Monday, May 16, 2005

Guest Post: Larry Lennhoff

Larry Lennhoff, who says he is willing to have his future kids change their name and move to another continent, if necessary, writes:

Isaac Asimov a"h was born Jewish, but stayed a devoted atheist from his teen years to the end of his life. You can see some of his attitudes towards Judaism in his books Pebble in the Sky and in the early section of the first part of the Foundation series. Whenever someone says that we can only base our opinions on the mesorah, I think of what he wrote in Foundation. To set the scene an apparently decadent aristocrat from the capital of the Galactic Empire is sent to an obscure planet on the rim. During a break in the negotiations he talks with the local mayor about his hobby, archeology. He speaks in an awful dialect, which I will spare you. If someone wants to translate into yeshivish, I'd love to see it.

Diplomat: I have done an awful amount of work in the science. Extremely well read in fact. I've gone through Jordan, Obijasi, Cromwell.. all of them you know. [He describes a machlokes in contemporary archeology, citing a particular author, Lameth.]

Mayor: When did Lameth write his book?

Diplomat: Oh - I should say about 800 years ago. Of course he has based it largely on the previous work of Gleen.

Mayor: Then why rely on him? Why not go to Arcturus and study the remains for yourself?

Diplomat: Why, whatever for dear fellow?

Mayor: Why to get the information first hand of course.

Diplomat: But what's the necessity? It seems an uncommonly roundabout and hopelessly rigamarolish way of getting anywhere. Look here now I've go the works of all the old masters - the great archeologists of the past. I weigh them against one another - balance the disagreements - analyze the conflicting statements - decide which is probably correct - and come to a conclusion. That is the scientific method - at least as I see it. How insufferably crude it would be to go to Arcturus and blunder about, when the old masters have covered the ground so much more effectively than we could possibly hope to do.

Does anyone see any resemblence between the diplomat's attitude and the UO hashkafa?