Sunday, April 19, 2009

Evolution Conspiracy III
Another social function of the 'war' on Intelligent Design is its application in other battles of 'scientific' vs "hidden agenda"; advocates for distasteful (i.e., un "scientific"), positions can be compared to "creation" (i.e., ID) vs. Science, now an archetypal battle. Guns and religion in recent presidential campaign volleys for example, or environmentalists vs. anthropocentric harborers of religious "myths". Interestingly, many environmental works speak of humankind as something that is somehow apart from the natural world that must be curbed, restrained, etc. Intelligence, mind and the belief in responsibility are seemingly viral at best, from this sort of outlook, pathological even (the position of some anarcho-primitivists and Environmental-collapse advocates).

One interesting digression; many materialists oppose the notion of personhood as expressed in human minds - it's residual (residue), a byproduct of other explicable adaptive functions (and thus doesn't even need to be "explained"; it emerges in the wake of what is already explainable). Equally-materialistic animal welfare ethicists however speak frequently and passionately for the personhood of other species. How can you have it both ways!? the works of Peter Singer and Daniel Dennett can be found comingled in the same websites, blog posts and whatnot. What is being left aside by "neuro-secularists" for others to chew on has resulted, I think, in the parallel development of outlooks shared by indigenous peoples. Inter-species relationships from their perspective abound with degrees of personhood and ways of relations between man, flora and fauna. Undergirding it all, on the indigenous side, is belief in the world as a Created place.

Deliberate obfuscation of Creation and Causation that benefits both secular and religious fundamentalists, just as the adamant "left/right" dichotomy thinking has us suffering under one party that parades and campaigns as two.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Segue II
More respectful disenfranchisement, this time of Rav Aharon Soloveitchik and his hashgacha of Streit's Matzah. I expect this will be the tactic of the present and future, as the attempt to put in question even affiliated "Modern ultra-Orthodoxy" accelerates (his outlook being one that found more than mere "Torah u'Parnasah" value in secular education; also consider his relationship with RIETS, etc). If they can move adherents of a perspective to doubt themselves, the halachic positions of their leaders or their affiliations even the slightest (a "minor details issue" with hashgacha in this case), you personally will have to discern and pick a "side" within the perspective, for your sake and more importantly for your children (who they're really 'after').

And picking between to pick apart is just the matter.

Rav Hirsch symbolically pledged the disavowal of "civilization and culture" if the resoundingly-theoretical situation of chosing between "Derech Eretz" and Torah were to present itself [emphasis mine];

"We hereby declare before heaven and earth that if our religion required us to renounce that which men call civilization and culture, we would be ready to do so without hesitation...because it to us the Word of God to which all other considerations must defer.
We also hereby declare before heaven and earth that we would rather have ourselves branded as fools for the rest of our lives and renounce all the glory and splendor of culture and civilization than participate in an arrogant pseudo-culture such as the one demonstrated by the spokesman of this "Religion Allied with Progress"...[section expurgated for brevity, but definitely worth reading] if our choice were only between such madness, on the one hand, and primitive ignorance, on the other, again we would say: We would rather remain ignorant for the rest of our lives than stand before God for even one moment with such a godless culture.
But is this really necessary? Judaism was never alien to genuine civilization and culture. In almost every era, its followers stood at the very heights of the culture of their day; indeed, they often outstripped their contemporaries in this respect." Collected writings VI, p.120

Resoundingly-theoretical would seem the straight understanding of his statement - considering his willingness to seek accord between science and Torah in the most contentious matter - perhaps the defining 'matter' even now...evolution;

Judaism is not frightened even by the hundred of thousands and millions of years which the geological theory of the earth’s development bandies about so freely. Judaism would have nothing to fear from that theory
even if it were based on something more than mere hypothesis, on the still unproven presumption that the forces we see at work in our world today are the same as those that were in existence, with the same degree
of potency, when the world was first created. Our rabbis, the Sages of Judaism, discuss (Bereshit Rabbah 9:2, Hagigah 16a) the possibility that earlier worlds were brought into existence and subsequently destroyed by
the Creator before He made our own earth in its present form and order. However, the Rabbis never made the acceptance of this and similar possibilities an article of faith binding on all Jews. They were willing to live
with any theory
that did not reject the basic truth that “every beginning is from God."

