[A]s meaningless as asking which points in Ohio are starting points.--Quine "Two Dogmas" (1961).
I’m what you get when you cross Quine with Ryle and add some cognitive science.--Daniel C. Dennett.
I am writing in order to disrupt any possibility that the horrible conflation of Zionism and Judaism become further entrenched this week. And I am writing to draw attention to the uncontroversial fact that whatever the merits and legitimacy of the State of Israel and its military actions may be, it does not speak or act in the name of the Jewish religion or in the name of the Jewish people...
Today is the eve of the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the greatest calamity in the history of Judaism and the beginning of our long and bitter exile. The holy rabbis of the century that saw the rise of Israeli nationalism as a response to this exile have taught me that I will sanctify God's name if I declare publicly the Jewish belief that the Zionist mission is a struggle against God's very will.--Prof. Curtis Franks, "An open letter on Israel and Gaza from Notre Dame philosopher Curtis Franks," Leiter reports.
The fabric of sentences that constitute the "lore" of Quine's fathers "is a pale grey lore, black with fact and white with convention." Quine could not locate "quite black threads in it, or any white ones." Sometimes we do not have Quine's or Dennett's luxury in picking our (surrogate) fathers;+ in the lore of my family there wear dark, black hats tracing back matrimonially (and with a few genealogical gaps) to the Ropschitzer Rebbe. Given the possible puns on Ropschitz, I did not share this with my school friends; we can't all be a Prinz or a Gendler.* Of course, I could spin a story about myself as, say, Dennett's student (which is true), but it wouldn't fit with the work I do, so I have tried out others.
In professional philosophy, we tend to be separated by two degrees or less, but I have to admit I was unfamiliar with Curtis Franks. His website helpfully informs me that he "is the direct patrilineal descendent of Isaac Franks (b. 1772 in the Royal Province of South Carolina)." Not quite the Mayflower, or Newport, but certainly yiches, too. Franks is a logician, I learn, so undoubtedly careful with words. I was made curious because in his open letter, he cites a pacifist passage of the Chofetz Chaim al Hatorah approvingly with its author called "saintly."** It's been a while since I have heard "the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem" described as the "greatest calamity in the history of Judaism." (That's compatible, of course, with greater calamities --either the expulsion from Iberia or (in the one awkward locution of Franks's letter) "the most famous genocide attempt in all of hisstory" -- befalling Jews qua Jews.)
Of course, not in my lifetime would I have ever imagined to see the most important professional philosophy blog (and Brian Leiter is not exactly known as a friend of religion) give prominent space to ideas that I associate with Satmar and other ("Hungarian") Hasidic Anti-Zionists to whom I was sometimes introduced by my (non Hungarian/non-Satmar) grandparents during my childhood visits to Forest Hills. (To be clear Franks's Jewish authorities are neither necessarily Satmar or Hungarian.)
Yesterday Ingrid Robeyns asked me why I keep quiet about Gaza (etc.). She knows that recently I defended (in Dutch) the need for philosophy in the public sphere (while acknowledging that such philosophy is often a very different genre from what we professionals would ordinarily take seriously). Even so, because philosophers rarely have a comparative advantage when discussing newsy events, and we are not trained pundits (although some practice punditry),++ I think restraint on newsy events is advisable. Moreover, training in professional ethics, political philosophy, and meta-ethics does not, I fear, involve training in good moral-political judgment (and there is considerable evidence -- for those that wish to see it -- that becoming a professional philosopher corrupts one's moral reflexes as Ruth Chang has eloquently taught us and Eric Schwitzgebel documented.) The great danger of philosophical skill -- one not emphasized enough in our training -- is that when coupled with public utterances it becomes no better than extremely refined, lawyerly technique in the service of any end (but without the legal framework/rules), that is, propaganda, even war-time propaganda.