Translate

30.9.12

Because of the problem of Muslim attacks on America it seems to me that people should have some basic knowledge of biological and chemical warfare.

Because of the problem of Muslim attacks on America it seems to me that people should have some basic knowledge of biological and chemical warfare.
  I remember in Israel when Iraq was bombing Israel, that we were all given masks to protect from chemical warfare and told to sit in sealed rooms and also given a standard kit for injections in case it was determined that chemical instead of biological agents were released. I admit that this was done very well. Yet the one problem I feel that the whole program lacked was that people did not know any basic information. No one was told the difference between a virus and bacteria or explained the different types of bacteria and how this is relevant to biological and chemical warfare. But at least the basic kit was given out.  [The way you were told whether to do the injection was by the type of alarm system that you would hear and in case the radios were still worked this information was broadcast on radio. I forget today the meaning of the different types of alarms.]
  But in America it seems to me the problem is worse. No one is even given the basic kit of a chemical warfare mask or the necessary injections in case of attack.And America has already been attacked. I don't see why the government would not at least make an effort to guard American lives unless guarding American lives was simply not interesting to the government.
When I returned to Israel later I had lost my old biological and chemical warfare kit so I had to pay for the old one before I could get a new one. That was before the Hizbalah in Lebanon started bombing Israel They did not use chemical weapons at the time but I had no way of knowing what type of weapons they would use. So I thought it was wise to be prepared. At any rate, they were only bombing  North  Israel and I was in Yerushalim at the time.
[When Iraq was bombing Israel I was also in Jerusalem where bombs did fall.]

29.9.12

two types of tyranny



We should distinguish between two types of tyranny: (i) the tyranny of those who abuse authority they legitimately acquired and hold; and (ii) the tyranny of those who obtained and hold power by usurpation.Usurping tyrants  (level two)—as, in effect, parties making war against the political community—may legitimately be resisted and even killed by anyone who has the effective power to do so.  By contrast, where legitimate rule has degenerated into tyranny, the tyrant  is entitled to something like what we might call “due process of law.” It is up to other public officials, operating as such, and not (ordinarily) to private citizens, to overthrow their regimes and, if necessary, bring them personally to trial and punishment.

In the present day this seems to apply to the government of the USA as a whole. You can't really point to any one person who has created the monstrosity the vast government of the USA. But it is clearly against the Constitution which calls for limited government

28.9.12

The conflict is between Divine simplicity and the reality of the ideas.

  I want to make clear the problem that the Pre-Scholastic Christian thinkers struggled with and how this caused a radical shift towards Aristotle in the 1200's. And I want to deal with how the later Jewish thinkers dealt with the same problem.
  The problem is simple. In Plato and Neo-Platonic the ideas are the really real. This world is a reflection of the higher spiritual worlds. So all the multiplicity in this world is really in the Mind [Logos] of God.-- and that creates multiplicity in God.
  Understandably this is not acceptable in any approach based on the Torah. The conflict is between Divine simplicity and the reality of the ideas.
  The general move of Maimonides and later Jewish thinkers was towards Aristotle that universals and the ideas are real, but depend on particulars. In the Christian world this same problem led to the ideas being considered less and less until we get straightforwards Nomalism [that the ideas don't exist].
Shalom Sharabi (הרש'ש) (in his book Nahar Shalom) developed an approach that is dynamic. His claim is that spiritual reality is itself in a process of change from universals being independent to their being dependent. (This is a problem in itself because the ideas were originally conceived as answering the problem of Parmenides "What is must be and was is not can't be;" so the Ari making change in the world of ideas in itself is already a radical departure from the original concept. so you have to posit higher levels of spiritual world in which there is no change --like the Remak הרמ''ק)
  I should probably mention Isaac Luria. It always seemed to me that his major point was simply to put God beyond all processes of creation. In his thought even though Emanation (אצילות) and Adam Kadmon (אדם קדמון א''ק) are Divine, there still come after a long process of contractions and lessening on the Divine light.

