Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘philosophy

“I am, because we are…” Truth Theory

People talk about truth and truths, but never offer a set samples of what truth could be.

In general, they extend the two criteria:

1. Truth is valid everywhere, for all civilizations and

2. Truth is invariant in time.

People tell you what Truth is Not.

Does truth means what is considered a fact; an objective measurable observation; an eye witnessed event; or a story backed by images, pictures, and sound recording?

Is truth what we confirm by resorting to God to back our utterances “In the name of God”, “I swear to God”, “on my mother’s head, father’s, or my unique son…?”

What is truth?  Is it all the affirmations contained in one’s “Holy Book” or consensual scientific books?

via @[175719755481:274:Truth Theory]
How I learn?

Are you talking of an individual or a person?

It is important to weight the innuendo of your terms in writing and in speaking.  It is good to start differentiating between an “individual” and a “person”: They project different meanings in the collective mind.

Confusing the individual (the Greek atom) of a living biological entity with passions, with the person endowed with spiritual and moral value system is very harmful in disseminating a line of thinking.

Confusing the individual (the subject in experiments) with the person leads to considering individuality as a mass of numbers to be used statistically for commercial and financial interests, projects, and material planning…

Confusing the individual with the person confound liberal capitalism with materialist communism, both of them viewing mankind as means for instituting absolute ideologies, based on abstract notions and fundamentally founded on the abstract individual that has no mind of his own and no will of his own…The individual is thus abstracted and good to be used and abused as any object (living or inanimate).

The more we tend to confuse the two terms, the more frequent is the habit of subjugating communities in the name of the power-to-be political system.

Becoming a “person” with a complex system of moral values, and positions on “what is life”, and “what is death”…is not an automatic transition from the state of individual with huge ego to a community member wishing the good entente and reconciliation among the “cluster” of individuals…

Becoming a person is a community undertaking, starting with the extended family, that nurture the basic individual into a responsible citizen, teaching him that he is entitled to freedom of expression, and questioning authority figures, and voting, and paying taxes…

Becoming a person is a community undertaking to learn to respect the living, their dignity, their spiritual needs, their customs, their opinions…

A dead individual is not the same as a dead person: The value added to mankind can be measured on a logarithmic scale of magnitude…

Life is series of contradictions and passions, evolving by the day…Life is not a philosophical or mathematical unifying structure in order to judge people on how they behaved long time ago: Stay attune and alert to time change, to the most current development, and base your opinion on the emerging changes in the “person”.

Note: The essay was inspired from a section of the interview that Carlos Catania conducted with late Ernesto Sabato and published in a book “Between the letter and the blood

Encourage your kid to reflect on his own views: Individual model of the world is the reality

Javier Goma Lanzon is a lawyer and a philosopher; he is the director of the Juan March Foundation in Spain.  Lanzon published “After imitation and experience”, “Achilles in the Gymnasium”, “Public examples”, “Learning to be candid”,  and “Necessary but impossible”.

Lanzon labeled his philosophy “Theorem of experience and expectancy“, a possibility for acquiring hope beyond the experience, a way of facing current transcendental trends.

We are going through a transition period, a cultural order that was based on a set of aristocratic knowledge; this current culture is giving sway to a culture of our finitude and egalitarian struggle.

Is there an alternative culture that may close the gap and relieve us from our disarray?

The modern “philosophy of suspicion” has indoctrinated us in the last two centuries to the habit of being western-centered:  It had for mission to liberate western people from the oppression of tradition and myths.  The “”philosophy of suspicion”, known as “philosophy of lucidity“, encouraged the exaltation of subjective thinking, the critics of ideologies and genealogy, death of God, end of history… It generated the doctrine of a post-colonial thinking that is mostly prevalent right now.

The “philosophy of lucidity” shaped mankind moral progress through blood and sacrifices.  The end result was a set of human rights that the public power had to negotiate with the people.  Authority had legally limited the enjoyment of our private life:  We are free in a big prison, devoid of individual ethical practices.

Modern philosophers isolated themselves from society (the attic philosophers) and could not validate their doctrines:  They proffered immoderate truths, scary models, and not normally feasible.

The “philosophy of lucidity” has reached its peak and can no longer clarify what to think next.

The paradigm of freedom is being displaced by the need to be more candid in viewing the world.  Schiller wrote: “The candid poem is the daughter of life and brings us back to life“.

The “philosophy of the candid” breaks through skepticism, relativism, pluralism, and particularism and extends a gentle confident hand to the objective world:  Everything that is universal and objective is within each individual.  It will be the result of choices of accumulated studies and adventures,

The candid philosophy is necessarily a worldly endeavor, a philosophy connected to the reality of society and people.  Any philosophy has to teach us ideas, forms, and emotions that favor “living together”.  Thus, learn to be friendly, courteous, ethically convenient to the community.

Our big problem is that ethics have been proposed and conceived as public behaviors, but no one has offered any ethics for the private life.

To feel emancipated, we have to invest energy and time to learning and reflecting on our own:  We have got the responsibility (private ethics) to construct our individual model of reality, of ethical conduct, the real thing, the true reality.

Aristotle wrote: “To put constraints on our private behaviors is to expand“.  We need to tend toward this “uniformity of life” so that people can judge us to be reliable and trustworthy.

What use is of art? What is the origin of art?

Is art (esthetics) an expression of a world vision and a hierarchy of values? Is an artist different from art?

Let me extend a few quotes, just to set the tone and provide ideas for the discussion.

The young French author, Emile Zola, arrogantly wrote: “My ideals are my loves and my emotions”

Theophile Gautier wrote: “The most useful part in the house is the toilet.  I believe what are most beautiful in the house have no usefulness whatsoever.”

