Thursday, June 30, 2005

I'm someone with some sechel!

It appears comments that I'd made to one of Gil Student's postings was appreciated enough to be posted on yet another blog - where Gil Student then commented on them!...

Monday, June 27, 2005

Torah as Person
I suggested "personal" as a way of describing the relationship to Torah and the Divine - and therefore the unaffectiveness of arguments for the Divinity of Torah or for the Divine; reason (as defined in the language system) and evidentialism are only a few of the many ways of accessing the truth of something such as Torah. Reframing Torah as 'person' reframes the value of evidence and reason. I would imply that on the personal level, belief in the Torah's soul (it has a guf in this world) - the Divinity of Torah, is not susceptable to the kinds of criticism that apply to physical objects of conventional, rational dispute - anymore than the truth claims for the personhood of ones parents, or of the internal aspects of ones friendships are reducible to the mere biology of the organisms in question. There most certainly is physicality - both to ones parents and the Torah (it is not in Heaven) - and that being said - Torah (the text used by those within the geography of Torah Judaism), at it's most 'reduced' phenomenological state (raw, uninterpreted text/letters), is anomalously uniform throughout human history. We have alot to stand on regarding the integrity of our mesorah on the physical existance of [what Jews call] Torah. The arguments for the historical integrity of the text are familiar,(summarized very well in Gil Student's essays, and one of his pamphlets).
I thought this would be a new twist, a "guf-garments/neshamah-body" sort of take, with Zohar in mind (Zohar III:152a). The texts of others, no matter how 'similar' are not Torah. The "old testament", though varying little in current translations (but varying tremendously by exegesis), is a wholey different document -much as the Volgate or the Samaritan texts are distinct texts borne through time by other faith communities. lack of focus, need coffee...

Issues in Emunah II
This is a clarification of what I'd meant by my views on epistemology, knowledge acquisition, etc., being "tainted". Everyone's perspectives on everything are affected to some degree by a multitude of variables - epistemology and doxastic practices are generally taken for granted by everyone, and not subjected to the same criticism and sellf-review as other perspectives. We generally don't give a second thought to Media,
advertising, etc, and how it affects what we believe or how we believe.
I was only laying out that dimension of 'tainting', regarding something so
foundational for other beliefs/assumptions, that it generally escapes suspicion of being affected by our mental "ecosystem".

Friday, June 24, 2005

Issues in Emunah (I'll be adding Emunah components later)

Following in my mind the "genealogy" of my ramblings about knowledge, epistemology, how we come to "know", believe, we such things 'come from' if anywhere (or anywhere here ; whether knowledge, wisdom and ideas are at times more than emergent)...I find that my perspective has long been tainted by colorings drawn from reading fiction (mostly), occult "Forbidden Knowledge" that made one privey to the works beyon the veil (or leaving you with the impression of the world as "veiled" - but I'm getting to that), Lovecraftian "terrorizing knowledge" that leads invariably to insanity or some form or literal or figurative suicide, Masonic initatory wisdom (later silly-fied by suggestions of 'conspiracy'), known only by certain people empowered over others, annotations to surface reality, even Race Memory and ethnicity (bound up with College-era authenticity issues). Plenty of experiences have contributed as well of course. I just wanted to set out where some of my musing around knowledge and doxastic practices stem from. As is often said by those working from within the confines of the "Therapeutic Paradigm" - the first step is admitting [or as I would also suggest - convincing yourself], that you have a problem. If you have a hammer, the world looks alot like a nail. If you're a soul, the world looks alot like....
Shabbat Shalom umvorakh!