Collected Writings, vol. VII, p. 265

Where Rav Hirsch so no literal place for alienation, and in fact saw the true path of the Sages - they see grounds for a "renewed" Austritt (secession). Where he saw the conjoined capacity of reason and faith to suggest scientifically-informed readings of Torah (emphasized text above), where necessary - they see...Gee, in comparison, I don't know what they see anymore.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Evolution Conspiracy II

Continuing a previous Evolution Conspiracy post; considering the engineering of an unstated "blind watchmaker" perspective on socio-political evolution (fostered through stringently-narrow science education, emphasis on "knowing our place" in the material world through the lense of materialism as cardinal, a vehement opposition on the part of materialists to anything in the sciences that diverges from currently-entrenching paradigms and non-scientific, materialist meta-narratives), societal change - sorry, evolution - is "most reasonably" grasped in very morally relativistic terms. Though many materialists themselves eschew relativist thinking based on various naturalistic explanations for ethics "without foundations" - we simply evolve them as species and "simply" have them - a position I myself find defensible as the causitive manifestation of "Natural Morality", explicated from Yahadut by R. Kook, R. Amital and many others (here R. Blau responds to criticism of the above piece).

Previous "errors" in societal evolution (the U.S. being sold the automobile and the ensuing addiction to fossil fuels, sprawl, the pathological architecture of Suburbia, the death of the city, etc.), are to be understood in causitive terms; Bike-friendly Netherlands blindly 'evolved' one way with fossil fuels, the U.S. another...completely editing out the more-subtle roles of advertising, the myth of independence and 'a car in every garage'. Odd example, but I think it's a fair one...the important point being that people who did not need the perennial use of internal combustion engines, SUVs, etc, etc, have been progressively sold them with the marketing impression that there's some sort of natural, guilt-free irreversible "evolution" towards bigger, faster, more consumptive technologies away from your feet or a bike. that needs lots of work, but it's eruv Pesach so...don't expect it.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Rav Lichtenstein and the Segue from Chardal to Charedi
From a piece I'd written a while back;

Though both Kolbrener as a current academic, and R. Lichtenstein a former academic who left it in 1962, do explore changes in the academic climate - neither of them address what has happened in the Torah world over the same span of time - the present day back to 1962, the year when R. Lichtenstein, an unrelenting current advocate of Torah u'Maddah - left academia. Much has been written on this blog and elsewhere on just the very transformations in the Torah realms, I would like to add links here later, but for now; academic treatments, see Gershon Bacon, Menahem Friedman, Jacob Katz, et al (some have material online)...Certain Modern Orthodox People literally say "we" need to find "our" Gedolim - likely meaning the term as Charedim do (a predilection to which I'm moved to respond "What do you mean 'We', White Man?"...) - and they seek one in R. Lichtenstein; it's very nice that he has no peers; it's a siman that he could be a Gadol by Charedi standards. though I've never heard someone explain how someone among the Gedolim can have no peers). Another siman is that his peerlessness confirms what many charedim believe;

"Even pursuing some 'balance' between Torah and Maddah has always been reserved for the select few - and 'b'zman ha zeh - this is an ever-shrinking few...he's just the Gadol for you ever-shrinking modern [somewhat] Orthodox!"...

In it's habitual "Gedolim"-izing reactions to Charedi expectations in rabbinic authority, Modern Orthodoxy may again be confirming it is indeed neither. Nor can it be either - and Charedi.

In retrospect, I think "Gedol-izing" of R. precisely the point of featuring him in the journal Jewish Action, where his 'dated' (in more ways than one), views on secular education are treated by one who actually is a current academic and burgeoning Chardal figure. And the OU through Jewish Action, are indeed engineering the 'upgrade'. Precisely when R. Lichtenstein has retired as Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivat Har Etzion. He is respectfully being dissented from...and respectful dissent is precisely something the Modern Orthodox have left themselves vulnerable to in speaking of "respectful dissent" from Charedi Gedolim - as if all Charedi models of leadership, many of them patently-modernist and reactionary, really are something that all the various models of Modern Orthodoxy consistantly deviate from. Archetyping R. Lichtenstein, narrowing down the "worthy leaders" of a diverse movement to one individual - can also appear to be showing his redundancy and obscurantism.

