Symposium Great Neck 3


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BruceDavid Birnbaum: [inaudible 0:04] for the learners and distinguished guests. This evening is in dedicated memory of extraordinary individual, [inaudible 00:17] to give him honor of this evening and we have two families involved, Fischer [ph] Family and Osher [ph] Family. Families both of which are Jews and [inaudible 0:24] thank them and we honor them tonight as well. I am going to present my remarks independent of first two speakers. And the question portion you can bring those remarks in if you wish, as you wish. So these remarks will start with clean slate, very direct, very straightforward. So here we go. Is there any concept which we can say with certainty that always existed? Is there any concept or entity that we can say with certainty always existed? So some philosophers might have said God always existed, and God may have existed. Some philosophers may have said, the universe has always existed but we say that with certainty objectively, we say that with certainty. We cannot say that with certainty.
Now from my perspective one has to answer that question in order to build any philosophy or any metaphysics what comes as close as possible to answering that question. If there is millions of thoughts, I came to the conclusion there is only one concept and one can say with pretty much certainty always existed, and that concept is one word possibility. It’s the only concept that I found surveying scene for many decades since childhood that I can say with pretty much certainty possibility I can say always existed. So let’s [inaudible 2:32] and it’s the nexus of all my works. I then developed the possibility is at the center of God, if there is God. So possibility is not God, possibility becomes in my philosophy the center of God. There are three classic problems in all philosophy which one cannot get around and one is philosophy. One is, what is the origin of consequence? Just to give a shorthand notation called Cosmogony or Cosmogony, however you want to pronounce it. The other problem is second problem is the Theogony, the origins of God, if there is God. We are operating in a loose context, we’re picking the assumption that there is God, but classic philosophers, classic metaphysicians make no assumptions whatsoever, their job is to make no assumptions and this is a metaphysical evening. It’s not a religious evening let’s say it’s metaphysical and religious evening combined.
The classic philosophy makes no assumptions. The third key problem and this involves religious philosophy is Theodicy. If there is a God that’s all powerful all merciful, why is there gross evil? So again, the shorthand notations are Cosmogony, Theogony and Theodicy, okay, shorthand notations. Now I develop the concept of possibility, I say possibility has a first cousin. The first cousin of possibility is Quest for Potential, and I wrote two books, developing the concept of Quest for Potential, but quest for potential’s anchored and it’s probably called its first cousin possibility. I like that because possibility I can say with certainty always existed. And the reason I have sat down to write two books over 25 years is because Quest for Potential simultaneously solves all three problems very elegantly. Those three problems plus another 10 philosophical problems at a minimum, all simultaneously in one simple book and that’s what motivated me to sit down and write these books.
If it only solved one problem, anybody can solve the problem, you can postulate the gamma force, the fatal force, the [inaudible 05:08] force, whatever you want to call it, and explain how this phenomenal force solves this one problem of philosophy and no one will have anything what you are talking about when you write the book or 1000 years after you write a book, but if you have a constant anchor in one concept which might actually be eternal for sure, go with a certainty and then take that concept and you simultaneously solve 3, 6, 9 problems of philosophy. Then even those demanding Jews might say let’s take a look at the situation. Now I handed out today and not that I am going to get into it, a roadmap and the first sentence in the roadmap is possibility by definition eternal. I have always talked about the first line in this roadmap, and this roadmap is a roadmap of Summa series and Summa series is all evolving and Summa series basically says Quest for Potential is at the core of the divine and to a great extent is the divine and it’s the realm of rabbinics and theologians to develop that theme if they so wish to exculpate divine potential, to exculpate the divine, if they so wish. It’s above my pay scale, above my pay grade to do that, it’s not my realm. I deal in basis, pure simple basis. It’s pure simple logic as I can possibly look that I err on the other material to show how it works with orthodox, it works with Jews. I am not a rabbinic, I am not a theologian, I am writing classic, I am proposing a classic original what I believe is a powerful and simultaneous solution metaphysics. At that point, at this point I like to open up to questions. Does anybody have any questions or attacks? Yes sir.
Male: Your first problem was cosmogony.
David Birnbaum: Right.
Male: Okay. So does that assume that there is a beginning to the cosmos?
