Morality, the very last book by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is available and rewarded with the top place in the 2020 National Jewish Book Awards. This US prize by united booksellers tells me more about marketability and the art of advertising than about quality. Yet, their preferences are good (self-fulfilling) predictors of what many will talk about in the new year.
The book is the typical product of a philosopher with a heart for better lives for all. But with that intention, the Jewish voice stops and the philosopher takes over. And, unbeknown to officially trained thinkers of the world, Philosophy is in great trouble, and that’s a friendly description.
For starters, it has not destroyed the main idol of its past, Greek Philosophy. Were the heroes of Hellenistic Thought alive today, they would call temporary philosophers who still follow them pathetic fools.
The book doesn’t fight what’s wrong in our attitude but unfortunately describes our confusion as if the greatest good. We read in the description that we should devalue of self-interest for the common good and that monetary good is unrelated to morality. Duh. Old hat in beautiful English. Then we get a rehearsal of the old moralistic nonsense as if “there is no liberty without morality and no freedom without responsibility.”
The whole old long-outdated approach that still makes people worry that excluding racists and antisemites from public discourse is a limitation on free speech. (Rather, excluding bigots is fighting the enemies of democracy and defending it, not limiting it, as I wrote extensively, recently again.)
But the greatest confusion of Philosophy lies in the field of Free Will. In its discussion, elites from Science or Philosophy and self-styled thinkers trade water for 2,500 years at least on how Volition could (not) be. Total futility but on a very high level of smartness and semantics.
It is paralyzing human progress that the elites of the world are confused (better: mostly deny) Free Will as more than just imaginary.
I wrote in a tome and number of booklets (unpublished) about Free Will. That it has nothing to do with (a lack of) Causality or Determinism. Rather, Volition is deliberately investing energy in weakening the appeal of evil and strengthening the appeal of good, until we will act to – overall – inflict less hurt. (Evil is the infliction of -overall – more hurt than is necessary.) This way, we free ourselves from our previous moral level and free our Souls from Evil. This way, we can realize all our wildest dreams and hopes.
The opposite of Free Will is not Determinism but the whatever-will-be-will-be mentality. This is who I am, what do you want from me? As a piece of dead wood floating to wherever the currents will take you.
We need thinkers and elites (with their beautiful-language skills) to promote the exercise of Free Will, rather than suggesting that freedom should be tempered by unpopular things like ethics and responsibility.
Full transparency: Ten years ago, I wrote something for the good rabbi about Free Will. Not only didn’t he want to read it, he even didn’t want to take it from my hand. Later, I wrote him about homosexuality. He didn’t even want to say that he didn’t want to talk about it. Now, I don’t blame him. He had his own circle of millions of followers and was valued by the elites of every faith community on the globe. Why disturb the peace with novelty, upheaval, and breakthroughs? That’s for others and so indeed, it is. For me counts, if not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.