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War of the Genders

A confrontational soapbox for rants and politically incorrect manifestos regarding feminism, chauvinism, dating and gender issues.

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Location: Jerusalem, Israel

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Logical Passion

In Jewish law there is the strict consequence of an action based on its essence and what it destroys or damages. This is called 'punishment'. But punishment cannot be considered a whim of a God anymore than getting electrocuted when you stick your finger in a socket can be called a whim of nature. It is a simple logical consequence of your action.

In some cases this 'punishment' is death. A kind of death logically appropriate to the act. I consistently encounter people that balk at the amount of sins in the Bible that demand that the perpetrator be put to death in various ways. However, what they dont realize is that the Sanhedrin (a kind of supreme court of Jewish judges) was considered bloodthirsty if it put to death more than one person every seven years. This is because the leaders/punishers can only punish if they also ensure that their people don't get to the point where they need to be punished. What also actually happened in Jewish history is that when the times deteriorated and there was no longer enough inspiration and a prevalent sense of duty and strong faith amongst the Jewish people, these judges chose to disperse and take apart the Sanhedrin rather than have to punish the increasing number of sinners. The logic was that since the times did not create a context whereas people were inspired and helped to maintain and understand the strict letter of the law, the system of strict punishments was no longer applicable by men.

This is an example of the duality in Jewish law where there are the idealistic concepts and strict consequences on one side, and practical application of the law on the other. Rabbis were given the ultimate power not only to add to and apply the law to changing circumstances, but according to Judaism they even change reality when they make legal decisions based on Jewish axioms. Applying Jewish law is not only logical, but mystical, and therefore demands a certain kind of disciplined and moral person.

But while this is a fascinating and complex subject and demands a lot more exploration than this, I brought this up chiefly as an example of what I call 'logical emotion'. The judges may have acted as if their feelings of sympathy and mercy got priority over their logic and strict legal rationality, but the truth is that this mercy or sympathy, as described above, was based on logic and has its place in Jewish law even more so than the death penalty.

Another similar concept in Judaism is God's Mercy. God is perceived to have an aspect of strict judgement (Din) and another of mercy or compassion (Rahamim). God finds ways to apply 'mercy' to someone who is trying to hurt himself by breaking the rules, by 'distancing' Himself from him, thus allowing for obstacles between the person and his consequences or self-inflicted spiritual damage, giving him a chance to fix things before it comes crashing down on his head. Divine mercy is an act whereby the man is pushed down to the first floor of the skyscraper so that he doesn't hurt hmself when he jumps out the window. This, again, is a perfectly logical perceived 'emotion'. No logic or legalities were thrown out the window just to give us a Hollywood ending. Compassion serves as the yang to the yin of judgement and has its own rules and logic.

Another example of a logical emotion in my eyes, is the concept of Faith in Judaism. Faith is never a blind emotion, but a power within every human being to direct his trust and behaviour towards what he knows to be true. Judaism only demands a 'leap of faith' when you trust there is a ground to land on based on rational consistency. A Jew is asked to place his trust in God, to actually direct his feelings towards what he knows to be true based on reason. Faith in Hebrew is 'Emunah', and 'Amen' comes from the same linguistic root because to have faith is to confirm a decision. To believe is to confirm God through reason, emotion and actions. Faith is a logical emotion that connects you with the truth on a deep and personal level instead of seeing it as an academic debate.

Previously, I attempted to describe love rationally and logically, defining its mechanisms and switches. Which brings us to the question: Judaism commands a Jew to love God, his wife, his fellow Jew. But how can love be commanded? Don't men just fall in love? Don't wives naturally get sick of their husbands and there is nothing we can do about it?

First of all, as argued in Passionate Logic (which is the flip side of the coin to this article), emotion on its own is not necessarily a warm, humanistic force, and logic is not necessarily a cold fish.

Passion is a force, a fire that can be directed and used. In fact, to give passion any transcendental quality above its materialistic roots, it must be given a context and spiritual goal. The only chance emotions have to become anything more than mere chemicals is to use them towards a non-chemical goal.

In addition, unbridled passion can be compared to a raging forest-fire and logical passion to a blowtorch. The former is wild and destructive and the latter is focused and useful for constructive purposes. When emotion is controlled (i.e. directed not murdered), it achieves an intensity instead of a wildness. Focus and the ensuing intensity is one of the mechanisms that stops passion from weakening and dissipating.

