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29.10.12

Once blacks became lawyers, they made it their business to check that every corporation had an exact amount of blacks working for it, and every bank was giving loans to an exact amount of blacks.

  For people that are unaware of the problem, the failure of the banks,  was because they were forced to make toxic loans to blacks. Once blacks became lawyers, they made it their business to check that every corporation had an exact amount of blacks working for it, and every bank was giving loans to an exact amount of blacks. [Less than this exact amount would bring a law suit of discrimination and the owner would lose his business and be put into jail.] Normally, a bank manager can tell when a loan is a bad idea. He sees an unemployed black walking into his bank asking for a home loan. Normally, he would show him the door.
But because of the fear of lawsuits, he would have to give him the loan.

Normally, an employer can tell when a black person is not able to do a certain job. In such a case, he would not hire him. But then there is the real possibility of being sued for discrimination and losing his entire company. So he hires the black, and puts him in some position in which he hopes the black will not do too much damage to his firm.
You multiply the effect of this several million times, and you get  the story of the failure of the American economy.
It makes me wonder about the wisdom of the Civil War. After all the American Constitution is in its essence a contract that the Northern States were unilaterally trying to change. This is in general not how contracts work. The normal way a contract works is that after you sign on the dotted line you can't change the terms without the consent of the other party. This is clearly what the North was doing and so by definition of contract it justified the secession of the southern states.

26.10.12

A second application of the compactness theorem shows that any theory that has arbitrarily large finite models, or a single infinite model, has models of arbitrary large cardinality (this is the Upward Löwenheim–Skolem theorem).


Two years later I don't know why I wrote the above note but I think it was because I wanted to prove the consistency of the  idea of Godel that a being can have an infinity of positive traits. He uses this idea in his proof of the existence of God. And it has been criticized. I thought to answer that criticism with the Lowenheim Skolem theorem. [Say the ''s'' in Skolem as in English-- not ''sh''.][This is similar to why C^n is not used instead of C^infinity, which is the it makes no difference which manifold you use. So C^infinity is always used.]

The actual idea of Gödel's proof of the existence of God came from Anselm. People argued whether it was rigorous or not. Leibniz showed that it is. Godel put it into logical notation and thus it is easily shown by on proof checking software program computer that is is a rigorous proof. No one dares to suggest that the proof is not rigorous. Rather the critics focus on the axioms.

20.10.12

I learned Books of Ethics (Musar) along with the Talmud.  This set of books  set of books were written in the middle ages and are meant to distill the basic ethics of the Talmud.

I once heard say that whenever one is asked for charity, he should always give and mot ask about who is asking. This is derived from a law in the Shulchan Aruch about Purim. It so happened that I was in a certain city playing the violin on the street. In this city there were anti Semites.
Eventually other beggars stated asking me for money as I was playing the violin. There was one German fellow who also used to ask me for money. He thought that since I was playing Mozart that I must like Germans. In fact he is wrong. I just happen to like Mozart. However since he is poor and he he was asking for money so according to this idea of always giving to a poor person I had to oblige. Once he heard his friends in the center of town scheming to rob and kill me, and warned me and  introduced me to the head of the Mafia in that area and told him to keep watch out for me. It so happened that the head of this Mafia was also of German extraction [though he spoke  only Russian].
That was the end of that problem.

After this I thought to myself of the verse cast your bread on the face of the waters and in the space of many days you will find it again.

15.10.12

Eli: Spodek: Really relationships are reflections of world powers.

 Eli: Spodek: Really relationships are reflections of world powers.


Sarah Adelle Spodek:|or world powers are reflections of relationships!"


Me:   However Hegel (and people that borrowed his ideas like the feminists and communists and nazis and psycho therapists) reduce all relationships to power struggles. I tend to think that this is not true and that in fact the idea of borrowing from Hegel is not a smart idea.
However the point of Sara is true that international relationships are highly based on personal motives and the actual people involved more that the interest of each nation.