 To the Ari and the Zohar all lower worlds after emanation are not Divine. And also the Zimzum  [contraction] is specifically in God himself the Arizal states many times at the beginning of the Eitz Chaim.
The sad thing is that people that supposedly teach Kabalah are never doing that. They are always teaching some corrupted version of pseudo  Kabalah

27.9.12

A Jewish approach to politics

This would not include the Democratic Party in the USA which is positively hostile to America and which has imported  Sharia law to the American  mainland and supported a takeover of the Middle East by Muslim fanatics. Today the Democratic Party is the Muslim party.  Anyone who hates America has a home in the Democratic party.
The problem is that in a democracy, people have realized they can vote for themselves other people's money. This is what Americans are doing when they vote Democrat.. The fact that they are destroying America, one brick at a time, does not bother anyone because there is no longer any national spirit.
It was suggested to me that  America is on its way down because of the Muslim president,




But a Libertarian also would not be an option because of the the conception of natural law of Maimonides and Saadia Geon is not compatible with the thesis of self-ownership -- which is the very heart  libertarian-ism


The Torah is a natural law approach to ethics.

Also self ownership makes no sense.  We cannot plausibly be said to own ourselves in a substantive way. We don't own ourselves in the same way as a piece of property.

This really leaves only the Republican party which is compatible with the world view of the Torah.


An argument against self ownership by [Edward Feser.] : 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!” 

26.9.12

Before the 60's fascination with crackpot religions there was a warning
Hoffer argues that all mass movements such as fascism, communism, and religion spread by promising a glorious future. To be successful, these mass movements need the adherents to be willing to sacrifice themselves and others for the future goals. To do so, mass movements often glorify the past and devalue the present.

The reason few people heeded the warning of Hoffer was that there was an opposite tendency. Nietzsche had glorified authenticity and this somehow became a part of the young American mentality. So people that were interested in joining a cult  simply ignored questions of truth and preferred authenticity. And then when they get disappointed and leave they are still fascinated by authenticity instead of truth. The Mentality of the Fanatic never changes. So they become obsessed with attacking what they believed in. The truth is the great books of Talmud and Mishna are good books. Abuse does not cancel use.
The Old Testament [Torah], and Talmuds, the Babylonian and Jerusalem, connect one to a plane of existence-- an "a priori" transcendental plane of moral and numinous value.


25.9.12

 Nachman of Uman deals with the question which bothered philosophers: "How does multiplicity come from One." This was originally answered by Plotinus  [the founder of Neo Platonism] and then developed in Christian thought by pseudo Dionysus. [The reason Plotinus is not sufficient in this question for people of Jewish or Christian background is that there is no problem of potential multiplicity in the Nous. But for Torah based people, we have to have absolute simplicity in the One.] The one person who addressed this question straight on was the medieval prescholastic thinker, John Scotus Eurigena (c.800 - c.877). This indicates that  Nachman was familiar with Medieval Pre-Scholastic thought. [This is not news in Breslov. Everyone know he borrowed from medieval kabalists. and was familiar with philosophy.]
The problem which bothers me here is: Did  Nachman know that this question bothered Christian thinkers for about a thousand years until finally they just gave up on Neo-Platonic thought during the 1200's and decided to switch to Aristotle?" However neat and clean Aristotle is for all the problems that bothered the Neo-Platonic philosophers for a thousand years, still for people that want to continue with Neo-Platonic thought like the Ari [Isaac Luria] and  Nachman and the Rambam {Maimonides} himself this seems to present difficulties.
 Just  two of the problems for people in Neo-Platonic thought. Problem (1): For the personal God of the Torah, there does not seem to be any reason to create the physical world. If people here are mere reflections of a higher person in the Mind of God then why bother creating this flawed world? [And the Ramchal (Moshe Lutzato) does not much good here. No reason why God could no bestow good on people without there being the option of bad. If I had no chose but to accept a million dollars tomorrow would that make it worthless to me?]-  Problem (2) The reality of Divine idea introduces multiplicity in God -- a big "no."
I admit, a lot of the problems that bothered the Neo-Platonic people like the pre scholastic Christian thinkers never bothered me much because I accepted the Neo-Platonic system of Isaac Luria which deals pretty well with a lot of the basic problems. [Or maybe not as Rav Nelkenbaum pointed out to me at the Mir  in New York, Issac Luria  does not really deal with the "Why?" but the "How?"]  Rav Nelkenbaum did not put it that way but that is what he meant. At any rate, with "shevirat hakelim" שבירת הכלים [breaking of the vessels] you get a whole bunch of answers for the Neo Plato people.
Of course, Christians ever since the 1200's have an extreme aversion to anything which smacks of neo Platonism. I don't think they are right about this. As many problems the neo Platonics had, still the move towards Aristotle and Nomalism has not done any better and has lead to plainly anti-Torah philosophies and false philosophies. I mean the one thing that characterizes post Renaissance philosophy is its reliance on circular reasoning starting with Hume and ending up with the modern trash that goes by the name of philosophy.
The delicate balance that  Nachman walked between Neo Platonic thought and Maimonides shows he wanted to preserve Divine simplicity and divine ideas.{even though creation ex-nihilo is not a proof of  Nachmans'  type of thought. For that is a theme in Neo platonic thought also.)