Non-Evidentialism and being reasonable
Kelly James Clark, a Reformed Epistemologist (though Protestant christian in nature, the concepts precede their particular formulation), suggests that proofs and arguments are a valid means of suggesting truths - but they are provisional or "personal" in that they depend on the individual they are proffered to; an "argument from design" is going to be received in accord with the biases - cultural, intelligence, etc - of the individual, for example.
I want to add a spin to it; though we take Creation (though not causation), as a unprovable Maxim, proving comes from within as a proof of the Added Dimension of the Creation humankind (this is not an acceptance of the idea of "blind faith"; more on that later). We are responsible for making the proofs, making sense of the world, being the source of dis-illusionment for the better (this is not an acceptance of relativism; more on that later...). This is a personal process, and nations and corporations not being people (despite international legal structures to the contrary), don't have the same affect in the world as even one human individual does; nations do not have Tzelem Elokim, only people do (Rav Kook and Einstein have stated accordingly; Rav Kook does so explicitly from Kabbalah, Einstein met Rav Kook and they spoke on such stuff, so Rav Kook may be the source of Einstein's articulation of the idea). Israel as a collective do have an 'individual' dimension, and experienced Sinai in a capacity in accord with their nature.
Anyways, I don't think this 'personalizing' or 'customizing' is exclusive to the phenomena of proving and logic, reason, etc. I have in mind to bring up later how a Sefer Torah is treated like a person, and how (though not quite like above), when questions of 'belief' arise, we should conceive of our relationship to G-d and His Torah as we do regarding relationships,
other persons; if you ask for "proof" your parents exist (let alone the attribute of "loving you"; the nature of attributes are another interesting "proof" issue), you're probably going to get a potch/slap that your deserve. You don't submit Mom or Dad to methods of proof that are bound to things - especially not your mother! (you should call her BTW). In a similar sense, the Divine aspect of Torah is perhaps not argued to - it's argued from. And like so much of what is taken to be Divine in the world, we really are arguing from it not for it, often with no knowledge it's happening or that that is what we're doing. to be edited.

Rabbi Steinsaltz
"If we were to look at this question from a Jewish point of view, I would answer in the following way: 'We are living in the worst of all possible worlds in which there is still hope.' There are, indeed, worlds below us in which there is no hope at all, and this is what we call 'Hell.' But to speak of the entire structure of our own world: it really is a world on the very brink."

Friday, June 17, 2005

more universalism

From Sarah Rigler posted at Aish. I hope to get something together on "universalist" themes, comparing "doctrinal love" vs. "natural" love, etc ;

"To love all my fellow Jews meant loving the obnoxious ones, the loud ones, the superficial ones, from the smelly beggars to the intellectual imposters. And -- I realized with dawning discomfort -- if I couldn't manage to love the 13,000,000 Jews in the world, how could I presume to love the other billions of people on the planet?..."

British Chief Rabbi Sacks on Universalism

"Nor does a faith need to speak in universal terms to communicate universally. Quite to the contrary: our uniqueness is our universality. It was Shakespeare's use of sixteenth century Elizabethan English that allowed him to write poetry and drama that speak across almost all boundaries of culture. It was Beethoven's
development of the specific conventions of symphonic form that enabled him to write music that will never cease to move the human heart. It is by being true to our differences that we make our unique contribution to the collective project of human existence on earth. There is no other way. If the Hebrew Bible taught only this, it would be sufficient. I call Judaism 'the counter-voice in conversation of mankind."

I especially have in mind on Beethoven. Rav Kook on the poetry of law, of how for those who write and appreciate poetry, the 'rules' -so necessary for the poetry to be beautiful - as well as poetry at all- are simply part of it. Rav Kook compares this to Halacha of course (quotes from jerome Gellman's essay on Tshuva in the Jewish Action Reader).

His "Dignity of Difference" is monumental in the few pages it actually takes up. Definitely worth the (little) money, jewish or not, secular or not. It's spans politics, Globalism, religion, etc. Here is a supplemental essay from the Chief Rabbis website, mostly for the "religious" sections of the book.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

History of Modern Man Unravels
as German Scholar is Exposed as Fraud

"'Anthropology is going to have to completely revise its picture of modern man
between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago,' said Thomas Terberger, the archaeologist
who discovered the hoax."
(two links; obviously),12243,1418104,00.html