14.10.12


(1) Problems in American Democracy. Not just the present day Socialist States of America--because it is a state that pretends to respect the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. But has voted for an African president whose goal in life is the subversion of the American Democracy. This is to me a  slightly interesting present day question. The real burning question to me is how did such a seemingly good system fall into tyranny? To this I  look for hints in Aristotle, Schopenhauer, and European monarchism and history for hints about this. I don't put a lot of confidence in Democracy . To me, it has to prove itself by the upholding of natural law {Maimonides and Saadia Geon and Aquinas.} If it can't do that, then as far as I am concerned, the whole enterprise is one big failure. And that is how I look at America today.
Natural law is a concept based on the Aristotle. [It does not come directly from Aristotle but but it has a connection with Aristotle's idea that humans have a purpose]. It assumes man has a natural purpose. It has nothing to do with natural desires. But rather of a using of human potential to come to human perfection and action. It has people that go by Plato in its arena but in essence it is an Aristotelean concept. That is Natural Law is to bring to natural purpose.



One of the basic tests that I put any religious doctrine through is that of physical evidence. This already knocks a lot down. The other test that any doctrine has to pass is logical rigor. But I am  Neo-Platonic and kabalistic in my thought so I allow for mystic religious experience, and Divine revelation. [Actually Revelation I would allow for even if I was Aristotelean like Maimonides or Aquinas]

11.10.12

  The idea that man can perceive moral values  was accepted during the Middle Ages.  Saadia Geon says the laws of the Torah include laws of reason. Later Maimonides developed the idea in depth which I have written about before.

The Rambam does not hold you can perceive moral values.  The Rambam holds there is Natural law --but it can't be perceived. It has to be known through revelation like with Avraham Avinu [Abraham the Patriarch]. And later on there was a higher degree of revelation at Mount Sinai. But both Natural Law and Torah Law need to be revealed.


  Many post-Enlightenment Jewish and Christian thinkers resented the effort of the Middle Ages to integrate reason and revelation and degraded the role of reason in the determination of moral values. But this backfired. I will not go into all the post Enlightenment philosophers that were only too happy to relegate reason to figuring out that  bachelors are not married. I will not go into the disastrous linguistic and so called analytic "philosophy" of the twentieth century and terrible totalitarian philosophies  like Feminism, Nationalism, and Communism and the American Supreme Court. But let me just say that I think  throwing out the great philosophers of the Middle Ages was a disaster.

  I want to mention that I hold from both the position of Maimonides  This middle position seems to me to be where Maimonides is. The first plane of knowledge is  immediate first principles. But it is perceived in some third type of way. And then and after that comes the Kantian synthesis, where understanding allies concepts of pure reason to a priori objects and to empirical objects.  (This is called Daat by Isaac Luria and Shalom Sharabi.)


What I am trying to say is that moral values have two parts to them. There is the internal principle--the thing in itself (the dinge an sich.) That is not accessible to human reasoning or perception. Rather to non intuitive immediate knowledge. The other part is the applications to specific situations. This aspect of moral is what is called "universals". Can be understood to apply to moral just like they can to other areas.









7.10.12

teshuva repentance

Repentance
I had a great deal of benefit from R. Yona [the author of the medieval book, The Gates of Repentance שערי תשובה]. It is a drop on the strict side I think. But it certainly gives a clear idea of what repentance is about from a Torah perspective. I may not keep everything he says to do but at least I have an idea of the right direction.


There is an original sin that is the first of ones sins, This is why we say in prayer "hamaavir rishon rishon."[המעביר ראשו ראשון] But it seems to me that  this does not mean the original sin in chronological order, but in ontological order. That is a person might have an original sin. But that might not be the original sin in terms of causation. It might be a later sin which draws a person towards itself by small  sins, one at a time. Also, there can be  several original sins. But in practical terms the implication  seems to be that it is of utmost importance for a person to discover his original sin (or sins) and repent on them and then the later sins automatically start to fall away.

