Showing posts with label Kant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kant. Show all posts


Moses, Kant, Hegel, Gra, Israel Salanter, Rav Shach, Tosphot, Rambam.

To build up a good  approach it would be required to provide and intellectual basis. Leftism was a kind of trampling of Biblical Values. Or subverting Biblical values to serve its purpose by means of useful idiots.  However the  Right has just as much claim to intellectual virtue through a different array of patron saints. 

That is-- the left had a list of patron saints. Freud, Marx, Russeou.  Some people were absorbed into the Left like  Nietzsche, though he was not a leftist at all.

My suggestion is to emphasize a whole different set of patron saints. Moses, Hegel, Kant, Gra, Israel Salanter, Rav Shach, Tosphot, Rambam, the Ari (Isaac Luria). [The Rambam, the Ari and Hegel are very Neo-Platonic so it is easy to fit them into one system.]

As for the last three the basic idea is that there is no reason to think that one could be put into a room with the Oral and Written Law of Moses and come up on my own the basic approach of Torah. If I understand the importance of learning Torah as a value in itself and of working to attain good character traits and if learning Torah in depth, then I owe a debt of gratitude to these individual who worked this out and showed the way. 

What you need from each of the above thinkers is this: The Gra for learning Torah; Rav Shach and Tosphot for showing the depth of Torah; Kant for the limitation of reason and knowledge that is known but not through  physical senses nor through reason. [One could have  used the Rambam for that also.]
The Rambam for Torah Law, and learning Physics and Metaphysics. The Ari and Hegel for Metaphysics. John Locke for freedom and private property. The last one you could have gotten from the Two Talmuds but for some reason most people miss the message there. They think the welfare state and Socialism which is organized theft is kosher. Reb Israel Salanter one needs for good character plus fear of God.  

The Gra has a whole school of disciples  that are worthwhile to learn:  the commentaries on the page of the Yerushalim Talmud, the Nefeh HaChaim, the Netziv, etc. The Nefesh HaChaim is important  from many angles. One of the points he brings out is that intention to unite one's soul to the soul of a tzadik righteous person is idolatry.
[Rav Kook the founder or religious Zionism already incorporated Hegel into his ideas as is well known. ]


Saadia Gaon, Rambam, John Locke, Kant, Schopenhauer, Kelley Ross.

Mainly the Left is based loosely on Rousseau, Hegel, Freud, Marx, Nietzsche. Also it is highly connected with existentialism. These all seem to me to be wrong turns. It once was considered the most sensible. 

The better approach seems to me to be based on Saadia Gaon, Rambam, John Locke, Kant, Schopenhauer, Kelley Ross.

I perhaps should go into what is wrong with the Leftist philosophers but the critiques are well known.
I do not see what I could possibly add to the discussion except to say that the emphasis in learning and education ought to be shifted away from second rate philosophers to first rate philosophers. Why concentrate on what is wrong and flawed?
[To go into what is wrong with Nietzsche in short: moral values have prima facie validity. To defeat moral values you would have to have starting principles that have more initial plausibility. That is let's say you have a principle A that seems sort of OK. From A is implied B. Then if B makes no sense then you would have to reject A. All leftist philosophers start from some A that sounds sort of OK. They come up with something nice sounding but which has very little initial plausibility, but being a naive first year college student you really do not have the intellectual power to  disagree.  Then from A is deduced some B like all morality is relative. Since B has no initial plausibility it would require some strong A to prove it.  Just the opposite "not B" has more prima facie plausibility than A.] [What is wrong with Post Modernism is this: Frege wanted to expand the a priori. This was easily defeated. But then people took this defeat to mean there is no a priori. The problem was תפסת מרובה לא תפסת. Don't bit off more than you can chew. Do not try to prove too much.]


I feel like Kant in a specific way. Just like Kant found himself between two schools of thought and found something right in each one--and also something wrong. So also I feel I am in a similar kind of situation. I was in two great yeshivas in NY and saw a lot of what is right about learning the Oral and Written Law. But I also saw what is wrong. But I also grew up in an amazing home environment with my parents and brothers. My parents were the most amazing, wholesome, compassionate, responsible, loving,  and sincere people I have ever met. Yet there was something missing-- learning Torah. So what I feel I need to do is to find some middle ground. Torah with work and the natural sciences is my formula.

