Translate

29.4.13

Maimonides: a pre-Kant Kantian.


To continue my thought in the Maimonides essay a few days ago I want to mention that there is good reason to see in him a kind of pre-Kantian Kant.
One reason is that even though he decides we do not go by Rabbi Shimon in using the reason for  a verse to decide how the verse is applied (דורש טעמה דקרא);--still you can see in Bava Metzia that he does just that.
Take a look at the Magid Mishna and other commentaries on the Rambam and you will be disappointed.
Here is a case where the Rambam decides the law in two opposite ways in Mishna Torah and no one has a good reason for why.
But if you decide that the Rambam was looking at this like Kant then everything becomes crystal clear. The reason for the law is one ground of value and the actual statement of the verse in the Torah is another ground of value.
And the Rambam holds that the argument between R. Shimon and the first Tana is this: Rabbi Shimon goes only by the reason for the law. The first Tana goes by both the reason and the actual simple meaning of the verse. Now these can contradict. So what? Then we will have to decide between them. But the idea is not like others that thought you go only by what the verse says, not the reason.

 The point in short is not just to point out how to understand the Rambam [Maimonides] but also the deeper reason that Maimonides makes sense.

I believe you can do this with most of what Maimonides writes even things that seem ridiculous. And example if the reason he gives for the laws of pollution. The reason given is so as to not come too often into the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This sounds silly until you understand he means the reason G-d made the laws of pollution is for this reason. He is not suggesting that it is not a reality, but giving the reason for the reality. In a deep way this could be understood about pollution as a force of the Dark Side. We can understand that God made this in order for it to be hard to come into Holiness. 


27.4.13

Maimonides



There are lots of subtleties in the writings of Maimonides that are not apparent on the first reading. You can see this easily in the book of Chaim Solovechik. (Chidushei HaRambam) Before him you basically had to accept it on faith that Maimonides had some deep reason for the way he would decide a law, but you almost never knew what it was. All you had was people trying to dig up some source in the Talmud and trying to show that it all fit together.
No one has done anything like this with the Guide for the Perplexed, and this is sad because it is likely that the same type of thing could be done.
Today I wanted to say one deep point in Maimonides. When he says it is a mitzvah to know that G-d exists he is not referring to faith. When talking about the first commandment in the Ten Commandments he always uses the word "to know" that God exists. With Maimonides this knowing means by the two types of knowing that Aristotle claimed could exist. (1) Things we know by induction. This is called a Posteriori Analytics (2) Things we know by deduction in the books of Aristotle are called A Priori Analytics.
Now it is a known fact that I have claimed here that Maimonides was a Pre-Kantian Kantian. So you can expect that I will try to combine these two types of knowledge into one.
That is I will take note that both inductive knowledge has the problem that Hume noted and that you can never know how many samples you should have until you can make a logic induction. Also there is no reason to say the next sample should not be different from the preceding ones. You do not know this at any rate by logic. Now Hume admitted we have synthetic knowledge based on what we see. But it is not based on logic. But what results is the modern skepticism that denies knowledge of anything.

The rationalist thought that reason alone could result in knowledge. But then you get the regress of reason the fact that all the systems of the rationalists contradicted each other.


 What you have with Kant a class of knowledge that you know by reason by it does not have to be so. You have to observe it in some way. That is-- he is combining these two categories into one category and by that he is expecting the building to stand --like an arch that each side without the other would fall. This is what I think Maimonides is doing. [There are lots of indications in the Guide about this but also you can see that Aristotle himself did not accept either type of knowledge by itself. he did not go with the empiricists that only accepted induction nor like the rationalist that accepted only deduction.]


 I should mention that there are in fact two good arguments for God. The First Cause idea which is purely inductive. This does not work in any deductive way. The other argument from Anselm of Canterbury which Godel sharpened up. This is purely deductive. Together they fit. This is what Maimonides was thinking-- that to know something you need to know it from these two sides



26.4.13

The flaws in the case against the argument From design -by Steven Dutch

Steven Dutch


The Case Against the Argument From Design
We cannot validly reason from earthly parallels to the Universe as a whole.
Since the creation of the universe was a unique event, we cannot say anything about it.
The order in nature could equally well result from the intrinsic properties of matter itself.
The existence of pain and suffering cast serious doubt on the existence of a benevolent Intelligence.

[I] Critique

The nature of science has changed dramatically since Hume's day, and the changes illustrate some holes in Philo's reasoning that probably would not have been apparent to Hume or anyone else at the time.
In Hume's day, the only rigorously known scientific laws were gravitation and Newton's laws of motion. The fact that these had successfully explained the motions of the planets had profoundly impressed all of society. Also, Newton had successfully explained why Kepler's empirical laws of planetary motion worked, and even made a correction to them. Still, nobody in Hume's day suspected the extent to which it would be possible to explain laws of nature in terms of still higher laws. Hume's trio was restricted to finding order in nature solely in the complex phenomena of the natural world, something that might not be the case today.
In Hume's day the stars were considered so inconceivably remote that it seemed impossible ever to have any real knowledge of them. Double stars, where one star orbits another, would be the first direct demonstration that gravitation applied among the stars. Spectroscopy, with its incredible power to analyze the physics and chemistry of the stars, was a century in the future. Quantum mechanics, which successfully explains what spectroscopy observes, was three quarters of a century beyond that. So we can forgive Hume for not envisioning how deeply we would be able to test the hypothesis that the laws of nature are the same everywhere. Nevertheless, Philo's argument that we cannot reason from earthly examples to the universe as a whole is flatly, definitively, wrong.
Mid-18th century Edinburgh was home to one of those brilliant collections of minds that appear from time to time, called the Scottish Enlightenment. Hume probably knew James Watt. A few years before the Dialogue was first published, Watt realized that existing steam engines were inefficient because they alternately heated and cooled the same vessel. He envisioned a completely new design in which spent steam was exhausted to a separate vessel to be condensed. His invention would launch the Industrial Revolution. So what? You envision a new way of doing things and build it. This is how technology works, right? Not in Hume's day. Hume could have Philo argue (Part VIII) "In all instances we have ever seen, ideas are copied from real objects...You reverse this order and give thought the precedence." The idea of conceiving something totally new and making it happen, the essence of modern technology, is completely opposite to the mental processes of Hume's time. We can forgive Hume for not foreseeing the extent to which abstract thought could precede the creation of objects, but again Philo's argument is flatly, definitively, wrong.


 [II] A Sample With N = 1

"When two species of objects have always been observed to be conjoined together, I can infer, by custom, the existence of one wherever I see the existence of the other. And this I call an argument from experience. But how this argument can have place, where the objects ... are single, individual, without parallel, or specific resemblance, may be difficult to explain..... To ascertain this reasoning, it were requisite that we had experience of the origin of worlds..."

Here's another case where Hume utterly (and nobody can blame him) failed to foresee the growth of science. He would doubtless be astonished at how much we can infer about the origin of the universe.

But let's look at the validity of the argument even in Hume's day. The French mathematician Laplace would publish the first speculation on the origin of the solar system shortly after Hume's death. It simply is not true that we cannot reason about a unique event.


