I understand Rashi as making reference to formal causes, while Rambam is discussing final causes. In other words, if I ask why I must act a certain way, I might mean one of two things. I could be asking which halachic principle compells me to act that way, i.e., I could be requesting clarification of a formal principle. On the other hand,I could be asking why the halacha is formulated in the way that it is, i.e., I am asking about the purpose that the formal principle is designed to serve.Rabbi Sacks amplified his statement:
Most Jews lack two dimensions of Torah knowledge. The first is that they fail to perceive the laws of the Torah as an orderly system that has a consistent abstract logical form. Oftentimes, the dinim of the Torah are perceived as innumerable concrete particulars, without any underlying set of conceptual roots from which they emerge and that integrates and accounts for them.
The second deficiency in knowledge is that even people who are aware of the formal constructs of halacha fail to appreciate that the form halacha possesses is there for a reason, to accomplish specific ends.
I would like to amlify Josh's excellent point. The formal cause can itself be thought of in two ways- a mathmatical sense whose value lies more in consistency than in reality and a physical sense. The pfysical sense requires that the nefsh distil its principles from rich sensory experience as Ralbag points out in intro to Shir hashirim. It is the failure to acquire this rich experience that I refer to as the cause of the sterile lifeless formulae in the intro to lashon limudim. Our project is to reconstruct the story approach to distilling principles that will solve both the lack of regard or formal and final causes.I propose two questions to Rabbi Sacks:
What is the rich sensory experience from which one would be able to distill the principle that would be able to illuminate why one who rents from a Jew may not remove the m'zuzot he affixed upon moving out?
Additionaly, in the "Intro to Lashon Limudim" you write:
...modern education, in Torah and general studies alike, fails by rushing the immature nefesh to formal thought before it ready to do so. In rushing our students to formal thought, we do violence to the prime directive of our chanoch la-naar al pi darcho. Implicit in this dictum is an acknowledgement that the immature nefesh's distillation of principles, cannot be rushed. All we accomplish by attempting to rush this natural process is a sterile memorizing of lifeless formulae. The best and most effective way to facilitate this natural process is through presenting carefully organized descriptions of the real world. Stories are actually the ideal instrument for this task. The next section will explore why this is so.He continues:
...As rational animal the hashkafa skills of our Nefesh sichli must develop in an immature psyche or Nefesh behami that is essentially animal in character...Such a nefesh sichli, as yet unilluminated by ohr, must be carefully guided to finding the hierarchy of ohr principles within the tov of social life as this immature nefesh percieves it.Rabbi Sacks seems to be saying that the principles distilled from the Torah Sh'bichtav are the Rambam's ta'am (final cause) not Rashi's (formal cause). Can the m'zuza problem (for instance) only be solved by showing how it achieves some tov - in other words establishing how it achieves its final cause? What would Rabbi Sacks consider to be a formal cause (lets stick to the m'zuza example to keep us rooted) that would immerge from the story approach? (I am trying to be concrete in this discussion so as not to commit the "mathematical fallacy")