In order to achieve this we must understand passion and love, learn to identify its different forms, learn its mechanisms and how to maintain and direct it, and know what to direct it to. This was my goal in previous posts because love is another emotion, another mechanism or faculty which can be directed, maintained and aided using reason.

But if it's all about reason, and proper emotions are basically logic in disguise, then what purpose do emotions serve? It sounds like I'm suggesting that emotions are secondary and subservient forces that are as much a hindrance as a tool.

This also raises the issue of practical reality vs. romance. What do we say to cynics that pursue exclusively practical relationships vs. romantics that look for magic in their marriages? Having experienced both sides, I look back at the magical ones and they seem so illogical, making me stay with a woman whom I would never stick with otherwise. Is this magic self-illusion, or is there more to it?

As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Emotions make you see things differently and yet there's a fine line between loving someone beyond practicality and obstacles, and becoming blind to the damage being caused and seeing only rosy romance. This magic can even make you enjoy your chains and slavery to your spouse whereas logically this would seem preposterous. But it can also make you stay in a damaging relationship, have unrealistic expectations, break your heart, or even make you cheat with another as soon as your emotions for him take reign. Unless, that is, this fire is directed and based on reason.

Romance and love give you the power to forgive mistakes, to work around flaws, to apply Mercy vs. strict judgement, to give your spouse a chance to correct his errors. Emotions give you Faith to stick with your wife instead of bailing out at the first chance of trouble. These emotions may be illogical, but they are also based on reason. After all, they're based on your logical decision to marry towards transcendental goals. Or are they?

-

Amanda exploded. "Logic! Logic! I am sick to death of logic. Do you want to know how I feel about your logic?"

Father and son studied the angry woman. Their eyes met, then Spock said conversationally, "Emotional, isn't she?"

"She has always been this way", Sarek replied. "Why did you marry her?", asked Spock.

"It seemed the logical thing to do." Sarek looked blankly at his son but his eyes smiled.

-- Star Trek The Original Series: Journey To Babel

4 Comments:

Anonymous lanan said...

Another brilliant article, the waiting was worth for.

Only one thing seems to be inaccurate to me. Using the words romance, emotions and love equivalently is not hitting the point. A romance has no transcendental goal, whereas guiding emotions up to the point a romance becomes love has. That mathematically could be prooved in an easy way and therefore is based on reason.

December 28, 2005 12:51 am  
Blogger Baron said...

Well obviously love, emotion and romance are very different things and are applied differently (especially love as defined previously), but in the context of this article they are all grouped together since they are 'illogical', magical items. From one coldly logical point of view, romance is a waste of time, emotions are annoying and love is ridiculous, but from another logical point of view, these are all crucial tools.

And I'm not sure if this is what you meant but I hold that even love in its purest spiritual form isn't a goal as Hollywood would have you believe. It's a faculty, a tool that one is compelled or commanded to make use of in order to reach certain goals. It could only be a goal in the sense of a level or a power achieved in order to achieve bigger things.

Of course one could always disagree with me and define love as the ultimate goal but that's another discussion.

December 28, 2005 7:31 am  
Anonymous lanan said...

I had a more practical approach to it, thinking in terms of stability
vs. instability. Which is comparable to applying mercy vs. punishment.
In not applying punishment in a strict legal manner the stability of
the social system was maintained in times moral standards were
deteriorated. As you stated the same applies to partnership. So what
creates stability is trust in your partner, a home, a family and children. And certainly that means a hole lot of work.

Recently I followed a discussion where people talked about their reasons
not to marry, not to have a family, not to have children. Men mostly
answered the have not yet achieved financial stability, women were
lacking the magic and of course the risk to get divorced with a fairly
unbalanced outcome. Women responded it was the lack of emotional
stability of men and they demanded a fair share of work. Either the
traditional role model, man works wife does the household, or if they
were expected to work men should at least do a 50% share on the
housework. All the care neseccary to give you a home and a family was
seen as work being assigned the most derogative terms.