 [III]  Hume's Central Circularity

The issue to be decided is whether the order in nature is the result of intelligent design. If it is, then the properties of matter (the color, luster and density of gold, for example) are also the result of intelligent design. Postulating a dichotomy between intelligent design and the properties of matter therefore amounts to postulating a priori that there is no design in nature. Hume (and all who follow him) essentially follow a grand circularity:
Matter and the laws of nature are defined a priori to be separate from any intelligent design.
Order in nature is shown to be the result of the laws of nature and the properties of matter
Therefore order in nature is not the result of intelligent design

Nowhere is the circularity more blatant than Jacques Monod's Chance and Necessity. Monod starts by asking what criteria one would use for deciding something was intelligently designed and defines two criteria: repetition and geometric regularity. But, he hastens to add, these criteria apply only at the microscopic level. The distinction is entirely ad hoc because, if we applied it at the microscopic level, the Argument from Design would follow automatically. In any case, the distinction is nonsense, since macroscopic non-biological structures like crystals, cloud patterns and orbital resonances in the Solar System display repetition and geometric regularity, and microscopic structures like computer chips are of clearly intelligent origin (the bug in the first Pentium chip notwithstanding).


 [IV] Lacuna Matata (Don't Sweat the Holes)

There's probably no greater lacuna in Hume's reasoning than in Part IX. Demea asks why there should be something rather than nothing, and why the universe we know instead of something else. By definition there can be no external cause, hence the only explanation is a logically necessary Being who "carries the Reason of his existence in himself, and who cannot be supposed not to exist without an express contradiction." (I run into people who quite literally cannot conceive of their religious beliefs being wrong, for whom the very concept of the Koran being wrong is a logical contradiction.)

Hume puts the reply in the mouth of Cleanthes, who says it only to forestall Philo. Hume presumably assigns this role to Cleanthes to spare Philo the burden of attacking every religious doctrine and thereby alienating readers, but it's quite definite here that Cleanthes is voicing Hume's own convictions. He says:
Nothing is demonstrable, unless the contrary implies a contradiction. Nothing, that is distinctly conceivable, implies a contradiction. Whatever we conceive as existent, we can also conceive as non-existent. There is no Being, therefore, whose non-existence implies a contradiction. Consequently there is no Being, whose existence is demonstrable.

This is essentially disproof by outright denial. We can conceive of God as non-existent, hence God cannot be logically necessary. The only thing missing is any proof that the conception of God as non-existent is valid even in principle. Cleanthes shortly cites the idea that 2 + 2 = 5 as an example of a logical contradiction. By the logic above, if I say I can conceive of 2 + 2 = 5 not being a contradiction, that makes it non-contradictory, since I can conceive of the contradiction being non-existent.

Cleanthes (Hume) goes on to say that the universe might well contain hidden attributes that would make its non-existence seem as contradictory as the non-existence of God. Considering how hard Hume hammers elsewhere at the unproven nature of religious conjectures and their ad hoc nature, postulating wholly unknown properties for the universe is a nice case of the pot calling the kettle black.

But there's more. Cleanthes (Hume) says the only argument that persuades him the universe (rather than God) is not the necessarily existent entity is the fact that we can validly conceive of it being different. "But it seems a great partiality not to perceive, that the same argument extends equally to the Deity." Let this soak in. The entire thrust of Hume's arguments up till now, mostly as voiced by Philo, have been that we cannot reason from our knowledge of design on earth to design in the universe. Now Hume uses Cleanthes to assert that because we can conceive of matter being different than it is, we are justified in conceiving of God being different than he is. If there is something about God that makes him logically necessary and immutable, it must be attributes we do not know, and we have no way of knowing whether the same qualities might not reside in nature. We're back to proof by postulating unknown hypothetical properties of the universe.

Hume essentially gets away with using mutually contradictory arguments by putting them in the mouths of two different characters, but nothing could be clearer than that Cleanthes, in this section, is relating Hume's ideas exactly.

 [V] A Truly Weird Argument

In Part VII, Philo describes that in Indian mythology, the universe was spun by a great spider, and goes on to say:
And were there a planet wholly inhabited by spiders (which is very possible) this inference would there appear as natural and irrefragible as that which in our planet ascribes the origin of all things to design and intelligence, as explained by Cleanthes.

This argument is so wonderfully naive and blatantly anthropomorphic one hardly knows where to begin. A good starting point is to say duh..., any primitive intelligent species is likely to picture God as a larger version of itself. Spiders on this planet don't, as far as we know, have any conception of God so we don't need to worry about what they think, if indeed they have any more cognition than a personal computer.

So Philo's hypothetical spider planet would have to be inhabited by intelligent spiders. Just as human thinkers in Hume's day had long since concluded that it was mere imagination to picture God in human form, by the time Philo's spiders reached a similar level of development, the more intelligent ones should have gotten over their primitive arachnomorphism and reached the same conclusion. No doubt their artists would still picture God as a spider, but they would realize that was an image, not necessarily reality. (The only people on our planet who really seem to believe God is an old man with a long white beard are cartoonists and atheists.)

Spider webs, of course, are a matter of biology rather than conscious effort, but a race of spiders that remained at that level would be unlikely to have enough consciousness to speculate about God. Who knows what sorts of webs intelligent spiders might spin? (Just imagine the webs a spider mathematician might weave!) And even if we postulate a race of spiders that did nothing but spin webs and engage in philosophy while waiting for hapless flies, this argument still embodies the fundamental circularity of assuming that complexity in nature (spinnerets and spider webs in this case) are not the result of design, then using their "naturalness" to "prove" that the complexity is not the result of design.

 [VI] The Problem With Disproofs Of Design

When I was attending geology field camp, a favorite pastime was hunting for arrowheads. There was no doubt about their authenticity. They were exquisitely chipped on both sides (in contrast to the clumsy modern ones sold in tourist traps) and made of obsidian, a rock not found in our field area. Most of my classmates did well to find one or two. I found dozens. In fact it got downright obscene. I found arrowheads in camp along trails that people had walked every day for weeks. The most surreal case was finding an arrowhead in my shoe one morning. I presume it was the gift of a pack rat because I guarantee none of my classmates would have given up a nice arrowhead for a practical joke!

I also found quite a few chips of red and yellow chert. They occurred in batches, and this rock, too, was foreign to the area, but I never found a full-fledged artifact of these materials. All things considered, I think it's safe to assume they were left by Indians.

At the opposite extreme of probability, the late anthropologist Louis Leakey spent a number of years excavating a site in the Calico Hills, California, convinced that he had discovered artifacts that pushed the arrival of humans in the Americas back to 100,000 years or more. The purported artifacts included flakes and crudely chipped pebbles. The problem is that the claimed artifacts come from an alluvial fan, not the gentlest depositional environment. With fist-sized pebbles being carried by flash floods, it would be surprising if there weren't a few that got chipped en route in a manner reminiscent of an artifact. Most geologists and anthropologists are convinced that's exactly what happened. (You'd never know this to look at most of the Web sites on the subject, which start at taking the artifacts at face value and drift off to the fringe from there. Very few pictures of the claimed artifacts are on line, something that hardly speaks well for their status as revolutionary discoveries or the confidence of their backers.)

So here we have chips, flakes, and chipped rocks. Are they artifacts of intelligent origin? In one case circumstantial evidence suggests they are, in the other case, not. But they're ambiguous. Maybe some single band of early humans got to Calico through some improbable series of adventures, lived for a while, then died out. We can never rule out the hypothesis short of a time machine.

Moral: If something looks complex enough to be of intelligent design, one possible interpretation is always that it is of intelligent design. It may not be, but in the absence of disconfirming evidence, intelligent design is always a viable hypothesis. We can say that it's not the only possible explanation, maybe even that it's not the most likely explanation, but it's extremely hard to dismiss the idea entirely. Intelligent design is always a possible interpretation of any sufficiently complex object.