In any case the subject of repentance is hard. In the Christian world  repentance is often defined as: (1) not drinking alcohol, (2) not playing cards, and (3) not being a racist.
This already shows us that sin and repentance have come a long way from Torah in the Christian world. Torah is no longer considered to be the standard of what defines sin.
In the Jewish world, while the above things are not considered sins, but the definition of  sin and repentance is to do lots of rituals. The more the better. So in both cases, the Torah is not considered the standard (the measuring stick) to decide what is a sin and what is not.

And if one does not know what a sin is, he can't repent.

My suggestion is to read the books called "Musar" that explain in detail what it is that the Torah wants from us in plain language. In English or German, the best books out there that explain this are of Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (The Horev and The 19 Letters).
To avoid cults that claim to be teaching Torah is the most  important thing. This is because most of people's sins come about when they think they are doing a mitzvah. [LM I:1 The evil inclination is dressed in mitzvahs.  It never says, "Come do a sin." Rather the Satan seduces people by saying, "Come and do a mitzvah."]

 In Hebrew the best books are the famous Musar books: Duties of the Heart, Mesilat Yesharim, Shaarei Teshuva, Orchot Tzadikim and the books from the school of thought of Israel Salanter. Mainly that would be the Madgrat HaAdam from the "Alter of Navardok."

On a personal note, I should mention that Musar really got into me  when I was at the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn. It did not last long though because I got involved in Breslov which was a side track.   I lost the learning Torah focus. People that get involved  should be made aware of this tendency which is wide spread in Bresov.  \



Appendix

1) The idea of Israel Salanter was this: Since one's inner self (who one really is deep inside) is hidden from one, therefore one's real motivations remain hidden even from oneself.  But this deep inner essence is not completely impenetrable. It is possible to affect it. That is by learning books of Medieaval Ethics. That is lots of learning of Mediaeval Ethics. That is he thought the time factor was very important. While I cant do what he suggested what I do try to do is to spend the first couple of minutes when I wake up in the morning on some kind of Medieval ethics learning.--Or something from the Gra whom I consider like a rishon {medieval authority.}

2) Christians ought to remain Christians, and Jews ought to remain Jews. So in applying my advice here about learning books of Ethics from the Middle Ages the set of books would be different for both categories. I am mainly talking about Jewish books, but Christians might pick up Augustine or Aquinas. It is not that all religions are the same. Some are extremely evil. But if people are already Christian it is hard to see what they would gain by changing to straight Torah. They might gain one or two things and lose others. And if people are Jewish well they already have the best thing. The fact that some people misuse Torah should not count against it. Abuse does not cancel use, as the Romans used to say.

3) I would like find an argument for Musar but the only one I can think of is that it helped me understand the Torah.  And to some degree I think it helped me work on my character traits.



6.10.12

Modesty and Jewish Orthodox world in Israel.


Obsession with cleaning rituals, hatred of sex, obsessive compulsive disorder of schizoid personalities

In the  Jewish Orthodox world in Israel the idea of modesty has become of paramount importance. But the question remains, "How much support does it have from the Talmud?" At first glance there does seem to be some support. A man is not allowed to say a blessing while looking at a woman's  uncovered hair or other areas that it is the custom to cover. And this has further support from Ketubot 72 and the Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 116. The Talmud says: AND WHAT IS DEEMED TO BE A WIFE'S TRANSGRESSION AGAINST JEWISH PRACTICE? GOING OUT WITH UNCOVERED HEAD. Is not the prohibition against going out with an uncovered head Pentateuchal; for it is written, And he shall uncover the woman's head, and this, it was taught at the school of R. Ishmael, was a warning to the daughters of Israel that they should not go out with uncovered head — Pentateuchally.
It is quite satisfactory if her head is covered by her work-basket; according to traditional Jewish practice, however, she is forbidden to go out uncovered even with her basket on her head.