It is strange that Reb Nachman asks the question of the Philosophers and then uses their answer and at the same time as he uses their answer he disparages them for asking the question.-The Platonic Forms along with the whole scheme of Emanation of Plotinus.





23.9.12

 Neo Platonic thought in Jewish thinkers Maimonides and the Duties of the Heart.
 and the problem of how to reconcile Plotinus with Jewish  thought.
It is hard for me to not see a strain of the thought of Plotinus in Maimonides . I think that we can all admit that Plotinus is much more in agreement with the Torah.[note 1]
My thoughts:
(1) We see Neoplatonic thought often in Maimonides. As a  support we can see that Maimonides considered knowledge of Physics and Metaphysics as the path to attachment and knowledge of God. This is a powerful and clear a statement of a Neo Platonic belief system.
(2) To the Rambam  knowing creates connection with the known. "Knowledge and the knower and the known are one." This is straightforward Plotinus. Otherwise there is no reason to expect that since I know anything about an orange that that should make me an orange.
(3) Maimonides:  one's portion in the next world depends on "sechel hanikne" שכל הנקנה [acquired intelligence]  and expands on it to include the idea that one must know this acquired intelligence with one "yedia" (ידיעה)[one act of knowing]. This is a move of Christian Mediaeval thinkers that tried to get Plotinus's multiplicity of ideas to fit into the oneness of the Creator. They had thought that they had successes in this, but it seems to me that Maimonides and Aquinas must have felt the lack of logical rigor in this attempt, and so made the move towards a more radical Aristotelian approach.

(4) Maimonides  has a rigorous self consistent system (With the Rambam at least we know he had a system This is easy to see when we consider Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and his work on the Rambam's Mishna Torah. It is too bad he did not do the same thing with the Guide but at least we can know that in potential such a thing is possible)


But it is my personal belief that both of these thinkers could be shown to be rigorous if someone would spend the time and effort to show it like Chaim Soloveitchik did with the Mishna Torah of Maimonides.


This has seemed irrelevant for most people for about two hundred years since reason itself has been under attack. But if Reason ever regains its prestige [as it seems to be doing in modern day philosophers like Kelly Ross and Michael Huemer] then the issues that were burning intense issues of metaphysics will become  in the future also burning and relevant issues. The nice thing will be that there will be Kant and  and later thinkers like Otto, and Nelson  to help create a consistent logical Torah approach.

I mean philosophers have spend plenty of time trying to make adolescent-rage philosophers like Nietzsche logical and rigorous. It is not time to give Maimonides?

