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1.5.16

Steven Dutch had some critique about the libertarian party that made sense to me. Plus there are some philosophical critiques I think I saw on Edward Fesser. Plus Dr Kelley Ross left that party for enough good reasons. While getting back to the actual Constitution of the USA is important I do not think the libertarian party would do so. I think Trump would do so.

The Edward Fesser critique I think was based on the idea of  desert island with two people: "Suppose, for example, that you and I are castaways and wash up on some tiny island upon which no human beings have ever trod.  You immediately pass out on the beach, while I get to work constructing a bamboo fence whose perimeter happens entirely to enclose your body.  Upon waking, you accuse me of imprisoning you and thereby violating your self-ownership rights, and demand to be released.  Suppose I then respond as follows: “I have not imprisoned you at all!  I’ve simply homesteaded all the land around you -- which you had no right to, since it was virgin territory -- and I’ve built a fence around it, to make sure you don’t come onto my land and take any of the resources I’ve justly acquired.  True, you’ve got nothing in the way of resources in the seven-foot by four-foot plot of sand I’ve left you, but that’s not my fault.  That’s just your bad luck, sorry.  I suppose it would be nice of me to give you some of mine, but at most I’d be unkind rather than unjust if I decide not to do so.  And I was very careful not to touch you as I built my fence.  I do respect your right of self-ownership, after all!' "

See also




A major philosopher of the Libertarians in Ann Rand and  she is a great writer, but a sloppy thinker as Dr Michael Huemer pointed out in his critique.


The deepest and most thorough of all these people is Kelley Ross. Edward Fesser is pretty much up there with him in sheer intellectual power but slightly less because less thorough. Michael Huemer is simply brilliant but I put him in third place after the first two. Not because of intellect. He is maybe smarter than the first two but the first two are more thorough and take longer to get to a conclusion.





Shimshon Refael Hirsch. Rav Kook and Reb Israel Salanter

I have thought and wondered for some time what could provide a simple introduction to Torah
The trouble that I see is that of schizo-typal personalities. That is mentally unbalanced people that feel they already understand the Torah perfectly and have to bring everyone else to their perverted version of it. All books that supposedly provide an introduction to Torah though are from these kind of insane individuals or followers of said individuals.

And even if one would have the time and effort to go through the entire Oral and Written Law that still is no guarantee to come out with  an authentic approach.
Thus it occurs to me that there is a great need for the Horev of Shimshon Refael Hirsch. I would add Rav Kook also to this list of recommended introductions, except that I am not that familiar with his writings.

Reb Israel Salanter's Musar movement and all of the books that came from from his immediate disciples are very good, but the movement itself got sidetracked in strange fanatical ways.

Reb Israel wrote a letter called the Igeret HaMusar which he meant to inaugurate a kind of Musar Movement. Later one of his disciples Isaac Blazer wrote a book called Or Israel and the letter of Israel Salanter is in the middle of that book. The basic message in plain English is to fear God and to work on one's Midot [character traits]. That is a book that inspired me greatly to look more deeply into Musar when I was at the Mirrer yeshiva. It is slightly different than the Madragat HaAdam which also is basic Musar but with a special emphasis on trust in God. Both of these books however are in Hebrew and the Horev of Shimshon Refael Hirsch is in English already and also provides a kind of Introduction to Torah thought that Musar already assumes. 


Music for the glory of God

r46  r47

If you are protecting Hillary then guns are the answer. If you are protecting ordinary people from criminals that is different.


Virtue signalling is not virtue

The essence of hasidim is virtue signalling by dress and by elaborate display of rituals. "Virtue signalling is not virtue, it is the pretense of virtue.  Being virtuous results in status. People look-up to virtuous people. But on the other hand virtue is hard and requires sacrifice and discipline. You are only as generous as the portion of your income you’re actually willing to give to others.
Some people try to acquire status a dishonest way. They practice virtuous activities so they can show off their virtue to others. But this virtue is not real virtue.
A generous man gives to the poor because it’s the right thing to do or because he is compelled by compassion, duty, or guilt; he does so for some reason intrinsic to himself and his own character. He is generous because he is a generous person. The generous man who gives to the poor while telling those around him how generous he is, is not being virtuous. He is not displaying his own virtue, rather he is buying the status of being a generous person with his gifts."
I think it matters what the character of the higher power is and what kind of obligations He imposes. The Rambam definitely mentioned this in the Guide for the Perplexed. Let's take for example Venus. She imposes certain obligations. Her obligations are opposed to those of Artemis. In fact, so opposed such that if one serves Venus, Artemis is likely to get mad at him, and visa versa. That is perhaps an extreme example. But the point I think is clear.

This was a short note I wrote on social revolutionary 




I think the point is brought out well in Kelley Ross's essay the Dark Side of the Tao.


The point I am trying to make is that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob imposes certain moral obligation that are unique and different from other "higher powers."   Thus everything depends of what higher power one is serving.

However nowadays it has become profitable to  signal to others that one is serving the God of the Torah. It has become big business. This is why you see many people making elaborate display of their religiosity.


My feeling is that it matters which higher power we choose. That is choosing the First Cause is important. But then there is a subject element of how we understand the first cause. Schopenhauer put it the best way to make this understandable. Not a direct quote but his idea is, "The representation is provided half by the subject and half by the object." All I am saying is how we understand the First Cause is important.

This is why the Torah and the books of Musar make it clear that God requires certain standards of morality and does not leave it up to us to decide what we want to be moral but makes it clear from the outset.