Academic Mysticism II
Maybe, similar to what Rav Kook suggested regarding Atheism, Academia's turn for the modern was esoterically just another "wash mode" that Torah had to go through in Galut, to further cleanse it of accumulated false beliefs. I would include maybe (MAYBE), the dichotomizing tendencies from Hellenic thinking of Kiruv's "Fact vs. Faith" (where silly descriptions of both are profered and Torah Judaism is posited as being "based in fact"), "absolutism vs. relativism", arguing for Torah from ["Maimonidean"] Reason/arguing from [Braslovian] absurd "faith", etc. So back to false Galut beliefs; Academia presenting, in part, reworkings and reinterpretations of Jewish history and belief (defining all the terms in the previous sentence from "Academia" to "belief"), that are strawperson Judaisms, 'studied' into existance for the sake of being rejected for Zionism (Gershom Scholem), or assimilated away from (I have no idea), or accomodated to "the modern world" (which always ends up being dated; again, no idea who would represent this possible position).
There is also an initatory dimension to learning the language the source material is in, presenting oneself to the Societies of symbolic knowledge for schooling in The Craft (Hebrew U, Harvard, U Chicago, etc), use of cult-specific jargon (PoMo-speak, etc), personal pilgrimages in Grad work to the locations of the events studied, etc. I mention this as only a dimension of academia, not that people knowingly go through their Degrees like they're doing Masonic "Degree Work"; well hey, there's another possible indication of academic Hermeticism! And there goes another one; hermetically sealed! this mysticism predominates in Tenured-Left departments that are intellectually hermetically sealed from challenging paradigms, safely Ivory-Towered away from the vagaries of real scientific disciplines.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

All the previous blogs from today were most all older ones, very revised.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Phenomenology, Tracking, Information Theory, etc.
(You'll be glad to know that westerners have recently acquired from an Indonesian village a 50-ft python. 580 lbs or something. the only worthwhile news to be read is generally to be seen at; it's always reassuring to me to be reminded of the tenebrous parameters of even just the physical world, to be reminded that there are 50-ft pythons crawling in the dark, green ancient places of the world).
Sunday, January 11, 2004; ALWAYS being edited. There is a rabbi here [at Aish, '04] who sailed around the world for 8 years or so-by himself. Before that he did crab fishing in the North Sea out of Alaska or Scotland, don't remember. He describes very well the tenebrous nature of the individual by literally embodying it; at midnight *riding* the frigid Fathomless Depths churning beneath you (screw smarmy "existential" metaphors of Abyss; MAELSTROM exists), as the rain pummells your sleep-starved body - from all sides, sliding enormous crab cages off the back of the boat into the sea in the middle of a storm; his buddys foot gets caught in a line that will tow him with it some hundreds of feet underwater (he was freed before it towed him down, btw). I personally imagine runes, Alchemical symbols made of animals or the Aleph Bet flashing to mind as the lightning and thunder meet "the Man", on (the) Sea, on (his) Vessel, "The Artifact"...lightning and thunder, of course, joining when the storm is over the [archetypal] observer, who for a moment "stands" on the most unstable of "ground". The rabbi also visited lots of strange places like Java, Polynesia, etc, and has lots of bizarre connections to make to discussions in Gemara (the Talmud,sort of). I want to go to yeshiva in Yesha (YEhuda and ShAmron; in English, Judea & Sumeria; in "CNN", the "West Bank"), where there is more desert to speak of, and Israeli Bedouin trackers who can teach you to track a grain of sand across the sky. I've been reading Loren Eiseley, can you tell? There's alot of fascinating triangulation in the process of tracking, of following the route of the land to sources of water, the route of pressed soil or overturned leaves, scents in the air to an Elk. I feel like talking about hunting, or maybe letting someone else with the proper voice speak;
Hunting in my experience - and by hunting I simply mean being out on the land - is a state of mind. All of one's faculties are brought to bear in an effort to become fully incorporated into the landscape. It is more than listening for animals or watching for hoofprints or a shift in the weather. It is more than an analysis of what one senses. To hunt means to have the land around you like clothing. To engage in a wordless dialogue with it, one so absorbing that you cease to talk with your human companions. It means to release yourself from rational images of what something "means" and to be concerned only that it "is". And then to recognize that things exist only insofar as they can be related to other things. These relationships - fresh drops of moisture on top of rocks at a river crossing and a raven's distant voice - become patterns. The patterns are always in motion. Suddenly the pattern - which includes physical hunger, a memory of your family, and memories of the valley you are walking through, these particular plants and smells - takes in the caribou. There is a caribou standing in front of you. The release of the arrow or bullet is like a word spoken out loud. It occurs at the periphery of your concentration." [pp.199-200]
Barry Lopez. "Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a
Northern Landscape".

