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28.12.12

Max Weber was the first person to see the basic crisis of the Enlightenment. [Rousseau and Jonathan Swift were the first to attack the Enlightenment but Weber saw that the whole project itself had entered a phases of crisis] (For bit of background information: The Enlightenment was political project or conspiracy to take power from princes kings and priests and give it to the intellectuals and scientists. It succeed like no movement had ever succeeded before. It said to the kings and queens: "Either you will listen to our ideas about justice and freedom or we will make you listen."]

This was a reaction against reason and a search more natural wholeness. The attack against the enlightenment had been started by Rousseau but the first one to see the actual dissatisfaction with reason and the ultra rational world of European Civilization before WWI was Weber.

This is clearly the reason for the radical movements of the twentieth century. The baal teshuva that feels the emptiness of secular America, the Communists and the Nazis-just some people went to religion to fill the emptiness and others went to secular religions like Nazism or Environmentalism or Radical Feminism.

All the above was stated clearly by Weber and later by Allen Bloom




I would like to defend the idea that problem with the Enlightenment goes back to Renaissance Italy from where the whole movement began with the Humanists and can even be traced back to Antiquity. The thing that makes me say this is the fact that even Renaissance Italy with all its glory fell into nothingness after 1500. From there it migrated to Northern Europe and eventually to the USA. But the seeds of its destruction are still there. It can't exist for any extended period without the Bible--without holiness, without a connection with numinous reality.

But this Bible [or Old Testament approach] can't work either without ancient Rome and Athens. Freedom and equality are in no way Biblical values. It's the unique combination of Athens, Rome, and the Torah that created Western Civilization.--and is needed for its continuance.
 
However there is a  problem with how many people approach the Bible. They look at it as if it is porous. They feel they can put in any interpretation that suits their fancy. For this reason for Jewish people the books of Musar [books of ethics from Jewish thinkers in the Middle Ages] are  essential. It is not that these books are so insightful into human nature  or into the Divine Realms [like Isaac Luria]. It is rather that they excel in the one thing the Middle Ages excelled in: logical rigorous thought. There is almost no way to get a self consistent logical approach to the Torah without basing yourself on some Medieval thinker. The reason is that that is what they were good at in those days. It is the same reason why no modern commentary on the Talmud comes anywhere  in lights years of one word of a Tosphot on the Talmud.

For Christian people this all would imply the need for them to learn the books of Aquinas, and Anselm and Abelard.

The modern Jewish synthesis of the medieval books of Musar are contained in the writings of the giants of the Musar movement of  Israel Salanter.
[But sadly that movement fell into the trap of frumkeit and' or the  pseudo  science of psychology.]

But the original Musar movement was definitely on the right track.

For a good example of what is wrong with that movement today a glance at the garbage written in Michtav Meeliyuah of the books of Avigdor Miller will suffice.

In conclusion: You need a balance between  Athens and the Torah. and neither one alone suffices. This was clearly the opinion of Maimonides and of Aquinas. And I would not even have to mention if if not for the problem that today the divorce between Torah and Plato and Aristotle has been completed  to the detriment of both. and this divorce was definitely against the world view of the Rambam, and the Baali Musar from the geonic school like the Chovot Levavaot. [Though I admit that this modern religious fanatic approach was in fact quite in accord with the Rashba, and others of the anti Rambam school. I can not answer this objection except to say that I think the fanatic religious approach is not for everyone. But it might very well be for some people. there was even for me a period in my life that i could not dream of tearing myself;f away from the holy words of the Torah and Talmud for even a minute.--except during the time between morning seder and afternoon seder which was the time periods that i got married in.]









27.12.12

The Musar movement

 The Musar movement is a movement based on the idea that people ought to learn the medieval Jewish books of ethics.] I have been critical of this because first of all those books are in fact medieval with all the good and bad that goes along with that. I.e. they are rigorous logical and powerful but highly scholastic and petty and have some false axioms upon which they base themselves..
On the other hand I had today an eye opening experience which indicates to me that Musar if fact goes along way in giving people a basic idea of the total world view of the Old Testament along with a good summary of the basic practices that the Old Testament involves. I.e. how it would apply to people in a modern framework.