R. Assi stated in the name of R. Johanan: With a basket on her head a woman is not guilty of  going against Jewish custom. In considering this statement, R. Zera pointed out this difficulty: Where [is the woman assumed to be? If it be suggested, 'In the street', it may be objected that this is already forbidden by Jewish practice; but if she is in a court-yard the objection may be made that if that were so you will not leave our father Abraham a single daughter who could remain with her husband! — Abaye, or it might be said, R. Kahana, replied: The statement refers to one who walks from one courtyard into another by way of an alley.

[http://www.come-and-hear.com/kethuboth/kethuboth_72.html#PARTb]*

There is a basic debate here about the courtyard requirements. The Rambam on one side and everyone else against him as is common .i.e. Rosh, Tur, Shulchan Aruch etc.]

This little paragraph of the Talmud is good example of the issues that arise in learning the Talmud. I have actually not looked at the Tosphot there for centuries, but just off hand you can see some of the major questions that arise right away. First, what in the world in Rebbi Yochanan talking about?!!! Is he coming to disagree with R. Ishmael? Or just with the conclusion of the Gemara that in a public domain even a basket if forbidden? Or is it possible he is not disagreeing with the conclusion? [Even though that seems highly unlikely.]
Then next question. What in the world is Rabbi Zera talking about? The Mishna or Braita or Rabbi Yochanan?  Now we have 6! (factorial) [6*5*4*3*2*1= 720] possible combinations of possibilities of how to explain this Gemara, even before we get into questions of content!
  The problem here with the Orthodox is that in fact they do not cover the hair of their unmarried daughters. so they obviously do not hold that R. Ishmael is the Halacha. Rather they are depending on the fact that it is not the Jewish custom to cover the hair of unmarried girls- even though  R. Ishmael says it is forbidden by Torah law.
  But furthermore, the whole Gemara and Shulchan Aruch for  do not mention anything about covering any other part of the body. Now the frum [Orthodox ] are right that it would seem that the other parts of a woman's body might be considered to fall into the same category. But the problem with this is that there is not a single authority that says so. Just open the Shulchan Aruch and you will see many authorities discuss the issue about the hair and no one says that you can extrapolate out of that anywhere else. [And when the Gemara wants to include other things besides hair in the category of what is forbidden it has no trouble stating them openly. I don't need to mention examples because they are  many. one example is what parts of the body need to be covered when a man is there saying the Shema. Another example is what parts she needs to cover if she is taking trumah. She does not in fact have to cover any part. But she needs to be siting.]
And the third problem is it depends on the common Jewish custom. The last time I checked the Orthodox does not represent the common Jewish custom .There are many Jews with other customs like going to the beach on the weekends.

In any case i have not learned this with a learning partner so i am not making any halcha conclusion right now. i am just bring up the points that need to be looked into




The nice thing about the Orthodox is that they do try to learn the Talmud and there is a very special holy aspect of this. But it seems that the Conservative are a lot more Kosher. They don't make it a mitzvah to try to destroy and bankrupt the State of Israel. [If the orthodox had only this one flaw, it would be enough to consider them anti semites. The fact that is is even a question puts the whole Orthodox  movement into question.] But the question of the right path is not what is bothering me about the Orthodox. It is more of a feeling that the whole thing seems to have something hidden in it that is not kosher. This is not just a feeling, but based on empirical evidence.

4.10.12

Orthodox Jewish utilitarianism at first seem to propound act-utilitarianism,

utilitarianism-criticisms-and-responses

One thing bother me about  utilitarianism is the a priori claim  that this can be known without evidence that this is a true good.   Many people in our day, because of lack of proper education, hold this theory to be "modern" and "self evident", which it is not.
The best critique I saw on it was from Michael Huemer but he only mentioned a few of his idea in passing without expanding on them.
I think many Jews and Christians just don't understand how different the morality of the Torah is from  utilitarianism.

I should admit that when I read John Stuart Mill I was impressed. II am really not much of an analytic thinker. Only after a long time of thinking about something do the problems start to become apparent to me. and I alway like to give everyone the the benefit of a doubt.