I see some continuity to Information, Intelligence Analysis and tracking. What you perceive to be your prey is part of greater wholes; what you perceive (consider) to even be Perceived/perceivable being the first; if you perceive your prey to be "deer" and yourself to be "man", yet have very narrow conceptions of either, you won't catch anything. Deer’s smell and sense and think and remember; you have a sent and make noise and make mistakes and have habits that animals perceive.

[I digress - would you believe. Recall C.S. Lewis, Plantinga and others on *where* one begins to admit possibilities of miracles, etc. If your very view of perceptions/insights/thoughts (your very view of what ideas are or what “good thinking” is, for ex.), is that they come from minds which are bound by bodies, which are bound by rules of matter, how do you avoid an epistemic circularity; referring back to what you are trying to dis/prove? If you dissallow certain potentialities in your mind, they are filtered out at such an essential level that by your Sophmore year in college, OF COURSE you are a pretentious atheist; that's precisely what The System you came to college to rail against/support wants you to be. OR a "blind faith" dis/believer, or a "facts and faith" "Design Argument" dis/believer, or Dawkins lapdog.]

…"Information" and the means by which it is stored make for ecosystems of a sort (blah blah blah, nothing really new here), were greater rules and contexts apply, without necessarily sharing the same principles, meanings and relationships . (from here on is lots of bits from R. Matis Weinberg in a piece called "Nexus" in the Exodus volume of his "Frameworks" series; the parts that make sense are his, the ones that don't are mine. He is more on emergence, I am more on
the different roles a nested level can have). This is something like the principle of "nesting", wherein one system (or set of "spheres" of worlds, in a cosmological/spiritual sense), is contained in another like a Matriyushka doll (one of those wooden dolls that are inside each other), but not connected or even visible one to/from another in any sort of apparent commonly-bound dimension; it’s also like being at the confluence of several dimensions (remember The Maxx on MTV?). try think it also in the setting of a personage; like, oh, Bertrand Russell (one organic system with its rules) who is the author (authorship is another neural-conceptual system with its socio-cultural-technic rules) of a philosophy (etc) of Ethics (etc) - and by that system of ethics was himself a moral idiot. this isn't a very good example, sorry. anyways, there is a term in Kabbalah that would sort of apply to this process, Hishtalshalut. It means "linkages", circles within circles, etc, it is all over Kabbalistic literature, and specifically from Derech Hashem (a seminal systematic exposition of basic kabbalistic principles available in English, Feldheim), "bound one to another as links of a chain". Levels nesting levels, where something greater than any one level emerges from
all of them, but excedes the descriptive capacity of all of them even. But also each level can be intersecting another anciliar dimension, or have a meaning and significance in another dimension(I think of the SCA; someone can be "King of the Middle Kingdom", have vassals, knights, conduct court, etc, and work as a mail man the rest of the week, or of Kaiser Sosay ("Normal" from the movie "Usual Suspects").

