The Sparks of Randomness

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-01-09
  • Publisher: Stanford Univ Pr
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In this second volume of The Sparks of Randomness, Henri Atlan pursues his investigation of human life, which he grounds in a distinctive intermingling of the biological and cognitive sciences and traditions of Jewish thought. The Atheism of Scriptureoffers up a paradox: its audacious thesis is that the Word or revealed scripture can be better understood without God. It must be decrypted or analyzed atheistically, that is, not as divine revelation, but in and of itself. The first part of the book addresses contemporary science. It puts the evolution of ideas about life and knowledge as conceived by today's biological and cognitive sciences into perspective and shows how the genealogy of ethics must be approached in a new way. The second part takes up this challenge by putting classical philosophy in dialogue with the Talmud and the Kabbalah to advance a non-dualistic anthropology of the body and the mind.

Author Biography

Henri Atlan is Professor Emeritus of Biophysics and Director of the Human Biology Research Center at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem and Director of Studies at the EHESS in Paris. His honorific titles include the French Legion of Honor, the French Order of Arts and Letters, and the French National Order of Merit.

Table of Contents

Translator's Introductionp. xv
Prefacep. xxi
Zon and Bios
Living and Knowing: Social Images and Scholarly Discoursesp. 3
Differences and Continuityp. 11
Toward a Genealogy of Ethicsp. 17
Pleasure and Pain: The First Level of Ethicsp. 17
The Myth of Adam's Fall and "True Knowledge of Good and Evil"p. 21
The Concerns of Moral Philosophyp. 22
From the First Level to the Second Levelp. 30
The Third Level: Theoretical Deduction or Argumentation Genealogyp. 32
Modified States of Consciousness and the Sacredp. 36
Argumentation Ethics and Underdeterminationp. 39
The Morality of Indignationp. 43
A Schematic Representationp. 45
The Subject and Time
A Natural Subject in the Fourteenth Century?
Hasdai Crescas on Determinism and Responsibilityp. 49
Return of the Subject or Final Death? A Third Termp. 49
Hasdai Crescas, Determinism, and Freedomp. 54
Determined but Responsiblep. 63
A Priori Responsibility and Factum Responsibilityp. 66
"Subject of" and "Subject to"p. 71
Crescas and Spinoza: "God's Joy"p. 74
Reality, Perfection, and "Glory"p. 78
"By Reality and Perfection I Understand the Same Thing"p. 78
Reality as Perfection and Perfection as a Modelp. 78
Wisdom and Perfectionp. 87
Toward Acquiescence and Joy: Provisional Morality and Habitp. 95
Acquiescence and "Gloria"p. 99
Human Dignityp. 103
"Glory"p. 105
Gloria/Kavod in Scripture and in Spinozap. 105
Human Perfection according to Maimonidesp. 108
Revisiting Gloria/Kavod in the Sacred Books, according to Spinoza's Ethicsp. 112
The Third Kind of Knowledgep. 117
Wisdom(s)p. 119
The God of Persons and the From of the Human Bodyp. 125
Who or What?p. 125
The Formp. 127
The Human Body, the Subject of the Rights of Manp. 134
The Problems of Limits at the Start and End of Human Lifep. 135
The Pragmatism of Talmudic Lawp. 138
"I" Is the Tetragrammatonp. 141
The God of the Philosophers, and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacobp. 144
The Unique Person and His or Her Godp. 147
The Voices of Prophecy Reflected on Themselvesp. 152
An Absolute Singular?p. 155
What Am I?p. 156
Idolatry Does Not Have to Be Paganp. 162
The Radical Monism of Body and Mind
A Spinozist Perspective on Evolution and the Theory of Action: from Analytic Philosophy to Spinozap. 167
Immanent Causality and Temporal Evolutionp. 167
Spinoza's Physics and Spinoza's Animismp. 171
The Synthetic Identity of Propertiesp. 176
Synthetic Identity, Referential Opacity, and the Underdetermination of Theoriesp. 177
Action and Perception: The Anomalous Monism of Donald Davidsonp. 180