[note 1] The trouble with the Divine Mind also is troublesome for Quantum Mechanics. No one can know the state of the electron before it is measured,--even the Divine Mind.  We know Schopenhauer was going with the Ding An Sich [singular] as the Will and I was pretty happy about that 







18.9.12

Laws do not change in meaning over time

In the conservative shuls/synagogues  they count women as part of a minyan. I see this is the difference between me and Conservative Judaism.. I agree to change Shulchan Aruch based Judaism-but I change it based on internal sources like the Talmud or other internal sources of authority. [This is like the  book of the Supreme Court Justice Scalia that sets out the legal philosophy, called "textual original-ism," which says judges should adhere strictly to the text of laws and give them the meaning understood by the people who adopted them. Laws do not change in meaning over time, they contend.]
Part of my approach to how I would modify the Shulchan Aruch would be to notice the argument between the Rambam and the Raavad about rabbinical laws.
The  Rambam holds rabbinical decrees do not lose their force when the reason for them drops off. The Raavad disagrees with this, and Tosphot also disagrees with the Raavad. (Any place in Shas where this issue comes up, Tosphot says this.)
So decrees of the Sages are highly connected to the reason they were made. That would mean that some laws of Shulchan Aruch would automatically change if the circumstances changed.
[When I say Shulchan Aruch I mean the four volume book by Joseph Karo written in Safed about 500 years ago, along with his commentaries-the Shach, Taz, Magen Avraham, etc. It is a very large book and to go through it takes a lot of time.


As for the contention of Supreme Court Justice Scalia, I think he is right. Laws don't change meaning over time.  But he is referring to the laws of the Constitution of the USA. And that has a different ground of validity.
The ground of the Constitution is Natural Law and the contract theory of John Locke.
The Supreme Court justices are thinking in different terms than people involved with Torah think.
They might be considering the fact that if they people pass laws that are bad for them "Who are we to disagree?"  I don't know if there is a name for this but  it could be called "judicial minimalism."
They might be thinking if the people don't like the laws passed by the Congress and signed by the president it is their prerogative to get themselves a different Congress and a different president.
They get this chance every four years. And perhaps now would be the time to start preparing. After all more than 50% of Americans believe in conservative values. Why should it be so hard to get a president who respects those values?















13.9.12

One of the ways that I disagree with  the  Ultra Orthodox is in the issues of: (1) Anachronism, (2) Objective moral values, (3) Divine Command theory.
(1) Anachronism. While I agree there is great value in the Talmud, but I do not see it as the system of law that was in place during the time of the prophets of Israel.
(2) Right and wrong are not  dependent on what people think.  Nor do they depend of social conditions or upbringing. They are not relative. The reason this is so is that relative morality is logically incoherent. It can not claim its own truth without contradicting itself.

(3) G-d commands us things to do in the Torah because these things correspond to a natural order that he created. They are not good because he commanded them, and they are not arbitrary.



Abuses of rabbinic power are swept under the surface. It is hard for a person who wants a clean conscious to be part of a word that has a guilty conscious and is more afraid of the light of truth than the darkness of lies.

The reason it seems to me that people are afraid of the truth is because in fact as Nietzsche said "the truth is terrible." We live in a harsh world and we ourselves from the aspect of our animal nature are terrible beings. And we use the appearance of  morality to cover up our savage, cunning, violent, lustful, sadistic nature. But what makes this all the more terrible is the meaningless aspect of it. We are in a desperate search for meaning. So    the  Ultra Orthodox world will do anything to guard the sanctuary of what they think gives them meaning. This is where I disagree with them. In this issue I am a monotheist--God gives me meaning. I do not need to find it anywhere else.

12.9.12

Values, if they are objective, can't be Jewish. There can't be Jewish chemistry or Jewish mathematics.

Values, if they are objective, can't be Jewish. There can't be Jewish chemistry or Jewish mathematics. Even if Jews do these things, that does not make them Jewish. And even if only Jews did them, they still would not be Jewish. Only subjective values can be Jewish. The reason we learn Torah is that because of the evil inclination it is hard for an person to discover on his own true objective values. So we need to learn Torah to discover these values. [The move to disregard Divine ideas (Plotinus) to preserve Divine simplicity in Aquinas caused reason to no longer be the criteria of morality, but rather the Divine Will. This was a mistake.  At least, to my relief, Maimonides preserved a lot of neo Platonic thought.

[But I can't prove that he did so with logical rigor. I hope someday some one will do the same job on the Guide that Chaim Soloveitchik did on the Mishna Torah. Before Reb Chaim people believed the Rambam was rigorous even thought it seems to be full of contradictions. Reb Chaim proved it is rigorous.]