From Saturday, February 28, 2004; still being edited
I see a ramble coming in Memorium to the decease blog, this one regarding the concept of "information", waying and measuring the intellectual aspects of non-Jewish cultures and societies, organization and representation of knowledge, defining between information/s, wisdom/s and knowledge/knowings (based in part in "cult of information" by Roczak), as well as the means to them (the modes of knowing, coming to wisdom [or something that was previously another category, like friendship comes to love, knowledge coming to wisdom; yes I've had my heart broken..]), the different consequences of systemetizing the same materials/ or ever more raw material, the representative material of numbers in an equation (though some theories of mathematics actually presuppose an Ideal realm of numbers, and there is modern Pythagorianism; see "myth of religious neutrality"); like matter is 'basically' energy, but accumulates into different sorts of systems out from the exact same material itself result in a world of different "things" (figures/factors in an equation can give rise to very different results; how different base assumptions that themselves have rules applying to them (something like how gods from pagan cosmologies aren't Divine, because they aren't the base assumptions, they derive from them; greater rules apply to them: they are born, live, die, submit to codes of law, etc,) dualism and binary code, Leibniz, the I Ching/Pa Kua and Binary, etc), how whole
"universes" of difference in a sense be derived from essentially common structures; the differences between Divinely (what fits the category of the Divine varying from cosmology to cosmology), Granted knowledge/inf/wisdom and that of the (seemingly) secular system derived "experimentation/empirically sourced knowledge/inf/wisdom; think on how certain crafts are considered as having been Mediated to individuals such as swordsmithing in Japan (even certain forms of swordplay as having been taught from "On High"), different conceptions of revelation and what happens when it's written down (Midrash/Aggadah on Mattan Torah and Lahavdil ben Kodesh l'Hol Rig Vedas, Sutras, etc). Also matrixes, greater contexts (nesting of contexts into ones that don't abide by the same rules and Rulemaking Divinities/ Ruling Principles that are "The Divine") and Ray Bradbury's "powerplant" essay, Orality and literacy, cognition and visual language, paleography, more later

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The "Enlightenment" and Academic Mysticism


Often the Renaissance is painted/taught to be a time of flowering of humanism, casting off of yokes of oppressive religious constraints, the dawn of science, etc. It was also a really bloody time filled with war, crime, the rise of colonialism, the dawn of NEW societal constraints, and ape-ing of "Classical" civilisation and adoption of it's intellectual blinders. We're taught in school that the period from 600-1600 is the "middle ages", because the Classical era and the Renaissance are more worthy of 'study' ('study' is often an academic code word for simple emulating, MORE ape-ing, or on the other end, 'study' can mean pilloring, torturing, revising to fit current perspectives), etc. I'll bitch about the renaissance and such later, but I want to pontificate on the "man-as-measure/er" now.

The conception of the world existing under the constraints of Divine measure, and scriptural revelation as being the axial knowledge, gave way to mans confidence in his ability to measure in accord with his senses, and that knowledge gained from experience, experiment, etc, was the TRUE axial knowledge, the new "revelation". I think "man is the measure of all things" was not just a simple phrase implying a step towards the secular, but an initiatory Doctrine of a mystical nature; the Renaissance saw (via printing), the proliferation of what had previously been considered "secret" knowledge, saw the universality of number, of quantity as a new lingua franca, not bound (as was latin), by the temporal Body of The Church and the Academic elite. works were printed in vernacular that had previously been copied by hand in religious/exclusive settings, skills that had been exclusive provence of craftsman, chemists, etc, could now become "common knowledge". Occult works *disseminated the paradigm* that truth and fact were subtle substance, "secret" and hidden in nature, requiring certain skills, tools, 'foreign' languages and formulas to access.

from here, REALLY in process; not in any structure, just mocked up for my convenience in editing.

leading to the current; academic, 'scholarly' perspective(s) as "new mysticism", privileged "objective" perspective on [role of defining] "the way things really are", of [defining what are] the "facts" behind the veil of ignorant faith communities/others who are "clueless" as to the "true" significance of their lifeways, scriptures, arts, etc (Jon Levenson's essays on academic study of bible/interp of scriptures in faith communities, the book "Being Changed"); the colonial nature of mass education, higher education, peer review, "Talented and Gifted" programs, standing oneself 'outside' the 'bounds' of [what is painted to be] convention, beyond the horizons of tradition-bound societies/systems (convincing themselves that they escape the definitions they use for other systems), the pop-culture celebration of the "heretic", heretical, 'renegade' scientist, the 'Expert' and the ignorant masses (despite their central role in the Military Industrial Intelligence Complex). Neil Postman, John Gatto, etc. rise of uncertainty in physics, in the fundamentals, and they way it is applied to everything BUT uncertainties within this Academic Mystical perspective; if the stock Relativist "foundations" were applied to their field - why should we show up for their classes? Why should they risk their losing their tenure (threatening their easy access to student-lovers...)?