Starting from the point that a fair share is only fair and therefore
legitimate to demand, I thought it would create great instability when
applied as a strict norm. Given the fact that at any given time t' the
share is imbalanced there is simply no appropriate point t'' within a
sufficient short period of time were a judgment legitimately could be
made. The second idea was that even if a real 50-50 share was actually
reached over a sufficient short period of time, the judgment would
differ simply by shifting the times in which what work was done by whom.

To put it shortly to derive a function over time needs differential
equations, it doesn't work discrete. A derivation over time could mean
children or the marriage itself. In my native language the word for
marriage has the same linguistic root as an old fashioned word for
eternal. Of course times changed, moral standards shifted, I don't think
they neseccarily deteriorated. Thinking about stability and divorce I
discovered that it is factually impossible to get divorced. Either
financially, being commanded to pay live time alimony or when shared
parenting is practiced via the children that compel you to team up with
your former spouse for the sake of the kids.

On the positive side there are laws which don't know post marital
alimony and promote shared parenting. In this case one is allowed to
rearrange the family, being presented with a nonlinear system of
multiple equations, which doesn't mean it's instable. In fact it could
be stable in a fractal manner. That would be the solution if a shift of
moral standards is not punished in a strict legal manner.

On the negative side are laws which don't know shared parenting but
allow live time post marital alimony. In that case the result would be a
half saddle, a saddle point at best if one is married again, though it
would make a great practical difference on which side of the coordinate
one is, the negative or the positive.

Ok back on track exploring the transcendental aspects of love, it seems
to be clear that without a passion for stability there would be no space
to apply a concept as forgiveness, without fault tolerance no stability. Having a complex numbered differential equation the optimal point is infinite, whereas at any given time t''' this optimal point is approximated arbitrary close. So without a passionate logic towards a transcendental goal there is no faith. I don't mean that in a narrow religious sense, but more like having faith in yourself, being self-confident. So again being self-confident is a prequisite for attraction, how to put faith in someone who has no faith in himself. Which finally allows for a proper mathematical description: an integral.

In that case if your love is commanded towards a transcendental goal, anything magic and romantic could be inserted at any time to spice it up. So it's quite the opposite to have romance and magical things as a prequisite or a bond that makes you stay even when the main force i.e. love has vanished or you discover it has never been there. Being committed to a reasonable love may allow to call in auxiliary tools like magic and romance which in turn may contribute towards stability or a transcendental goal.

I'm mostly bored by women, their discrete way of thinking, their lack of faith, expressing their lack of self-confidence. There is no magic. Earlier this year I met a woman in a train, who was quite different. What was so magical about her, was not her smile, it was of winning charm, not her beauty, she was, but the way she caressed me with the warmth of her reason, the hugging intensity of her logic. Though she was kind and fair enough to give me a short hint she could use it as a whip as well. Which I thought was even sexy.

As trains are, at a certain point you step out and part.

December 28, 2005 10:59 pm  
Blogger Baron said...

I'm not sure I understood your points. There are several variables here:

The goal or 'optimal point': If the goal is selfish then obviously there is no chance of stability. If the goal is to achieve a practical 50-50 fair share then as you say, this needs a lot of work, magic and perhaps differential equations.

But when the goal is transcendental and mutual, it also elevates tools such as emotions and reason along with it, as well as avoids the pitfalls of trying to achieve 50-50 one way or another since it means there is a single 100 for both parties.

Which is why divorces, based on non-mutual goals, will almost never work smoothly.

Of course, no-one can live purely idealistically and there will always be needs, flaws, personal responsibilities and conflicts. That's where the magic comes in, and for this I grouped together love, emotion and romance as different tools for the job.

Also, when the ultimate goal is mutual, the smaller goal of achieving 50-50 changes to 'I will help you to fulfill your responsibilities so that we can both reach the 100'. Or in other words, instead of taking 50, they try to give each other 100 in order to reach the big 100 which may result in 50-50 or 70-30, but since the emphasis is elsewhere, even 70-30 can be stable.

Regarding love, emotions and romance, I'm not sure if you're arguing that love has a different equation or that they are all different tools in different parts of the equation. But I think that regardless of this, the equation would change radically if you include the goal inside it as a variable.

Or perhaps you're saying that we can boil it all down to faith/self-confidence, an integral. This wouldn't be enough to achieve anything grand however, unless you are saying that this is only a starting point.

December 29, 2005 7:55 pm  

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