However if someone would say, "Then, fine. Jewish values are subjective.-So what?

Then it will follow that if we all took an attitude of approval towards Adolf Hitler, then Adolf Hitler would be good. Beside this, there are other objections to subjective values. [See Kelly Ross, Michael Huemer, John Searle.]
I think it is important to note that to the Rambam [Maimonides], the values of the Torah are objective and not observer dependent.

[Kelly Ross does defend Divine Command theory but I have not gotten a chance yet to see how he does it.]

So in short my attitude about moral values is this: Moral values are objective. They are embedded in reality. They are not observer dependent. And they are known by reason. Torah is to help us to know moral values that we would automatically know if not that the evil inclination affects our reasoning.

[Some people think belief in some system or other is the most important thing. This is found by religious people of most denominations. That is they put faith in their system above what reason perceives as moral value. That is not my approach. And I think it is not the Torah approach either according to Saadia Gaon or Maimonides. But this faith based approach did become the universal approach of religious people across all spectra.

11.9.12

There are too many subjects to write about today. so just a quick list as a reminder. [1] The very important argument between Nietzsche and  the Ari  concerning the Will. With Nietzsche it causes nothing and is just a effect of deeper things happening under the surface. The known will is just indicative of which one of the lower level wills beats the others. (Leiter, the foremost Nietzsche scholar, thinks there are several possible approaches to Nietzsche's opinion about the will. But at least we know he is disagreeing with Schopenhauer). To sum it up: To Nietzsche neither the will nor consciousness causes anything.
To  the Ari the Will is everything. It breaks through all barriers. It is clearly a causative agent. And I agree with this. I think modern psychology has way too much accepted the doctrines and Nietzsche and not realized that the will has the ability to overcome all personal flaws and mental problems. [Though they dress their guesses in scientific language to impress people. Feynman openly called all social sciences pseudo sciences.]
My own opinion here is that I don't know if there really is an argument.I would first have to see which will Nietzsche is attacking. It seems to me unlikely that he is knocking the actual will of Schopenhauer (the higher Will). Sure he knocks Schopenhauer but in terms of what Schopenhauer though people know they are willing something. Not in terms of the will as the dinge als sich alein. Maybe I am wrong but it seems more likely that he is attacking the individual will, i.e. what people call their will. The more basic thing I think is going on is Nietzsche is trying to attack free will which  Ari clearly holds from.
 If you believe in free will, obviously the will is going to play a large role and not just the higher will but the individual will.


[2] The other issue I wanted to deal with is Constant the French aristocrat that saw the genius of Rousseau but also his flaws. The difference between the freedom of ancient Athens and the freedom of the moderns.


 But the pure secular is a empty of content. [I mean meaning of life type of content]  so clearly people have a good motivation in getting involved with Torah in a Lithuanian Yeshiva.
I am reminded of a televised debate [or discussion] in the 1980's between the USSR and the USA.

Someone asked a woman on the panel about their attitude towards sex in the USSR. She said, and I quote, "We don't have any sex in the USSR."
Notes
() My own perspective on this is towards the Schopenhauer and  Ari axis.
() These two subjects are related because if you think like Nietzsche that the will is nothing then free will will also mean little to you. and if free will means little then why bother letting people do what they want.? This is the reason freedom has suffered in the modern age. If people are determined then why let them be free. This is the reason why totalitarianism  of the Democrats today in America has so little appeal to me since I see freedom as a prime value.



9.9.12

Learning Torah according to the Gra

According to the Gra and his disciple Chaim from Voloshin Learning Talmud is the goal in life.  There is no  basis in reason for this which makes it work. It is based on faith. [They have plenty of support for this thesis from the Talmud itself. But they make it more clear that what you would think from reading the Talmud. And I tend to agree with this in principle, but I have a few preconditions. Learning Torah has to be not a means of making  a living. And it should be done with Musar (books of ethics).]

The problem with this path is an test that I have. It is:  If a certain service in fact unites one with God, then it has to be visible by the person's actions. This puts a big hole in the learning Torah for money path- since there are some people for whom this does not work.