reigning paradigms creep into academia from certain Western views into("Eastern") wisdom traditions that don't rely on the "historical", on empirical events, that deemphasize material world, emphasize the value of personal 'transformation' mystical experience, to access "the facts" of life, etc. the hegemony of these DISPLACED paradigms in Comparative Religion, Anthropology, other social 'sciences'. "Second-Semester Atheist" syndrome (Donna Schaper "me first spirituality" essay), the exploitable personal transformation/ initiatory nature of college, the "life staging" of accessing certain ways of knowing, making foolish the earlier knowings, etc.

thursby essay, privileged pomo "unbound by language games" position of discerning "privilege"; a quasimystical state?

[Religious] Question

[cut and pasted work in progress] If there even is a main religious question, I don't think its whether or not “God” exists, but whether or not we ACKNOWLEDGE a category of the Divine AS SUCH. I think many of us would admit that, allowing for Matrix analogies, we "Blue Pill" our way through much of our lives and just "accept" our worldviews as “just so” (provided we're even aware we have them), or accept them as a working models/hypothesis to be amended along the edges as we live, but essentially, I mean we ESSENTIALLY can’t conceive (without lots of work), of our DEEPEST presuppositions as -presuppositions.

[Before anyone says "when I was in highschool I was 'religious' and then my second semester sophmore year ten years ago I had a class with Dr. Berris and I'm still an atheist", I think you should know you have deeper suppositions than mere doctrines about dieties; think sensory perception, the nature of matter, memory, reality of other minds, etc; remember that in The Matrix were Zen coffeeshop intellectuals, atheists, houswives, freethinkers, devout Evangelicals, professors, schizophrenics, etc...and all were IN the Matrix, defined within the Matrix, except the occasional Neo/Trinity/Orpheus.]

At certain points, certain […] things are considered CERTAIN – “patently obvious" in accord with our given worldview, otherwise our worldview can’t be “given” for us. Hopefully I will be able to present the possibility that any given worldview abides by a set of rules common to ALL Uber-perspectives; that a worldview must posit a category of "non-contingent", the radically independent, by which EVERYTHING else must be substantiated/measured (however it may be posited to do so), for it to be a worldview.

I'll try it this way; not every ‘religion’ has a godhead figure, hierarchical structure or holarchical structure (radiating outward from a point), pantheons, deities, etc. I wouldn’t claim those things as being common to all ‘religions’. What IS claimed to be common is that ALL of them posit a category of non-dependency, to which all other dimensions of reality (not merely the physical world, but the worlds of ideas, beliefs, higher/lower states of being, etc), are appended. This sort of positing is the only real common denominator of what "religions" do. In most forms of buddhism, everything boils down to nothing - nothingness as a state of. that is the source and origin of everything. Or in ancient greek paganism, everything is understood to exist out from Kaos/Okeanos, even the Gods and Titans who are born and die. They are simply higher on the rungs of being than we are. Always ask "what precedes/gives rise to this-or-that?"; once you reach the end, BEYOND is what is considered Divine, "radically non-contingent", the font of all being; it is what you presupposed to begin asking at all. It is considered "being religious" when one is most in accord with this Divine.