Action and Perception in the Light of Spinoza's Monismp. 185
The Analogy with Physical Magnitudesp. 188
Functional Self-Organizationp. 190
Moral Judgmentp. 193
Some Astonishing Neurophysiological Findingsp. 195
Intentional Self-Organization: Toward a Physical Theory of Intentionalityp. 197
Intention as Ex Nihilio Creation?p. 197
Self-Organization Is Not an Ex Nihilo Causa Suip. 200
Is a Physical Theory of Intentionality Possible?p. 203
Physical and Chemical Reductionism and Phenomenological Reductionp. 204
Meaningless Complexity in the Information Sciencesp. 205
"Sophistication" as a Measurement of Meaningful Complexityp. 210
Intentional Self-Organizationp. 212
The Origin of Goals and the Types of Self-Organizationp. 212
The Transformation of a Causal Sequence into a Procedurep. 214
A Non-Intentional Model of Intentional Behaviorp. 215
Time Reversalp. 215
A Satisfaction Function and Its Originp. 216
A Non-Intentional Model of Intentional Attitudesp. 218
Consciousness-Memory and Unconscious Self-Organizationp. 219
Infinite Sophisticationp. 220
Provisional Conclusionsp. 224
Action and Perceptionp. 224
The Underdetermination of Theories and Intersubjectivityp. 225
Modeling the Models? The Transcendental Nature of Logic and Ethicsp. 226
Reason and Common Notionsp. 227
Time and Eternity
Statistics and Temporalityp. 231
The Use and Misuse of Statistics and Probability: A Brief Reviewp. 231
Misinterpretations in Medicine and Biologyp. 232
Correlation and Causationp. 236
Retrospective and Prospective Studiesp. 236
Correlation (Strong or Weak) Does Not Mean Causalityp. 238
The Analysis of Variance and the Endless Debate about the Innate versus the Acquiredp. 240
Heritability Is Not a Measure of Genetic Influencep. 241
The Hypothesis of Additivityp. 242
Paradoxes of the Possible and Probabilities: Time versus Eternityp. 244
The Monty Hall Problem, or Marilyn and the Goatsp. 244
Fermat's Strictures and Pascal's "Mistakes": Equal Odds When Throwing Dicep. 248
Beliefs and Watersp. 254
Memory of Ritual, Metaphor of Fertilizationp. 257
To Remember and Not Forgetp. 257
Generationsp. 260
Past and Future: The Conversive Vavp. 261
The Originsp. 263
New Years, Memory, and Fertilizationp. 267
The Time of Ritual: Conceiving a Memoryp. 269
"The Vision and Riddle" … that "the Mouth Cannot Utter and the Ear Cannot Hear"p. 270
Underground History or Carnival?p. 273
The Letter of the Spirit
The So-Called Chosen People …p. 279
A False Start: The Antisemitic Questionp. 279
The Treason of Words and Their Improper Usagep. 282
What Does the Bible Say?p. 285
A Chosen People Like All the Othersp. 287
There Is Nothing Special about the Essence of the People of Israelp. 290
Creating "Chosen Souls"p. 292
Understanding Another Imaginaryp. 294
Where Is the Confusion?p. 297
The Election of "the Smallest of Peoples"p. 298
"Atheist" Theologiesp. 300
The Tribe and the Humanity in Each Individualp. 300
A Tribal God in the Wildernessp. 302
Telecommunications to the Planetary Godp. 303
Neither "Race" nor "Chosen People" …p. 305
The Question of the Statep. 306
Maimonides then and Nowp. 309
Science and Philosophy in the Twelfth Centuryp. 309
The Bodily Forms of Godp. 310
The Face or Category of "In Front Of"p. 312
"The Eyes of YHWH"p. 313
Generosity and Rigorp. 315
Speculative Kabbalah and Modernityp. 317
Seeing and Speakingp. 318
Philosophy and Prophecyp. 320
"Practical Faith"p. 323
The Idolatry of Historyp. 327
Levels of Meaning and the Atheism of Scripturep. 329
The Crowns on the Lettersp. 329
The Meanings of a Bottle Found in the Oceanp. 331
The "Garden" and Its Four Levelsp. 335
Peshat: The Literal, Plain, or Obvious Sensep. 337
Remez: The Allusive Meaningp. 337
Derash: The "Allegorical" Meaningp. 339
The Hermeneutic Situation: Absence Postulated a Priorip. 341
Sod: The Hidden or Esoteric Sensep. 341
The White Space in the Textp. 344
The Name and Its Interpretationsp. 346
Words of God and the Atheism of Scripturep. 348
Sourcesp. 353
Indexp. 355
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