The Mishna says, "All Torah that does not have work with it is worthless." {Pirkei Avot chapter 2} You can say we "don't poskin [decide the law] that way" because it is a debate between Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai and Rabbi Ishmael. However we do poskin [decide the law] that way. It is an open Halacha in the Rambam.

People ought to learn Torah in the straight Lithuanian yeshiva path. Cancel all classes in pseudo Torah. [And most classes in "Torah" are pseudo Torah. One needs to be extra careful about from whom he or she learns Torah. Sadly most people that present themselves-as teaching Torah are teaching Torah from the Sitra Achra. It is hard to find legitimate Torah nowadays. What might be the best thing is to stay home and get a regular Talmud and go through it yourself--every last word of Gemara. Rashi, Tosphot, Maharsha, and Maharam from Lublin. When you learn the actual Oral Torah yourself at least you know you are getting the real thing.]

 But they also should work and not be using Torah as a way to get charity money.


A possible approach to understanding Isaac Luria: (1) External and internal worlds refer to subject and object. (2) Light and vessel mean the essence of existence and characteristics.

A possible approach to understanding Isaac Luria: (1) External and internal worlds refer to subject and object. (2) Light and vessel mean the essence of existence  and characteristics.

This is different from Ashlag [note 2] who wanted to interpreted the Ari as advocating a basically communistic system

In philosophy  there is one area which deals with how we know things.{note 1} And there is another area which deal with what things actually are. This later area is called Metaphysics. [The name comes from the set of books called the Metaphysics by Aristotle which deals with the question of what things actually are as distinct from their characteristics. ] And this Metaphysics also got to be divided into different areas. One is the nature of things and the other is the existence of things. And both these later areas got divided up into the question of the person looking at stuff. He is called the subject. And the objects he is looking at are called the objects.
The divisions are divided between Kant, Hegel, Berkley, and Descartes.
Kant holds characteristics of objects depend on the subject. But their existence is independent.
That is transcendental [independent of experience] idealism (dependent on my existence). This is the exact opposite of Hegel who holds from empirical realism.

My suggestion here is to understand the Ari [Isaac Luria] and the Reshash in this way of transcendental idealism. That is not to say that this is the only level on which the Ari can be understood. Rather I have always understood him to be referring to many (maybe infinite) sub-levels.

The basic idea here is that with Kant we have the existence of the subjects that is you and me and of objects being transcendent, i.e., independent of experience. But not in terms of characteristics. We can see such a thing in an electron who knows to act differently when he sees two slits in front of him or one slit.  He know that is there is one slit he is supposed to act like a particle. If two slits he know to act like a wave and to interfere with himself if there are no other electrons present. This fits perfectly with Kant.

In Isaac Luria we also have these sub-divisions. The light is the essence of the thing. and the vessel is its characteristics. And the worlds are divided into inner and outer, [subject and object.].  This you can see best in diagram the Reshash has in the regular Eitz Chaim that is somehow missing in the Ashlag edition.

Now in terms of knowledge of stuff we have the exact same divisions: Kant, Hegel, Berkley, and Descartes. And that also you can see in the famous Drush Hadaat of the Reshash.

For further reading see

 (2) And also the regular Eitz Chaim [Tree of Life] by Isaac Luria and Chaim Vital.
Also the Eitz Chaim printed by the Ashlag group]
(3) The only things to read in Kant are the three Critiques. The area of Moral theory which is teh only thing they teach to university students is the weakest of all of Kant's writings and anyway cant be understood without the three Critiques.

