Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Searching strategies

We can't be everything to everybody. Last night several readers asked for materials that we didn't own. One person needed help searching for the term: henological reduction. You are probably wondering what the word "henological" means. You are not going to find it in most dictionaries. It was coined by Henry Dumery for use in the proof of God's existence. He defines the term as: "the inferior receives from the superior the means to be what the superior is not." (Dumery, Henry.
The Problem with God in the Philosophy of Religion. Evanston, IL : Northwestern, 1964 p. 89.) This definition is far from that offered by the Oxford English Dictionary -- "The belief in one god as the deity of the individual, family, or tribe, without asserting that he is the only God." One does not have to understand the nature of this rather obscure argument to help the reader. The reader wanted to know why a particular Jewish text web site did not have any information on the concept. The quick answer is either the makers of the web site didn't include any information or the query was not properly formulated.

To check for good search strategy the reader asked for reference help. Since the term is rare Google searches on the web, books, and scholar produced few results, but they were helpful. A search using Jstor retrieved: "Being and Some Theologians" by O. C. Thomas
The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 70, No. 1/2 (Jan. - Apr., 1977), pp. 137-160, reference found on page 156. This confirmed the concept is not a Jewish concept and therefore unlikely to appear on a site with Jewish texts.

Another reader wanted travel books for the Middle East. This was beyond the scope of the collection since we don't have courses that would need these kinds of books. The public library does have a large number of travel books because traveling people frequently need these books. However, a check of the Chicago Public Library catalog found one possible book, but it was dated 1996. A check of books for sale at Barnes and Noble showed many that would help this reader.

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