Maybe I should make a quick list of the Musar I found helpful in case anyone wants it for reference.: Yesod Veshoresh Haavoda, Chovot Levavot, the 8 chapters of the Rambam on Avot, Shaari Teshuva, Maalot Hamidot, Sefer Hayashar attributed to Rabbi Tam,  Reshit Chachma. and the major disciples of  Israel Salanter: Madragat Haadam [Joseph Horwitz from Novardok, Simcha Zisel from Kelm and Isaac Blasser from Petersberg. His book, Or Israel is a masterpiece].


In some of these books there are ideas concerning science that are false. That does not make them pseudo science. Mistakes made in good faith are not pseudo science.
Catholics have their own sets of books of ethics that are similar in purpose and for Christian people it is probably a good idea to learn them.



25.12.12

There is a difference in natural law doctrines that have affected me.growing up in the USA I definitely imbibed the natural law theory embodied in the Declaration of Independence of Thomas Jefferson along with the emphasis in Southern California to be an individual, and not follow the crowd.
This Thomas Jefferson doctrine is different than other theories of natural law.
The basic idea I should state here is that people have natural rights that they are endowed with by their Creator. These rights are natural rights, and do not owe their existence to any government. And here is the key point--governments are formed not just to preserve these rights, but also people give up a certain amount of their rights in order to form a government.

This is due to John Locke. Further the identification of Divine rights with natural rights comes from Thomas Aquinas.
There is a theory of natural law from Saadia Gaon who associates all laws of the Torah --Divine Law with laws of reason-not nature. This is a different natural law theory than Aquinas.




24.12.12

It is possible to defend the idea that one should visit at least once the grave of Nachman in Uman and say the Ten Psalms that he designated.


 While this can't be defended from the aspect of empirical knowledge, it can be defended as an aspect of a priori knowledge. This would not be a priori knowledge that comes by reason, but rather by non intuitive immediate knowledge. In this case this would be an area of all content and no form. The fact that there is no form in this area would be the reason why the faculty of reason can't perceive it.






 I admit there is a certain aspect of "faith in the wise" of this. But even the idea of faith in the wise can be defended. In general when you open a book on algebra, you have a certain amount of faith that the author knows something more than you about the subject. And you  also depend on the implicit belief that there are no errors in the book. Even the knowledge that there is one single error in the book would immediately force you to put it down. So you do depend on faith in the wise for this.


 This little essay gives an idea why I feel that the intuitionist school of philosophy missed a basic point about Kant.--that Reason can perceive universals. Once you get out of the area of universals you have to look for another source of knowledge. For instance the thing in itself. Once we are out of universals what reason do you have for thinking that reality should conform to what you think of it?
[Universals are explained by Michael Huemer: I have here two white pieces of paper. They are not the same piece of paper, but they have something in common: they are both white. What there are two of are called "particulars" - the pieces of paper are particulars. What is or can be common to multiple particulars are called "universals" - whiteness is a universal. A universal is capable of being present in multiple instances, as whiteness is present in many different pieces of paper. A particular doesn't have 'instances' and can only be present in one place at a time (distinct parts of it can be in different locations though), and particulars are not 'present in' things.]
\

 Almost all ideas of the cult th Gra put into excommunication can be traced directly to Natan, the false prophet of Shabati Tzvi. The reason that most people are not aware of this is simply that they are usually not familiar with both sets of writings.

The area of non intuitive immediate knowledge is where the Intuitionists [like Prichard] are missing the point. They rightly see that reason perceives more than analytic propositions. But they do not see that still there is a limit to reason-the limit that it sees only universals.







22.12.12

Why is the present administration stockpiling ammo?


One question few are asking: Why is the present administration stockpiling ammo? It recently purchased 450 million rounds of.40 caliber hollow-point ammunition (banned by the Geneva Convention and not used by the U.S. military) and then another 750 million rounds of anti-personnel ammunition for the DHS and other government agencies. 1.2 billion rounds? That’s four bullets for every man, woman and child in the U.S. Since this ammo can’t be used on foreign battlegrounds, where do they plan on using it? And on whom? [From a  note on the New York Post.]



