Friday, June 18, 2010

Great quote from a Catholic seminarian on criticism of Transhumanism (made here);

"As a former transhumanist, I think the greatest draw is a(n unconscious) Zen-like annihilation of the self into that 'precision'. The problem is like the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit--the former is built around abstractions while the former is based off of man [revelation, relationship, etc, similarly based on man - so in a sense we privilege Divine-communicated rubrics over our abstractions] . Once the self is seen as limiting [or oneself as limiting and a 'problem'], anthropocentrism no longer seems useful since no-one wants to be an anthropos. It's similar with modern architecture--it's a wonderful home for an obtuse angle but not quite as livable for a human being. So much for 'other clean architectural marvels'".
-David Trahan, who 'writes' here.

I'd said recently among Transhumanist friends that I would consider their claims for transcending human limits once I'd seen them stretch the limitations they already have - like 20 clean, strick pushups and 5 clean strict pullups to the bar. I'm still holding my breath. I'm sure other "trannies" can - I'd just like their chutzpah and confidence to tone down until they bone up!
Some 20 years ago the lead singer of a metal band called Voivod explained their album title "Killing Technology" [pending finding the quote]; he didn't see society evolving along with the developments technology, such that mankind in the developed world had become children playing with things they don't and can't understand. I would add that we can't 'transcend' what we haven't fully fathomed, and such partial "evolving" transcendence leads to the asymmetries not unlike the top surgeon or tenured Harvard professor who actually ask the knowledge of Judaism they accumulated for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah to own up to their decades of knowledge of significant realms of the human experience. There is no comparison - and the reason should be obvious to them, but so seldom is.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jacob Milgrom
Bible Scholar, Conservative theologian of sorts (don't think he had any official position). Avakesh does a good summary of his ir/relevance for Observant, believing Jews. R. Zelig Aster of YU makes reference to his introduction to Leviticus as a possible grounds for reconciling Biblical Criticism with an imperative for observance. An interesting and revealing quote for why Orthodox Jews and critical academics could be at such ends in resolving the divinity of Torah;

The relocation of Jewish Bible study to the university and simultaneous diminution of the role of the seminaries in the formative Bible training of Jewish scholars has increased the chances that future Jewish bible scholarship will be no different than any other".

I think part of the 'blame' on the part of leaving the conversation about Tanakh to academics should also go to Torah education before and since The Shoah narrowing on Talmud analysis, relegating Tanakh to downright insignificance compared to the millenia of precedent set before by The Meforshim - and when it left the "beis midrash", the conversation that could have included academic voices went with it (recent scholars aside), and the community of the faithful was largely left out of conversation. The doors have long since closed, the scholars are likely as unwilling and unable to hear from contemporary Orthodox insight as the RW Orthodox are to hear anyone else out on a text that has transformed the world.

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