What is the hebrew term for the rationalist approach of the Rambam, the Ran, the Rivash, Ralbag etc.?

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    I don't think Rivash belongs on this list. He actually named Ralbag as following the folly of the Rambam in these matters. Also, why do you put the Ran here? – user6591 Jan 1 '16 at 15:46
  • @user6591 broadly he is more similar to rationalists that to mystics. (even though Rivash is on the right, while Ralbag is on the left). Note for example Rivash's responsum on kabblah, and his quote about the Ramban... – mevaqesh Jan 1 '16 at 18:17
  • @mevaqesh I think his opinion of mysticism is a different subject than his opinion of rationalists. It's only nowadays that we lump all these ideas together. He was able to say one must believe simple readings in verses and the Talmud while not accepting the mystical approach. His issue for instance with Ralbag was that Ralbag didn't believe the simple meaning of the sun standing still for yehoshua, but thought it was a poetic way of saying the war went quickly. That was a rationalist idea, rejected by Rivash. – user6591 Jan 1 '16 at 18:30
  • @user6591 again it is a matter of degree; everyone has their sacred cows, even rationalists from Shemual bar Chofni Gaon, down to the Rivash. Debating the definition of the English word "rationalist" is doubly dubious; firstly, it is inherently subjective, How rationalist is rationalist? Are Chassidei Ashkenaz rationalist relative to say Moshe Taku? Secondly, there are many variables, and one can be rationalist with some, and irrational with others. – mevaqesh Jan 1 '16 at 18:34
  • I'm honestly curious if you have somewhere to point out where the Rivash brings a passuk or a chazzal and says 'but since that doesn't make sense, I'll say something else', like what the Ralbag does in this week's parshas about the age of Yocheved. – user6591 Jan 1 '16 at 18:50

A popular word used to be חוקר as in חוקרי טבע which loosely translates as philosopher or scientist.

Also popular is משכיל, meaning someone who tries to understand. But that has underlying connotations which may or may not be intentional.

Also on the subject though not what you are looking for, the phrase עסקן בדברים, or just עסקן according to Rashi, is used to describe someone who experiments to prove the science in psukim, as seen in Chulin 57b.

[Oddly, there he 'proved' the navi right(that ants don't have a king), got criticized for his need to prove it instead of simply relying on the navi, and in reality, based on our current knowledge, the navi was right on a technicality (they have a queen, not a king) which should have proven the test useless(as there would have been a leader in charge that the underlings should take counsel with).]

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  • Thanks. Can you please put the hebrew vowels? – far22 Jan 2 '16 at 23:46

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