Another note on the New York Post: . If Congress and all federal and state buildings now have armed guards why can't the schools be like protected? I went to a Social Security office recently in a small town...and it had an armed guard!....and we can't guard the schools???? Every parent would be glad to pay, for example, a one dollar security fee each month for their child.

\For further information about self defense see the second amendment to the USA Constitution. This is only meant for those people that can read English.

I am  in favor of self defense. 



For people in New York I think they should not send their children to public school but rather home school.  A school where anyone armed can come in a kill is not a conducive learning environment. And NY schools are a disaster zone even beside this. American companies that need to hire someone competent in Math or science usually have to hire Russians or Japanese or Chinese people. I even meet these types of people of international flights I was on. I remembered sitting next to one Russian that went to the University of Siberia who was working for an American company in the USA that needed someone competent in Math.




There was a case I remember in Israel in which some boat from Lebanon landed on and Israeli beach. The passenger s from the boat walked up to the nearest apartment building and knocked on the front doors of the homes. When the door was opened they shot the inhabitants and then moved on to the next door. They keep on doing this until they got to one door. Before they could knock it opened and the inhabitant shot them. And that is how the cookie crumbles.


20.12.12

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sfl-edge-mayan-doomsday-calendar,0,1683565.flash

For the end of the world I recommend for everyone to buy lots of beets.They are  great by themselves and with meals.



Basing my views on the Talmud I identify strongly with the Conservative movement in the USA.
I will just go over a few points to make myself clear:
[1] Private property and free market.You can't learn even one page of the Talmud without having this drilled into you. Yet the thing is that the Talmud along with the American Conservative Movement does recognize the need for government intervention at certain times. This would avoid some of the problems associated with unlimited capitalism that provided the sense of outrage that Karl Marx felt towards the capitalist system.

[2 ] I do not identify with the Libertarian Party because of philosophical problems that I find there. Also almost every Libertarian thinker seems to have some area of flakiness.

[3] I disagree with the basic approach of the Conservatives and Neo-Conservatives to identify Communism as the prime enemy. What I mean to say by this is that America for about fifty years has supported vicious dictatorships as long as they were not communist. This started in Vietnam and continued up until today. I see this as a mistake. Communism and the John Locke type of American Democracy are not enemies.They are two rival ideas of how to solve the political question how to create a just society that provides equality and freedom for all. Communism was vicious but it was vicious in pursuit of a worthy goal. And most people that lived under the dominion of the USSR miss the stability. Even the children of a former KGB agent that I know recognize that the level of education in the USSR was much higher than it is today in former USSR territories.

In the USSR the was no welfare. If someone did not work they went to jail, i.e a Soviet jail-not an American hotel jail. And after three years if they still refused to work they were sent to Siberia.
Everyone worked and everyone had food and raised their own families without social workers tearing apart the families as they do in America. When people hear about people that suffered in the USSR they mainly are hearing about people that were trying to tear down the government. almost ever single person that lived in the USSR that I have asked about how it was always says things like, "It was not bad . There was stability." The people I have heard complain about it were usually trouble makers.  [And in few societies is real political dissent is tolerated. Dissent is squished in the USA as much as it was in the USSR. Let me suggest for example that someone would suggest that blacks are stupid. I do not say this is true. But how long do you think that persona would be tolerated anywhere in American society whether in business soft government? They would throw him the the American equivalent fo Serbia before you could say"Karl Marx." ]



In spite of the theory of Karl Marx being objectively wrong still there is the point of the Talmud-the law of the country is the law. according to the Rambam [Maimonides] that means that once the coin that is minted by the government has become the coin that is used in the market place then the government has the legal category of a government . In that case all it laws are valid except for anything that goes directly against Torah law. This has wide application as you can see from the Gemara in Bava Batra that it applies even to disputes between Jews in which they could go to a Jewish court if they wanted to. This means the common conception of the law of the country among religious Jews is   has no Talmudic basis. [i.e. the chasidim can't blame their lack of morality on the Talmud.]