(Note 1) This area is not very interesting. It gives us "the Fundamental Fallacy of Philosophy: the idea that the limitations of our minds tell us anything about the nature of reality. What we can call The Fundamental Fallacy of Modern Philosophy might be defined as the idea that it makes sense to study structure divorced from content. This is the idea that has given us businessmen who think they can "manage" without knowing anything about what they manage, critics who claim that only the technical excellence of a work of art matters, not its content, and sociologists of science." (Steven Dutch)
(Note 2). Ashlag was influenced by Hegel and thought Communism and/or Socialism is the ideal goal.
I can't But this political position does not show up in his commentaries on the Kabalah except in rare places. At any rate, I am thinking that it is first not true that Socialism represents the ideal society. 100 million victims of Stalin, Lenin, and Communistic China would seem to prove this last point. Also, I think that Ashlag did not take into account that the Torah is highly capitalistic. How can you read the Torah and not realize private property is an essential part of it.?

I should add perhaps that Kabalah is not usually understood as an alternative to Torah but as a deeper understanding of Torah. At least that is what we get with the Zohar and the Ari  and the Gra. No question people that get into it tend to start to make up their own religions. That is a sad tendency but it is I think contrary to the spirit of the authentic kabalists. I am trying to concentrate on the good aspects of Kabalah here. But I am aware of the pitfalls. If you want to avoid the pitfalls, then learn it in the general context of the Geon from Vilnius.


However I have some reason to choose the Kant  school over that of Michael Huemer.
This is simply the same objections to intuitionsim that Kant addressed in the first critique.[The basic idea is that intuitionism is a form of quietism,, i.e. simply a refusal to deal with the question in the first place, not an answer to the question.]


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. 


The Intermediate Zone

[1] The Intermediate Zone (היכלי התמורות) (נוגה)  with the insights of Paul Brunton and Sri Aurobindo,
[2] The basic primate nature of all human beings,
[3] The need to enter the Intermediate Zone,
[4] Formation of cults around people that have only entered into the Intermediate Zone.
[5] The pseudo religions of psycho analysis, and psychiatry, and psychology which  partake of all the worst characteristics of the Intermediate Zone.
[6] Perhaps after all the above I might offer some suggestions about how the deal with the problem of the Intermediate Zone.

There is a ridiculously short amount of time today so let me just make my first major point as fast as I can.
People have to go into the Intermediate Zone. This is like university. There simply is no choice. You can't look at the writings of Aurobindo and Brunton and say well the Intermediate Zone is so dangerous, so why bother with the spiritual side of things at all? The reason is that we are all primates and the evil in our basic character comes out (from potential to action), and we fall into all the different types of viciousness that is associated with our animal nature whether we like it or not.
But to jump up to the Divine realms is not possible without preparation.
So we are stuck with the need to enter a very dangerous area of spirituality, an area in which people think because they have visions or powers that means they are enlightened. They simply do not realize that the Dark Side [Sitra Achara] is playing with them.

The solution I really don't know, but I have found a set of basic principles that has helped me as I wade my way through this swamp of cults.

I have seen a lot of manifestations of the Intermediate Zone. Most often this is with people of some established religion. This is more than people in Eastern cults. A lot of time a person accepts an established religion, and assumes that since it is the right religion, therefore all the intuitions he or she has come from the side of Holiness and Light.   At least people in Eastern cults seem to be aware of the possibility that their visions might not all be from the Side of Light.

Of course, it is not smart to be involved in a religion that was founded on someone who was heavily in the Intermediate Zone or the Dark Side (סיטרא אחרא) like Islam. But even religions founded on enlightened individuals do not provide protection from the Intermediate Zone.

One confusing issue is the difference between the Intermediate Zone and simple mental illness. Some people  look at any spiritual manifestation as mental illness. Sometimes this is correct. Sometimes they are confusing manifestations of the Intermediate Zone with insanity.

(rest of essay deleted)

If you want to understand about cults and the Intermediate Zone I recommend learning about Scientology which gives a good template or measuring stick to understand whether your group is a cult or not. Adi Da also is a good example --or in fact even a better example because of lots of powers and miracles phenomena that appeared there.  If you want to understand this subject these two examples are important to learn about.

stripping the gurus
 This is a good reference book for Eastern spirituality. But the same could be written about spiritual leaders in other traditional chains.