Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Kuzari Proof: Quote and Links

I don't even need to do the work it's been done for me ad nauseum over the last five years all over the internet. Before the list I want to add a quote from an amazing book I just finished called Historians' Fallacies by David Fischer. Anyone who thinks they can judge ancient psychology (which the Kuzari proof tries to do) by modern day standards is just deluding themselves and here is why.

The Fallacy of Universal Man: falsely assumes that people are intellectually and psychologically the same in all times, places and circumstances.... People, in various times, have not merely thought different things they have thought them differently.It is probable that their most fundamental cerebral processes have changed through time. Their deepest emotional drives and desires may themselves have been transformed. Significant elements of continuity cannot be understood without a sense of discontinuities too.

Blogs and Links Showing the Numerous Fallacies involved In the So Called Kuzari Proof.


1. From Wikipedia

2. The Sinai Argument by Shlomi Tal

From TalkReason

3. Dreaming Up... by Mark Perah

4. Critique of the Kuzari Argument by Avi Norowitz

5. Kuzari - The Principle and Formalism by David Yust

From Blogs

6. From DovBear: Demolishing Dumb Arguments

7. Pretty Much Every Post in Gideon Slifkin's old XGH blog (archive here, or just subscribe to Google Reader to access old posts)

8. From Textuality: Definitively Refuting the Kuzari Principle

9. From Martin C. Winer The Kuzari Proof - 3 Million Can Be Wrong

10. Posts From (Blogger) Orthoprax (Focusing On Other Mass Revelation Myths):

A. Going After Rabbi Gottlieb

B.The Milk Miracle

C.Buddha's Many Miracles

D.The Aztec's National Revelation

E.The Aztec's National Revelation II

F.The Mandan


11. Two More Mass Revelations

Any other good links to add? Folks there is a reason it's called the Kuzari proof. Because it wass thought up in the Middle Ages by Yehuda HaLevi in the Kuzari. The Middle Ages are over, we know a lot more about religion and history then Yehuda HaLevi. Time to move on.

37 comments:

Martin said...

http://www.martincwiner.com/reconciling-biblical-numbers-three-million-at-sinai-is-making-a-mountain-out-of-a-molehill/
http://www.martincwiner.com/the-kuzari-proof-3-million-witnesses-can-be-wrong/
http://www.martincwiner.com/enough-with-the-crazy-kuzari-proof/

Rabbangamliel said...

The other mass revelation arguments posted by Shilton HaSechel are are pathetic. The idea of the Kuzari is talking about every single member of the Jewish people at the time getting their law the lifeblood of their existence and passing it down with the revelation. At best what is presented by the others are no more a national revelation than stories we have of a bas kol speaking to all who would listen amongst the Jews but would not be claimed to have gotten the attention of every single member of the Jewish people. They may be informed of it if at all but that is all. It is silly to seize at any story and make it out to be more than what is claimed. You are only fooling yourself, not historians. If you can find a true mass revelation to challenge Kuzari fine but don't show desperation by making a fool of yourself to historians.

Rabbangamliel said...

That is silly. Science was studied both empirically and otherwise from the past ages. For instance astronomy and medicine were studied both ways. Modern science though was invented by Newton so how we approach empirical study of science is different. In any event it is no more indicative of ability one or the other. An idea has to be invented at some time. Are we to say until someone came up with an idea, before people were unable to come up with it? It is silly. It also makes you more vulnerable to challenge of your ideas if we are really controlled in what we can think. Your idea is not even wrong. It is an idea for couch potatoes.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Lol now you're getting silly. Firstly there are plenty of other links here which discuss the Kuzari proof without having to bring other mass revelations, so I wouldn't be so confident.

Secondly what the heck do you mean "the law of the lifeblood of their nation"??? Oh so now not only do you think you can understand ancient psychology with complete accuracy but you also think you can quantify the importance of various mass revelations. So only important law codes now are considered IMPORTANT enough to not be faked??? Why is it harder to fake "the lifeblood of a nation" than it is to fake the origin of the Mandan people (which I' m sure they took very seriously) Is there a point system I should know of? Sinai is 10 points of unbelievably while the Mandan is a mere 3 ???

Shilton HaSechel said...