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon wrote: “The artist is called upon to share in the creation of the social world.  He is to shoot for the perfection of mankind, physically, mentally, and morally.  The glory of an artist is an appreciation of the process for perfecting mankind.”

Plato refused poets political positions on the ground that they are more inclined to passionate emotions than rational thinking.

In the same vein, Rousseau agreed with the prohibition of Switzerland on banning theaters because theater pieces encouraged emotional outburst.

Compare the above statements and positions with Conrad‘s description of the artist in his preface to The Nigger of the Narcissus:

The artist appeals to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives, to our sense of pity, and beauty and pain…and to the subtle and invincible conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts, to the solidarity in dreams, in joy, in sorrow, in aspirations, in illusions, in hope, in fear which binds men to each other, the dead to the living and the living to the unborn...”

Do you think that it is getting pretty tedious to carrying on controversial topics or subjects?

In heated debates, we end up cutting short on discussions by labeling them “useless controversial subjects”; meaning “I am not interested any longer in giving further thought on the topic; I have no inclination to read and study and discuss the topic any further; I refuse to taking a position on the matter since I will not get involved; this is not a pragmatic subject and none of my concerns…”

There is this perception that only ignorant people hoard discussions and prevent level-headed persons to participating rationally in the debate.  Thus, when someone gets passionate about a concept or idea or takes firm positions and stands, we relegate the individual into the category of irrational and not serious type.

As if feeling passionate is the sole monopoly of non rational people.

As if a passionate person is basically an artistic kind, isolated in his own subjective world, caring about his own perception of love, emotions, and what is beautiful and right.

We have this perception that only a professional in particular disciplines (meaning earning a living from the profession), has definite, intransigent positions in their topics of interests, methods, techniques, and world views conceived from his unique perspective point.

As mankind evolved and communicated his idea and cultures, spread and disseminated knowledge and varieties of arts, it is normal to admit that many factors came into play to influencing approaches to arts, perspectives, purpose of art, utility and personalization of artistic works.

Thus, trying to taking definite positions on the driving force in enhancing arts cannot be correct, but the discussion is nonetheless interesting and informative

What is the critical influence, the core or origin of artistic impulses? I tend to conjecture that the main catalyst was this drive for individual discrimination from the masses, the common culture, the predominant social environment, and  customs.

My conjecture is that as man evolved, and realized that he is more endowed than the surrounding animals, he got very frustrated that he also is to die like any other animal.

Worse, certain animals lived far longer than he did.  This discovery was not comforting.  “Since we all have to die then, my death has to be different” was the conclusion of mankind.  How different?  This is where imagination and art come into existence.

Art is an individual signature, no matter how it is influenced by external forces, and no matter how society would like to view artistic productions.

It is unfortunate that education systems are cutting down on artistic programs and courses and depriving students and children opportunities to discovering their talents, passions, and potentials.

“Learn but Do not imitate animal kingdoms”: Spinoza (1632-1677), part 4

Context of the period:

Bento Baruch Spinoza was born in current Netherlands (Holland), lived and died there.  Holland had acquired its independence: It kicked out the Spanish army, thwarted a British navy landing, and forced a French expeditionary army during Louis XIV to retreat.

At the age of 24, Bento was ex-communicated by the Sephardi Jews who had immigrated from Portugal to Amsterdam: He believed that God is a philosophical concept:  When the body dies so does the spirit.

He had to live far from Amsterdam and earn a living, polishing lenses for microscopes, telescopes and corrective glasses.  Holland was the wealthiest nation in Europe and enjoyed the largest merchant navy.

Spinoza was the contemporary of the scientists Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, Isaac Newton, Galileo, Leibniz, Huygens… and the famous painters in Holland such as Vermeer, Velasquez, Van Ruysdael, Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Emmanuel de Witte, Frans Hals, Jan Wynants, Judith Leyster, Georg Flegel, Peter de Hooch, Van Ostade, Albert Cuyp, Lambert Doomer

The only published book for Spinoza while alive was “Principles of Descartes Philosophy, 1663″.  All his other works were published posthumous such as “Ethics” and “Theologico-Political Treaties”…

He spoke Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, some French, Latin, and Hebrew.  He was annoyed that he could not read in English because of the many published manuscripts in that language.

Animals to Spinoza are real animals and not disguised human beings to emulate or imitate.  Man has to make the efforts to be distinguished from the animal kingdom, otherwise, an ignorant man commits the same stupidities when he succumbs to prejudices that tie him down.

Every specie has its natural libido, instincts, and essence.  Mankind should not emulate or imitate the animal and plant kingdoms.  For example, we do not have to emulate the carnivorous needs for survival or how the big fish eats the smaller ones:  waging wars is an imperfection in mankind natural behavior; waging wars in NOT an intrinsic instinct in man’s nature.

It is difficult for a man to change from a “guard dog” to a “hunting dog”:  These transformations are rare, though feasible for a short while to some extent.  But, these changes do not lead to natural joy corresponding to the individual own natural inclinations.

It is only when we realize that the changes were faked and not adequate transformation for our individual happiness that these valiant attempts to changing our nature increase our knowledge and extend richer perspectives to our improvement.  Know your vital natural constitution and rights.

We cannot spin a spider web, done easily by a spider:  A spider cannot spin a lousy web because it is not in his nature to spin otherwise.  So is man: Man cannot do a worse job once he acquired the necessary skills and knowledge.  With the main difference that man has to keep up exercising and thinking to producing the same quality of higher quality products:  That is in the essence or “nature of mankind”

The moment we try to imitate animal kingdoms we are bound to fail and even set up programs that dehumanize mankind.  For example, governing a community as ants or bees do cannot correspond to mankind nature bound to evolve, reason, and seek joy instead of playing the passive games of obeying unnatural laws, guidelines, and rules.