 [VII] Why Try to Disprove Design?

In his Enquiry, Hume accurately described the Argument From Design as "useless" because in and of itself it can never "establish any new principles of conduct and behavior." The Argument From Design only shows at best that there is intelligent design in the universe; it tells us nothing about whether the entity cares about human beings, communicates with them, or has moral scruples. Of itself, intelligent design does not validate any theology beyond deism.

On the other hand, intelligent design does not violate any known facts or logical principles. So why does it meet with such fierce opposition? True, many people leap immediately from the notion of intelligent design to the theology of their particular sect, but the proper response by anyone who claims intellectual rigor is to show the hidden assumptions in that leap of reasoning.

Still, it's legitimate to raise the possibility that order in the universe arises solely from the properties of the universe itself. Or is it? We know that some cases of complex order are the result of intelligent design. We do not know that any other origin for complex order is possible. What basis do we have even for postulating such a possibility? The bottom line is that none of the criticisms of the Argument From Design are compelled by any empirical or logical evidence; they are inspired solely by the desire to discredit the Argument From Design for the sake of discrediting it.


 [VIII] The Red Herring

Parts X and XI are given over to a debate about suffering and its implications for a benevolent intelligence. Although any discussion about the nature of God has to confront this issue, it is completely premature in a debate about the existence of God. Most of Hume's readers, of course, would have thought in terms of either the God they pictured in their own theology, or no God at all (other conceptions of God being merely spurious fantasies). They would have considered Cleanthes' arguments for a benevolent intelligence inseparable from the issue of design in general. But that's no excuse for a modern reader to conflate the two issues.


[IX] Where Should We Look For Design?

It's worth looking at a list of what was not known in Hume's day:
Maxwell's Equations and the nature of electromagnetism
The Periodic Table
The structure of the atom
The nature of chemical reactions
Quantum Mechanics
Relativity
Genetics
The DNA code
Evolution by natural selection
The laws of thermodynamics
Spectroscopy
The nature of galaxies

So, although science was making thrilling progress in understanding the workings of the world, the "laws of nature" in Hume's day were mostly restricted to empirical descriptions of phenomena, and therefore the argument for and against design was waged mostly in the realm of complex natural phenomena. For every case Cleanthes can cite of two natural phenomena meshing smoothly together, Philo can cite a counter-example where the feedback fails. A century later Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection would pretty much demolish this line of reasoning.

However, a modern day Cleanthes (as opposed to his semi-literate wannabes) wouldn't point to the way a hummingbird's bill is precisely shaped to fit a certain flower (or vice versa). He would point instead to the symmetries found in physics and the way a relatively small set of fundamental laws give rise to such a vast range of complex phenomena (the Cleanthes wannabes are mostly too illiterate even to have any idea of physics). He would also point to the fact that a very slight change in some fundamental constants would either have prevented complex atoms from forming at all, or would have allowed the stars to exhaust their nuclear fuel before life could evolve.

By way of analogy, consider a chess board well into the game. Is this a product of intelligent design? The pieces might very well look randomly arrayed, although a skilled player could easily spot that some arrangements cannot be achieved in normal play. For example, one side cannot lack a king, or have a pawn in its own back row. There is a checkmate position involving a king and two knights against a lone king, but it cannot be achieved in normal play (the lone king can always evade checkmate). But there would be many positions that are ambiguous. For every masterful position Cleanthes cites as clear evidence of intelligence, Philo cites one with two passed pawns. Cleanthes suggests that some positions are artificially created as problems; Philo accuses him of creating ad hoc excuses to avoid acknowledging failures of the design hypothesis. Cleanthes argues the pieces are clearly of intelligent manufacture; Philo notes that seashells are even more intricate and are wholly natural. Cleanthes points to the geometric regularity of the board; Philo cites crystals and honeycombs as equally regular but natural structures.

The reason chess has been played as long and seriously as it has is not because people like the pieces and the board (a nice chess board and set has esthetic appeal because of our reverence for the game), but because a very sparse set of rules leads to a fantastic variety of possible outcomes. And it's in the rules, not in the pieces, the board, or any particular arrangement on the board, that we must look for intelligence. (Chess isn't a perfect analogy. There are ad hoc rules like capturing en passant. The Japanese game Go might be a better analogy for pure intelligent design, but chess is more familiar.)

Philo, of course, has not been asleep at the wheel. He would point out that the beauty of chess is rooted in the underlying laws of logic and mathematics in the universe. He would also point to hypotheses that perhaps there are many universes, and we merely occupy one where the laws of physics allow matter to evolve into complex forms.

Cleanthes would wonder, in turn, why it's valid to criticize theological concepts as ad hoc, while it's simultaneously permissible to postulate the existence of universes whose existence is entirely unproven and which may be forever untestable. He'd also wonder why the order in the universe is such a pressing scientific problem as to justify postulating a vast number of alternate universes but not to justify postulating an intelligent designer.

25.4.13

Reb Chaim Soloveichik



There is a Kashe  [an attack type of question] on Reb Chaim. He starts out his ideas in Tractate Shabat with a question of the Magid Mishna on the Rambam.  But then he ignores the answer of the Magid Mishna and starts out immediately with a different approach of his own. This is at a time when the answer of the Magid Mishna seems satisfactory.
  My answer to this question on Reb Chaim will be that in fact the answer of the Magid Mishna is seriously flawed.
  The Gemara in Shabat 107b brings three opinions about the statement of Rav Yehuda in the name of Rav. The Magid says that the Rambam throws out the second opinion. This in fact sounds very reasonable. Why not? We throw out "some say" all the time. This works well for the second "Some say." But once you get to the third everything falls apart. The third one refers to the Mishna, "a person traps a snake on Shabat not to be bitten is not liable."

  The third "some say" says that this Mishna is the opinion of Rabbi Shimon [that a person that does  work on Shabat not for its normal purpose is not liable]. [I.e he does not decide like  Rabbi Yehuda.] [And Shmuel is posek [decides the law] like this Mishna and the Rambam also.] This presents a question on the Rambam who holds by Rabbi Yehuda that a work done not for its purpose is still liable.

Now this whole same discussion went on for the mishna about opening a wound on Shabat. Rav Judah in the name of Rav said this is like Rabbi Shimon. This is a question on the Rambam also because he holds one can open the wound and he still holds like Rabbi Yehuda. Not that question was easy for the Magid to answer. He said the Rambam simply throws out the second "some say." I.e. that that mishna is also like Rabbi Yehuda and it is  allowed because it is not work at all. He does not open it like the doctors do. This fits perfectly. But when you get to the next "Some say," it falls apart.
I mean to say that in theory you could have the Rambam come along and say, "I say trapping the snake is A.O.K. even to Rabbi Yehuda because the reason one is not liable is not because of a work done not for its own sake, but because it is mitasek (i.e. not done in the normal way) exactly like Shmuel says about it. [And this works perfectly for Shmuel [who in fact holds by Rabbi Yehuda just like the Rambam and says it is a case of Mitasek]. But this is the place it all falls apart. The Rambam does not say it is mitasek (i.e. not done in the normal way) . He says he traps the snake in the normal way. [Not jut that he flips a vessel on it but he ties it up. That is not mitasek] This is why Reb Chaim had to throw out the Magid Mishna.]

