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28.2.12

common sense

Common sense is a large topic. I tend to agree with Ann Rand on this topic that a trend in philosophy trickles down to everything else. . (E.g. With Rousseau's Anti-Reason Anti-Enlightenment ) Here also the general trend of Western philosophy was to look at anything that was common sense as being by definition not possible.
In American and English thought only the counter intuitive is considered true.

This is a sad development in philosophy starting from David Hume and continuing in the Anglo British school. I would welcome a return to common sense in the world.
Hume starts out with a simple mistake that has plagued philosophy since his time. He asks for a idea that is not based on the senses. He says if one could find such an idea it would disprove him. Then he finds this idea. Then he says it is meaningless instead of admitting his mistake.
That is not his only mistake.There is also his completely arbitrary claim that reason does nothing but perceive  contradictions. Where he gets this from is simple. He saw Euclid and was impressed so he decided philosophy had to follow the same path. In any case his claim is stupid and arbitrary.It is true that Euclid builds his system by means of simple axioms and then uses reason to perceive contradictions --but also he uses reason to build up claims and ideas that are ot based on simply perceiving contradictions. So Hume did not even understand Euclid.

On a separate topic here is an essay about another issue that Hume got confused in; http://www.uwgb.edu/DutchS/PSEUDOSC/Hume.htm

22.2.12

The problem the Baal Teshuva movement.

The problem with Kiruv and the Baal Teshuva movement.
It had a great idea in the beginning of teaching people to learn and keep Torah. And this is I admit a great thing.

The problem with Kiruv note 1 and the Baal Teshuva movement. The movement the movement to convert Reform and Conservative young college students into  by inviting them to Sabbath meals and show them an idealized picture of what Torah is about. The words "Baal Teshuva" means newly religious.] had its glorious honeymoon when old and young, comfortable and desperate, homeless and tenured all found that what they had in common was so compelling the differences hardly seemed to matter.

Until they did.

Revolutions are always like this: at first all men are brothers, and anything is possible, and then, if you're lucky, the romance of that heady moment ripens into a relationship, instead of a breakup, an abusive marriage, or a murder-suicide. The Baal Teshuva movement had its golden age.

Part of what all Baali Teshuva  had in common was they against: the current "System," (the whole thing evolved out of the 1960's mentality) and the principle of insatiable greed that made it run, as well as the emotional and economic problems that accompanied it.

The "System" that damages people, and its devastation was on display as never before in the early 1960's.
And then came people -- the psychologically fragile, the marginal, the greedy and cruel -- some of them endlessly needy and with a huge capacity for disruption. Others who had wanted to experience a Jewish society on a grand scale found themselves trying to solve parnasa ( money) problems by using the Torah and by fraud pretending to be teaching the ancient wisdom of the Talmud (which is great).
The fraud  is what I think destroyed the beauty of it all--but it might be the very system itself that is particularly open for abuse--very much like communism


And then there was the violence. The main modus operandi can best be described by Odysseus: "We went into villages and killed all the men and took the women and children". This is done not by violence, but rather stealth and cunning. Kiruv depended on the naivety of women, and teachers play the part of righteous sages. Then the woman comes to ask advice from the teacher about her husband. the answer for was to find out the level of observance of the husband. If it is more than the accepted amount, then they tell the woman the husband is a lunatic "meshuga." If the level of observance is less, then the husband is a heretic (apikorus). This way the woman and and her children become part of the community and the husband is discarded like trash. This was almost never do this with malicious intent but just by instinct.

Next is Aish and the different Kiruv  groups. In essence, debating today has become a rhetorical tool used to control questions through obfuscation. This is why debating, is very much a root cause of propelling our anti secular knowledge forward to the next level of insipidity. This was not the case in previous epochs. Not long ago people actually presented evidence supplied by history, data, facts, and used demonstrable proofs to demonstrate the validity of arguments. There seems little use in debating in groups like Aish that do not retain respect for truth. Ironically, debating the virtue and merits of truth, moral goodness or the nature of the good life is rarely something that those who sincerely practice such things feel compelled to do.
 Rav Shach wrote what he thought about Kiruv-- and it was harsh.
There is no board of review or  a process to decide integrity. And since there is no overseeing or checking for integrity, there is no integrity.

This is the problem with empowering people that have no sense of justice. It is the reason Reb Israel Salanter started the Musar movement. Without a sense of justice, what is the point? Just the opposite. Teaching people Torah when they are unjust just gives ammunition to bad people. Thus the teachers of think they are righteous because they suppose they are bringing people to Torah, but they themselves are unjust. The whole thing has become an Animal Farm with all the Orwellian nightmares associated with it.



(note 3) bringing them into orthodoxy enforces what every  schizoid tendencies.







14.2.12

I like Spinoza very much. If he had proved his point about pantheism I would probably not be knocking the different groups of chasidim that preach pantheism

I like Spinoza very much. If he had proved his point about pantheism I would probably not be knocking the different groups of chasidim that preach pantheism and also say that what they are teaching is authentic Judaism. But personally to me it does not seem that Spinoza proved his point. Several of the things that he writes right at the beginning are of interest. He uses Descartes' idea of a clear idea as being evidence that it is true. (I only wish this were so. I have a clear idea that I have a million dollars!)(Of course Descartes was mathematician, so in that context this idea makes sense but as a general rule it does not). Next Spinoza puts a restraint on substance that also is not intuitive and to me makes no sense; i.e. that no substance can effect another substance in any way. Next most of the proofs do not prove what he is saying and he uses many terms that he does not define. While I admit his work is admirable and an amazing attempt to create a rigorous philosophy as for me I think I will stick with the Rambam. I also appreciate that he does not claim to be teaching authentic Judaism as opposed to chasidut which also teaches pantheism (or panetheism)and yet teaches that it is authentic Judaism. In any case, pantheism is not the faith of the Torah.