The problem [or solution] is that this definition would take in perspectives/
worldviews that - within Matrix-sanctioned views - aren’t [to be] considered religions. By this it would seem “having” perspective entails a fundamental “principle-working” that is best defined as "religious". It's threatening because then we have to ask ourselves some very fundamental things; are my most fundamental presuppositions regarding matter, energy, truth/falsehood, minds, thoughts, origins, "is/ought", etc - true? Am I in accord with the most "right" perspectives, the most in-accord-with-reality perspective (provided that “being in accord with reality” is a virtue - in your worldview!). Once you acknowledge the role of religious control, once you take this “Red Pill” - THEN the question of whether "God exists" or not may in a sense re-present itself, but as "does God fulfill the role of The Divine?"

We spend much of our lives precisely NOT addressing that nature of what we (from within our worldviews), hold to be "self evident". We don't like the threat of there being a set of Uber-rules regarding Ultimates that we previously held to be beyond question. welcome to humanity; or at least the 999.99 percent of it before....The Matrix. You're in good company, you just needed a red pill to get catch up to the past. 'Historical' (explicitly-religious) religions had less issue with this - since it was common knowledge to them all THAT all agreed that some 'thing' or some 'one' fit the category of Divine - they just disagreed (rather passionately), as to what or whom, how or how “big”. [Before anyone for some strange reason wants to bring up 'religious warfare' or something - 80,000,000 people were murdered in 80 years by the 'secular' ideology of communism (the deeply religious Dialectical Materialist cosmology), far beyond crusades, inquisitions or tribal conflicts spaning the globe in the millenia before].

The Matrix benefits from us not making the leap of logic regarding Religious Control in theory-forming, in worldviews, in doxastic (belief-forming) practices; we are prepped for accepting the illusion of a religiously NEUTRAL perspective in modernism (‘being rational’ or “being scientific’ or ‘skeptical’), and continuing in postmodernism (radical skepticism, historicism, etc). Presupposing helps make pretentions of “radical skepticism” or “freethought” entertaining and benign to the System; even radical skepticisms "critical" thinking has to ASSUME realities that are supposedly
"questioned" - often ones that radical skepticism must stand on to critique; one who uses RS presupposes realities, processes and events that are referred to in conversations (“communication” itself being presumed to be possible) – realities that are counted on to exist for the “skeptic” to speak, breath, eat, walk while talking, write bad poetry, drink coffee and smoke, etc. As a human, radical skeptics stand on paradigms (that share “religiousness”), to deny the necessity of [OTHER humans] paradigms as such. Oops I lost my train of thought.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Esoterrorism; in process

ALOT more explaining needs to happen here for this blog to make sense, but here are the bits so far.

A page of Talmud (vol. Shabbat 31), features the famous story of a prospective convert to Judaism (known as a Ger), who seperately approached two famous rabbis of the time, Hillel and Shammai, seeking their counsel. He queries Shammai regarding the number of "torahs" (primary bodies of knowledge regarding the Jewish way of life), that Judaism has. Shammai tells him there are two, "the Written and the Oral"; the gentile denies the oral, and says he accepts the written, whereupon Shammai rebukes him with a measuring stick (sounds weird, but remember the image). Hillel however accepts him provisionally as a potential convert in Training. This is regardless of the potential-converts denial of the existance of an interpretive mechanism that accompanies the Text (which, in Orthodox Judaism, is considered THE Given facts), i.e., Oral Torah (maybe this understanding I give is Jewishly reasonable, maybe not).
Another incident regarding a prospective Ger is mentioned on the same page of Talmud, where a different Ger asked both Hillel and Shammai to sum up the whole of the Jewish way of life and worldview in a short enough time for him to stand "on one foot"; Shammai sends him away, but Hillel accepts him and answers his question by saying "the whole of Torah is embodied in 'love your neighbor as yourself'; the rest is commentary".
In yet another incident, a potential Ger approaches the same two sages, and wishes to convert so long has he is allowed to become the High Priest (the main functionary in the ancient temple in Jerusalem who did major heavy cosmic stuff). Shammai rejects him (1, probably because..thats silly!...2, because it's common knowledge that a convert may not take a position that depends on hereditary eligability). Hillel, however, agrees to teach him, and begins with a (rather obscure...), Law regarding capital punishment for anyone who is not of priestly lineage who engages in a specific act, even if he is the King.