Nowadays there is also a kind of Orthodox Jewish  utilitarianism. This is that people judge  other people based on whether they are a potential benefit for the super-organism of Orthodox Judaism.

  Orthodox Jewish  utilitarianism at first seem to propound act-utilitarianism (act in a  way that brings the greatest benefit to the super-organism of Orthodox Judaism), but then when it comes to explaining why we should follow the principles of halacha, they resort to the claim that these laws, if adopted as general rules, promote the greatest spiritual good. The problem is simply the argument is self contradictory.
For the thinking person the claims of Orthodox Judaism simply seem incoherent and has little to do with the actual moral principles of the Torah.

Philo Gabriel: The verdict of most philosophers is that utilitarianism is not able to completely overcome all objections, that while the total happiness contained in the consequences of acts surely is of moral importance, it probably fails to contain everything that is of moral importance. Hence most present day moral philosophers argue for a mixed theory that contains both consequentialist and non-consequentialist elements. But the debate continues.[http://www.helium.com/items/1744710-utilitarianism-criticisms-and-responses?page=6]


3.10.12

The Will does not necessarily have human good in mind. And it seems to me that the book of Job supports this conclusion. The friends of Job said G-d is Just. God said to Job that they were wrong.And the whole book supports this. the narrator who has the privileged position says openly that Job was suffering because of a bet that the Satan made with God, not because of sin. and he makes an effort right straight at the beginning to declare that Job was without sin. later his friends said he was suffering because of sin and that God always acts justly. God said at the end of the book that they were wrong.
Now I do this that it is true that God does help people in ways that seems to come from a world that is higher than this world. But this is in the realm that is not possible to understand by human understanding.
I in general do like like the excuses made to turn Torah into a frum document. but i can't resist mentioning this one thing about Ezechiel  (Apologetics Press) .


"Tyre in Prophecy. The city of Tyre had a rather interesting and beneficial geographical arrangement. About half a mile off the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea stood a small rocky island on which the original city of Tyre was most likely founded. Some time after the founding of this island city, the mainland city of Tyre was founded, which was called Old Tyre by the Greeks (Fleming, p. 4)"
  Apologetics Press[http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1790]
I mention this here because I know most people do not like my blog because it is neither secular or religious It seems I sometimes argue from a secular standpoint and sometimes I seem deeply religious.. The reason for all this is that my viewpoint is Neoplatonic. and that in a certain respect I think that Neo-Platonism made a few false moves away from Plato,--especially by assigning too much power to Reason. I think that the way synthetic a priori knowledge is acquired is not by reason by by a third type of perception which Plato calls memory of the eternal world before we were born. Now this might not be actual  memory but it is close to the idea of internal perception that Kant developed. This is a move away from the secular world. It is deeply religious. But this religious viewpoint does not make it a mitzvah to deny facts like the  the  Ultra Orthodox world does.
  And this religious point of view believes  that the person that wrote the Torah and all the prophets had a highly developed sense of this non intuitive immediate perception.




Just to mention some examples that show the Torah is not frum: (1) King Shelomo had a woman's choir.
(2) Sukkot was not celebrated during the First Temple period, and people in the Babylonian Exile had not even heard of it.(3) Tamar said to Amnon that with the permission of king David she could be his wife.
(4) The idea of Hillel II making the Jewish calendar is a falsehood. It is no where mentioned in the Talmud. Other decrees of Hillel II were mentioned. You would expect a fundamental decree that the entire future of klal Israel depended upon would merit at least a mention! The Jewish calendar is in fact the ancient Greek calendar of Meton. According to the Torah the day of the Rosh Chodesh is the day of the new moon. Not before or after.


[I should admit by Neo Platonic point of view was developed a long time ago way before i started any Talmudic studies, when other kids were playing basketball or baseball, I was studying Plato and Spinoza]
This was not because I was studious. The thing was my home was very far away from school so I had no place to hand out except at the public library until my Dad picked me up at 6 PM. So I was too far away from other kids homes,es to be able to play sports and by the time I got home I was exhausted.