The lesson from all this for Jews and Gentiles is simple: There is a place to go to relearn ethics. It is rigorous study of the Torah and Talmud. 
As  Pedro Blas Gonzalez  wrote in "Schopenhauer on Conscience
as the Ground of Ethics"
:
"While the predominant notions of ethics today are totally devoid of any religious content, moral higher ground or the capacity for transcendence, ethics, as so many today like to think of this, essentially remains a tool at the disposition of those who are socially-politically "committed." 
One clear-cut evidence for this is that nothing can be deemed ethical today that is difficult to embrace or live by. Our predominant rendition of "ethics" is conveniently and curiously geared to the exigencies of our hedonistic age. For this and other reasons, nothing ethical, according to our gurus today, can showcase an intrinsic aspect of resistance to our whims and desires."






22.4.13

Philosophy and philosophers.

 Not only do they have nothing of interest to say about the meaning or value of life, but even the linguistic study of languages that seems to be their main interest they get wrong.  If we start with Leibniz and Kant we get a fair account of analytic truths. Frege wanted to expand on this. Now Frege was the father of modern logic, and invented the language need to program computers. So I would rather not get on his case. But the fact is that when he tried to expand on Kant's idea, he fell into a fallacy. Not all truths are contained in the definition of a thing. If you take the logical result that use can use simple logic to derive all concepts then you can have no concepts. Wittgenstein rightfully noted the fallacy of Frege. He noted the logical conclusion of Frege would mean all sentences are synonymous. But instead of going back to the more sensible approach of Kant, he launched the post modern revolution in which philosophy has been wallowing in for almost a century.


 some of the fallacies of philosopher like Hume who he pinned down with an observation that if you have only one window pane to cover two windows then why would you move it to cover the open window? The answer is you wouldn't.  Hume =pure circular reasoning. 


 But one glance at general chasidut today will tell us that something is seriously flawed in this system.  It is not just that people have a evil inclination, but that the system itself does not make anything closely resembling a moral decent human being,-- but rather monstrosities and caricatures of humans.

The reason why Hume is learned in universities in spite of his constant falling into circular logic and Nietzsche in spite of the incoherence of his positions is I think because people simply do not want Metaphysics. This became the rallying point of Twentieth Century Anglo American philosophy. I use the word philosophy here rather loosely.

21.4.13

If you do not think the USA is under attack by Muslim then take a look at this: Atlas Shrugs


[From Atlas Shrugs]
The plot by a jihadist to plead guilty in plot to bomb NY Federal Reserve, the jihadi attack on a church Easter Sunday in March, the Muslim charged with jihad in New York, muslim gets ten years for plotting to blow up NY synagogues and slaughter Jews, a Washington Muslim convert who has stated his "willingness to die for Islam" stabs two people after discussion of religion, the Oregon Muslim charged with assisting homicide bomber who killed 30, the Florida Imam Hafiz Khan guilty in terror case, Yusuf Ibrahim, a 27-year-old Egyptian immigrant who on Feb. 5 allegedly beheaded two Coptic Christians living in New Jersey, Ali Syed, a 20-year-old Muslim who allegedly randomly killed three people in Southern California on Feb. 18 before killing himself, Ammar Asim Faruq Harris, a 26-year-old reported black Muslim convert who on Feb. 21 is said to have killed three people in Las Vegas, the Muslim who forced daughter into arranged marriage suspected in murders of relatives who helped her escape, the jihadist who tried to blow up the Oakland Bank of America, the NY Muslim arrested for series of 20 bomb threats, the Oregon Muslim who tried to detonate an 1,800 bomb at a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony targeting 25,000 families (check out his jihad tape), the Chicago Muslim who got 35 years for Mumbai jihad slaughter, the three NY Muslims charged with training to be jihad-martyrdom suicide bombers, the Florida Muslim planned to blow up NYC landmark, the Chicago Muslim gets ten years in prison for jihad plot, the Alabama Muslims arrested on terror charges, plotted to wage jihad in Africa, the Texas jihadi bomber Who was one chemical Away from building a bomb, the Muslim arrested for bombing Arizona Social Security office with IED, the two Florida Muslim brothers arrested on jihad charges "to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against persons and property within the United States", the four California Muslims arrested in plot to wage ‘violent jihad’ on America: plotting to kill Americans, bomb government facilities and public place, the Massachusetts Muslim who got 17 years for jihad plot to blow up Pentagon and US Capitol, a former U.S. soldier charged with conspiring to use destructive device while fighting with Al Qa'ida affiliated group in Syria, Ahmed Warsame pleads guilty in NY for providing material support to al-Shabaab and AQAP, Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif sentenced for plot to attack Seattle military processing center, Abdel Hameed Shehadeh convicted of false statements in terror case, Al Shabaab's Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed sentenced in SDNY to 111 months for conspiring to support and receive military-type training from a FTO, Federal grand jury probing double-murder in Pakistan - may have been ordered by NYC cabbie,the Texas Muslim arrested with fake military ID, weapons, access to chemical agents, the US Muslim Teen arrested in jihad bomb plot using weapons of mass destruction, targets included military recruiting centers, bars, malls, and other tourist attractions in Chicago, the "Active" terror plots linked to Iran, Hizballah in Los Angeles area,the Florida Muslim pleads guilty to terror plot to kill high ranking US military brass, the Muslim soldier who got a life sentence for second Fort Hood jihad plot, the Chicago Muslim homicide bomber that plead guilty, (there's more, much more here - scroll) and these;

17.4.13

In face of the Muslim threat to the continuance of Human Life on Earth, I suggest that people should prepare a survival kit.

In face of the Muslim threat to the continuance of Human Life on Earth, [see this link by Kelly Ross problems with Islam] I suggest that people should prepare a survival kit.


I should mention it is a good idea to be part of a community in which people care about each other. This you will not find on survival blogs, but I think it is the most important factor. This is the reason there are communities that I decided to leave when I saw this kind of relationship between people was publicly advertised, but in fact missing. In fact, I have become wary of people that are too friendly. Over friendliness is the first most important sign that someone has something up their sleeve.

The problem with Muslims is that they are de-evolving. This would probably be because  of lack of female choice. Female choice is an important part of evolution. When the females choose the best guys, the species improves. Muslim women have not had female choice, so it is inevitable they would degenerate into a sub species, while the rest of the human species evolve upward.

Now this does not seem like a John Locke kind of concept of the common rights of man. But for that to work mankind would have to be one species. And we are rapidly evolving into two different ones.
 Muslims are becoming Homo Simia. (Race is the first step that Nature takes to divide one species into two.)

Appendix:

So deal with the fact that a Muslims are de-evolving and that survival is going to be a major issue the steps to take are as follows
1) Learn outdoor skills.
2) Get off the grid. Get solar power.
3) Learn survival skills every day. Just like you have a session in Talmud so you should have  a session in survival skills. Get a good book and learn it by heart and practice
As it says in the Gemara when there came up a question about learning about health practices--is it not Bitul Torah? The answer was it is חיותא דברייתא the life of creatures--that is humans- so of course it is not Bitul Torah
4) Learn Musar [Mediaeval Ethics]. That is learn books that deal with fear of God. This is divided into two parts. Mediaeval books which are logically rigorous but seem to be so of  ..well ... "medieval." But in spite of that that have the main spirit of fear of God. Then some more modern book of fear of God which brings the ideas home to people today. Fear of God seems to be highly related to  survival and several other things according to Isaac Blazer a disciple of Israel Salanter
5) I am not surprised that as Muslims invade Germany, who do people blame? Jews of course!
But if they would have asked me I could have told them that Muslims are bad news wherever they go and whatever they touch. They take the numinosity (holy power) out of whatever they touch and replace it with something unclean and unholy that comes from their religion. Of all peoples they conquered that sapped they energy out of. Now they are sapping the life force out of England and Germany. But all I can say to this is apparently this is what the English wanted and Germans also. But when it all goes sour who do they blame? The Jews! So let me just say --(this coming from a Jewish person) for the record to any Englishman or German or American or Russian that will listen. Keep the Muslims out. And who ever is already there kick them out before they destroy your civilization.  And if you don't want to listen to me then at least don't blame the Jews for your problems.

