Sunday, March 19, 2006

Quotes that May Surprise You

"The Palestinians [Jews] living among us have, for the most part, earned a not unfounded reputation for being cheaters, because of their spirit of usury since their exile. Certainly, it seems strange to conceive of a nation of cheaters; but it is just as odd to think of a nation of merchants, the great majority of whom, bound by an ancient superstition that is recognized by the State they live in, seek no civil dignity and try to make up for this loss by the advantage of duping the people among whom they find refuge, and even one another. The situation could not be otherwise, given a whole nation of merchants, as non-productive members of society (for example, the Jews in Poland). So their constitution, which is sanctioned by ancient precepts and even by the people among whom they live (since we have certain sacred writings in common with them), cannot consistently be abolished — even though the supreme principle of their morality in trading with us is "Let the buyer beware." I shall not engage in the futile undertaking of lecturing to these people, in terms of morality, about cheating and honesty. Instead, I shall present my conjectures about the origin of this peculiar constitution (the constitution, namely, of a nation of merchants)." -Immanuel Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View

"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 around in the north, the Kushites who live in the south, and those in our country who are like these. I consider these 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." - Maimonides, Guide to the Perplexed, Part III, chapter 51.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maimonides quote isn't surprising as he was influenced by Greek Philosophy dividing the universe up into spheres revolving about the globe with the "elements" of earth, air, fire and water making up everything on earth. Then you have the various levels of life organized until you reach the level of the one whose intellect gets united with the "Active Intellect."

Maimonides was using what was for his day science. What is surprising is that Kant who is famed for using in his philosophy at least some science of his day could have said something that was more for Voltaire namely crude Antisemitism leftover. Well to be generous we are children of our age.
Yisrael Asper again

Anonymous said...

Interestingly Maimonides quote from his Guide for the Perplexed which you gave, Daat Emet and Naftali Zeligman and their ilk would never dare to give as it shows Gentiles being considered people by yet a figure of such Halachic authority that you have to reckon with him (a Rishon yet). Daat Emet seems to be confused about what to do with the historical Maimonides. Maimonides Mishna Torah gives Halacha for ages past and for the future and so Daat Emet needs to use Maimonides directly and indirectly like through the Shulchan Aruch very much. Kant’s comment would only be used by Daat Emet to show how true he supposedly is about us until we get enlightened by Daat Emet.
Yisrael Asper again

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