The Rav’s words have been traditionally understood as an affirmation of the world-view of Brisk in which he was educated. But they are also of a piece with Sarton’s early-twentieth-century approach to studying great men and their intellectual achievements. That is, they are equally an affirmation of the milieu in which Rabbi Soloveitchik received his academic training. That everything of interest–everything worth understanding–about a great man and his great intellectual achievement took place within his cranium was indeed the assumption that underlay much of intellectual history a hundred years ago, but it is no longer. And that everything there is to know about the halakhic process and its development can be understood from within it is a claim that is untenable in light of the last thirty or forty years’ of knowledge production in the academy.
Rivka Press Schwartz, “What Are We So Afraid Of?: The Challenge of Torah U’Madda for Our Time”, Tacit Knowledge (5 January 2017) [https://rpschwartz.com/2017/01/05/what-are-we-so-afraid-of-the-challenge-of-torah-umadda-for-our-time]