16.4.13


Another point is that the Torah is not a document of Pantheism. And the fact that Hasidut represents it as pantheistic is bothersome.
The verse they use to support this is ambiguous at best and says in fact the opposite of what they are claiming.  אתה הראתה לדעת כי השם הוא האלהים אין עוד מלבדו. They take the end of the verse out of context. The verse simply says that your were shown to know that the Lord is God, there are none other besides him.  There are no gods besides God. To claim what they say would mean that the Rambam and Saadia Gaon and all the rishonim and  achronim that held God made the world יש מאין ex nihilo some thing from nothing were mistaken and did not understand the Torah. To their way of thinking they would have to say "He made the world from himself."


In order to get the verse to mean what they want they conveniently forget about the first part of the verse. 



But this is not the major point. The Torah itself from the first to last verse is very clear that God is not the Creation. He is something or someone beyond it. If God made the world, then he is  not the world. If he is the world, then he did not create anything. If you want an honest appraisal of Pantheism you can study Adavaita Hinduism as I did for many years and study Spinoza which I did for most of my life from the age of 10 until today.  Hasidut is being dishonest when it present the Torah as pantheism. If you like pantheism then you should study Shankara and the Bahavad Gita and the Veda,-- not Torah




15.4.13

default metaphysics among the educated secular elite, including most academic philosophers. And that default metaphysics is materialismYet the irony of this situation is that the philosophical foundations of materialism, in a proper metaphysics, are in worse shape now than they have ever been.




Dr Kelly Ross:
The Fortunes of Materialism

It is a curious time in the history of metaphysics. Few areas of 20th Century philosophy have been as shunned and neglected as metaphysics. Entire schools of philosophy, principally Logical Positivism and the "ordinary language" approach founded by Ludwig Wittgenstein, have specifically rejected the possibility or meaningfulness of metaphysics as a discipline; academic philosophers tend to assume that the success of science replaces or discredits the philosophical treatment of metaphysical questions; and popular culture confuses metaphysics with spiritualism or the occult. .... The combination of these factors has resulted in a sort of naive default metaphysics among the educated secular elite, including most academic philosophers. And that default metaphysics is materialism. One sees this in the prevalence of the "new atheism" in popular culture, whose appeal rests largely on naturalistic and materialistic views of reality, and in what otherwise seem to be the generally sensible views of philosophers like John Searle.

Yet the irony of this situation is that the philosophical foundations of materialism, in a proper metaphysics, are in worse shape now than they have ever been. The "new atheists," and other commentators, like Stephen Hawking, whose scientific ideas begin to lead them into philosophical reflection, are philosophically very naive and seem to have only the shallowest familiarity or understanding of the history of philosophy, let alone of metaphysics proper. Metaphysical materialism should not have survived the progression of ideas through Berkeley, Hume, and Kant; but perhaps because this outcome was muddled in the treatment of German Idealists (like Hegel), a simple version of Democritean Atomism returned in the 19th century among those more impressed with the progress of science than with the jargon and obscurantism of Idealism. That is when materialism gained some traction as the default metaphysics of generally sensible, critical, conscientious, and empirical opinion. Even the denial of Marx that his "materialism" was an ontological theory (rather than about material economic conditions of production) was ignored and forgotten in the general impression that, after all, it must be just that.

The revival of Hegelian Idealism in the early 20th century, by people like F.H. Bradley (1846–1924) and Josiah Royce (1855-1916), failed to impress in comparison to what were beginning to be remarkable and even astounding continuing advances in science. Such neo-Idealism collapsed into the Positivistic desire to be subservient to science (which we see dramatically in the career of someone like Bertrand Russell, who was a student at the time of Bradley's greatest influence in England); and the attendant recoil from metaphysics allowed the naive 19th century materialism to insensibly be taken up as self-evidently true. Yet it was science itself, as we shall see, that would decisively explode, again, Democritean materialism. The response of philosophy was curiously to draw encouragement for epistemological skepticism and nihilism rather than to reevaluate the metaphysical issues. In the long run, science would not be well served by this approach, as confidence in the objectivity of science itself would be eroded, and the notion would become current that scientific knowledge was merely the self-interested agreement of socially powerful and politically suspect race, class, and gender interest groups. The collapse of the foundation of materialism thus did not drag down materialism, which continued as default metaphysics, but was displaced into the undermining of science itself, upon which its cognitive confidence presumably rested. So we have the ironic result of the modern materialistic Nihilist, who believes no more in science than he does in God.

Part of the naive confidence vested in modern materialism is the sense that it is just obvious. We see matter. This is the Dr. Johnson school of metaphysics -- Samuel Johnson (1709–1784) kicked the table to refute Bishop Berkeley (definitely a common sense kind of guy). However, this does no more than bespeak the naivety and ignorance of the view. Dr. Johnson did not understand that his refutation was irrelevant to Berkeley's argument. We do not see matter, and its existence has never been obvious.

The truth of this is evident from the first example of a clear ontological materialism, which was the Atomistic theory of Leucippus and Democritus. Reality, in their view, consisted of Atoms and the Void, i.e. particles of matter together with empty space, and atoms were the ultimately small bits of stuff that could not be divided down into smaller particles: they were atomos, "uncuttable" (where we seen the -tom, "cut," or -ektom, "cut out," part in much surgical terminology, e.g. "hysterectomy," to cut out the uterus). Atoms differed from each other only in shape and size. Nothing about this theory was visible to the naked eye. Atoms were too small to be seen, much less inspected; and the variety of the world, which other Greek philosophers had explained with different kinds of "stuff," vanished in the uniformity of whatever it was that constituted the content of atoms. Popular presentations of Atomism neglect that question altogether. What was in the atoms? To answer that, anyone would need to admit that Atomism was based, not on the method of observation and experiment in modern science (which is sometimes carelessly credited to Democritus), but on the metaphysics of Parmenides. Thus, atoms consisted of no more and no less than "Being," the existence of whose ontological opposite, "Not Being," was rejected by Parmenides as self-contradictory.

Atomism altered Parmenides merely by holding that "Not Being" exists as much as "Being." Not Being, in turn, derived its meaning from the concept of empty space. "Being" could thus be broken up into atoms, allowing them to have different shapes and sizes and to move around in space. This would then explain the apparent differences among visible substances and the reality of change in the world. The elegance and simplicity of this theory continued to appeal to certain philosophers, such as Epicurus and the Roman Lucretius; but the paradox of empty space being nothing and yet something did not gain any great popularity or consensus in ancient or mediaeval philosophy. Instead, space itself was identified with matter, a connection still explicitly upheld as late as René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza. If space itself is matter, then there clearly cannot be empty space. Although most people, as well as philosophers, are now comfortable with the idea of empty space, facets of the issue are not at all absent from the consideration of space in modern science.