How many scientific experiments were conducted in the Ancient World?

>Are we to say until someone came up with an idea, before people were unable to come up with it?

Obviously not, but until they came up with the general concept of empirical study they thought about science fundamentally differently.

>It also makes you more vulnerable to challenge of your ideas if we are really controlled in what we can think.

Oh no! I'm vulnerable! - I don't care how "vulnerable" I am. What a terrible reason to hold or reject an idea because it might make you more or less "vulnerable".

Shilton HaSechel said...

RG,

I'm still waiting for your proof of God in general and Judaism in particular.....

Remember to number the steps of logic. thank you.

RabbanGamliel said...

I replied to you that I want you to give me all your responses to the proofs you say you have answers to. Also I'm still waiting for your responses to my answers to your supposed contradictions in the Torah. Do you have answers to all of them? I have asked you before but to no avail.

Shilton HaSechel said...

What proofs? Well the Kuzari I just posted a wealth of material read ALL of that. The God proofs are discussed all over the internet on hundreds of sites.

As for contradictions - I haven't decided if the contradictions only become apparent after disbelief or not so I'm not bothering to address them until I think about it a little more.

Either way for someone who seems to have it all figured out, it is rather strange that you don't have a well formulated proof in your back pocket.

I await YOUR proof whenever you get a chance.

Until then don't make absolute claims w/o any logical evidence. Thank you.

RabbanGamliel said...

"Lol now you're getting silly. Firstly there are plenty of other links here which discuss the Kuzari proof without having to bring other mass revelations, so I wouldn't be so confident."

Well I'd like to see one so far that doesn't look strainly apologetic and lame brained. But it is interesting that you assume I believe for sure in the Kuzari proof assuming I or you know what it is.

"Secondly what the heck do you mean "the law of the lifeblood of their nation"??? Oh so now not only do you think you can understand ancient psychology with complete accuracy but you also think you can quantify the importance of various mass revelations. So only important law codes now are considered IMPORTANT enough to not be faked??? Why is it harder to fake "the lifeblood of a nation" than it is to fake the origin of the Mandan people (which I' m sure they took very seriously) Is there a point system I should know of? Sinai is 10 points of unbelievably while the Mandan is a mere 3 ???"

You can fake certain things like obscure facts about the Presidents but not tell people that George Washington wasn't president but instead it was someone else or tell people that America broke away from France rather than England or that the U.S. was always under the Constitution rather than under the Articles of the Confederation. So you are being unthinking. Further I actually said "the lifeblood of their existence." Surely you would agree that the Torah is the lifeblood of the Jewish people and our attachment and claim to Israel is as well, whereas whether Shmuel really knew where King Shaul's donkeys were, is not. Coming up with answers without thinking if the other side has a point usually produces unreflective answers like the one you gave me.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>Well I'd like to see one so far that doesn't look strainly apologetic and lame brained.

Query: Have you read the Talk Reason articles and the post on textuality??? I think they are particularly devastating.

>But it is interesting that you assume I believe for sure in the Kuzari proof assuming I or you know what it is.

Well you sure defend it a lot. I suspect that you subscribe to some version of it.

Pierre said...

r. Dovid gottlieb had given me a very substantial response to many points raised by these sources, but at the time, he only offered it if solicited. he may have made it public now, I think you should ask him for it.

Gamzoo said...

Shilton wrote: "Aristotle infamously says that women have more (or less I forget) teeth than men. He obviously never checked."

Have you checked? :)

Shilton HaSechel said...

I found this.

http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/comments/q-a-on-kuzari-principle.htm

It is riddled with as many logical fallacies as his original "proof". If you want we can go into detail.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Lol I ask women all the time if I can count their teeth. Most of them are strangely offended by this.... ;)

Despite the intransigence of these anti-scientific women my dentist confirmed my suspicions that Aristotle might have been a little bit off.

Maybe Aristotle got slapped when he tried counting his wife's teeth ;)

Baruch Spinoza said...

Hello Shilton,

I wrote about it on my own blog. You can go here ( http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com/2010/02/main-argument-for-judaism-refuted.html ). It has several other links in it that connect to the main argument but those are all my arguments against this popular but faulty Jewish argument.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Thanks for the link.

JewishGadfly said...