It may seem like I'm making far too much of one article, but I think there have been other incidents of "narrowing", such as Rav Soloveitchik. Charedim, if they acknowledge him, have been quick to claim he was decidedly not "modern" Orthodox. And more recently we've witnessed the disenfranchisement of Torah im Derech Eretz in the very sanctuary of Kahal Adath Jeshurun. R. Hirsch's pronouncements on the timeless and universal application of TIDE are widely available...

"...but Torah and Derekh Erez is nevertheless the one true principle conducive to 'truth and peace'...The principle of Torah and Derekh Erez can fulfill this function because it is not part of troubled, time-bound notions;

No matter. Authority hath spoken from the pulpit of the 'one' (sanctioned...) community reflecting the TIDE tradition; "Our generation...must follow today's gedolei HaTorah" continue R. Hirsch on Gedolei HaTorah... represents the ancient, traditional wisdom of our sages that has stood the test everywhere and at all times. These sages and they alone, have always been, and still are, our true sages.
R. Hirsch, Collected Writings VI, p.221

For KAJ, no longer is the derech which Rav Hirsch spoke of as the historically normative path of the true Sages of Israel considered timeless or universal; in his name and honor, it is not even permissible.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Evolutionary Conspiracy
Anyone who knows me or this blog knows me to be a proponent of evolution. If I appreciate something, I generally will see some dark side, some conspiracy aspect to it. So here goes....
There is justifiable opposition to the teaching of "Intelligent Design" in publically-funded educational settings. There is, I believe, an additional, nefarious aggenda to the governmental and educational establishments opposition. Emphasis is made in education on evolution that there is no discernable, reliable evidence for design or intent in nature. The natural world of which we are only a part is in accord with and results from discernable, temporal physical laws, however amazing and intricate and however deeply we delve - at the start we must assume it is physically explicable nonetheless. The more steeped one is in such an outlook, the more likely one is to accept the idea of the societies generated by homo sapiens sapiens, as being just as originated and explicable within these untutored, undriven laws of order as non-human animal societies. Sociobiology, IOW. Neurological reductionisms and the "deconstruction" of belief-forming practices, religions, etc, can simply be read as preempting the suggestion that human intelligence 'engineers' human society or has any kind of influence that is not likewise explicable.

If one is susceptible, no matter how it is put, to the idea that a biological system may be ordered by an intelligence, whether mortal or Divine, there is the risk that one might begin to see human society as indeed capable of also being engineered - socially engineered, determined, submitted to brainwashing, propaganda, etc. If you are educated to be fixed on "Blind Watchmaker" analogies, you will see no will, for good or ill - in the vagaries of The Powers that Be; society is simply ordered in certain ways, who are you to rebel, to act in a contrary manor, to suggest other manners of social order or suspect a presently prevailing "course of human events" to be contrary to the common good?

Such an engineered "Matrix" situation can foist on these "educated" domesticated societies the notion that there are discreet "epochs" of human history and development; political approaches of the past, no matter how much more benevolent, productive, etc than the present..are in the past..."we've evolved past those stages, we no longer are in those societal ecosystems, with those 'individualist' needs, expectations or fears"...totalitarianisms, however evident in present settings, can be dismissed as 'impossible' in this "more developed" era of human collective evolution (consider the prevalent perception that evolution is "progressive", from "primative" to "advanced", etc). What in the past were warning signs of moral and societal decline can now be reinterpreted as signs of 'maturity'; no longer possible in terms of threats to expect from actual patterns of history (the predictability of democide, given certain variables), no longer feasible in terms of policy (the ever-more-Talmudically-argued war against the 2nd Amendment). Basic, human primal inclinations for self-preservation, for example, can be painted "now" as being ironically contrary to the future of humanity. Responsibility is no longer 'yours' to expect of others or yourself. Self-reliance is village and whatnot.

Feh...take with two grains of salt and call me in the morning.

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