Now, a definition of matter and of materialism may be in order. Matter is a substance (substantia), i.e. a durable, separable, and identical entity, that possesses only the characteristics of an "externalist" ontology, i.e. that it underlies (substans) the existence of concrete, empirical, or phenomenal objects in nature, that it is intrinsically subject only to natural laws and causal interactions, and that consciousness and purposive determinations are not inherent in it. Descartes, who identified matter with space, could simply define it as the substance whose essence is spatial extension, allowing that there were other substances in reality (i.e. souls and God). Materialism is a stronger doctrine, that matter is the only substance, with conscious phenomena as no more than epiphenomena of matter, if they are not to be dismissed as illusory (as is done by Behaviorists and certain Materialists). Materialism is thus a reductionistic theory in fundamental metaphysics, or ontology, which is the study of "Being qua Being" or the identification of the óntos ónta, , the "beingly beings" -- the genuinely existing or fundamentally real things. Materialism is a false doctrine; but "matter" is a legitimate concept, in terms of an external and causal, and so scientific or naturalistic, understanding of the world (see "Ontological Undecidability").

The connection of space and matter can also be found in Aristotle, as construed through his own theory of "form" and "matter," where form is the actuality of things and matter is the potential or power for change. In these terms, matter again is invisible, since anything available for perception will be actual and an example of "form." Even the four elements represent a certain level of actuality. "Pure" matter or "prime matter" in the theory is invisible and unavailable for direct inspection precisely because nothing about it is actual. Although it is perhaps not required by the theory, Aristotle then identified matter with space. This means that empty space would be identical with prime matter and so doesn't exist for the same reason that prime matter doesn't actually exist. On the other side of the divide, Aristotle thinks there are beings that are pure form. This began with God, but Aristotle then allowed that there were pure form "intelligences" that were responsible for the motion of the planets. In the Middle Ages, the "intelligences" were identified as angels, and St. Thomas then introduced the view that human souls could also exist independently as pure forms, which Aristotle had not believed. But whatever version we prefer, beings of pure form, beings free of matter, are without spatial extension. This gives us an unambiguous answer to the famous Scholastic question of how many angels will fit (dance?) on the head of pin, which is, "All of them." They don't take up any space and so can be fit into any space, however small. All of this may seem, and may be, very dated as metaphysics, but elements of it persist in the metaphysics of Leibniz, which becomes, most significantly, part of modern debates about space and matter.

Indeed, as we move from the physics of Descartes to that of Newton, the possibility of (actual) empty space reemerges in modern science. This is not only because Newton believes that motion is possible in empty space, which Aristotle had denied (until contradicted and refuted by John Philoponus), but, more importantly, because Newton believes that gravity is transmitted (or something) as action at a distance. Descartes and earlier physics had always held that forces could be transmitted only by contact between bodies -- a sensible view when there can be no empty space. But Newtonian gravity leaps across empty space, for which action Newton had no better explanation than that it was the Will of God. Nevertheless, the reality of space for Newton, and belief in its absolute structure and existence, was sharply denied by Leibniz. This led to the epic Clarke-Leibniz Debate, one of the most important events in the history of modern philosophy. Samuel Clarke's defense of Newton worked best in terms of what was needed and implied in physics, e.g. that the rotation of a body can be detected from internal observation (i.e. in relation to space itself), without reference, as Leibniz required, to eternal bodies. Leibniz's objections to Newton were mainly metaphysical, including the argument from sufficient reason of spatial counterparts (q.v.), which was refuted by Kant with the point that right and left handed mirror opposites do physically differ, which Leibniz denied, specifically in spatial terms and not in any other physical metric.

In the 19th century, for some reason there were physicists, like Ernst Mach (1838-1916), who wanted to get around Clarke's rotation argument against Leibniz. This was never more than an ad hoc special pleading until Einstein introduced his theory of Special Relativity in 1905. Then, absolute position in space could no longer be determined, and even size became Relative, in the direction of motion, because of space and time dilation. It was soon widely believed that Einstein's theory meant that Newton was wrong about space and that Leibniz was correct, and I have so far never seen this questioned in popular or even more specialized treatments of the history and philosophy of science. But Einstein had suggested or proven nothing of the sort -- indeed, rotation as acceleration falls entirely outside the purview of Special Relativity -- and this is what makes me wonder about how well even academic philosophers have understood the metaphysical issues involved (or even Special Relativity itself). For if Leibniz was correct about space, in just the way that he understood it, this means that space doesn't exist. In fact, Einstein's theory did not affect the status of Clarke's rotation argument at all. But really, did Ernst Mach and all the subsequent scientists and philosophers really mean to say that space doesn't exist? Is this part of science now, that space doesn't exist? I don't think so. But if space does exist, and we are not to accept Leibniz's conclusion at face value, then what kind of metaphysic of space are we left with? Well, no significant effort has been made to deal with that, largely thanks to the lack of clarity about what Leibniz's theory was.

The irony of this situation is that space emerges in Einstein, particularly with his theory of General Relativity in 1915, as a significant feature of the physics. Einstein's approach to gravity is to replace the concept of "forces," and particularly Newton's appeal to forces that act at a distance, with geometry. The Earth goes around the Sun, not because it is pulled into an orbit through the invisible attraction of gravity, but because it is following the equivalent of a straight line, a "geodesic," in curved space-time. Matter causes a deformation in space and time. The Earth, with its Newtonian velocity, just follows the path laid out for it. One is not left with the impression here that space doesn't exist. Quite the opposite. The physicist E. C. G. Sudarshan (b.1931), who introduced the theory of tachyons (particles that travel faster than the velocity of light), told a seminar I was taking at the University of Texas in the 1970's that Einstein's field equations looked to him like those for fluid mechanics. Space-time flows like water.

Indeed, by being subject to curvature, in Non-Euclidean geometries explored in the 19th century, the reality of space becomes absolutely essential to Einstein's treatment. And this becomes more acute when we realize that this is Einstein's answer to Newton's doctrine of action-at-a-distance: it is now space that mediates the force of gravity, but not space as the old contact-matter of Cartesian physics. Matter, whatever it is, moves within the geometrical structure of empty, but existing, space. This is a rather extraordinary idea, but no one would ever mistake it for a Leibnizian theory that space does not exist. Yet academic philosophers managed to make it through the 20th Century without a clear recognition that Einstein's refutation of Newton's theory of space is a fairy tale that is incommensurable with the larger nature, requirements, and implications of Einstein's own theory.

Meanwhile, other events had been occurring. Ernest Rutherford announced in 1911 that atoms were mostly empty space. He (or his graduate students) had bombarded gold foil with alpha particles (subsequently discovered to consist of two protons and two neutrons), most of which sailed right through the foil as though it had not been there. To this astonishing result was added the equally curious datum that occasionally one of the particles would be scattered back almost directly towards its source, as though it had rebounded off something all but impenetrable. So Rutherfold concluded that most of the mass of an atom was concentrated in something very small at its center, the "nucleus." Indeed, the nucleus is typically something like a hundred thousand times smaller than the whole atom -- roughly the ratio in units of a Fermi (fm, a femtometer, 10-15m) to an Angstrom (, 10-10m) -- a reality that is seldom indicated in popular presentations, in which nucleus and atom are often the relative sizes of golf balls and grapefruits. Instead, if the diameter of an atom were about 100 meters, slightly longer than an American fooball field, then the diameter of the nucleus would be an impressive one millimeter, something that would be quite invisible on the field and practically undetectable even by the players during a football game.

