Friday, October 15, 2021

Who Disagrees?

I'm going to say something which I used to think was completely obvious. But I've recently realized that it's not obvious to everyone. And I've heard some people explicitly dispute it.

I'm going to say it about myself, but I think that it's true of pretty much everyone, even those who purport to disagree.

Here goes:

I care about my own children more than I care about my neighbor's children.

I care about my neighbor's children more than I care about the children of a stranger in a different city.

I care about the children of a stranger in a different city more than I care about the children of a stranger in a different country.

Obviously there are complexities to this, and different types of relationships and hierarchies, but my point is that there is a hierarchy. To this I will add that I personally am not ashamed of any of this in the slightest. It's biologically natural and it's legitimate. Though it turns out that some people would be very ashamed to admit to such a thing, and therefore say that they believe otherwise.

 

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35 comments:

  1. the question is, do you care about each of your children more than another... and the truth is not something that you will admit like you did this :)

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  2. In what sense do you "care"? The "emotional" or the "doing" sense?

    If "emotional" - Pretty much nobody feels as much emotional connection to strangers as to their own family and friends. But few pretend to feel this either.

    If "doing" - A lot of people do choose to act in ways that value strangers as much as their own family and friends. They don't steal from strangers to benefit loved ones. They encourage their sons to enlist in dangerous military service to benefit society as a whole. And so on...

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  3. Beautiful picture. And I couldn't agree more.

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  4. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Expanding_Circle
    Kt

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  5. Did you leave out "I care more about jewish children then non-jewish children" on purpose?
    Ben Klein

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    Replies
    1. If one considers other Jews as part of one's extended family - which many Jews do - the answer is obvious.

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    2. I hope so - halachic decision-making hierarchies notwithstanding, it would be a pretty stupid thing to say.

      If a non-Jew said "I care more about non-Jewish children than Jewish children", you would probably start whining about antisemitism.

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    3. "Non-Jewish" is one thing. But if he said, say, "French more than Israeli"? So what?

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  6. You phrased this positively but I think one immediately switches it to negative so might be uncomfortable about it.

    I try to not care less about any other human being than I do about myself and those closest to me.

    I think if you replace the word "care" with "love" and "respect," you will come up with a paraphrase of a famous biblical verse fragment and a Mishna or two from Pirkei Avot.

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  7. The obvious continuation is: I care about my own country more than I care about other countries - which is anathema to the globalist universalists that hate themselves and their own identity, the only possible result of the globalists' anthem, John Lennon's "Imagine." I'm surprised we're still allowed to say Havdallah "..Who distinguishes between the sacred and the profane, between light and darkness, between Israel and other people of the world..."

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    Replies
    1. Hey, some Open Orthodox are even opposed to the entirely unobjectionable Shfoch Chamatecha.

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  8. I quite agree. But there are civilised limits. I draw the line well before insertion of rifle barrels into the body cavity of other people's children.

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    Replies
    1. No, there are no 'civilized' limits when fighting for your nation. Nuke them, if you have to.

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  9. So you also watched the Jordan and Africa convo?

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  10. I think you disagree!

    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2016/01/why-risk-your-kids.html

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    Replies
    1. The evolution of RNS thinking is what makes this blog fascinating to follow.

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  11. We used to live in small hunter gatherers groups not surprisingly we are hard wired to care about our small group. but our group has grown and the world has shrunken, we now live in a global community, a global village (not quite, but almost, this trend will continue )

    The world now is ever more interconnected and crucially depend on each other. a virus not contained on the other side of the planet will have consequences for you, a financial meltdown in the USA or China will have global repercussions

    So we can adjust ourselves to see all of humanity as one extended family and realize that we all stand or fall together, this will be even truer in the foreseeable future and the world becomes ever more connected and dependent on each other

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    Replies
    1. That would be lovely, if possible.

      Newsflash: It's ain't.

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    2. Nothing of the kind. The evolutionary stronger will survive as in the past. אין כל חדש תחת השמש.

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    3. to Yakov:
      while evolution is a fact, that is the natural rule God created the universe to have but that doesn't mean WE have to run society with a mentality of the "stronger take what they can, the weaker give what they must" we can do better,

      BTW evolution doesn't mean the strongest survive, it means the "fittest" survive and that is very different, it means fit for the species' environment. when that environment calls for cooperation... then those who cooperate the most ARE the fittest.

