this person?
3) What is the significance of the great number of ropes used by the "hero"?
4) What is the significance of the villagers imitating the hero and also drinking ?
Answering these questions will require a definition of the "hero". Before giving my own thought on this matter, I will first comment on Carolyn's approach.
My first thought was that such a hero would be driven by honor. I pictured him sitting around, planning a way to finally prove to all how truly great he
is. But, then I realized that such a person would probably be too scared to dare try something like this. To break free of this fearful perspective, I think the person would need to be the kind of person who isn't involved primarily in this social/mythical frame of mind. He is more of an eccentric kind of person, who doesn't care that much about these things and, instead, is involved in his own thoughts about how things work. He may have all kinds of strange inventions and contraptions scattered about his house. The mythical creatures some say lurk in those depths have no reality to him. He is curious about the nature of the deep water. It occurs to him that, just as workers sometimes tie 2 ropes together for certain unusual building projects, perhaps many ropes could be joined to access this deep water. He has the patience to tie together many ropes, one after the other, for this project, as a means to seeing and drinking this water. (Perhaps relevant to the nimshal: Each rope was already produced and seen as useful by the people. His job is to connect them to each other, one by one.)Perhaps, once the rest of the people see that this man accessed the water and drank from it, with only positive results, they no longer feared it. Instead, they, too, drank, using this man's long rope.
The category of person that Carolyn seems to be suggesting is a "scientist" type, identified by his independence of mind -eccentric kind of person who isn't involved primarily in this social/mythical frame of mind, and an ability to make to tools- "He may have all kinds of strange inventions and contraptions scattered about his house". I agree with Carolyn's intuition, the description of the person she gives is just incomplete. While the "scientist" is surely an intuitive notion, it is not yet one that immediately suggests the causal basis of the hero's characteristics (eccentric, independent minded, inventive). The most important issue in the mashal, as I see it, is the ability of the hero to engage the deep with an instrument, the many ropes, that is taken from the world all villagers occupy. Why exactly does the hero see the opportunity in the ropes, while the villagers do not? For this I will suggest a new example to serve as the instrument of induction- the sippur or mishna from which the hero will be defined.
The Hero-Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes serves as the example I find most useful. He supplies the data we need to answer our questions about the משל. It is the relative commitment of Holmes to the derech hashem that differentiates him. This is not a merely academic interest where Chochma is "near in their mouth, and far from their heart" (Jer. xii. 2)". Rather, it is Holmes' commitment to justice- methodically remaking his personal manner of interaction with the environment. It is this application of the belief in justice to a practical method of utilizing the powers of the self as instruments of Chochma that is the key.
"Mitzvat anashim melumada vs derech hashem
"From a drop of water," said the writer, "a logician
could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other. So all life is a great chain, the nature of which is known whenever we are shown a single link of it. Like all other arts, the Science of Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study nor is life long enough to allow any mortal to attain the highest possible perfection in it. Before turning to those moral and mental aspects of the matter which present the greatest difficulties, let the enquirer begin by mastering more elementary problems. Let him, on meeting a fellow-mortal, learn at a glance to distinguish the history of the man, and the trade or profession to which he belongs. Puerile as such an exercise may seem, it sharpens the faculties of observation, and teaches one where to look and what to look for. By a man's finger nails, by his coat-sleeve, by his boot, by his trouser knees, by the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt cuffs -- by each of these things a man's calling is plainly revealed. That all united should fail to enlighten the competent enquirer in any case is almost inconceivable.
Most people, never reflect directly on the "great chain" of causality. Rather, they have a domain of experience in which certain tools and techniques "work". This domain could be a relatively simple activity, as in hewing wood, or more complicated, as in a doctor who memorizes patterns of disease. Nonetheless, both of these are fundamentally lacking as "mitzvat anashim melumada" - an arbitrary way of life, disconnected from "the great chain of life"-theoretical causation. The boundary between mitzvat anashim melumada and true avoda, is explicit awareness of theoretical causality as the basis of practical action- justice.
It is this realization about justice, that practical action is but a special case or application, of theoretical knowledge, that explains all of the characteristics of our Hero.
The Dimayon or "imagination".
To understand the true challenge of justice, ie seeing practical action as an application of theoretical principles, we must consider the powers we use in engaging the environment. Specifically we must understand the role of the dimayon, or imagination.
As its name implies, the dimayon affords us the ability to see a character which is "domeh" or similar in things, what in modern language is called "pattern recognition". This power is crucial for survival as we learned in the post about mshalim (Dec 29).
No creature, however primitive, can survive very long unless it can deal with issues such as: 'Is this the kind of situation where I eat this, escape from it, mate with it, look after it, ignore it … ?'.Since situations don't come with neat labels that say 'Eat me!' or 'Escape from me!', this implies some kind of pattern recognition, and hence some kind of comparison: 'Is this new situation that is emerging just now more like an 'edible' situation, like a 'dangerous' situation …' or whatever.
It is crucial to note, as the article does, that this pattern recognition is an animal survival mechanism, rather than a feature of theoretical mind. This animal power limits itself to the universal as a pattern useful or "good" in the sense of material tangible benefit. This is, once again, since it is a survival mechanism. Similarly the dimayon operates through the mesorah of the what herd experience finds as a pattern of benefit, rather than through deep theoretical reflection
Another kind of 'comparison' that begins to appear in more complex animals is mimicry - e.g. young animals learn by mimicking older animals. There is growing evidence of brain mechanisms specifically concerned with 'mirroring' what others are doing (indeed it has been suggested that such mechanisms may be involved in human 'empathy').The obstacle to justice is now obvious- such knowledge is going to have to emerge from an animal mechanism of pattern recognition that is dedicated to survival of the self, rather than to universal knowledge that, among other things, can be applied to the self.
It is this dedication to survival that causes the zoom to break down at personal space. We find it difficult to see our practical environment as a special case of causality, because of interference of our survival mechanism of pattern recognition or dimayon. While the theoretical mind seeks universal definitive abstract knowledge, also including that with the accident of applying to the self, the dimayon exclusively seeks descriptive sensory patterns useful to the self.
The hero represents the just man who as mind, has broken through the dimayon barrier independently. The villager represents the man who needs the hero in order to transcend the same barrier- ie attain justice.
This idea of the justice of the human theoretical mind vs the egocentrism of the animal dimayon is the basis of answering all our questions. anyone care to try?