Ayalon Eidelstein’s Openness and Faith focuses on the centrality of the idea of openness, or open-mindedness, to the educational sphere. The first half presents the challenges in modern ‘divided-consciousness’ and its consequences of egoism, materialism, and hedonism on the one hand, and religious fanatism on the other. Eidelstein’s main audience is the Israeli secular public, to which he proposes an educational and philosophical middle-way rooted in sincere human and inter-human openness. This openness is inspired by the idea of disinterestedness that (...) Kant articulates in his Critique of Judgment. Eidelstein refers to additional authors, including Franz Rosenzweig and Emmanuel Levinas, to conceptualize the idea of open-mindedness. In the second half of the book, he engages classical American Pragmatism, specifically that of William James, in order to establish the possibility for, and the validity of, a humane open-mindedness. Pragmatism thus paves the way for accepting beliefs that may otherwise be excluded as superstitions and accords them a legitimate and productive role in the life of a modern individual. The difficulty, however, lies in Eidelstein’s employment of Kantian disinterestedness, for it is in fact seriously dissonant with the worthy pragmatic educational purposes that Eidelstein elaborates in the second half of his book. Pragmatism is opposed to disinterestedness in that it stresses the entanglement of fact and value, viewing interests as playing a necessary and productive part in moral motivation and action, while Kantian deontology eliminates consequentialism from the moral scope. While for pragmatists (for example John Dewey’s Democracy and Education) the human creature is holistically conceived, as made of flesh and blood and not only as ‘spirit’, Kant maintained the dualistic Cartesian tradition. This tension calls for a rigorous address. Since Eidelstein’s book is making an important claim about the place open-mindedness has within the Judaism, it must be noted that the disinterestedness of a presumed human ‘self’ is also not easily compatible with the dominant voices in normative Jewish tradition. The Bible does not deal to a large extent with the ‘self’ or with mental intentions, and its conception of the human is not categorically different in the Talmudic corpus. On the contrary, the rabbis frequently endorse pragmatic and ‘external’ reasons, as the motivational basis for action. The kind of purism associated with disinterestedness (as in Mishnah Avot 5:18-19) is barely represented in rabbinic thought. Openness and Faith: In Search of Cultural Education Here and Now is nevertheless an important contribution to the intellectual discourse over the individual and public virtues. In our ever-more segregated and fenced-off world, there is an urgency to delineating the virtue of openness, hoping that Ecclesiastes is right in contending that “No person has power over the spirit [רוח] to retain it” (8:8). But to make Eidelstein’s point about openness in the second half of his book educationally viable, there a need for a pragmatic refinement of the philosophical anthropology in its first half. One way or the other, Openness and Faith is praiseworthy for its articulateness and depth, which invites its readers to an open-minded conversation about the concept of openness. (shrink)
This paper traces two contradicting beliefs about death and immortality in the writings of Rabbi Hayyim Hirschensohn, and examines these opposing beliefs in his Halakhic ruling, in the case of Autopsies. The paper opens by conceptualizing two possible attitudes regarding the relation between this-world and the ʽother-world’, and by analyzing two main beliefs regarding death and immortality in their relation to the body-spirit distinction (the naturalistic and the spiritualistic approach). It demonstrates how Hirschensohn was holding these two different views. The (...) paper then moves to examine whether his halakhic ruling may help us in understanding which approach was Hirschensohn’s favorable belief, by investigating his halakhic ruling regarding autopsies. Hirschensohn permits to perform such surgeries, however subject to some halakhic limitations. The paper concludes that the naturalistic belief regarding death appears to be the more dominant one in his thought. Finally, I point out a few consequences of this paper, for addressing some contemporary ethical dilemmas regarding human corpses. (shrink)
This article examines A.J. Heschel’s “Theology of pathos” in light of the critique Eliezer Berkovits raised against it. Heschel’s theology of pathos is the notion of God as the “most moved mover”, who cares deeply for humans, and thus highly influencing their prophetic motivation for human-social improvement. Berkovits, expressing the negative-transcendent theology of Maimonides, assessed that Heschel’s theology of pathos is not systematic, is anthropomorphic, and reflects a foreign Christian influence. However, when checking Berkovits’s own views as a thinker, it (...) turns out that he formulated some immanent theological notions that were overlapping those of Heschel, for example in attributing God the personal trait of caring. Surprisingly, most Heschel’s scholars did not consider this point. This riddle addressed here in two ways: (1) Psychological and Social, on which I understand Berkovits’s critique as a way of coping with his own religious perplexities, and in a wider sense, it is asserted that trans-denominational critique may be a discursive opportunity for mutual corrigibility. (2) Theological, since Heschel and Berkovits indeed faced a similar theological challenge, of rejecting any description of God as anthropomorphism. I thus offer a constructive theological argument for providing a justification to the immanent theologies of both Heschel and Berkovits. (shrink)
