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26.4.18

German Idealism really depended on Descartes and that whole train of thinkers from John Locke and Hume. However it was mainly Berkeley who brought out the major conflict between notions and sensations.
But largely ignored was Thomas Reid who blew the whole boat out of the water.

Still people wonder about the epistemology of Thomas Reid.
To me it seems clear that it must be like Leonard Nelson and Kelley Ross--non intuitive immediate knowledge. Also there is the point of Kelley Ross that he made in his PhD Thesis "Ontological undecidability." That neither axis is primary--not the subject nor object.

Maybe  you could say this is looking backwards. After you read Kelley Ross [the Kant Fries system] and then you look at Thomas Reid you can see how Reid was already implying those ideas. But still to me these ideas look to be implied by Reid.


In terms of one kind of false prophet it is odd that the major point seems to be that he claims a new law of Torah was revealed to him from Heaven. The funny thing is that it seems easy to get out of this problem. He can just claim he is not stating a new law, but a new custom that is important to do.
Or claim what is called רוח הקודש Divine spirit as is very common for people to do nowadays. Or דעת תורה [a "Torah mind"]

There are multiple subterfuges that people use to get out of the fact that  they are in fact fulfilling the conditions needed for them to be considered a false prophet.

25.4.18

Things exist but that their existence is dependent on God

It is  good idea to look at the beginning of Mishne Torah of the Rambam in order to get an idea of what the verse אין עוד מלבדו ["You were shown to know that the Lord is God, there are no others besides Him"] means. The way the Rambam explains it is this שכל הנמצאים צריכים לו והוא ברוך הוא אינו צריך להם ולא לאחד מהם...והוא שהתורה אומרת אין עוד מלבדו.
"For all things that exist need him, and He (blessed is He) does not need them, nor even one of them."

That is the idea is that things exist, but they need God in order to exist. There is no denial of the fact that things exist. But rather that their existence is dependent on God, while his existence is independent.
[This really ought not to be a surprise since the same idea can be found in any number of Musar books and books of the Geonim and Rishonim, e.g. אמונות ודעות (Faiths and Doctrines) of Saadia Gaon and the חובות לבבות (Obligations of the Heart)]

attachment with God

The problem with attachment with God is that it is the highest Torah value, so when it decays, it falls into the lowest level of darkness.
So you can see why in Litvak yeshivas there is a certain amount of hesitance to emphasize  attachment with God as a primary value. It is not that they are thinking it is not possible for people to come to. After all, since it is a primary commandment of the Torah, it must be by definition possible for every person to come to. Otherwise, it would not be commanded of every person. But the fact is this high level can decay. ["Better a wall of ten inches that stands than a wall of 100 feet tall that falls."]

[I am thinking here along the lines of a system of values somewhat like Dr. Kelley Ross and the Rambam. With the Rambam you actually have two areas of value--moral virtue and intellectual virtue. And in his system these two areas are connected because the moral area leads into the intellectual area. As he says one's portion in the next world depends on שכל הנקנה acquired intellect.
The related system of Dr.  Ross originates with Leonard Nelson but goes back to Kant and Schelling. I think it was Schelling who proposed not all value is moral value.]
But I do not think one needs to be committed to German idealism for this to be a workable idea. See Thomas Reid. German Idealism is built on shaky foundations. In spite of the fact that Thomas Reid tears the whole thing (German Idealism) apart, still people have wondered what his (Reid's) system actually is. To me it seems that Leonard Nelson got the right idea--non intuitive immediate knowledge. Knowledge that you know not by the senses and not by reason. To me this seems to fit exactly with what Thomas Reid was getting at.]



[The Christian world does have this idea of attachment with God directly in certain medieval mystics. Meister Eckhart was one I had heard about, but there were more. The Protestant world more or less however forgot about this entirely. I do not mean there was no value in the Reformation, but still this seems to be a weak spot for Protestants.]

[One thing I did do in this regard was when I was in Israel [Safed] I spent some time daily in talking with God directly from my heart in the forests and fields in that area. That is the idea of prayer towards God that is not scripted, but spontaneous. That is not the same as attachment with God, but when I was in Safed, it seemed to be closely related. The best I can imagine is that attachment with God seems to be  gift that comes from on high--but one can work on being prepared by means of learning straight Litvak Torah e.g. the Avi Ezri. And also private prayer with God. And to act like a mensch in all situations.]





24.4.18

Attachment with God does not get much attention.

Attachment with God does not get much attention as a primary goal in life. Most people do not even know that it is a positive commandment.

I certainly was unaware of its importance when I got to Israel.

Thus when I felt attachment with God in Israel, I did not value it, and after seven years I thought to escape.
I had in fact once before that time learned the Musar book the Light of Israel by Isaac Blazer. And he brings from the commentary with no name on the beginning of the Rambam that all the commandments are to bring one to attachment with God.
I had forgotten that.

[The verse in Deuteronomy says to do the commandments in order to fear God. Another verse says fear God in order to do his commandments. The explanation is there is a lower fear --fear of punishment. And there is a higher fear--awe of God. Thus the idea is to fear God with the lower fear in order to do the commandments; and do the commandments in order to come to the awe of God,-- and that will lead to love and then attachment.]

Later I saw  that just showing up in Israel by itself does not bring to attachment with God. Rather there is the whole learning Torah thing that you have in Litvak yeshivas that apparently is a prerequisite. [Anyway I was there during the last year of the life of  Bava Sali when there was a kind of  time of awakening. That seems to have passed. Thus the best thing to do is just to go about learning Torah in the straight Litvak path. With that-- attachment to God will come again.]





Rav Shach did not think very highly of books about השקפה-the world view of Torah. He brings the verses that criticize making books עשות ספרים אין קץ [of making books there is no end] and the end of that verse shows it is all vanity  and a waste of time. On the other hand he brings statements that are indicative that books on Torah are important.
The resolution is books that continue the process of the Oral Law are good. Books that try to get world view issues are a waste.  "Give a philosopher enough paper, and he can prove anything."

[However what would Rav Shach say about the Guide for the Perplexed or the Faiths and Doctrines of Rav Saadia Gaon? Apparently he would have to agree that a certain limited amount of  this kind of study is important.]

Meaning of your life as a whole or per section.

You can ask about the meaning of your life as a whole or also ask about the meaning of particular events and the meaning of certain time periods.
Sometimes certain events are begging for commentary. Sometimes the meaning is all too clear.

For me it seems better to look at certain time periods as defined by geographical location.


However if I try to define the meaning of certain time periods, I find they contradict. [Or they seem to contradict.]

If I look at the period I was in the Mir in NY-the lesson seems awesomely clear--learn Torah. But if I look at later periods the lessons seem to get lost or at least diluted. The answer to this contradiction I find in the period I was growing up in my parent's home --that is the lessons of balance and to be a "mensch" Or as the Sages put it טוב תורה עם דרך ארץ and דרך ארץ קדמה לתורה
Good traits and manners comes before Torah. Torah is good with good traits.


Even though listening to hints from what happens to you in your life is one good lesson, still there is  a larger issue of figuring out the meaning of your life in terms of whole sections. The time you were in high school, and later on periods.