David Birnbaum: Yes it doesn’t assume that there was beginning to the game, but it assumes there is beginning for cosmos, in other words, classic science, contemporary science and all agree, or 99.9% will agree, that the Big Bang is origin of the cosmoses we know of today. And contemporary science is also agreeing that no one knows what caused the Big Bang, and no one knows what ignited the Big Bang. This series alleges to provide a solution as well, not scientist but conceptually [inaudible 8:15] in the road map itself, which again is the summary of the book. It provides conceptual spark of the Big Bang as well. You see beginning is a tough word, but we all are sort of getting these. So as best as we can understand the beginning is what we are talking about. As best as we can understand because I am saying, I am proposing that Quest for Potential is eternal. So rabbinic will say I am fine with it, God is eternal because God is potential, or accept that the core of God is potential. And again, beyond my skill set I deal with potentially with God. It’s too big a word for me. You know I am forced to use it. That’s not only my turf, I am only [inaudible 09:12] classic metaphysics which means more than physics, core eternal concepts.
Male: So if you presented scientific diagram, that explained what happened before the Big Bang how would that change the way you would address that issue?
David Birnbaum: Well let’s see it, no one has presented it. Well no one has presented one which is accepted by —
Male: If you did, if you were to present it one, would you mean that would alter your perspective on Ques?
David Birnbaum: Any new information impacts everybody, but no one has proposed it. I don’t think we see a diagram of what caused it, what caused that diagram, what caused that what you say always existed, and my hypothesis is you always track only one possible cause which is very abstract in of itself which is a possibility. It’s so [inaudible 10:11] of the air and I propose that’s what everyone misses. When I was a youngster looking around obviously the players in the field philosophy, metaphysics, Jewish and otherwise were not slouched. Obviously these are big guns, these are highly respected guns over the century. And obviously they also all fail, they all fail, it’s clear. No matter what anybody tells you they all fail. It’s not even close. The greatest of them fail terrible. They do not come close. How can they all miss it and why do all the big guns of philosophers miss it? Because to certain extent I say they are trying too hard, they are trying too hard. They are trying to find s thing which caused everything. You can’t possibly say a thing caused everything because where did that thing come from? You have to get more subtle, more sensitive, more relaxed about this, take a step back and try to discern that what truly can say to not just your fellow philosophers [inaudible 11:30] but ask a straightforward person on the street, does this make sense, you buy into this?
When I was in the first grade at [inaudible 11:38] and our teacher was Ms. Furst, and they had Ms. Furst, my first grade teacher. I said to myself are we going to have Ms. Second for our second grade teacher, and it was F-U-R-S-T. And Ms. Furst was suspect for us because her father was the finance [inaudible 11:57] she was suspect like why is she our teacher, was there no other teacher in New York, what’s going on. She is teaching us and she is starting on the blackboard, she writes the word elephant, she spell E-L-E-F-A-N-T. I hesitate but raise my hand Ms. Furst I think you spelt elephant wrong. She says I am the teacher and you are the student and this is how we spell elephant, [inaudible 12:38] synagogue in my class. So I said, I look at the teacher but I think you are wrong. She said go down to Mrs. Morris the general principal and she will explain the situation. So I didn’t know what was going to happen me, if I go to jail [inaudible 13:02] and Mrs. Morris picks out this enormous dictionary like 400 pound dictionary, I don’t know if I even saw a dictionary before that, it was a monster dictionary and she finds the word elephant, and she looks at it and she says you are both right.
I said can I see that? She says yes, so the first entry is elephant with ph and then it says with a F elefant, middle English you are both right. I said to myself and not to them, I thought we were studying English not middle English. I go home, I guess my mother was artist — is an artist, I said, how do you spell elephant, she says what’s your problem, you know the spelling of it. I said can you spell elephant, I don’t know that’s middle English. And then [inaudible 14:04] always stick together, the establishment will always stick together. Ms. Furst, principal Mrs. Morris coming from the teacher, the first grade, they included they would always stick sticking together, they’re all covering for each other, even if they were wrong and not quite wrong. This is my lesson in the first grade and I want to tell you it’s the same with the general academic philosophers. They are all covering up this very [inaudible 14:30] they are all covering each other. Each one says you are most brilliant and at the end of the day they can’t back up their basic essential thesis. Any philosophy which does not cover the key questions is worthless. It’s like a beautiful table cloth which doesn’t cover the whole table, it’s beautiful but it’s worthless, you can’t use it. And philosophers must first show that they work towards the key issues. It can’t be a beautifully articulate philosophy that works for half the philosophical problems and breaks down the other problems. In my humble opinion, as a graduate [inaudible 15:09] they are worthless. If my philosophy cannot handle all the proposals it’s also worthless. That has to be the first test. Then we can discuss if it’s not worthless what is it worth? But if you can’t deal with all the key issues it’s worthless, in my humble, humble opinion and then if it can ostensibly hit on key issues then they have a starting point discussion. Okay.