Faith has many aspects. One of them is whether absolute logical proof for God’s existence is a prerequisite for the proper establishment and individual acceptance of a religious system. The treatment of this question, examined here in the Jewish context of Rabbi Prof. Eliezer Berkovits, has been strongly influenced in the modern era by the radical foundationalism and radical skepticism of Descartes, who rooted in the Western mind the notion that religion and religious issues are “all or nothing” questions. Cartesianism, (...) which surprisingly became the basis of modern secularism, was criticized by the classical American pragmatists. Peirce, James and Dewey all rejected the attempt to achieve infallible absolute knowledge, as well as the presumptuousness of establishing such a knowledge by means of casting Cartesian hyperbolic doubt. They advocated an alternative approach which was more holistic and humane. This paper lays out Descartes’s approach and the pragmatists’ critique. Despite the place that pragmatic considerations hold in Jewish tradition, some thinkers reject the relevance of these ideas. Yet Berkovits’s thought suggest a different path. He rejected Descartes’ radical skepticism and his radical foundationalism, in favor of a moderate foundationalism, which allows for a belief in God alongside constructive doubts. Similar to Peirce’s conception of the fixation of belief, Berkovits views local doubts (distinct from the hyperbolic doubt) as necessary for thought. Berkovits’s understanding of the biblical human-divine encounter, following Rosenzweig, Buber, and Heschel, is conceptualized here as “encounter theology”. Berkovits criticizes the propositionalist attempts to prove God’s existence logically, as well as the presumptuousness of basing religious belief on the teleological world-order. However, Berkovits’s conception of the ‘caring God’ is not provable, and thus defined as a pragmatic ‘postulate’. The article concludes by considering Berkovits’s “encounter theology”. In contrast to the approach described by Haym Soloveitchik, of halakhic stringency and lack of subjective experience of God’s face, Berkovits’s approach is dialogic through and through. (shrink)
In classical American pragmatism, fallibilism refers to the conception of truth as an ongoing process of improving human knowledge that is nevertheless susceptible to error. This paper traces appearances of fallibilism in Jewish thought in general, and particularly in the halakhic thought of Eliezer Berkovits. Berkovits recognizes the human condition’s persistent mutability, which he sees as characterizing the ongoing effort to interpret and apply halakhah in shifting historical and social contexts as Torat Ḥayyim. In the conclusion of the article, broader (...) questions and observations are raised regarding Jewish tradition, fallibility, and modernity, and the interaction between Judaism and pragmatism in the history of ideas. (shrink)
The paper surveys the problem of language and translation in Antoine Berman’s pioneering achievements. This French philosopher of translation was deeply influenced not only by Schleiermacher, who affirmed the unity of thought and expression, but also by Benjamin, who drew attention to the formalism of language. In Berman’s view the essence of language lies in signifiers and letters. He criticized the Platonic view of language and translation which endows non-sensual, mental, and universal elements, with a higher ontological status. Thus Berman (...) proposed a modern theory of translation without Platonism. Meanings can be realized through and within letters not only in the source language, but also in the target language. In this sense, Berman’s philosophy of translation clearly reflects “the achievements of modern semiotics” . The paper criticizes the conception of translation as trapped within the logic of identity, which ignores the differences between, and the multiplicity of, languages as a result of a deep-rooted drive to obtain a universal meaning. The paper shows that Berman’s philosophy reflects and accepts this multiplicity allowing thereby the logic of difference/otherness to flourish in translation. (shrink)