RG, see my comment below--Shilton is correct about things being done differently in the past. It may not be indicative of basic cognitive abilities, but it is indicative of which ways of thinking were accessible to people or not. Until new ideas and new ways of doing things can spread, people are stuck with old ways. For a lot of philosophers, 20th century analytic philosophy did to many metaphysical problems what empiricism did to Aristotelian science: suddenly, a long-venerated way of thinking about the world seemed totally wrong. So it goes.

JewishGadfly said...

Another fun one: http://www.secondexodus.com/html/jewishcatholicdialogue/nationalrevelation.htm

>Well I'd like to see one so far that doesn't look strainly apologetic and lame brained.

Oh hush. Read the links. The Kuzari argument is apologetic and lame-brained. "I can prove X happened, because a Middle Eastern tribe a couple thousand years ago believed it happened, and it's LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE they would have believed it otherwise." This needs refutation? As I have posted elsewhere, the ridiculous and unprecedented beliefs held by Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb is the only refutation needed for this kind of thing.

>You can fake certain things like obscure facts about the Presidents but not tell people that George Washington wasn't president but instead it was someone else or tell people that America

Yes, but that would be because we have excellent documentation available to masses of people. If George Washington were a myth that had developed over the last eight hundred years, and we had poor recorded history, and we were totally dependent for information about him on a select group of storytellers and religious leaders, then yes, they could easily "discover" that he was president.

JewishGadfly said...

That series of replies is NUTS. He spends three-fourths of the page detailing "principles of evidence" without EVER relating them to anything having to do with the Kuzari argument. (Yes, Rabbi Gottlieb, in theory something can be possible but implausible. Glad you have a PhD to share that with us.)

And when he finally gets to it in the last two paragraphs, he says, "a myth formation process would have to produce false beliefs, but Sinai is a 'National Experiential Tradition,' so it has no false beliefs, so it couldn't be created by myth formation processes."

Huh?? I'm sorry, could you repeat that, because it sure sounded like you said, "Question begging question begging, therefore question begging." ("It can't be that Sinai was created by gradual myth development and is thus false, because I already ascertained that Sinai must be true when I assumed no myth development, and if it were a myth it would be false." Yeah, no kidding.) Why any religious person would ever rely on anything he says is beyond me.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>Glad you have a PhD to share that with us

Lol. How that guy got a Phd in mathematical logic is completely beyond me.

G*3 said...

There are plenty of people who grew up in the US who have no idea what the Articles of Confederation were and who think that George Washington really chopped down his father's cherry tree.

Anonymous said...

We find large groups of people believing in easily disprovable facts all the time. For example, most of the Arab world today believes with certainty that all Jews working in the Twin Towers on 9/11 were informed about the expected attack and didn't show up to work that day. Bahai people believe that as recently as 160 years ago, the Bab, forerunner of the Bahai faith, escaped execution under miraculous circumstances witnessed by hundreds of onlookers.

Whether or not the Jewish tradition of mass revelation is exactly the same set of facts as other examples of groups of people believing in publicly witnessed events that didn’t occur is beside the point.

The important thing to remember is that Kuzari proof is arguing that the facts behind the national torah-misinai tradition must be true because otherwise the tradition could not have arisen. But we can come up with very reasonable and plausible sets of facts under which the tradition could have arisen without the facts having occurred. Therefore the existence of the tradition does not prove the veracity of the facts. And, indeed, we do find people believing in supposedly publicly witnessed events which in fact never occurred. Whether or not those public events are very similar or somewhat similar or not so similar to the Jewish tradition, whether they involve similar or not so similar miraculous revelations, is beside the point.

It is entirely possible that a national tradition of publicly-witnessed miraculous events are indeed unlikely to arise for the very reasons cited by the Kuzari proof, and therefore it is rare for such traditions to exist. However, it is not impossible for them to arise (again, it is easy to come with plausible scenarios in which they could arise) and therefore they sometimes exist. Judaism is a (perhaps uncommon) example of a tradition of publicly-witnessed miraculous events. The tradition could have arisen either due to the truth of the underlying facts or due to other circumstances. Therefore, the tradition’s existence does not prove its underlying facts. ~QED

Anonymous said...