Liberty consists in knowing what is fully useful to our individual natural constitution and thus, increasing our individual power to gaining higher levels of joy and happiness.  Desiring what is not in our natural temperament  such as following faked trends, does not lead to happiness.

Man can discriminate between the joy of a drunk and the joy of a philosopher who comprehended a complex idea:  The joy of a drunk is an addiction dependent on alcohol while the joy of a philosopher or a scientists is a feeling of increased power that frees him from being subjugated to superstitions and man-imposed laws and regulations that are at odds with his nature.

Mankind has this faculty of imitating his neighbors’ desires and he is good in acting parts contrary to his nature.  Before a man can comprehend his own nature, we cannot say that an imitation is good or bad in altering man’s natural power.  That is why, only constant efforts to increasing our knowledge of “who we are” can give us the power to judge what is good and what is bad for us, for our survival, and for acquiring happiness.

Man is an integral part of nature:

First, man has nothing exceptional to place him above nature’s processes:  He is devoid of any free-will independent of his natural living essence.

Second, man is in constant trade with his biological and social environment (cultural and natural).

Third, man shares in this infinite power that characterizes nature and thus, man is endowed with sizable amount of potentials for acquiring higher levels of power.

Nature creates no exceptions and mankind is NOT an exception to nature’s processes, reality, and laws:  Mankind is NOT an “empire within an empire”.

Man follows nature’s course and his actions can be explained by the mechanism of his efforts and activities.

Mankind is not guided by this abstract notion of free-will:  There are no reasons to feel indignation by another man’s laughing or crying behaviors.

There are no reasons to emulate or imitate the animal kingdoms; what we need is to comprehend the vital natural rights of all species and how we are same but different.

What we desire are NOT what we lack or imagine that we are lacking to satisfying our life fulfillment:  Our desires are the effects of our efforts that led to what we are and who we are; our desires are never the cause for our feeling of missing anything.

For example, when we desire a home it is because we feel the need for more comfort and security to go ahead with our drive to perfecting our happiness and contentment.

When desires are imitations of what other people claim to desire then, we are Not acquiring what our personal nature requires and wants:  Our spirit is subjugated by external factors that we failed to control their affects.  We didn’t invest the necessary effort to “knowing ourselves”.

We are in essence constantly in a state of preparing to undertake an action or planning an activity in order to preserving our life and increasing the capital of survival as long as possible.

Our essence is to developing our power for conserving our potentials to live and searching for what is useful to our body and mental development capacities.

What is essential to us is what our desires produce in reality to develop our nature.  We learn whatever is necessary to our natural conservation.  Thus, life is defined as a qualitative perception of what we feel as joy and sadness and we interact with our community according to our level of natural development.

Virtue is to acting according to our own nature.  Conjoint development of body and mind, as a unit,  is the natural inclination of mankind.  Weakening the body will never liberate the spirit and quell our natural passions for survival.

Knowing yourself can be reduced to the essential knowledge: “What external factors (in nature, society, institutions…) are altering and influencing our real natural desires for self-preservation and development?

No, the body is not commanded by the spirit and neither the spirit by the body:  There is no separation but unity for doing the necessary efforts to live, to developing our natural capabilities in order to enjoying life and be happy.  The potentials of what the body is able to accomplish are not fully known; how a sane and well-conserved body can affect our mental potentials is still vastly undiscovered.  The kinds of feats of sleep-walkers are not accounted for.

You neglect the well-being of your body and your spirit is negatively affected. You neglect exercising your cognitive and emotional capabilities and your body is negatively affected. A general body fatigue is the interaction of afflictions of the body and mind; a depressed mood is the interaction of adverse influences on the body and mind.

Our natural personality is created by the combined efforts we exert on our body and mind.  The environment and society are external factors that constantly interact with our essence to live and form who we are.

Inequality in aptitudes among individuals are closely related to our constant efforts to interacting with the environment, people, and the changes in perceptions that we form of our potentials, of nature, and of the universe.

There are two founding principles:  Refusing tyranny and refuting superstitions. It is impossible for an individual to abandon his natural rights.  In order for a citizen to obey laws he must retain the legitimacy of keeping his power intact to resisting tyranny and defending his vital natural rights. A happy individual has the right to fighting all kinds of superstitions. ”

The greater is the joy, the greater the perfection of our passions.

This is my rule and my resolution: I will eat and drink in moderation of whatever pleases me.  I will partake in cultural activities that I like.  I will participate in games that I love to do and that do not harm others.”

Yes, the individual spirit dies with the body but it is the spirit we communicated and disseminated while alive that keeps mankind evolving.

Most important question is “what are the superstitions that subjugate our spirit and body?”

What we desire are NOT what we lack or imagine that we are lacking to satisfying our life fulfilment: Our desires are the effects of our efforts that led to what we are and who we are; our desires are never the cause for our feeling of missing anything.  For example, when we desire a home it is because we feel the need for more comfort and security to go ahead with our drive to perfecting our happiness and contentment.

When desires are imitations of what other people claim to desire then, we are not acquiring what our personal nature requires and wants:  Our spirit is subjugated by external factors that we failed to control their affects.  We didn’t invest the necessary effort to “knowing ourselves”.

We are in essence constantly in a state of preparing to undertake an action or planning an activity in order to preserving our life and increasing the capital of survival as long as possible. Our essence is to developing our power for conserving our potentials to live and searching for what is useful to our body and mental development capacities.