This is the philosophy part. Also, Arizal does not agree with pantheism. To the Arial (and the Zohar), only Azilut is godliness, not the lower worlds. Also the Zimzum has nothing to do with pantheism. To use the issue of the Zimzum was a smoke screen made up by chasidim to try to show why the Gra put Chasidim (or rather "the disciples of the Magid from Metzritch") in cherem. but the Gra does not mention the zimum. Also it is not relevant. Hashem might have condensed his light or Himself and still everything might not be godliness; i.e. it could be he condensed his light or himself. Then he sent down his light into the empty space and made the lower worlds. That still does not mean that the lower world are Divine. It is simply irrelevant. And in fact, anyway it says in many places in the beginning of the Eitz Chayim that Hashem condensed Himself.
To sum this up simply the faith of the Torah is monotheism. This goes for the Rambam and Saadia Geon and the Arizal. The principle of creation something from nothing is the basis for Torah as the Rambam also holds. Something from nothing does not mean something from ain sof (infinity). So for chasidim to present pantheism as kabalah or as Judaism is not right.

4.2.12

Monotheism was a revolution. It was different from what came before it in that God is transcendent, and that he is not subject to a meta divine realm. Nature is not God. He is totally "other."


It is common in pagan religions for there to be  a fluid boundary between the divine, the human, and the natural worlds. They blur into one another. The distinction between them is soft.  So there's no real distinction between the worship of gods and the worship or people . Also because humans also emerge ultimately from this primordial realm there's a confusion of the boundary between the divine and the human that's common in pagan religion. These are all characteristics of Hasidim.

12.1.12

(3) Important to indicate the values that the Torah is trying to tell us. I need a list. First on the list is Monotheism, that God is transcendent. That His Will is absolute and not subject to any Meta-Divine realm, nor to any tzadik or any rituals. The basic values of Torah are the values that cults change and do so in a tricky way by emphasizing rituals and clothing, and thus are able to present themselves as authentic Jews while their basic principles of Pantheism  are in direct contradiction to Torah.


(4) Next you need to show how the  spiritual power of chasidic leaders comes from the meme or the super-organism that is possessing them and not from holiness. This spiritual power comes hurt people that oppose them but it is not from the side of holiness. the power of the super organism gives to chasidim the power to hurt people --but not to help. This is just a general consequence of the war of the gods that is taking place nowadays after the fall of simple monotheism.
the absence of the realization of the active power of God has given rise to polytheism in new forms like groups in which the old gods are replaced by people or corpses.

4.1.12

God created the world with two opposite sets of value--form and content


God created the world with two opposite sets of value--form and content. As you approach God you are getting closer to content with no form. The Talmud occupies an area that is between pure content with no form, and the mode of justice. However there are other areas of value.
Where these areas of value intersect that is the halacha. So to come to a true final halacha would require not just a source in Talmud but also a way of dealing with the questions raised by John Locke and Hobbes about the nature of civil society and justice in itself. Since no one since the time of the Rambam has had the stature to be able to deal with these questions in any coherent way I consider the entire area of religious law to be in what is called "civil society"--that is an area free from cohesion. The purpose of government in my view is to protect society from outer and inner threats of crime. In a word you could say I am a Jeffersonian , but it would be more  accurate to say I derive my views from Kant  and John Locke.


3.1.12

The Rambam's theory about Avraham Avinu (Abraham) from the Guide needs more attention. It is so starkly different than what people think the Rambam (Maimonides) said that it would be laughed at. You have to actually see it inside to even believe the Rambam could write it.
But here in this blog I have already written about the Rambam's approach to Avraham.
It is clearly a natural law theory but it has great subtlety.
The first thing I want to mention here however is not to explain the natural law theory of Maimonides but to explain what it is not. Philosophy has gone so far astray in the last hundred years that it is important to explain what Reason does not say.
First of all a wicked tradition in philosophy starting from Hume is like this. It makes a statement that seems to be reasonable at first like "No a priori knowledge can be gained by observation." It then it finds something that in fact looks like a priori knowledge gained by observation, and then claims that therefore it can't be a priori knowledge. This is so stupid it surprises me that people have been taken in by this for 400 years.
This is not called reason, and is not reasonable at all.
Also, the empirical school of thought that knowledge needs to be based on observation and justified by observation is also not reasonable.
This has been dealt with elsewhere but let me just mention that if Empiricism were true you could not know that something can't be blue and green in the same place at the same time.

But this could possibly make a problem for the very foundations of American Democracy (which i do believe in) which is founded on the principles of John Locke who was an empiricist.
It might not because his philosophy of empiricism might not be related to his philosophy of politics. But I don't know this. And after all is said and done there is something lacking in substance in American society. The America I once knew and loved is long gone. The principles of the Founding Fathers are nowadays a joke for the Democratic party and even for the Republicans. Limited government is nowadays a joke.

One thing you can say about the Talmud--even though i also don't like the fanatics but you have to admit very few people who learn Talmud are taken in by the lies of the democrats.
to quote Kelly Ross on the Democrates:
Who hate almost everything about America, including the very ideas of limited government, individual rights, private property, self-defense, free enterprise, free speech, etc. A history of slavery, sexism, and homophobia naturally discredits everything about America and its history -- but these are only minor idiosyncrasies in Islâmic fundamentalism, which of course is fully redeemed by its hatred of America (and, well, Jews). Any Democrats who do not agree with attitudes like these, it is time for you (especially if you are Jewish) to get out of that Party. If you don't believe that the Party involves attitudes like these, it is time to get wised up.