This was not meant as a response to your comment, but as a general comment on the Kuzari proof.

RabbanGamliel said...

It is indeed true that people thought differently in the past about many things and will in the future. My point was that empirical study was done in the past. Astronomy was studied a lot empirically as was math and medicine. Empirical study was combined with philosophy. Science was not made at the time to flow out purely or even primarily from experiment as is the ideal in modern science. While Shilton HaSechel perhaps feels a need for his side of the argument to argue that people thought cognitively differently in those days it is actually a two edged sword to argue as he does. If we are not able to rise above limitations imposed by our time then there is no way to know if we are using proper logic because we are then also controlled. Further while Shilton HaSechel quotes the statement in terms of time he fails to note that it is also referring to space. People in different places according to this will think differently so then there would no reason for Shilton HaSechel to think he is also not controlled to whatever extent by arbitrary limitations.

RabbanGamliel said...

I have a proofs and I also have things I will think about just like a thinking human being. You however keep claiming you have all the answers for your side of arguments and yet you do not give them and yet you say I am holding back.I gave you answers so far to all but two of your supposed contradictions in the Torah and the last two will be next. Over and over again you do not even answer me on my asking you to answer my question why you don't answer. I even answered you on your challenges to religion by email and you still have not replied despite weeks having passed, supposedly because you lack time. If you keep talking this way I will post my answers that I have emailed you on for others to review. It's already put in words so I can post it in a moment despite my busy schedual. I have given you no reason to tell me I may be lying (which is cynical and dumb of you) but you have given me plenty. I feel like Yaakov reasoning with Lavan.

RabbanGamliel said...

"As for contradictions - I haven't decided if the contradictions only become apparent after disbelief or not so I'm not bothering to address them until I think about it a little more."

Oh so before disbelief your mind is controlled so that you can't notice them. So your mind after disbelief could also be controlled and so you can think things that are false or perhaps we are living in a multileveled reality. It certianly flows from that comment of yours.

Shilton HaSechel said...

stop complaining and just write out your proofs.

RabbanGamliel said...

Again I accidentally pressed on the like button for your comment since I thought it was a reply button.

">It also makes you more vulnerable to challenge of your ideas if we are really controlled in what we can think.

Oh no! I'm vulnerable! - I don't care how "vulnerable" I am. What a terrible reason to hold or reject an idea because it might make you more or less "vulnerable"."

Don't you know anything or are you just good at making strawmen. I wasn't arguing that. I was saying you are more vulnerable and if I need to spell it out for you I will now. The point is if we are controlled in what we can think how you can you believe you are being reasonable?

RabbanGamliel said...

In reply to Jewish Gadfly
"Oh hush. Read the links. The Kuzari argument is apologetic and lame-brained. "I can prove X happened, because a Middle Eastern tribe a couple thousand years ago believed it happened, and it's LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE they would have believed it otherwise." This needs refutation?"

Well if you would really present the argument it would.

">You can fake certain things like obscure facts about the Presidents but not tell people that George Washington wasn't president but instead it was someone else or tell people that America

Yes, but that would be because we have excellent documentation available to masses of people. If George Washington were a myth that had developed over the last eight hundred years, and we had poor recorded history, and we were totally dependent for information about him on a select group of storytellers and religious leaders, then yes, they could easily "discover" that he was president."

You are mistaken. People do not live without some history being passed while they wait fdor someone to make up their history. What do they say about their history inh the meantime? We have history for more than 800 years with peoples in the thousands of years. The English Monarchy goes back over a thousand. Even if America would be around for a thousand years with little records left we would still know George Washington was President of the United States and not have someone who was never president of the United States being called one.

"There are plenty of people who grew up in the US who have no idea what the Articles of Confederation were"

Irrelevant. There are people who do not every president. The point is the official history taught in school is not dependennt on their ignorance.

"and who think that George Washington really chopped down his father's cherry tree."

That's not an example of an important enough piece of information to be preserved one way or another correctly. If you yet claim we are so filled

RabbanGamliel said...

"Shilton HaSechel said:

"stop complaining and just write out your proofs.""

Why don't you? Further you keep on avoiding answering my questions on whether you do have answers. Further you saying you wonder how "that guy" has a Phd in mathematical logic is beyond you, is silly. He didn't get it by accident and your nonmathematical logic is not something that would earn you a C in one logic course.