Female: David. If I understand it you are separating possibility from God.
David Birnbaum: No, no, I said clearly not. I said I actually see it in front and center of the book the possibility and potential is at the core of divine, at the core of the divine, is at the core of the divine. And I say in the second book that Quest for Potential is divine, never separated all. I am saying I can say with all conviction that possibility is eternal and I am saying with conviction that God is eternal as a simple brave little person. If you are asking a seven year old David Birnbaum, is possibility is eternal I would say it could be. You would say God is eternal, no, you can’t do this as a seven year old. It might be true but you can’t do this, and then at that point I would be more convincing. But then [inaudible 16:33] in my books that possibility of Quest for Potential and core of the divine, I am comfortable with eternal divine on that basis personally. And Steven’s discussion is philosophy, it’s not talking about religious doctrine. My position is that my philosophy works with Judaism, works with religious philosophy, but I am not pressing a religious case. On the colloquium discussion it looked like I am pressing a religious case. I am following this opinion, I appreciate it’s protecting my rights but that’s not my core doctrine. I am not a theologian, I am not rabbinic, I am very passionate. These nerves I have to deal with, I am forced to. It’s not my turf. I like to deal with more physics, with more certainty. I like to deal with things which I can say this follows with a pretty high level certainty. You challenge with possibility that it’s eternal. I want to challenge that as well, but it’s difficult to challenge that, very difficult to challenge that thing.
And I am forced to jump on that because I have no choice because we’re in a universe, something probably ignited the universe and something within something within something ignited that, and after many years of such a thought I vector into that one thing, possibility, possibility, that this little roadmap [inaudible 18:12] looks at possibility that morphs the Quest for Potential, and even Quest for Potential must be fair to the audience we see and it’s actually very important. Quest for us as Jewish or the non-Jewish, this is usually linear, means A created B, B created C. You can go through every course in college of philosophy and not come across one non-linear philosophy A create B create C, and by the time, I finished graduate school I said no linear philosophy would ever work. The universe and God, assuming there is a God, is just too complex, it’s not so simple. The world is not flat, it’s simple, the world is round and philosophy is not linear. Whatever it is it’s not linear and the Quest for Potential is so elegant frankly. This is flawless. Those who read the book know the play.
The book hypothesizes flawless that all the possibilities down the road including the possibilities of thinking it tonight including the possibilities for your nieces giggling, the possibilities for young boys coming to the Torah, young boys, possibility [inaudible 19:48], all the zillions and trillions of possibilities down the road retroactively ignited the cosmos. It’s a very powerful thing especially if it’s true, very powerful, but it would solve the problem. How did we get from nothing to something? But at the core Quest for Potential is the theme which is hard to argue with whose eternality is hard to argue with, possibility. And I have to play poet a little bit developing this, I have no choice, that possibility was aiding for realization. Possibility and potential keep looping around themselves on some level and again, I am not opposed to at all to integrate this divine. So at some level quest for potential AKA also known as divine, it’s questing for its potential. So you have quest for potential looping around itself zillions and trillions of eons seeking actualization, seeking realization, but there is a void, there is no need to express itself, there is no way to express itself and this harness turn and looping infinitely. At some level sensing all the possibilities down the road, at some level it’s sensing the possibilities for life, at some level sensing the possibilities for Torah. But no, no, there is no realization. It will be ultimately the cosmos could not take it anymore, and the creation point emerges.
And combining these two pre-owning things, one that possibility is the one concept as you can say with certainty is eternal and then using this bootstrap concept the potential is down the road ignite that eternal concept of possibility, we end up with — very elegant simultaneous solution to every one of these problems it’s scary, how simple thing can solve all these problems. Now from a religious Jewish perspective, just like my first book you can do this threatening or you can view it as solidifying, making it airtight, bullet proof [inaudible 22:39]. Both my books you can take either way for the religious job, either threatening or you would say no, it forces just a little bit but net result is much more open, cohesive, integrated and frankly magnificent religious elements, but that’s an individual choice. My job has to call as I see it. My job is not to raise Judaism, I don’t mind what is there, but that’s not my job. So I haven’t selected my philosophy is to be raised but it’s not my job. My job is to call things as I see to try to present a paradigm which is both elegant and actually it works. Okay next question, sir.
Male: In your first book, you have footnotes actually Mr. Greenberg, does that happen to be the Irving Greenberg?
David Birnbaum: Of course, right yeah.