18.12.12

Pork is the Answer for Peace in the Middle East

http://holgerawakens.blogspot.com/2012/12/pork-is-answer-for-peace-in-middle-east.html

Controlling large unruly mobs is always troublesome but nowhere is this truer than in the Islamic Middle East. Violence always almost escalates and it takes only a few "martyrs" to instigate a revolution. Just think of how many lives would have been saved if the Syrian regime had better managed the initial anti-government demonstrations?

So, how can an angry mob of Muslims on the verge of deadly violence be constrained? Unfortunately, as recent events show, the standard repertoire-tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets usually fail. Protestors just run and quickly reassemble as the tear gas dissipates or the police run out of rubber bullets or water. Desperate police or soldiers then resort to live ammunition and disaster follows.

There is, however, a solution that would not require new and expensive technology let alone training Third Worlders in enlightened western-style crowd control. The answer is pork and the reasons are obvious--save the most secularized, every Muslim detests pork, and even indirectly coming into contact with a swine product can be nearly debilitating. Supposedly, even mere proximity will deny the observant entrance to Paradise, so forget about those awaiting 72 dark-eyed virgins (no small matter for millions of sex-starved young men).

The easiest tactic would be loading 00 shotgun shells with savory bacon bits. Such "pigshot" when fired into the air would quickly send the panicked fanatics fleeing for cover and contaminate the area for days if not months. Water cannons could also stray crowds with pig broth and just imagine protestors trying to get the stench out of their clothes. The "infected" would stink for days and thereby be ostracized from civil society. Individual soldiers need only be armed with aerosol cans with an active ingredient of 2% pork (or .01% pig blood) to squirt rowdy protestors (much better than pepper spray or guns).

For defensive purposes, bacon grease could be smeared on streets, Holy sites or around government buildings and foreign embassies. A twenty-foot wide "white line" of rancid lard separating Sunni from Shia (or Copts from Muslims in Egypt) virtually guarantees peace. Just to make sure, post signs with pig faces and crossed bones every few feet.

Pork products can facilitate major but humane military operations with zero loss of human life. Property damage would also be minimal and thereby alleviate costly post-conflict re-building. Better yet, no depressing TV coverage of bombed out neighborhoods, over-crowed hospitals and maimed children. Hear that Mr. Assad!! Just fill artillery shells withed cubed ham, sausage patties, deep fried pork rinds, chitterlings or whatever else the mission demands. A single scrapple filled 155mm shell exploding at an altitude of, say, 50 meters could easily contaminate a small village. Inhabitants might not return for twenty years after such a bombardment.

Further add the possibility of humane gas war fare that, being non-lethal, would not violate any Geneva conventions. Flat bed trucks could be modified as mobile Chinese field kitchens, complete with a traditional large exterior ventilating circular fan. When the enemy is within range, computerized sensors would guide the exhaust fan and the pork strips would be cooked in giant woks. Panic would ensue as fanatics whiffed some twice cooked pork drifting their way.

Yes, this sounds fine in the abstract but who will use this weaponry? Surely no self-respecting Muslim will even handle a pork sausage filled artillery shell. Recall the widespread and violent 1857 Indian Sepoy Mutiny when both Muslim and Hindu troops employed by the British East India Company rebelled rather than bite a rifle cartridge covered in grease made from beef tallow or lard. Hard to imagine any Muslim government, no matter how secular ordering its Muslim citizens to touch pork products.

Fortunately there is a solution-outsiders and non-believers. For centuries Muslims have used non-believers for tasks deemed too unclean for the faithful. Many Jews, for example, were skilled silversmiths in Yemen since metal working was too dirty for Muslims (tanning was also off-limits). Most Muslim countries still have Christian populations and in Egypt Christians once used pigs when collecting garbage.

More relevant, a long tradition exists of Arab governments utilizing outsiders (even fellow Muslims) to impose domestic security since outsiders have few ties to natives. The Mamelukes , originally slaves imported from Turkey rose to power thanks to their superior military ability and even held the Egyptian throne from about 1250 until 1517 and still exercised influence until 1811. The most famous mercenaries, of course, are the Swiss Guards who have for centuries provided security for European royalty and it would not take much to create a Middle East equivalent.

