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21.6.13






Also I need to put together some kind of essay for the Internet about Musar of Israel Salanter and the problem that faced the Musar movement--There is no no second order ethics (I.e. no justification for ethics).  So they could have gone to the Medieval sources themselves for the issue of second order Ethics--like the Guide for the Perplexed. But instead went to the Kabalah of the Ari'zal. The Ari'zal's system is a powerful and amazing system but it is has two problems. No argument. No justification for statement that are laid down by Fiat-decree. Also I have another problem with the Ari'zal. He is based on the Zohar. I dislike the Zohar so much that yesterday as i was walking to the local synagogue I walked by a Zohar that was in the trash on the street and i did not even pick it up. It is not that I don't like what it says. But I dislike the fact that it is a forgery.

Also ethics is a big deal. The Musar movement approach to ethics is this: no one has had anything to say about ethics besides Jewish orthodox people. Muslims barely count and Christians are of course much worse as being idolaters. So the movement automatically cuts itself off from the basis of Musar: the books that were written during the Middle Ages by Muslim and Christian scholars.

In the view of the Musar movement (and Chasidut also) there has not been any legitimate thinking about morality outside the Jewish world. It is all just convention.

It would be difficult to support this contention by attention to the history of ethics.

Perhaps this will help:  Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Epictetus, Augustine, Maimonides, Aquinas, Hobbes, Butler, Hume, Kant, Bentham, Mill, Nietzsche, Hegel, Bradley, Sidgwick, Moore, Prichard.(4)

 I do not think anyone  with them would argue that Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Epictetus, Aquinas, Butler, Kant, Bentham, Mill, Bradley, Sidgwick, Moore, or Prichard--any one of them--thought that ethics was
 convention.


On the other hand Musar is important. People need some sort of a moral guide through life. Many may think that they can get by without one but chances are that they are egoists and do have a principle which is guiding them. "If it makes me feel good, if it makes me happy, if I like it and can live with it then it is all right for me to do it." That may seem like an attractive principle by which we can make decisions until one starts to think about it. As a guide for all people that principle would lead and does lead to many conflicts.