What is essential to us is what our desires produce in reality to develop our nature.  We learn whatever is necessary to our natural conservation.  Thus, life is defined as a qualitative perception of what we feel as joy and sadness and we interact with our community according to our level of natural development.

We are not pure spirit to resemble God-like attributes and we are not pure body mechanical object that can be altered and be transformed to another specie. It is not possible to subjugate the body to obeying outside moral constraints.  Virtue is to acting according to our own nature.  Conjoint development of body and mind, as a unit,  is the natural inclination of mankind.  Weakening the body will never liberate the spirit and quell our natural passions for survival.

Knowing yourself can be reduced to the essential knowledge: “What external factors (in nature, society, institutions…) are altering and influencing our real natural desires for self-preservation and development?”

No, the body is not commanded by the spirit and neither the spirit by the body:  There is no separation but unity for doing the necessary efforts to live, to developing our natural capabilities in order to enjoying life and be happy.  The potentials of what the body is able to accomplish are not fully known; how a sane and well-conserved body can affect our mental potentials is still vastly undiscovered.  The kinds of feats of a sleep-walker are not fully accounted for.

You neglect the well-being of your body and your spirit is negatively affected. You neglect exercising your cognitive and emotional capabilities and your body is negatively affected. A general body fatigue is the interaction of afflictions of the body and mind; a depressed mood is the interaction of adverse influences on the body and mind.

Our natural personality is created by the combined efforts we exert on our body and mind.  The environment and society are external factors that constantly interact with our essence to live and form who we are.  Inequality in aptitudes among individuals are closely related to our constant efforts to interacting with the environment, people, and the changes in perceptions that we form of our potentials, of nature, and of the universe.

Three main characteristics are to be retained:

First, the body is not a simple mechanism animated by external factors:  The body has a dynamic inner vital energy that is conscious of its existence.

Second, the body interactions with the external world are both-ways actions and reactions.  It is because of these interactions that the spirit progresses and develops.

Third, the body has its internal qualities and the power to be and to act.  It is because “who I am and who I became” that I can acquire new habits, new skills, and new comprehension.

Man is an integral part of nature:  First, man has nothing exceptional to placing him above nature and he is devoid of any free-will independent of his natural living essence.  Second, man is in constant trade with his biological and social environments (cultural and natural).  Third, man shares in the  infinite power that characterizes nature and thus, man is endowed with sizable amount of power.

Free men do not need rewards, stimulants, or marble statues to obeying laws coinciding with individual’s vital natural  rights for happiness and opportunities to live in dignity.  Joy, sadness, and desires are the three main affects that drive all the other feelings and passions.  Nature is the same everywhere and it follows the same process regardless of what and how man want to change in it.

The wise man comprehends the universal rules and laws of nature and follows their virtues.  The power of an individual is limited and is superseded by external forces.  We don’t have an absolute will to adapt to what is beyond our power to act upon.  Our intelligence, the best part of ourself, will be fully satisfied and contented as it keeps within nature’s restrictions for drastic changes.  We cannot over indulge in eating or drinking without suffering their consequences.  Whatever we do within our power we can support equally well and our conscious is at peace because we acted within the range of our possibilities and nature’s limitations on u”s.

“People are submitted to affections such as feeling of pity to those in misfortune; feeling envious of those happy; we tend to be more vengeful than compassionate or forgiving;  We want people to conform to our positions, approve what we like, and reject what we hate.  Consequently, we want to be the first among all men.  The glory of the victor is to have vanquished his opponent rather than obtaining anything of value.  All these tendencies are the consequence of not focusing developing our natural essence and passively reacting to external factors”

“There are two founding principles:  Refusing tyranny and refuting superstitions. It is impossible for an individual to abandon his natural rights.  In order for a citizen to obey laws he must retain the legitimacy of keeping his power intact to resisting tyranny and defending his vital natural rights.”

“A happy individual has the right to fighting all kinds of superstitions.  Only an envious person takes pleasure of my impotence and my sufferings.  There are no Gods or persons who consider tears of sufferings, crying of pains and humiliation, fears of everything in society and nature are virtues to hang on.  The greater is the joy, the greater the perfection of our passions.  This is my rule and my resolution: I will eat and drink in moderation of whatever pleases me.  I will partake in cultural activities that I like.  I will participate in games that I love to do and that do not harm others.”

“A talented ruler gives the impression to the citizens that they are living according to their free will, that they can increase their wealth, and have opportunities to acceding to honors.  Erecting status and lavishing honors and rewards to loyal citizens and parading them as first among men will degrade their characters and performance by inflating their pride and driving them to laziness. Equality among citizens is reduced and so is common freedom and collective liberty.”

Context of  the period:  Bento was born in current Netherlands (Holland), lived and died there.  Holland had acquired its independence: It kicked the Spanish army, thwarted a British navy landing, and forced a French expeditionary army during Louis XIV to retreat.  At the age of 24, Bento was ex-communicated by the Sephardi Jews who immigrated from Portugal to Amsterdam: He believed that God is a philosophical concept; when the body dies so does the spirit.   He had to live far from Amsterdam and earn a living, polishing lenses for microscopes, telescopes and corrective glasses.  Holland was the wealthiest nation in Europe and enjoyed the largest merchant navy. Spinoza was the contemporary of Descartes, Thomas Hobbes,Isaac Newton, Leibniz, Huygens, Galileo, and the famous Dutch painters such as Vermeer, Velasquez, Van Ruysdael, Rembrandt, …

Note: Yes, the individual spirit dies with the body but it is the spirit we had communicated and disseminated while alive that keeps mankind evolving.  disseminate happiness and joy:  That is our natural disposition.