Meanwhile, the rest of the empty atom was somehow filled with orbiting electrons, whose negative charge bound them to the positively charged nucleus. There was immediately an obvious problem with this. If charged particles orbit the nucleus because of electrostatic attraction, they are accelerated; and accelerated charges emit radiation and lose energy. The atoms would almost instantaneously collapse. Rutherford had no solution to this problem. The solution, when it came, which was quickly enough, nevertheless has never subsequently figured in popular ideas about the atoms. We still see images of electrons orbiting the nucleus (an image constantly seen on the popular television show, The Big Bang Theory), and it is a popular pastime for people to imagine that our solar system is somehow an atom in the matter of a larger universe (as recounted in classic form by Donald Sutherland in Animal House [1978]). That's impossible.

Part of the solution to the problem of the atoms came in 1913, with Niels Bohr's theory of the quantacized atom. Bohr proposed that electrons lodge at certain specific energy levels, "orbitals," in the atom. Each level can only hold a certain number of electrons, and when electrons jumped from one level to another, they emitted the very specific wavelengths of radiation that could be seen in the spectra of stars and of heated elements. This explained beautifully the mystery of things like the spectrum of hydrogen; but it also left unexplained why such orbitals existed or what electrons were really doing in them.

An answer to this came from Louis de Broglie, who suggested in 1923 that electrons could be understood to have the characteristic of waves, which meant that in the atom they were standing waves (as opposed to traveling waves, which move), with the integer and half-integer nature of whole and half wavelengths of waves "in a box." This is the only physical explanation that has ever been given for the quantum states of electrons in the atom, yet its nature has come to be neglected because of Werner Heisenberg's addition to the theory, that the square of the wave function (which of course turns all negatives into positives) would give a probability distribution for where the electrons as particles will be found when the "box" is broken and the wave function collapses by an act of observation.

This interaction of waves and particles in retrospect is a bit curious given another side of Einstein's work in 1905. Einstein's analysis of the Photoelectric Effect, for which he received his only Nobel Prize, included an analysis of light as consisting of particles, in line with Newton's thinking, rather than as waves, as had been established in the 19th century. Richard Feynman, with his own Nobel Prize in Physics, put it very bluntly: "the wave theory collapsed." But it didn't. It got expanded. De Broglie had analyzed electrons as waves and had calculated their wavelength. This ended up agreeing with experiment. Bohr eventually posited a principle, "Complementarity," of the "wave-particle duality": if you haven't observed things yet, light and electrons behave as waves; but once you have observed, or are even able to infer the positions of particles, then the wave function collapses and light and electrons behave as particles, i.e. have discrete locations (subject to the Uncertainty Principle of Heisenberg, in which position and momentum cannot be known with equal precision).

As Oliver Hardy (of Laurel and Hardy) always used to say, "This is another fine mess that you've gotten me into." There is no popularly accepted system of metaphysics that can accommodate the wave-particle duality. Bohr himself seems to have endorsed an Idealist or Anti-Realist position, that "nothing exists until it is observed" -- this is the "Copenhagen Interpretation" (because of the Danish nationality of Bohr). To the extent that this remains popular, it is the Anti-Realist version that conforms better with trendy Nihilism of "Post-Modern" academic thought. But Einstein was a Realist, and he hated it. And even though Einstein was long dismissed as, in effect, an old fuddy-duddy, the absence of a proper metaphysics for the system, even at a time when metaphysics was in poor repute, meant that the problem was bound to gnaw on people's minds.

Nevertheless, there was a system of metaphysics that fit the wave-particle duality perfectly, which was Kant's Transcendental Idealism, which contained a similar duality of observed (i.e. synthesized into perception and consciousness) vs. unobserved (not synthesized). Most of the early participants in these matters knew Kant and even had the language to read him in German. Bohr's position is sometimes said to be Kantian, but this only shows that anyone who says so is relatively unfamiliar with Kant's thought and doesn't understand the place of "empirical realism" in it. I get the impression that Einstein and Kurt Gödel, on their daily walks to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, sometimes discussed such things. Yet Kantian metaphysics has never been put forward by prominent physicists as an interpretation of quantum mechanics. This puzzles me. I suppose it is largely due to the difficulties in interpreting Kant's system and its lack of popularity in contemporary philosophy. This leaves behind a continuing scrimmage between Realists, Anti-Realists, and Positivists (who don't want to explain anything) in Physics and Philosophy of Science, with sometimes tortured, bizarre, or irrelevant proposals to avoid the wave-particle duality and collapse the metaphysics into one or another form.

Meanwhile, the form that a particle like the electron will take when it is a particle was specified by Paul Dirac. The electron will be a point particle, having no extension in space. The reason for this was simple. If an electron is extended, and is charged, then the charge presumably will be spread over the surface of the particle. However, negative charges at different spatial locations will repel each other, with a force that increases with proximity. Thus, while atoms might have collapsed with orbiting electrons, an extended electron will instantaneously explode as its parts repel each other. Collapsing atoms and simultaneously exploding electrons make for a nice image to associate with popular representations of matter.

This is easily remedied with the postulate of the point particle. However, we now may notice an attendant curiosity. Atoms are not merely mostly empty space, they are entirely empty space. Perhaps that was not evident for a while, since the actual size of protons and neutrons could be measured; but in the 1960's Murray Gell-Mann proposed that these particles consisted of smaller ones, quarks. The quarks are -- you guessed it -- point particles. But now, if atoms, and so all matter, are entirely empty space, this produces, not a Democritean world of Atoms and Void, but something exactly the opposite of Parmenides: A world where absolutely everything looks like it is fundamentally Not-Being. The currently popular systems of "String Theory," in which particles are extended in one dimension do not alter this point, since one dimensional objects do not fill space. That strings are extended and so might be subject to the original problem with extended particles is avoided by the circumstance that charge is not inherent in the string but is an epiphenomenon of the oscillation of the string in a higher dimension of space.

If matter, in the form of fundamental particles (quarks and leptons), does not fill space, what does? The answer to that is easy: Fields fill space. OK, but what then is a "field"? The answer to that one is not easy, for Modern Physics contains two different and exclusive explanations of what a field is. One we have seen already. A field in Einstein's approach is a deformation of space-time. String theory in recent physics itself includes an extension of Einstein's theory by additional dimensions of space (typically six) in order to accommodate all the forces of nature besides gravity. Thus, as previously, a theory that follows Einstein posits space as an actual thing that mediates the interactions of all the forces of nature.

For a while, however, Einstein's use of space was not the most popular approach to fields in physics. The other approach was an artifact of quantum mechanics. It was noticed that Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, in which the product of position and momentum is proportional to Planck's Constant, could be rewritten in terms of energy and time. Indeed, the units of Planck's Constant can be stated as "Joule-seconds" (J*s), which are units of energy and time. The result of this was the theory of virtual particles, where energy can be borrowed from nothing as long as it is "returned" within a length of time proportional to Planck's Constant. The larger the energy, and so the more massive the particle, the shorter the time. Photons and gravitons, which have no rest mass and so no intrinsic energy, can therefore exist permanently as "virtual particles."