G*3 said...

> The point is the official history taught in school is not dependennt on their ignorance.

You’d be shocked by how bad some high school history textbooks are. Even if there aren’t outright mistakes, everything is subject to a level of spin that you don’t see even in popular history books.

> That's not an example of an important enough piece of information to be preserved one way or another correctly.

Not the point. Generations of American schoolchildren have been taught that George Washington was a great and virtuous man who as a child was always honest, even when it might get him into trouble. The truth is that particular story is first seen in an unauthorized biography of Washington published shortly after his death which includes many fantastical anecdotes about him. The book was wildly popular with the general public and many of its stories, like the one with the cherry tree, entered American mythology despite not having any basis in reality. Creating myths is disturbingly easy.

It’s a shame, really. Washington is much more interesting as the idealistic Virginia aristocrat who botched his command as a colonel with the colonial militia at Fort Necessity and went on to win a war against the most powerful empire of the time than he is as a saint.

RabbanGamliel said...

"> The point is the official history taught in school is not dependennt on their ignorance.

You’d be shocked by how bad some high school history textbooks are. Even if there aren’t outright mistakes, everything is subject to a level of spin that you don’t see even in popular history books."

I wouldn't be shocked but my overall point is that while levels of knowledge may vary there is a limit how much it will for a nation as a nation. If some individuals are more ignorant than others it can be greater for them but we do not call them the preservers of American history especially because they are hardly into reading or learning so much. By contrast the more they educate themselves the more they encounter the truth. If we are life learners we do not stay stuck at the same level of knowledge.

"> That's not an example of an important enough piece of information to be preserved one way or another correctly.

Not the point. Generations of American schoolchildren have been taught that George Washington was a great and virtuous man who as a child was always honest, even when it might get him into trouble. The truth is that particular story is first seen in an unauthorized biography of Washington published shortly after his death which includes many fantastical anecdotes about him. The book was wildly popular with the general public and many of its stories, like the one with the cherry tree, entered American mythology despite not having any basis in reality. Creating myths is disturbingly easy."

Yes but creating certain myths are impossible. Imagine trying to create a myth that George Washington was Vice President or that the North broke away from the South in the Civl War or that the U.S. broke away from Spain rather than Britain. That was my point.

"It’s a shame, really. Washington is much more interesting as the idealistic Virginia aristocrat who botched his command as a colonel with the colonial militia at Fort Necessity and went on to win a war against the most powerful empire of the time than he is as a saint."

I agree. Real history is irreplacable and much more fasinating.

G*3 said...

> Yes but creating certain myths are impossible. Imagine trying to create a myth that George Washington was Vice President or that the North broke away from the South in the Civl War or that the U.S. broke away from Spain rather than Britain. That was my point.

Myths don’t happen that way. Myth development is almost never a deliberate process and is also almost never in direct contradiction to known facts. Take the story with Washington and the cherry tree. The general public was completely ignorant of Washington’s childhood, so the story with the cherry tree was free to take hold. The general public in ancient Judea was similarly ignorant of the origin of the Torah, so the Sinia myth was free to take hold.

The Kuzari counterargument that they would never have accepted the story of Sinia if they hadn’t heard it from their parents and grandparents is a strawman. It assumes that someone invented the story from whole cloth and started trying to convince people it was true. It is far more likely that the story developed slowly. Perhaps it started as a story of a revelation to Moshe and a few trusted followers and then grew over the centuries until it had God speaking directly to the entire nation. Perhaps it even has a kernel of truth. Maybe there really was a leader named Moshe who invented a law code. In any case, by the time the story of universal revelation was widespread the story would have been part of Israelite culture for centuries, and the majority of the people hearing it would have heard it from their parents and grandparents.

pierre said...

Aaaaand, that's not it, so no I don't want to go into detail.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Lol well THAT was utter rubbish so I'm not exactly confident that he's got anything better up his sleeve.

anon said...

Check out the 2 "one" reveiws at Amazon.com Permission to Receive book

anon said...

Prof David Levene refutes Kuzari at thiws link
http://ulag.net/archive/kuzari/levene1998-07-29.txt

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