Maimonides (1138-1204) resurrects Ibn Rushd (Averroes) rational works

Maimonides (Mussa ibn Maimun) was 12 years younger than Ibn Rush (Averroes); they both were born in the same cultured city of Cordoba (southern Spain).

Cordoba was for over a century the center of intellect and civilization around the Mediterranean Sea basin.  In 1149, the family of Maimonides were given the option of leaving the city or convert to Islam:  A new Islamic tribe from Morocco (Almohades or the Al Muwahhidun) imposed a conservative climate in that free-spirited city where Moslems, Christians, and Jews lived in harmony.

The fathers of Maimonides and Ibn Rush are friends:  Ibn Rushd’s father is a Moslem judge while Maimonides’ father is a Rabbi of the Jewish community. Maimonides’ father encouraged the Jews who could not afford to leave to convert to Islam:  Islam is one of the purest monolithic religion and the mosques have no idols, icons, or pictures, on the basis that in due time, converted Jews can leave in order to resume their traditional ceremonies and way of life.

The family of Maimonides opted to leave:  It stays in Toledo (a city under King Alphonse VII of Castile), then move on to southern France to join a large Jewish community.  In 1160, the family is in Fez  (Morocco) and stayed there for 5 years; the family transfer to Tanger where Ibn Rushd is judge there.

In 1165, the family immigrated to Palestine. The father dies in Akka.  Maimonides is head of the family and they move to Alexandria (Egypt) and then to Fostat, 5 miles away from the Capital Cairo.  Maimonides will remain there and become the Ayubid Sultan’s physician.

Maimonides relied on Ibn Rushd’s works to perpetuate the rational and scientific trend.  He wrote:

“We may dispense of Platon’s works:  Aristotle’s works suffice, since they are the foundations and roots of scientific rational methods.  Aristotle’s works are difficult and many propositions cannot be comprehended without the commentaries and interpretations of Ibn Rushd.”

When Ibn Rushd was banned from publishing books or communicating what he wrote  in the last six years of his life, the increased pressures on Ibn Rushd’s freedom of expression resulted in regular events of  public burning of the scholars’ manuscripts.  Luckily, copies reached Cairo, northern Spain, and southern France (Languedoc province) where they were read and translated in Hebrew, Latin, and local languages.

As Ibn Rushd, Maimonides believes that “It is proven that all actions done by man emanate from his own volition.  No external forces oblige him to tend to virtue or evil doing.  Every man can become just or guilty, good or bad; it is his own will that select the way of what he desires.  If we suffer, it is by what we inflict upon ourselves; we tend to attribute our pains as originating from God. Mankind is but another species and element in this cosmos and the universe does not revolve around man.  God is but an abstract concept, even if the Books refer to hands and fingers of God just to accommodating the limited abstraction power of common people.  God should not be described as good, benevolent, compassionate, jealous or any other character attributes since they will break the unity of God.”

In 1199, Judah bin Tibon, who had been translating Maimonides works from Arabic to Hebrew in southern France, expressed the desire to visit him in Cairo. Maimonides discouraged Tibon to undergo this perilous voyage since he won’t have time to meet with him because of his tight schedule.

Maimonides wrote:  “Early every day I have to ride 5 miles to check on the health of the Sultan, his extended family, and the officials in the castle.  I rarely returns home before late in the afternoon.  When I arrive I am met by many visitors, judges, notable people, and mostly patients waiting for health check up.  I barely have time to have my only meal of the day.  By the time the patients are gone it is late at night, frequently until 2am.

On the Sabbath, the Jewish community pay me visit after morning prayer and we study till noon and give them instructions for the week. Frequently, they return after the afternoon prayer and we study some more til evening prayer.  Thus, I never have time for any private meeting.”

Maimonides spread the advice of Ibn Rushd:  “Have no fear searching for truth in sciences.  Truth cannot contradict truth; sciences is in accord with God’s revelations. God has nothing to fear when you use your rational intelligence to discovering the universe and the causes of phenomenon.  Dialectical and rhetorical reasoning cannot compensate for demonstrative reasoning.

Generally, common people confuse inferences with conclusions that are drawn from several premises. For example:  common people say “this person is a thief because he was seen wandering at night” and do not evaluate all the other factors that determine a thieving behavior.  Common people conclude that they will see God as we see the sun when they are told that God is light.

Learned people comprehend that beatitude and grace increase knowledge.  Truth is not intuitive but the accumulation of knowledge; we cannot become astronomer without learning and assimilating geometry and mathematics. Forbidding people from applying scientific methods on the ground that they lead to errors, abuse, and blasphemy is like forbidding someone from drinking lest he dies of thirst on the excuse that some people die from drowning.

Scientific methods of reasoning is not meant to defining God or the operations that lead to the creation of the universe:  It attests to its existence.  We cannot apply to God the categories and human concepts””

In 1180, Maimonides wrote to a Jewish community in Yemen asking for a second opinion:  A Jew proclaimed to be the Messiah

“It is not rare that such type of persons appears in history.  The Messiah cannot keep the promises that this person is spreading of happy eternal life:  The Messiah is not to change the laws of nature; pain, suffering, and injustice will not disappear; deserts will not become green and mountains will not be leveled out. The Messiah is not supposed to be a supernatural entity but someone to put an end to violence.  Those proclaiming to be messiah are but charlatans and mentally sick.”

One of the most known manuscripts of Maimonides is “Guide to the perplexed” or those who cannot help it but constantly raise questions relevant to the meaning of life, the universe, the identity of God… He suggested that the perplexed person gets on with the effort of studying philosophy and apply reason and scientific methods to resolving their uneasy conditions.