The problem is I actually felt the holiness that is at the center of the learning Talmud path. So I do not want to discount it. Rather, I think when the Torah is used as a mode to be making money, it turns into its opposite. It becomes a source of negative value.


My own idea here is that the one highest service to God is what is called in Torah, "Attachment with God" (or as this is often referred to as the Highest Awe of God. In my way of thinking all services of God are to bring to attachment with God. [Attachment with God is a commandment in the Law of Moses and is mentioned twice in Deuteronomy as a command in and of itself. It is also counted in the list of the commandments of the Rambam. ]


Yet, I also have another idea which seems to contradict this. It is that a person's portion in the next world depends on his actions towards his fellow man. And that attachment with God is simply the way that one's personal actions will in fact be good and not just appear good.

So what we have is in the Torah itself there seems to be a hierarchy of value. We have the things that the Torah clearly considers to the the fundamental essence of Torah-- the Ten Commandments. However you read it these two tablets of stone are clearly the climax of the Torah and what it puts all its energy into.

The rest of the commandments are clearly secondary. But we do find that the Torah and later prophets stress keeping all the commandments which includes everything that God says in the Torah. Most have to do with building the temple and also bringing the Jewish people into the land of Israel and  laws of property and how God wants society to function when the Jews arrive in Israel

To understand the Gra and the idea that everyone word of Torah is worth more than all the mitzvot we need two things. One is to recognize that all  a person's deeds depend on what he thinks. The next step is Hegel. We can understand empirical reality to flow from the Mind. [In that way Hegel is  close to the Neo-Platonists]

[I should mention however that in Silverman yeshivas which go by the path of the Gra, they concentrate on the Tenach (Old Testament)  and Mishna.  Only after the ages of 18 or so do they start on the Gemara. And I might mention that I really loved learning Mishna with the commentary of the Rav from Bartenura. (That is the regular edition of Mishna).]



The general result of the Silverman Method is that people that graduate from the system know the Tenach [Old Testement] and the Mishna very well. Almost by heart. 

6.9.12

weaknesses in libertarianism

People that live under the American democracy have forgotten how precious freedom is. This is how the Democrats have been successful in undermining the American Democracy. [Clinton capped the second night of the Democratic National Convention with a rousing speech designed to remind voters of the budget surpluses and job growth he led in the 1990s during his two terms in the White House. This is a logical fallacy called a red herring. It has nothing to do with the fact that the present day president has led America into an unprecedented era of stagnation and 222 trillion dollars of debt.]


However there are weaknesses in Libertarianism {I.e. Thomas Jefferson and John Locke type of Democracy}. Ayn Rand is a gold mine of holes.
Holes in Libertarian philosophy:  the most simple of all problems is the fact that man is not a blank slate and that the social group is infinitely more important to people than self preservation or morality based on logic. People become religious fanatics every day because they don't care about rules of logic and material evidence but rather on the need to join a social group.
I.e. John Locke's idea of the blank slate is not true, and it is essential to his idea of a just government.


Also, I am bothered every single day when I see the good and bad that were part of the USSR. A determined enemy of freedom could easily find enough evidence to knock serious holes in Libertarianism.

Some of the good things the USSR were housing, central heating of whole cities from a central plant, the attempt to create a society based on justice, and not arbitrary rule of religious fanatics, their space program. Also, they seem to have been able to avoid some of the evils that are plaguing America right now-extreme addiction to law suits, an incapability to withstand the forces that are opposed to freedom and democracy from within like Muslims and the Democratic Party.



You can see a more robust libertarian approach based on nature law. At least this way we would avoid the obvious  conflict between John Locke and Darwin. That is we don't have to chuck out John Locke but we would have to modify him. And the nature law approach would help a lot of things in the USA. It would mean that people can protect themselves when government refuses to do so.
It means people have a natural right to their own property. It would eliminate the politics of the left which is based on making people angry at rich people.












5.9.12

Kabalah of the Ari and Moshe Kordavaro. This is Neo-Platonic.

