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February 21, 1986 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-02-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

t'!

16 Friday, February 21, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

FICTION

Raizel Kaidish

Continued from preceding page

ADAT SHALOM SYNAGOGUE

AND

THE DETROIT FRIENDS OF
BAR-ILAN UNIVERSITY

cordially invite you to meet and hear

DR. CHARLES LIEBMAN

Department of Political Studies
Bar-Ilan University

Co-Author of
Civil Religion in Israel

who will speak on:

CAN WE HAVE BOTH JUDAISM AND
pru MrP MI T!C JCW1W1 aitAlt.f

Monday, February 24. 1986, 8:00 p.m
at
Adat Shalom Synagogue
29901 Middlebelt Road/Farmington Hills

.

You are invited at no charge
and refreshments will follow the program

There will be no solicitation of funds.

Sandra & Jonathan Jaffa

Howard Tapper

Co-Chairmen
Adult Study Commission
Adat Shalom Synagogue

Chairman,
Education Committee
Detroit Friends of
Bar-Ilan University

.

RSVP 398-7180 or 851-5100

their arms. But it was something else that
infuriated me. There is, of course, nothing
unusual in a child's resentment of a moth-
er. My friends, from early adolescence on-
ward, were always annoyed with one or
another of their parents. But theirs was
the pure clean indignation which is un-
ashamed of itself. Mine was an anger also
angry at itself. Hadn't she suffered
enough? Shouldn't I try to do everything
to make it up to her? By hating her I
joined the ranks of her enemies. I allied
myself with the murderers.
And so the resentment, folded back on
itself again and again, thickened and dark-
ened. Never once did I ever say, not even
to myself, "I am angry at this woman."
This acknowledgement came years later,
after she was dead, during the time in
which I deliberated over having a child of
my own. (The mental delivery of this deci-
sion was so much more painful than the ac-
tual physical delivery.) In debating the
reasons for having a child, I asked myself
whether any reasons could be right, wheth-
er one was ever justified in bringing a per-
son into being for some reason of one's
own? But if not for one's own reason, then
whose?
It seemed a moral inconsistency woven
into the very fabric of human existence.
And then I realized that the act of parent-
ing need not bear any of this moral com-
promise: it is possible for the reason one
had for creating a child to recede into sig-
nificance in the face of the fact of that
child's existence. The ends for which one
bore the child lose themselves in the know-
ledge of the child itself. This is the essence
of good parenting, and it was exactly what
I felt to be missing from the relationship
between my mother and me. I knew what
, no child should ever know; that my mother
had had me for some definite reason and
that she would always see me in terms of
this reason. I sensed this in my mother,
and I hated her for it.
I said that my anger never
A
wvc inter e
u mon whose
forth:Was so UypicaI 'of the oddity of my
family that now, years later, even I can see
its comic aspects and smile My first sem-
ester of college, while my friends devel-
oped their own conventional modes of re-
bellion, I worked out mine. I became a
positivist. I took Introduction to Philo-
sophy with a self-intoxicated young pro-
fessor, a new Ph.D. from Harvard, and,
although this Would not be his own de-
scription, a neo-positivist. He told us dur-
ing the first lecture that he was going to
show us, over the course of the semester,
why we were lucky, insofar as we were
philosophy students, to have been born
now; that it was now possible to see that
previous generations had devoted them-
selves to pseudo-questions concerning the
nature of Reality, Truth, and The Good;
and that such questions were expressions
of logical confusion. These fine big words

don't name anything, and thus there is
nothing there whose nature is to be
explored. -
I sat there drinking in his words, think-
ing, "This is it. This is why I came to col-
lege." All through that term, Monday
Wednesday, and Friday, from ten to ele- -
ven, while others dozed and doodled, I
listened in a state of delirium, following
the arguments with a concentration I have
never attained since. My mind bubbled
over with the excitement of this illicit
doctrine, this forbidden philosophy. And
the most forbidden, and therefore delici-
ous, view offered in the course was that
devoted to ethics, or rather the dismissal
of ethics.
I memorized Whole passages out of my
favorite book, A.J. Ayer's Language,
Truth and Logic: "We can now see why it
is impossible to find a criterion for deter-
mining the validity of ethical judgements.
It is not because they have an 'absolute'
validity which is mysteriously indepen-
dent of ordinary sense-experience, but
because they have no objective validity
whatsoever. If a sentence makes no state-
ment at all, there is obviously no sense, in
asking whether what it says is true or
false. And we have seen that sentences
which simply express moral judgements
do not say anything. They are pure expres-
sions of feeling and as such do not come
under the category of truth and false-
hood." I was moved by the sparse bpauty
and elegance of the arguments. How had
I never seen it before, never seen that my
mother's unshakable theory was nothing
but a floating airy fabrication of pseudo-
statements?
My preparations for final exams were
trivial compared to my cramming for the
visit home during intercession. I arrived
back about eleven at night, too late for
philosophical debate. But my mind was so
teeming with positivist arguments that
when
my mother
undu wished Ine.`:a^-^1
`"
-
'Inrnat o :-"L
you
eugea-
mean by that? What do you mean by
`good'?"
The next evening, after my Mother and
father arrived home from the hospital, we
all sat in'the living room while Bertha, our
house-keeper, finished dinner., I was
waiting for the right moment for launching
my attack, any comment which was mildly
speculative. But my perverse mother was
all practicality that night. She asked me
about the food at' school, about my room?
mate, even told a'funny story about her
own roommate, in Berlin before the war.
Then finally: -
"You were always so brief on the phone
when I asked you about yotu?classes. Tell
me more about them. You seemed to have
enjoyed them' very much."
"Yes, they were wonderful. Especially
philosophy. I'm .going to major in it."
"Really? I've always thought it a rather
funny kind of prOfession, Every person

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