Sunday, May 31, 2015

Philosopher of the Week

This is my favorite modern Jewish philosopher this week: Samuel Lebens. I came across his work actually by accident just recently, but what I've seen so far appears intriguing. [It doesn't hurt that he kind of looks like Ted Mosby and has a great English accent.] I thought it was worth sharing, especially given the paucity of jblog material lately.

He also has separate paper which I found rather interesting about  the epistemology of religious experience, which I quote below:

"My intention in belittling the role of belief isn't to adopt the fashionable desire to replace Orthodox Judaism with orthopraxy. [...]I claim that that epistemology places very little emphasis on classical propositional belief and is generally much more interested in attitudes, postures, make-belief, and non-propositional knowledge. Orthodox Judaism, indeed religion, so conceived is at once more demanding – because it asks for much more than mere belief and practice – and more human –in that it embraces attitudes and emotions that more autistic conceptions of religion ignore."
The paper is worth reading in full and I linked to it above. It gives a rather different perspective on traditional Jewish belief and behaviors and how propositional beliefs, though he surely considers them critical, are hardly the focus and are in fact among the weakest points of contact for those invested in religious life. He argues that "make-believing" that certain ideas are true is important than merely holding certain propositions to be factual. Worth a read, check it out.
I'm going to read more of his material when I have some time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Where is Everybody?

Where is everybody? I know I've been out of the loop for awhile, but I was just checking out how things were going recently in the old jblogosphere and it seems like all of the old skeptic blogs have gone silent or have closed. Basically all my links to other blogs from this site go to places where the blog no longer exists or hasn't had a recent post in years. Why?

Did all the angst, confusion and cognitive dissonance that had been brewing from the crash of modernity and orthodoxy just dry up? Are all the issues resolved and have those old bloggers simply lost interest? Was the community held together by a couple of heavy bloggers like Mis-nagid or Godol Hador and once they moved on the other people left as well? Or did the party move elsewhere and nobody left directions?

I get it that hashing and rehashing issues is unfulfilling and ultimately boring, but was there no curious young people around to keep the conversation fresh? Or not enough of those who were willing to delve deeper into these issues to come out with something more productive on the other end? Maybe those deeper delvers went and became the founders of sites like (a very good site by the way, which I recommend), with a much more professional appearance compared to the casual coffee shop-like venue of a personal blog.

I thought that a few years ago the "Orthoprax" were getting all this attention from rabbinic articles and published papers. Not good attention, mind you, but attention nonetheless. Presumably, the goals of those articles were to quash orthoprax sentiments among the ranks - and if so, perhaps the quiet out there is evidence of their apparent success.

As for me, my time of relative blog silence coincided with much novel busyness in my personal life. This did not leave much time for metaphysical introspection, much less for an involved blogging hobby. But that's just me - where did everybody else go?

Come back.