  The system that is accepted by the Kabalah of the Ari and Moshe Kordavaro. This is Neo-Platonic. Personally while I have a great respect for this, still I do not see that universals can exist outside of particulars. Also even if I would agree with this the fact remains that the thinkers who tried to use this approach ended up with a basic contradiction. Universals in the mind of God introduce a pluralism in God that is unacceptable in Jewish thought.

For just a fast run down of some of the ways to understand Torah, Talmud,   Rambam are these: (1) What did the author meant. But obviously with  the Rambam this is very hard to know. So we ask a different question: How did people understand him?
 We can guess at what probably a  reader would have taken the text to mean. To me the great sin in understanding Torah is anachronism.  So while I realize that the Torah has many levels of understanding, but I also think that when the Ari [Isaac Luria] dressed his insights in verses of Torah, he was doing just that. He was not saying that that is the meaning of the Torah. He is rather dressing his own insights in the verses. I also hold by a idea of the Rambam that there is a level of religious truth that is not accessible by reason. So if people have personal inspiration by verses of the Torah, I do not discount that.

Appendix:

The subject I wanted to deal with is Plotinus (the founder of Neo Platoism) [You can imagine I have a great respect for him because of my Kabalistc background.] as he relates to ethics. The sides of this issue I wanted to deal with are, (1) The bankruptcy of modern ethics.   (2)  The need to found ethics on Faith.  (3)Kabalh's Neo-Platonic point of view.   (4) The Rambam's-Aristotelian point of view  (5) Kant and Hegel.
Also, I wanted to mention the Neo-Platonic Christian thinkers of the Middle Ages that got stuck in the problem of the ideas being in God. While this would work for the Neo-Platonic school, it can't work for any Christian or Jewish school of thought. So if I have time I would like to argue for a Kant approach to ethics which I consider a modified Neo-Platonic approach.

 First I want to mention some reason why people should reconsider the Neo-Platonic approach. The most basic reason is that the approach to theology based on Aristotle of the Ramam and Aquinas is too fraught with problems. I could go through a whole list here. On the other hand the nice thing about it is that with Aristotle universals depend on particulars. This is nice and in fact can work very well in the system of R. Shalom Sharabi [a Yemenite Jew]. That means that in the context of a Neo- Platonic system, it might be possible to work in this important insight of Aristotle.



) Secular Ethics: The problem with secular ethics is that it not an end in itself, but rather a means to further social-political aims. The outwardly professed sensitivity for ethics and ethical treatment of popular causes of the Left and the Democratic Party in the USA in effect affords people with a pseudo-religious engagement with reality, in what is otherwise an anti-religious, morally sterile, secular age. For people reading this blog outside of the United States I have a revelation for you. In the Democratic Party in the USA , Reason and Logic are not  held to be the final court of appeals in settling rational matters.  Debating has become a pointless and fruitless activity given that the foundation of morality has been vanquished.

In essence, debating today has become a rhetorical tool used for relativists to control problems of the day through obfuscation. Ethics, according to our leading academics, has everything to do with our social environment. This is obviously false.We have indeed tried out as many types of societies in human history as we have been quick to conceive them. In every one of them there always surfaces that undeniable, pesky entity called man.--who refuses to be formed and molded by his social environment.












4.9.12

The Godel proof of God I should say up front is something that I believe in. I know that as Dr. Kelly Ross wrote: "the modern principle in this respect is the formula, "Existence is not a predicate." Now, I tend to agree with this, but I do not think that the issue is anywhere near settled or certain. The modern case is compromised with the decision in logic to treat existence as part of the system of logical quantification. I think this is nonsense. In traditional logic and ordinary language, existence clearly is a predicate. A more sophisticated and accurate approach would be to develop the difference between verbal and nominal predicates. Existence would not seem to be a nominal predicate -- though there are indeed languages without a present tense verb "to be" that must use a nominal construction. "

 In Mathematical Logic there are two  principles which answer the objection of Kant.
(Completeness Theorem)(Compactness Theorem).
I am not at present involved in this subject but I thought to write it down just for a reminder to look at this later.
The place I learned about these two theorems was from Stefan Bilaniuk's book Chapter 4. [http://euclid.trentu.ca/math/sb/pcml/pcml-16.pdf]