In Central Europe of the 18th century, the Hasidic Jewish sect would proclaim Maimonides and all the followers who consider him as their spiritual leader as “heretics”.  Nevertheless, Maimonides works influence Spinoza, Kant, Fichte, Darwin, Freud, Lancan, and Leo Strauss.

Ibn Rushd dared reflect on every single question exposed by the civilization of the period concerning the coherence among religious dogmas and scientific verities; he dared to write his answers.  Maimonides reflected too on the corny questions but refrained from writing them down; you could know his positions by inference to his answers.

A brief background:  In Maimonides life, Europe is still battling among its various Christian schisms of monophysite, Niceans  (Catholics), Nestorians, Arianus followers (predominant among the Germanic and Slavic people).  The Calif of Baghdad is reduced to a figure-head while the Turkish princes are the main power (the Mogul hordes will soon sack and destroy (in 1250) this famous city of Baghdad that concentrated 3 million urban citizens back then).

The Western Roman Empire had vanished, and the Byzantium Empire was weakening (soon will be reduced to a vassal condition to the Ottoman expanding power in Turkey).  Papal Rome is being selected by the Germanic monarchs as well as the bishops, and in many occasions, two popes are elected and backed by various monarchs. The political and military confrontations among the many Christian religious schisms on the nature of Jesus have taken their toll on Europe.

The crusaders are loosing their grips in the eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea, and Saladin recaptured Jerusalem.  The Catholic monarchs of Castile and Aragon (Spain) had started the “reconquista” and Andalusia was wracked by wars among the multiple small kingdoms of Islamic monarchs; these internal wars were called “wars of Tawaif”.  In

In 1112, Ibn Tumar, a literate Berber from Algeria who spent ten years in Iran, returned to proclaim that he is the awaited “hidden” Mahdi (since 874) of the Islam sect the Shias and formed the Almohades (Al Muwayidun) or united Islam.

The Spanish Catholic monarch Alphonse 7th put siege to Cordoba in 1148.  The  Caliph of Cordona Abd Mu2min calls on the Almohades for rescue and outset the Almoravids dynasty (Al murabitun) or the ones in vigilance.  The Almoravids originated from Mauritania and were a powerful tribe of traders in the western Sahara that captured Morocco.

In 1497, Papal Rome encouraged the institution of a university in Padua (Italy) to teaching Aristotle’s works and be translated directly from ancient Greek.  It was a strategy of ignoring the influence of Islamic culture that was spreading in Catholic Europe.  The Renaissance scholars dared not communicate the sources of their knowledge and learning.

Since then, European scholars have continued this custom of deliberately ignoring seven centuries of Islamic civilizations when accounting for western Europe civilization.

Note 1:  I refrained to approach the theological questions and their corresponding responses because I am not interested in abstract concepts that lack demonstrative methods for confirming or denying veracity. Mind you that current borders among the Maghreb States were delimited by the mandated powers of France and Spain. Unless we know exactly the name of the towns and regions, it is difficult to confirm from which current State the persons were from…

Note 2: Ahmed sent me an interesting comment stating that Maimoune had racist attitudes, pretty normal during the Middle Age and and still going strong even today.

“I copied and pasted the translation you mention from the following website:

http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2011/01/judaism-or-racism-the-rambams-view-of-black-people-456/comments/page/2/

This website gives the source as the following: Maimonides, Guide To The Perplexed, Translation from the Hebrew Version.

The popular Jewish Israeli thinker Israel Shahak confirms that Maimonides did indeed express anti-black racist views, also confirming that Kushite means Black people in his book called, “Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years,” which was first published in 1994 by Pluto Press. It can be found online here:

http://www.iamthewitness.com/books/Israel.Shahak/Jewish.History.Jewish%20Religion-The.Weight.of.Three.Thousand.Years.pdf

Understandably translations vary from author to author and an example of this can be downloaded from the University of California internet archive:

http://archive.org/details/guideforperplexe00maim

Download the PDF book. On page 384 you will see the racist quote and the context.

The version of the book I have at home is translated by Michael Friedlaender. You can find it Online here:

http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=1256&Itemid=27

Go to Part Iii, Chapter Li. The second paragraph is the following:

“I will begin the subject of this chapter with a simile.

A king is in his palace, and all his subjects are partly in the country, and partly abroad. Of the former, some have their backs turned towards the king’s palace, and their faces in another direction; and some are desirous and zealous to go to the palace, seeking “to inquire in his temple,” and to minister before him, but have not yet seen even the face of the wall of the house. Of those that desire to go to the palace, some reach it, and go round about in search of the entrance gate.

Others have passed through the gate, and walk about in the ante-chamber; and others have succeeded in entering into the inner part of the palace, and being in the same room with the king in the royal palace. But even the latter do not immediately on entering the palace see the king, or speak to him; for, after having entered the inner part of the palace, another effort is required before they can stand before the king—at a distance, or close by—hear his words, or speak to him.

I will now explain the simile which I have made. The people who are abroad are all those that have no religion, neither one based on speculation nor one received by tradition. Such are the extreme Turks that wander about in the north, the Kushites who live in the south, and those in our country who are like these. I consider these as irrational beings, and not as human beings; they are below mankind, but above monkeys, since they have the form and shape of man, and a mental faculty above that of the monkey.”

Dawn of Philo-Ethics; (Jan. 28, 2010)

In the previous post “Twilight for love of knowledge or philosophy”, I explored the theme that philosophy is reaching an end.

Before the 16th century, sciences in Europe were towed by philosophy until Galileo enforced the notion of empirical experimentation and measuring what was not measured. By the time of Descartes, philosophy started to limp and relied on religion as crutch to survive.

Sciences have taken over: they can extend answers to what can be answered.