Virtual particles were then used to explain the interaction of the forces of nature. Electromagnetism and gravity, mediated by massless photons and gravitons, would be infinite in reach, while other forces (Strong and Weak) were mediated by particles with mass and so have a finite effect. But since they don't have "real" energy, virtual particles cannot be observed or detected as such, unless somehow real energy is transmitted to them. These strange entities thus became the basis of the entire theory of fields in quantum mechanics.

In the Feynman diagram at right, we see an interaction of real particles and real energy, where an electron-positron pair (which are anti-particles) annihilate each other and the resulting (real) energy (of a gamma ray, , an energetic photon) gives rise to two quarks, a d-quark and an anti-d-quark. It is the convention in Feynman diagrams to show anti-particles as real particles traveling backwards in time, which is why the arrows for the positron and anti-d-quark look like they are going backwards.


In the next Feynman diagram we see something a little different. Here two normal electrons scatter off each other -- both being equally and negatively charged, they repel each other. Their interaction is mediated by the exchange of a virtual photon. Feynman realized that virtual particles themselves could split, loop, and interact, complicating the diagram and implying a potentially infinite nest of interactions. Indeed, his original mathematics for virtual exchanges produced infinite values, which clearly did not match the observed scattering of particles. His genius was to discover mathematical techniques ("renormalization") that enabled him to calculate values for successive splits and loops and eliminate the infinities. The precision of his calculations was astonishing and opened the possibility that even physical constants, like the Gravitational Constant, might be calculated (rather than inferred from observation) in such ways. This proved the value of the quantum understanding of forces and fields using virtual particles.


In this way Physics went merrily along, confident that Einstein's geometry was silly and that quantum theories would easily deal with all the forces of nature, despite the oddness of all the virtual particle business. Then there was a problem. The math didn't work for a quantum theory of gravity. It didn't work, and it didn't work; and physicists went back to Einstein and began working on theories that introduced extra dimensions to accommodate additional forces of nature. This is what is the most popular now, although String Theories are coming under criticism for being arbitrary and not making critical predictions. Other physicists continue hopefully with quantum theories for gravity. But the old days of quick and dramatic progress in all this seem to have been gone, unless and until a new genius pops up with something entirely new and unexpected.

For the rest of us, the choice between Einsteinian space-time (despite the Leibnizian result that space doesn't exist) and quantum virtual particles is a curious one. In the former case, we are effectively back in a Parmenidean (/Eleatic) universe, where Being is an extended plenum (of space) and matter and energy (and fields) are wave phenomena within it, while with the latter, the phenomena of nature are either equally (Kantian) or exclusively (Copenhagen) the contents of consciousness, once an observation has been made. None of these are remotely comparable to a good solid Democritean Atomism or 19th Century Materialism. Because of this, we get books with provocative titles like The Matter Myth: Dramatic Discoveries that Challenge Our Understanding of Physical Reality [Paul Davies & John Gribbin, 1992, Simon & Schuster, 2007]. Yet the curiosities and problems of matter in modern Physics seem to have barely registered on popular culture, academic philosophers, or even physicists, whose background in philosophy or metaphysics is, of course, spotty, minimal, and inaccurate. In debates about space, they should at least have a good knowledge of Leibniz, if not Kant; but this does not seem to be the case -- and patently false statements continue to be made about Kant's philosophy of geometry by people who really should know better.

The fortunes of materialism are thus not promising, and both popular and academic culture should pay a little more attention to what happened between Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. Of course, that will not happen spontaneously; and it will require some treatment, as on these pages, that catches the attention of the gatekeepers of popular and academic discourse.


Infantile Atheism

Metaphysics

Home Page

Copyright (c) 2012, 2013 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

But on issue that are central to the concerns of the Torah itself Orthodox Halacha is often contrary to Torah Halacha

I have considered that perhaps Ultra Orthodox Judaism in spite of some good points is a cult. Sometimes this seems going a bit too far and sometimes it seems right on the money. In New York they are making a gigantic prayer convention to save the Jewish people from gezerat shmad {decree of destruction}. This is a term from the Talmud and refers to a period of time in which the Roman authorities declare that any Jew found keeping certain commandments will be killed. This phrase and its meaning is very well dealt with in the Talmud and later halacha authorities. It is not something that you can apply to any situation that you do not like.
But today the Orthodox from all over the spectrum is declaring that this time is a time of Shemad because the State of Israel is asking orthodox Jews  to share the burden of serving in the Army.  Not Anti Semites that anyway hate Jews will find a lot to relish in this. But I write over on this edge of the Internet basically for people that take the view that wiping out the Jewish people is not a worthy goal. And these people I think will agree with me that serving in the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] is not to be compared with a case of the Romans forbidding Jews to keep the Torah. People that want to wipe out the name of Israel from the world? What type of people are these? I know they have human DNA. But my finger nails also have human DNA. That does not make them human. 



10.4.13


John Locke understands the mitzvot of the Torah as being directed towards the Jewish people specifically. This to some degree makes sense. We know that Christians do not consider themselves to be under the obligation to keep the Torah. This is I think the reason that they do not spend much effort ironing out the details of how to do so like the Talmud does --because to them the whole issue is irrelevant. And in fact we know the letters of Paul the very first Christian documents came out against keeping the Law. [However it is true that this is against the opinion of Mathew].
At any rate we see from John Locke that he held from the Divine Command Theory of Morality at least in terms of Jews. God said to us Jews so we have to do. And that is that and Shalom on Israel. Nekuda. Period.
The fact that Divine Command is a problem because of Plato's question is it good because the gods command it or do the gods command it because it is good?
This brings me to the point of this essay. Now we know why the Rambam and Saadia Geon abandoned
Divine Command theory and went for Natural Law.
This has lots of implications. First it means that gentiles are under the Law. After all it is natural. It also means that how we understand the law is significantly different. And this changes how we keep it. Now even though we do not poskin (decide the law)  like R Shimon ben Yochai considering this question of dorshin taama dekra [We do go by the reason for the verse as opposed to the literal meaning.] still you can see in the Rambam that understanding the reason for the mitzvah does change how we keep it.

6.4.13

[Though I have recommended learning Talmud with Chaim Soloveitchik in my past blog, I should mention that Kant and Prichard bring up other issues which are perhaps as important or more so,- such as moral autonomy. This is a subject which you just don't get learning Talmud; and it is an important subject since it is the foundational principle of American democracy which many Jews in America and Israel believe in instinctively.


I want to defend the idea that it is necessary to learn Kant with Prichard. And in fact they should be printed together. The reason is simple. Even if you do not agree with Prichard he still makes Kant a lot more interesting.
This is not any different than the reason we learn Maimonides together with the Raavad.
And furthermore, I think he brings up important points.

[Though I have recommended learning Talmud with Chaim Soloveitchik in my past blog, I should mention that Kant and Prichard bring up other issues which are perhaps as important or more son such as moral autonomy. This is a subject which you just don't get learning Talmud and it is an important subject since it is the foundational principle of American democracy which many Jews in America and Israel believe in instinctively]










And one thing I am trying to get to is that his conclusion at the end of his life is remarkably close to Schopenhauer's idea of the will. I.e he concluded that Wilson was wrong and an act is not causing a change. it is willing a change.

of course there are great exceptions like that German guy what is his name? Oh Habermass. Right. And that other fellow Searle. Still I feel the best are from the Kant or intuitionist schools.

I don't mean here to disparage the philosophers from the Math Logic schools like Kripke. But I am here referring to the philosophy of meaning and value.