Male: Can you tell me how you address some of his ideas about averting the holocaust or future holocaust that concept actually the role of man as a partner of God, is it part of the possibility?
David Birnbaum: Well it happen to – you need to focus on your questions, this evening is not about Greenberg this evening is about Summa, if you have a question about Summa I can address it. I like Irving Greenberg. He is an extraordinary gentleman. Like many individuals are Greenbergs, they are not really classic philosophers. They write – they still write philosophical thought very beautifully, very elegantly, it’s not classical, it’s not really philosophers, but we saw some of the philosophers, the whole crew and I like the crew and I love the crew and I went from college [inaudible 24:35] not only philosophers per se, they don’t attempt to [inaudible 24:40] they don’t say they are philosophers, they write let’s say a philosophical thought, it’s a thematic, a speech tonight it is a philosophical thought, that was going to be a whole philosophy, there’s a philosophical spin on Summa. So Greenberg and the crew that whole crew are fine gentlemen still do that because of the philosophical spin on different subjects. I met Irving Greenberg, I like Irving Greenberg, he is on back of my first [inaudible 25:12] personally—
Male: In some way related to your concept of —
David Birnbaum: It does, it does but I mean you have to be focused to the question, you want to think about it. Okay.
Male: Yeah how does your philosophy recognize the concept of impossibility and how does that kind of get into the paradigm?
David Birnbaum: What does that mean? What does that mean?
Male: Okay, if everything – possibility always existed I mean is that all the future heads have been I guess the things had to go forward, nothing is impossible if you recognize.
[Cross talk]
David Birnbaum: Possibility is notable. Possibility is a very general term, it’s a very general term that’s it’s beauty from my perspective, maybe nothing happens, maybe there is no ignition, maybe there is no cosmos but it’s possible, that’s why I feel one can be challenging than that because one can say can you have possibility because there is no possibility or reality. But that’s a very almost a sure argument. So I am saying even that can be challenged but of all the concepts of my career and my life, it’s the one concept that I am comfortable with is facing [inaudible 26:40] and I run with that football, I run with that football and all of a sudden have an infinite divine. I am running with that little possibility boom, boom, boom, and one chapter into the first book I have infinite divine have not shined. That’s the only concept that I can run with and that’s all the imagination that I wrote these books or else if I am just like everybody else just starting in the middle of the book somewhere. How about some interesting question – that’s an emotional issue critically okay?
I always say in my [inaudible 27:33] the father of a [inaudible 27:40] that philosopher who raise enough to write a book on theodicy has to be prepared metaphorically speak to a seven year old girl on line to the gas chamber. I said look her in the eye. If the girl says to you why am I about to be die to be murdered, so I would take this up very, very seriously that’s why I wrote this book. I am not cavalierly at all. By the same token I am very nervous answering you at this point without writing out carefully, but I will try my best. One has to say to this young lady as terrible as the situation is that without the possibility of your getting born, without the possibility of ever terrible decisions of your being murdered, there could never have been a cosmos, and I moved this around a few times, on some level you created the cosmos. Not that cosmos is the one suffering but the cosmos needs both the possibility of good and the possibility of evil, or there would be no cosmos that if there is no possibility for Auschwitz there would be no universe. It is a terrible price and some people pay that more than others obviously but the cosmos, its greatest price is Auschwitz and it’s easy for me to say obviously, let me be clear, but we are trying to do the best we can with what we know. So on some level you created the cosmos.
Now I have delivered this so-called little presentation [inaudible 29:46] I need history you must show up and had a contingent Urban Survival Association and trust me when I tell you I was tense. Going back, a dozen gentlemen, then I was about 50, they were about 80s, in their 80s and actually at that time I presented what I call author’s measures. There are seven measures which are in the book. I don’t think I want to be presented out. I presented them to the members and afterwards trust me when I tell you there were 700 people there, 12 people from Bergen-Belsen, I am just watching these 12 people, what’s their reaction, they come towards and I still don’t know no reaction they gave me hugs, crying, I don’t know who was crying, them or me. So it passed their test like exactly what I send you and they live and they die, very simple, talking about. So it’s carefully measured response my family suffered quite have been in the holocaust as well when I came into it so at some level this was a wind behind my back pushing me to ask these questions initially and you know none of us know how we react in similar situation. I got into the questions I don’t know how I would do this philosophy, I would just say go to hell not interested. I still – I just don’t know the only thing I want to be in that position. I am talking that I don’t know, I know if it I could jump [ph] this. This is the best I can do given what we know. Next question.

For David Birnbaum philosophy, metaphysics, see also History of Ideas