Sciences are far more efficient than philosophy: faulty answers go unnoticed very effectively.  There are very few practiced scientists, and every man is a philosopher: man can feel what’s wrong with a philosophical system but he refrains to claim knowledge in sciences.

Knowledge is acquired by reasoning on the alternative options formed by perception of man and universe.  When we investigate our opinions and feelings we ultimately want to open up alternatives for the mind to discovering the immutable elements in the relationships. The brain is the field where perceived senses and reasoning procedures or processes interacts: without these interactions there are no perceptions, no actions, and no survival of any species.

It is not necessary to be a practicing scientist to have a scientific critical mind; otherwise, not many people would feel comfortable believing that they are endowed with sensible rational and empirical thinking. When I claim that we need to think philosophically, I mean that we need to combine the ethical component to whatever scientific thinking we undertake. The ethical mind should be the guiding rod to solutions or resolutions of any question.

For example, (it might sound a simple interrogation, but it might carry complex implicit ramifications), suppose that I stirred my Nescafe cup with a spoon.  My Nescafe includes no sugar or milk; just plain hot filtered water and Nescafe.  I got into wondering: should I rinse the spoon in tank supplied water (many germs) or just let the spoon dry when removed from the cup?  The idiosyncratic reaction is to rinse the spoon no matter what, isn’t it?

If I discover that the accumulated potent germs on a dried spoon are far less than the rinsed one then what would be your behavior?  The whole exercise is that we generally extend ready behaviors to our answers; we do not take a deep breath to wonder whether there are implicit reasons in the questions.

Philo-ethics (a new term that I invented) is to work on a set of stringent ethical reasoning that you feel are right.

The purpose is that you feel you have the right to state your ethics because you applied them.  The other advantage is that you won’t feel obligated to impose your ethics on people you like their company: you are in a position to be lenient and to compromise because relationships are more important than strict rules and regulations.

What can be the immutable norms that distinguish right from wrong?

What kinds of realities are eternal?

Cannibalism is not an immutable norm since many tribes still eat man in this century. Anyway, mankind is a carnivore and has been eating his own kind with various aspects of ceremonies such as eating the flesh, heart, liver, and brain boiled, raw, or roasted.  Thus, we need to be more attuned to ethnological studies and observations of the remaining tribes living separate from urban centers. We need to comprehend the behavior, customs, and traditions of primitive tribes since they resembled ours before we opted for urban life style, within mostly a fast developing virtual civilization.

Arne Naess disseminated the eco-philosophy which stated that western paradigm line of thinking is taking the wrong direction for a sustainable earth: Man is not in the upper chain of evolution and he has no right to destroy the other living creatures for his perceived universe. We are in a period of technological development that feed on itself and proliferates pretty much independently of any other sciences; technology feels confident that it does not need validation or control by third parties.

Fact is we need to have better understanding of the effects of our behaviors: mankind is on the same boat and everyone is asked to think that he is the captain of the boat.

Things have changed.  The world can be felt as reduced to a Town Square: instant audio-visual communications around the world is discouraging people to move out and investigate “his universe”.  Mind you that the Renaissance man had to travel on horses for long distances to educate his curiosity and talents.

The new wave of occultism, New Age, alternative lifestyle, mysticism, spiritualism, healing, astrology, clairvoyance, and telepathy are consequences of collecting mass “coincidental” happenings among the billions of people and which are relayed instantly on the Internet.  These coincidences can be explained rationally, especially if we believe in the power of the subconscious for erratic behaviors.

The worst part is that millions are still brandishing old Books or Bibles claiming every word for “truth”; as if we are in the Dark Ages.  Sciences and technologies have done serious empirical attempts to answering most of the dialectical problems in philosophy such as how the universe was started, how knowledge developed and progressed.

What is outside the realm of sciences is in the domain of faith, which should not be confounded with religious philosophical belief systems.

A few facts can now be settled that set the stage for the dawn of philo-ethics or for questions related to the dignity of man for freedom, liberty, opinion, shelter, clean water, health, safety, food, clean air, voting rights, anti-discrimination attitudes relative to color, religion, gender, and country of origin.

The hardship that you subjected yourself to is to keep sensible relationship working: a climate of genuine compassion to human frailty gives incentives to overcome shortcomings that may be surmounted.

Twilight of “Knowledge lovers”: Part 2

In part 1, I exposed the theme that philosophy was the super-structure of the dominant class in any period of what is now called “Class Ideology”, and that the economical aspect was not included in the philosophical system of reasoning.

Man has been asking questions; he has been cultivating doubts.

Every question generated many non-answered questions.  Every man is a philosopher once he starts jotting down coherent questions and then realizes that his “universe” is based on doubts.

Most of his questions have no satisfactory resolutions to constitute a perceived “structured comprehensive world” in his brain.

A philosopher sets out to devise a set of structural questions that he thinks are “logically deductive” in nature (it means that it would not be feasible to answer a previous question before resolving several basic questions).  Thus, philosophers have been driven to accepting a few fundamental “given” solutions, or “elemental facts,” or principles just to get going in their projects of building structured understanding of man and the universe.

Since Antiquity, philosophy (love of knowledge) was a catch-all term to represent all aspects of knowledge, including metaphysical concepts.  Since sciences were barely founded on facts or empirical experiments (not appreciated within the dominant classes), except during the Islamic Golden Age (9th to 12th century) and after Galileo in the 16th century “what is not measured should be measured”, philosophers fundamentally based their structure on abstract premises and deductive logic.

This makes sense: Once knowledge is firmly grounded on empirical facts (assuming the design of the experiment is valid) then philosophy should take secondary place in rational societies.