The Western Legal Tradition (WLT) is a child of the Cold War era. Originally conceived by the Harvard legal historian HJ Berman in his 1950 book on Justice in Russia, a work aimed at explaining to the West what laid beyond the Iron Curtain, this idea gives life to an account set out in an opposition in which the West and Soviet Russia are defined with the features missing to each other. In those pages is the blueprint for his two (...) well-known volumes published in 1983 and 2003, and for a third volume left unfinished. -/- The WLT grows from another legacy from the Cold War era: human rights history. While this theme entered public debate fuelled by the concern with human rights in the Eastern European countries during the Cold War era, this paper shows how the WLT absorbed this theme hijacking a core component of continental legal science (subjectives Recht) re-engineered by political theorists into the major identitary element of the WLT in an eternity history rooted in medieval canon law. (shrink)
In June 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his plans for a ban on the sale of sugary beverages in containers larger than 16 ounces. Shortly thereafter, the Center for Consumer Freedom took out a full-page ad in the New York Times featuring Bloomberg photo-shopped into a matronly dress with the tag line “New Yorkers need a Mayor, not a Nanny.” On television, the CATO Institute's Michael Cannon declared, “This is the most ridiculous sort of nanny state-ism; [i]t’s (...) none of the mayor's business how much soda people are drinking.” And in newspapers around the country, editorial pages featured headlines such as “Gulp! Yet Another Intrusion of the Nanny State.” Just like that, the public debate about this measure became focused on government overreach, while the public health problem of obesity faded into the background. (shrink)
In two important articles Denis Grey has argued that Berkeley’s philosophy develops in “two incompatible ways.” Grey calls these the “limerick view” and the “strict interpretation”—which he thinks is feasible. In the first, he finds Berkeley arguing that.
In two important articles Denis Grey has argued that Berkeley’s philosophy develops in “two incompatible ways.” Grey calls these the “limerick view” and the “strict interpretation”—which he thinks is feasible. In the first, he finds Berkeley arguing that.
Do firms respond to changes in economic growth by altering their corporate social responsibility programs? If they do respond, are their responses simply neglect of areas associated with corporate social performance or do they also cut back on positive programs such as profit sharing, public/private housing programs, or charitable contributions? In this paper, we argue that because CSP-related actions and programs tend to be discretionary, they are likely to receive less attention during tough economic times, a result of cost-cutting efforts. (...) However, the various CSP performance areas vary in terms of their resource requirements and their influence on financial performance, which suggests that firms may respond differently depending on area. Consequently, in addition to examining CSP concerns separately from positive actions and programs, we also examine the influence of economic growth across the five areas of diversity, employee relations, the environment, product quality/safety, and the community. Based on data from 837 firms over 15 years, our results suggest that firms neglect some areas associated with CSP during economic downturns, resulting in increased concerns about community and employee relations, product safety/quality, and the environment. However, this relationship does not apply to positive actions and programs. Instead, firms tend to increase their positive CSP programs in areas such as diversity, employee relations, and the environment during periods of slow economic growth and reduce them when the economy picks up. We offer potential explanations for our findings and discuss their importance to research on CSP. (shrink)
Aristotelian theory, as found in Michael Thompson and Philippa Foot, claims that to be good is to be good as a member of that kind, and so there are varying standards of goodness dependent on an individual’s kind-membership. It is a perhaps little noticed feature of Foot’s project, in particular, that it aims to provide more than just a kind-relative account, but seeks an exhaustive account of goodness. She concludes, in effect, that goodness admits of only the kind-based sort. Accordingly, (...) an individual’s goodness obtains solely in virtue of its satisfying kind-based standards. However, Mark Murphy has argued that a hypothetical “ignorant being” could satisfy its kind-relative standards by being ignorant, but we plausibly judge it to be bad when it does. Thus, an individual’s goodness does not obtain solely in virtue of meeting kind-based standards. In this sense, the ignorant being is a counterexample to any Aristotelian account similar to Foot’s. Unfortunately, Murphy’s counterexample fails because kind-based standards cannot require the lack of something. Nonetheless, I develop Murphy’s insight that something can satisfy kind-relative standards but nonetheless be bad—I propose a hypothetical Ebola-like microbe that meets its kind-standards of being destructive for its own sake, but it would plausibly be bad for doing so. In defending my counterexample, I challenge the Aristotelian contention that evaluations should only be made from “within” the standpoint of a particular lifeform conception, rather than an “external” one from which that kind itself can be judged to be bad. (shrink)