Each time Hillel accepts a potential convert, he does so with reference to the Oral Torah;
1)In the first story, the issue is the basic existance of the Oral component as such, and the authority of those who live out the Whole Torah.
2)in the second, the simplicity, "commentary nature" of the Oral law in "fractaling out" from "love you neighbor..".
3)the authority of the Oral Law comes into play; certain capital offense laws apply to even the king, who it would seem (based on the Ancient Israelites contemporaries), is THE arbitor of laws of conduct and death penalities.

2 and 3 to be discussed/worked in later.

Regarding the "two torahs" convert, Hillel gives him his first lesson on the spot; learn Aleph Bet (the alphabet). The guy comes back the next day, and R. Hillel tests him- but reversed the order of letters. The guy says basically "hey wait a minute; didn't you tell me yesterday 'a,b,c,d,etc", and Hillel responds "must you then not rely upon me?; likewise regarding the Oral Torah". Part of what I think he says regards an essential, ever present 'oral' component without which EVEN THE MOST ESSENTIAL BUILDING BLOCKS of language, and hence of worldview - OF EXISTENCE CANNOT BE UNDERSTOOD (from the perspective of Kabbalah, Jewish 'theology' as it were, the letters are even considered the "building blocks" of all Creation, of the visible and invisible universe).
I think this applies to all rubrics (christian, Naturalism, Islamic, Buddhist, Primal/Indigenous, etc), in that they entail some pre'textual', pretheoretical Assumptions that EVERYTHING is understood (explained/misunderstood/"mystified", etc). In the modern world, the source for much of this is from Tanach as well as "Biblical" (christian), systems, even secularisms (which are Xtian heresies; Clouser/Dooyewerd/Voeglin, etc)...


damn...lost my train of thought...anyways, I'm very interested in the relationship of orality to literacy, and the transmission of "The Givens", pretheoretical assumptions that can't be doubted if you want your language-game-of-choice to's most often the case that in the West, most prime "language games" derive from essentially Torah/"Biblical" perspectives, either in reaction against it or from it, or from the presumptions shared by it/the ensuing Churches/social systems, etc. Greek/classical thought would not have survived if not for Monastic christianity and certain schools of Islamic thought that placed a value (though often polemic), in preserving the works. And with the renaissance (NOT the first time Classic works were translated), there were more Esoteric ways Ancient world-presuppositions were transmitted (the first texts translated weren't Classical, but Hermetic (i.e "occult") works, and with Freemasonry and Freethought movements, Rambam's influence in Latin translation of Moreh Nevukhim ("The Guide to the Perplexed"; especially on skepticism and Liebniz), with vernacular printing the accessabilty of "The Bible", it's perceived errors and inaccuracies, and it as an opponent, something to be revised, understood, amended, disputed, etc., also the death of "Scholarly Languages", of greek and latin or at least their STATUS as such...scientific/philosophic texts made accessable in local tongues; also "mystification" of languages that needed "translating", a new concept in some ways since printing flourished (yeah, Chinese printed, but didn't disseminate/foster the practice) and the Works themselves; also DEmystification of said texts, particularly religious texts of Others becoming "philosophical", when a pan-language-game-logic is assumed/accepted...the dissemination of "esoterism" in groups that required trappings of "mystery religion"; initiation, "code", etc...and what's "worse" (depending on your secondary commitments epistemologically/intellectually/morally-speaking), is...there are lots of good reasons to believe not only that Torah Givens aren't simply true pragmatically (Jamesian, some PoMo perspectives), but that they are TRUE in the most function-making ways possible in Olam HaZeh (this world). Where was I?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

What I've been reading all day,
along with the Sedra;

  • Torah Min HaShomayim
  • How Do We Know That We Heard G-d at Sinai?
  • The Practical Implications of Infinity
  • The Road Back From Utopia

  • I know, I know, really bad way to start again - but they're great pieces.

    I started this blog in Israel, now that I'm in hutz l'Aretz, I've moved it and renamed it. I"H more to come. K' BYE!

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