So, Muslim regimes will quietly use local Christians or recruit mercenaries (today called "contract workers) from around the world notable for both their military prowess and an affinity for pork products. Yes, these pork-lovers will be hated but that's the point-strike terror into those prone to violent protest. Far superior to dispatching ill-trained young military recruits who might panic and start shooting or, worse, defect to join the protestors.

These riot control specialists might be called the SOW team (for Special Operation Weapons) and will be instantly recognized by their uniforms--pink berets with matching curly tails, pigskin suede jackets embellished with wild boar emblems and, for especially dangerous missions plastic strap on snouts and will often be accompanied by aroma-heavy trucks carrying real pigs trained to sniff out bomb factories, smuggling tunnels or whatever else needs to be found (recall how pigs can sniff out truffles). Perhaps once a year this SOW team will go on parade chanting oink! Oink! Such a sight, no doubt, will terrify Muslim mothers who will warn their children "Watch out or the Pigs will get you!"

The upshot, hopefully, will be a return to political stagnation-no incessant calls for democracy, Sharia compliant states or anything else beyond the paralyzed status quo. Life would return to the good old days when nothing happened, hardly a disaster considering deadly events in contemporary Libya, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. But, it would be an improved stagnation vis-à-vis past dictatorships of torture and imprisonment. Peace through pork, so to speak. Aren't pigs wonderful?

9.12.12

A problem with Sharia Law is that it is legal to lie to infidels. This legal loop hole is what is allowing Muslim to take over Europe by vowing to uphold the legitimate Constitution while in fact intending to enforce Sharia law. and I personally have a problem with people that lie.  I probably should have learned this in my parents home but my parents taught mainly by example and not but Musar shoomzes [informal talks about ethics]. Even at a Lithuanian institution [The Mir in NY and Shar Yashuv in Far Rockaway] I did not find  a lot of emphasis on not lying. At the Mir i found a lot more emphasis on monetary issues [not to steal of to defraud or even to touch someone else's possessions of honor in any way with out their permission and on not speaking slander.] The main emphasis on telling the truth i found in R. Pinchas of Koritz a disciple of the Baal shem Tov.

7.12.12

Karl Popper rightfully noticed the totalitarianism in Plato. But I have a feeling that blaming the abuses of the medieval period on Plato and Aristotle does not make sense. He quotes from one book (Rats Lice and the Middle Ages) that correctly shows that people were miserable. But to blame Aristotle for that? There were no rats or lice in Africa or South America? Were there no totalitarian societies like the man eating  Polynesian tribes   that had not heard of Aristotle of Plato?
I have heard of other complaints about European civilization in the Middle ages coming from the Russian Orthodox church claiming that the West misunderstood Aristotle's "energia."  [This is not actually energy. It refers to the fact that a body can change from one state to another.
Now the Russian church has a point about dynamic energies from G-d. This idea however seems to stem from the more ancient view of the church that was neoplatonic.This really wouldn't work  with Aristotle.
They could claim that dynamic change is implicit in the Aristotelian idea of energy but it is still is not what would be called today energy. it is the reverse of potential. something can be hot or cold.when it becomes actually cold that is when it come from potential to actual energia a stopped non dynamic state.


]
It seems to me everyone is against Europe's case claiming for themselves  a higher level of humanity and civilization.


4.12.12

The way I see it the first night of Hanuka ought to be Thursday night [the first day should be December 7]. This would be based on the idea that the actual beginning of the Jewish month should be at the time of the molad [when the path of the moon and sun are on the same longitude.]. It is not that I am truing to disagree with the rambam that says the present day Hebrew calendar is from Mount Sinai. It is just that his position seems to me to be untenable. I have no fun out of disagreeing with the Rambam but in this case I have to. The present day calendar was the calendar that was accepted in ancient Athens and instituted by Meton. It is not mentioned in the Talmud anywhere. The idea that Hillel the second sanctified it is also simply nonsense. If he had done so it would have been mentioned in the Talmud.
lacking a specific calendar we have to fall back on the simple  idea of the Torah itself and the Talmud in Sanhedrin that the time of the beginning of the month is the conjugation. [see the opinion of Rava and Rav Ashi in Sanhedrin as rashi explains them there.]