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    4. "The fittest survive" is a tautology - true by definition. Those most fitmto survive will survive most often, or else you are abusing the word "fit". Nothing ato do with strength. In any case...


      Evolution describes what is. From which there is no way to deduce what ought to Be. Google "Is-Ought Fallacy" and "Naturalistic Fallacy".

      And last, humans are subject ato hashgachah in response to our choices. The comparison to evolution therefore fails, unless you are using it to argue for Deism. (God set up the universe, but hasn't intervened since.)

      Delete
  12. From my translation of the introduction to Shaarei Yosher (found in Widen Your Tent, ch. 1, and discussed at length in ch. 5):

    The entire “I” of a coarse and lowly person is restricted only to his substance and body. Above him is someone who feels that his “I” is a synthesis of body and soul. And above him is someone who can include in his “I” all of his household and family. Someone who walks according to the way of the Torah, his “I” includes the whole Jewish people, since in truth every Jewish person is only like a limb of the body of the nation of Israel. And there are more levels in this of a person who is whole, who can connect his soul to feel that all of the world and worlds are his “I”, and he himself is only one small limb in all of creation. Then, his self-love helps him love all of the Jewish people and [even] all of creation.

    In my opinion, this idea is hinted at in Hillel’s words, as he used to say, “If I am [not] for me, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am I?” It is fitting for each person to strive to be concerned for himself. But with this, he must also strive to understand that “I for myself, what am I?” If he constricts his “I” to a narrow domain, limited to what the eye can see [is him], then his “I” – what is it? Vanity and ignorable. But if his feelings are broader and include [all of] creation, that he is a great person and also like a small limb in this great body, then he is lofty and of great worth.

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  13. And I suggest in Widen that the gemara may be contrasting this ethic of ever widening circles of concern (shared also by Stoics and in China, by Meng-Tzi / Mencius) with the Christian Golden Rule.

    Quoting R Shimon again:
    According to what the beraisa says: Two [people] were traveling, and one of them owns a canteen of water. If both drink [from it], they would both die. But if [only] one drinks from it, he would [live to] reach civilization.
    Ben Petura expounded: Better that both drink and die than one of
    them watch the death of the other.
    Until Rabbi Akiva came and taught: “And your brother shall live with
    you” 6 — your life comes before the other person’s life. (BM 62a)


    Ben Petura is interestingly close to what many in the Sassanid Empire called Jesus. They had a legend that Mary had a child after being raped by a Roman soldier whose nom de guerre was "the Panther", so they derided Jesus as "ben Pantura". But in either case, Ben Petura's ethic is help up by R Shimon as an unhealthy dismissal of natural human self-interest. (Which he then tells us to stretch to include others, rather than overcome.)

    I just realized that if I don't stop myself here, I could end up reproducing about 1/3 of my book. https://mosaicapress.com/product/widen-your-tent or on Amazon https://amzn.to/3mWm0MD

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    Replies
    1. Yakov,

      Great! Feel free to contact me with thoughts, reactions or questions. I am at micha at aishdas.org.

      Delete
  14. That's right. And you should care more about your own children than you care about your 85-year old neighbor.

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  15. Can you love unconditionally?

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  16. you're right, but Trump said it first back in 2016 when he was running for President.

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  17. R' Norman Lamm zt"l once said this to us in a student talk. He confessed that he always felt a little guilty doing the typically Jewish thing of scanning the lists of those dead in some tragedy for Jewish names. Shouldn't he be above that, shouldn't he care about all humankind? And then he was in some small town and noticed that they do the same exact thing in reference to their locals, and realized it's a universal human phenomenon to have certain people you feel closer to than others, and he felt close to Jews.

    As Horace said, you can drive out nature with a pitchfork, but she'll always come charging back.

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  18. It's also about responsibility. I am responsible to care for my own children more than I am responsible to care for those of others. That's how our society is set up. The state would take my children away if I refused to feed them even if I was busy providing for chidden all over the world. As Rav Slifkin noted, concentric circles of responsibility exist going form neighborhood to town to country. Each represents a further ring of extended family.

    Beyond immediate family, there can, however, be moral complexities. One is the extent of need. Does my neighbor's child who needs better clothes take precedence over a starving child in Africa? Another is how Jewishness fits into the equation. Clearly the Jewish people is a Jew's extended family but so are one's fellow citizens.

    ReplyDelete

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