Robert Adams defends a platonic account of goodness, understood as excellence, claiming that there exists a platonic good that all other good things must resemble, identifying the Good with God. Mark Murphy agrees, but argues that this platonic account is in need of Aristotelian supplementation, as resemblance must take into account a thing’s kind-membership. While this article will accept something like Murphy’s account of goodness, it will further develop its details and support. Without relying on theistic premises, I show that (...) the metaphysical status of an individual’s goodness consists in resemblance with the platonic good. As for the distinct question of what that goodness holds in virtue of, I conclude it holds in virtue of exactly: the thing’s own properties, those properties being such as to satisfy its kind-based standards, and those K-standards resembling the platonic good. I then develop an account of how K-standards resemble the platonic good: The K-standards resemble it firstly with respect to requiring activities, as the platonic good will be posited to be active, and must resemble it secondly also at the level of what teleology those activities are directed towards. I also motivate the need for a third respect of resemblance, to be developed in future work. The article ends with a discussion of the nature of the platonic good. (shrink)
For Aristotle, the shape of a physical body is perceptible per se (DA II.6, 418a8-9). As I read his position, shape is thus a causal power, as a physical body can affect our sense organs simply in virtue of possessing it. But this invites a challenge. If shape is an intrinsically powerful property, and indeed an intrinsically perceptible one, then why are the objects of geometrical reasoning, as such, inert and imperceptible? I here address Aristotle’s answer to that problem, focusing (...) on the version of it that he presents in De caelo III.8. I argue that if we grant that Aristotle conceived of the shape of a sensible body as some kind of causal power, then the satisfactory resolution of that challenge pushes us to interpret him as having conceived of it as being, more specifically, an impure power—that is, as a property that is not only intrinsically powerful but also, in some way, intrinsically non-powerful as well. This is a notable result not only insofar as it illuminates Aristotle’s conception of shape but also insofar as it contributes to our knowledge of Aristotle’s theory of dunameis and his ontology more broadly. (shrink)
This study builds on prior research investigating the antecedents of firm supererogation. Examining vehicle recalls in the U.S. automobile industry from 1966 to 2010 reveals that surveillance-based government enforcement programs can have widespread industry effects on a specific type of supererogatory action, firm volunteerism. Specifically, increases in government surveillance are associated with firms going beyond what is legally required of them by initiating voluntary product recalls for defects not covered in existing government regulation. Such effects are shown to be unique (...) among surveillance efforts as other government enforcement activities, such as standards-based regulation, are revealed to have a negative association with firm supererogation. (shrink)
Pharmaceutical and medical device companies apply social psychology to influence physicians' prescribing behavior and decision making. Physicians fail to recognize their vulnerability to commercial influences due to self-serving bias, rationalization, and cognitive dissonance. Professionalism offers little protection; even the most conscious and genuine commitment to ethical behavior cannot eliminate unintentional, subconscious bias. Six principles of influence — reciprocation, commitment, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity — are key to the industry's routine marketing strategies, which rely on the illusion that the (...) industry is a generous avuncular partner to physicians. In order to resist industry influence, physicians must accept that they are vulnerable to subconscious bias and have both the motivation and means to resist industry influence. A culture in which accepting industry gifts engenders shame rather than gratitude will reduce conflicts of interest. If greater academic prestige accrues to distant rather than close relationships with industry, then a new social norm may emerge that promotes patient care and scientific integrity. In addition to educating faculty and students about the social psychology underlying sophisticated but potentially manipulative marketing and about how to resist it, academic medical institutions should develop strong organizational policies to counteract the medical profession's improper dependence on industry. (shrink)
Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception (1945) essentially aims at debunking the myth of objectivity. The Phenomenology takes the entire Western tradition to task over its reliance on the objective attitude, showing how this attitude structures the architectonics of idealism and empiricism. These philosophies share the same presuppositions: their metaphysics and epistemologies are inherently dualistic. The problematics that stem from this objectivism have informed the Western understanding of God. This essay undertakes an examination of one of the more extended treatments of God (...) in Merleau-Ponty's magnum opus. The aim is not to justify or critique the objective attitude per se, but to show some of its radical implications for theology after Descartes. The passage of focus is on pages 358–9 in the English translation of the Phenomenology. The attempt here is to bring some of the research on Merleau-Ponty into dialogue with the philosophy of religion, and is a tentative step in a larger project of looking at the role of God in Merleau-Ponty's corpus. (shrink)
The Theaetetus’ ‘secret doctrine’ and the Sophist ’s ‘battle between gods and giants’ have long fascinated Plato scholars. I show that the passages systematically parallel one another. Each presents two substantive positions that are advanced on behalf of two separate parties, related to one another by their comparative sophistication or refinement. Further, those parties and their respective positions are characterized in substantially similar terms. On the basis of these sustained parallels, I argue that the two passages should be read together, (...) with each informing and constraining an interpretation of the other. (shrink)
Although risky decision-making has been posited to contribute to the maladaptive behavior of individuals with psychopathic tendencies, the performance of psychopathic groups on a common task of risky decision-making, the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT; Bechara, Damasio, Damasio, & Anderson, 1994), has been equivocal. Different aspects of psychopathy (personality traits, antisocial deviance) and/or moderating variables may help to explain these inconsistent findings. In a sample of college students (N = 129, age 18–27), we examined the relationship between primary and secondary psychopathic (...) features and IGT performance. A measure of impulsivity was included to investigate its potential as a moderator. In a joint model including main effects and interactions between primary psychopathy, secondary psychopathy and impulsivity, only secondary psychopathy was significantly related to risky IGT performance, and this effect was not moderated by the other variables. This finding supports the growing literature suggesting that secondary psychopathy is a better predictor of decision-making problems than the primary psychopathic personality traits of lack of empathy and remorselessness. (shrink)
Celebrating the remarkable career of jurist Harold J. Berman, the essays in this volume demonstrate that Berman's contributions to Russian studies, international trade law, legal history, philosophy of law, and law and religion have firmly established him as part of the tradition of our greatest American jurists.
Plato’s demiurge makes a series of questionable decisions in creating the world. Most notoriously, he endeavors to replicate, to the extent possible, some of the features that his model possesses just insofar as it is a Form. This has provoked the colorful complaint that the demiurge is as raving mad as a general contractor who constructs a house of vellum to better realize the architect’s vellum plans (Keyt 1971). The present paper considers the sanity of the demiurge’s reasoning in light (...) of Timaeus 32c5-33b1, where he invokes considerations of wholeness, completeness, uniqueness, and eternality in deciding to build the body of the world from all of each of the simple bodies. Since the passage makes no appeal to the demiurge’s intelligible model, one can mine it for indications of the value that the demiurge takes those features to have independent of mimetic goals. I argue that, for Plato, those features are intrinsically good-making and, thus, that it is not only appropriate for them to characterize Forms qua Forms but also that it is appropriate for the demiurge to aim at replicating them, to the extent possible, in his creation. In particular, I argue that the demiurge’s success in instilling a circumscribed version of each feature in his creation helps to qualify it as a genuine being despite the fact that it comes to be. (shrink)
This review discusses Harold Berman’s, Law and Language, published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. It locates this short book in relation to Berman’s extensive body of publications in international and comparative law, and asks what contribution the book’s recent, posthumous publication can make to current debates over approaches to forensic linguistics. Particular attention is given to Berman’s conceptualisation of law as a ‘living language’, as well as to his coining of the term ‘communification’ to describe the value of legal-lay (...) dialogue in building a public sense of community and in sustaining the legitimacy of legal systems. (shrink)
Why did the Lord Justices make strong representation against Berkeley? According to Joseph Stock, Berkeley's first biographer "Lord Galway [a Lord Justice in 1716] having heard of those sermons, published in 1712 as Passive Obedience represented Berkeley as a Jacobite, and hence unworthy of the living of St. Paul's. From the beginning, Passive Obedience was rumored to be politically heterodox...