Sure, the name and meaning of philosophy was lost in the absurd long gestation toward the advance of knowledge.  The mathematician Descartes was the first who tried to delimit boundaries between sciences and philosophy: Descartes differentiated between invariant primal impressions and secondary perceived variables. It was the period when sciences got ascendance over abstract philosophical structures.

Before the 16th century, Europe’s philosophical systems were towing sciences (principally natural sciences).

Descartes influence stems from differentiating between forms of realities or “substances”.  The first kind of  substance is the mind which cannot be subdivided; examples of such substances are the notions of time, space, and mass with which quantitative properties of an object can be measured.  The second kind of substance or “extensions to the matter” represents the qualitative properties of an object such as color, smell, taste, and the like.  Descartes division in forms of reality is being validated in equations: the right hand side and left hand side in any equation must be compatible with the same dimensions of time, space, and mass (what is known as compatibility in units of measurement). By the way, Descartes was a lousy philosopher but first-rate mathematician.

There are attempts at “refreshing” interest in philosophy by giving new names and labels to ancient philosophical schools and beginning with the prefix “neo-something”.  For example, we hear about neo-empiricism, neo-Marxism, neo-Darwinism, neo-materialism, neo-existentialism, analytical philosophy and so forth.

All these new lines of current philosophical structures have historical roots that reach to antiquity and pre-Socratic philosophers. The new “refreshed” lines of thinking apply current scientific fields (such as anthropology, ethnology, archaeology, or sociology) to ancient philosophical systems to validate their contentions.

For example, current nuclear physicists are fundamentally pre-Socratic in their quest for the elemental matters; they want to be able to offer a satisfactory explanation of “what is matter?” This problem is thus a vital part of their “life’s philosophy”, the “essence” or an answer to the question “what is my nature”?

I conjecture that most universities have branches called “philosophy” or something related to logical processes: students need topics to write thesis and dissertations.

Sciences have taken over: they can extend answers to “what can be answered”.  Sciences are far more efficient than philosophy: faulty answers go unnoticed very effectively.

There are very few practiced scientists, but every man think he is a philosopher: man can feel what’s wrong with a philosophical system, but he refrains to claim knowledge in sciences.

How have you been “existing”? (Jan. 25, 2010)

            The main philosophy of the last century was called “Existentialism” that Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980) disseminated after WWII with the cooperation of Simone de Beauvoir who published “The second sex”.  What differentiated Sartre’s existentialism from Kierkegaard, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Heidegger is that Christianity is no longer a crutch to lean on for processing the concept to its final outcome.

            In that philosophy, man and woman have no innate “nature” to fall back on.  They just have to create themselves, their “natures” (their “essence”).  The feeling of alienation is that mankind was created without his will and yet, he is condemned to be free for taking responsibility of his actions knowing that there are no eternal values or norms for guidance and directions.  The individual has to create his set of values and his nature from actions among choices, even default choices.

            That Sartre’s existentialism allied to Marxist movement (Sartre never accepted to be a member of a political party) is part of this century struggle for enjoying the freedom that we never asked for; but “man is condemned to be free” in taking responsibility of his actions simply because he is created to be conscious of his existence and his death: mankind is not “in itself” but “for itself” and an individual relies on his existence to be whatever he might otherwise be “his nature”.

            For example, Stephen Hawkins, this crippled astrophysicist, grabbed the question of his interest (nature) “How the universe was created”.  That Hawkins offered the Big bang theory is irrelevant to the universe or to everyday man is important philosophically.  What is most important is that Hawkins must have enjoyed “the meaning of his life”.  The Big Bang proposition may be accompanied by all kinds of mathematical formulas it does not make it more believable than a childish storytelling in Bibles that are so funny to kids.  For example, why just one Big Bang? Is it because God must be one and only one?  Anyway, how many of us seriously engaged on his journey for discovering the meaning of his life existence?

            Current nuclear physicists are fundamentally pre-Socratic in their quest for the elemental matters; they want to be able to offer a satisfactory explanation of “what is matter?” This problem is thus a vital part of their “life’s philosophy”, the “essence” or an answer to the question “what is my nature”?

            Existentialism was the source of modern style in writings called the “absurd”.  For example, when you show the lack of coherence or meaning in life, then the reader or audience is forced to cultivate his “own meaning” of the story.

            Things have changed.  The world can be felt as reduced to a Town Square; instant audio-visual communications around the world is discouraging people to move out and investigate “his universe”.  The Renaissance man had to travel on horses for long distances to educate his curiosity and talents.

            Arne Naess disseminated the eco-philosophy which stated that western paradigm line of thinking is taking the wrong direction for a sustainable earth: Man is not in the upper chain of evolution and he has no right to destroy the other living creatures for his perceived universe.

            The new wave of occultism, New Age, alternative lifestyle, mysticism, spiritualism, healing, astrology, clairvoyance, and telepathy are consequences of collecting mass “coincidental” happenings among the billion of people and which are relayed instantly on the Internet.  These coincidences can be explained rationally, especially if we believe in the power of the subconscious for erratic behaviors.

            The worst part is that millions are still brandishing old Books or Bibles claiming every word for “truth”; as if we are in the Dark Ages.  Sciences and technologies have done serious empirical attempts to answering most of the dialectical problems in philosophy such as how the universe was started, how knowledge developed and progressed.  What is outside the realm of sciences is in the domain of faith which should not be confounded with religious philosophical belief systems.

            The “meaning of life” is not a solution: it is the trip, the journey to answering a single definite bothering question, a question that interest you mostly among hundreds of other pretty much non answerable questions.  This trip means working toward a resolution to the question “What is my nature?”  It is hard work, relentless, and tricky journey but nothing has meaning if we don’t feel the obstacles and hardships.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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