The mindset of the Ramchal

Having found the Sefer hadiqduq, I began to study it with a sefaradi chaver in a chassidishe kollel. The kehila of Antwerp is well-known for the his friendly atmosphere.

The tree structure of the Sefer hadiqduq is eye-catching and even ear-catching.

But we remarked some incoherences and some phrases without real significance.

The Rav Brieger writes in his introduction that he has two different manuscripts from talmidim of the Ramchal.

At the first sight, I was a little bit disappointed but I understood that this sefer gives a testimony of mental activity of the Ramchal.

Let’s have a trip in Amsterdam in the years 1730. We are in a classroom of the portuguese synagogue. The Ramchal teaches diqduq to his talmidim. He does not have a book or manuscript. He has everything in mind and he dictates to his talmidim.

I think it is a proof that the Derech Tevunos is not a book about logic but about mnemonic or, more exactly, about ramist mnemonic, a kind a mnemonic based on logic unlike the ciceronian mnemonic based on visualization of three dimensional images.

A bit of history : In 1966, Dame Frances Yates, researcher at the Warburg Institute publishes a book called The Art of Memory and the world discovers a forgotten science.

The Greeks and the Romans, as any traditional cultures, attached special significance to memory. Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, was the mother of the nine muses, the goddesses of sciences and arts. Since the rise of modern science, memory seems to be just a tool and with the rise of computers, memory seems to be obsolete.

The traditional Art of Memory is based on the use of mental three dimensional images. The orator or the poet built in his memory such images where he attached the topics and the words of his texts.

The Art of Memory was used first and foremost for composition.

In medieval times, the Art of Memory was very popular and when printing came, a lot of textbooks were available. The baroque aesthetics produced huge catalogs of images often weird.

Came a reaction. Pierre de la Ramée, a devout protestant, was horrified by the use of images. He build a Art of Memory based on logic by using the tree structure as fundamental pattern.

And then the Ramchal discovered the Ramist mnemonic, a natural mnemonic for a brain trained by the gemara.

Then the Derech Tevunos is book about mnemonic : how to organize memory by a logical analysis of the knowledge.