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About kowalskil

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    United States
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    Born in 1931, married, father and grandfather
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    retired scientis who likes philosophy
  1. The right to one's life: where does it come from?

    I agree with this "only answer"
  2. The ongoing debates (August 2015) among potential Republican presidential candidates reminded me of a note I posted several years ago. Below is a link to an updated (and hopefully better) version of this note: http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/presidentEN.htm How can a retired teacher miss an opportunity for sharing what he thinks he understands better? Feel free to share the above link with all who might be interested, especially students. Comments will be appreciated, as usual. Ludwik Kowalski, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, Montclair State University =============================================
  3. Nuclear Iran?

    Nuclear Iran? I agree with those who think the Iran agreement should be supported, first because nothing better seems to be available, second because I suspect that technological means of supervision (to avoid a global catastrophe), are available in the USA. Here is what I have just posted on that subject, at an Internet forum for physics teachers: " ... How can one detect the strongly-enriched uranium, placed either inside or outside of a bomb? I am sure that nuclear physicists have been addressing this problem, in the context of inspecting vessels arriving to our ports, or crossing our borders. One possible approach is to irradiate a suspected object with a source of slow neutrons (for example, a Cf-252 source surrounded by pure graphite or paraffin). The slow neutrons, in turn, would induce fission; fission fragments would be gamma radioactive and gamma rays would be detectable from outside the suspected material. ... " The idea is simple, but it presents some practical difficulties, as always. For example, how can one distinguish gamma rays emitted by fission products in the enriched uranium from the gamma rays emitted by fission products in the Cf-252 source? Will the method work despite the presence of the cosmic background? Ludwik Kowalski, a retired nuclear physicist (see Wikipedia) http: //csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html
  4. Mental Images of God

    What is God? According to our ancestors, who recorded their beliefs in the Bible, God is an all-powerful and all-knowing entity, living somewhere outside of our world, who created the world and controls what happens in it. My definition of God is slightly different; I tend to think that God is not an entity outside nature, but nature itself, as postulated by a 17th century Jewish theologian, Baruch Spinoza, in Holland. Our very distant ancestors were polytheists; they invented the idea of multiple gods. Our less distant ancestors replaced this idea with the mental image of a personal--omnipotent and omniscient--ruler. Most people on earth still believe in a personal God, but some try to develop a more recent mental image of the ruler, formulated by Spinoza. All three descriptions refer to the same everlasting entity, no matter how it is called. It is not a sin to think that laws of Nature are equivalent to God's laws, while praying. Do you agree? An interesting article about Spinoza appeared in The New York Times, written by a professor of philosophy, Steven Nadler: http://opinionator blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/judging-spinoza/ It generated many interesting online comments. A reader, RMC, wrote: "I know many Christians and Jews who practice their religious traditions although their own beliefs are secular. They make no secret of their sentiments. Spinoza was excommunicated during a time of religious orthodoxy and in that respect his experience is much like Galileo's. When the Catholic Church repudiated its treatment of Galileo, it was not merely saying that the earth revolves around the sun. It was saying that punishing the members of its congregation for thinking for themselves, including about church dogma, was parochial and destructive." With regard to independent thinking, several readers emphasized that traditional religious ceremonies, and respect for legends, do help to keep social groups together, even when people know that biblical legends do not represent historical truth. Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia)
  5. God's commandments are ...

    Who is the author of Mitzvah [commandments]? asked Rabbi Herman E Schaalman, in (1). According to some people, he wrote, "the authority of the 'commandment' resides in the people;" they claim that mitzvot are the customs created by our sages. Such an answer would be sufficient, he continues, if "Jews were like any other people." Why is it so? In which way are Jews different? Unfortunately, this question is not answered by the Rabbi, to my satisfaction. He refers to the Hebrew language, with which I am not familiar. But I do know how Spinoza, a 17th century Jewish theologian (2), would answer this question. Spinoza wrote: "By God's direction I mean the fixed and unchanging order of Nature ... so it is the same thing whether we say that all things happen according to Nature's laws or that they are regulated by God's decree and direction." Spinoza would say that people are part of nature, and that desirable ways of behavior, described by sages, were also described by God. Many theological contradictions would disappear if Spinoza's defintion of God were universally accepted. Do you agree? Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia) References 1) "Gates of Mitzvah: A Guide to the Jewish Life Cycle;" edited by Simeon J. Maslin, Central Conference of American Rabbis, New York, 1979 2) Steven Nadler, "Judging Spinoza," The New York Times, Opinion Pages, May 25 2014. Also in http://opinionator blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/judging-spinoza/
  6. Logically validated claims cannot be rejected unless an logical error if found in the derivation. A scientific claim, on the other hand, must also be confirmed by empirical data; logical consistency with accepted axioms and alreadu accepted theories is not enough, in my opinion. Ludwik =========================== truth is based
  7. Some of you might be interested in extracts from a theological presentation--of a Russian Orthodox priest--that I just posted at: pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/sysoev.html Comments will be appreciated, Ludwik
  8. Communism today

    New Communist Manifesto COMMUNIST MANIFESTO 2014, posted at http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/manifesto.html Fell free to shared this link with others. Ludwik
  9. About Facebook

    A new version of Notes on Facebook has been posted at: csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/facebook.html Ludwik Kowalski http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html
  10. From a book I am reading

    Adolf Eichmann, one of the major organizers of the Holocaust, who was hiding in Argentina, was captured by the Mossad in 1960. How did this happen? This question is answered by Deborah Lipstadt, in her 2011 book "The Eichmann's Trial." The decisive information, she writes, came from three people: Lothar Hermann, a German half-Jew, who fled to Argentina in 1939, his young daughter Sylvia, who did not know about her Jewish origin, and a German Jewish lawyer, Fritz Bauer, who escaped to Sweden, in the 1930's. After the war Bauer returned to Germany and became an attorney general in Frankfurt. One day Sylvia introduced her new boyfriend, Klaus Eichmann, to her family. Her father suspected he was a son of the famous Nazi criminal. But he decided to keep it to himself, in order to conceal his own Jewish origin. The suspicion was confirmed when he learned that Klaus refused give Sylvia his address, forcing her to correspond with him through a mutual friend. That prompted Hermann to inform the authorities. But Instead of approaching the German embassy in Argentina, where many Nazi sympathizers worked, he wrote to the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office. That how Bauer became involved. He felt that further investigation was warranted. But he was also afraid of Nazi sympathizers in the Adenauer's government. Supported by the minister-president of Hesse, Bauer decided to inform the Israeli government. Preoccupied with other priorities, Israel's head of security services waited nearly a year before starting the investigation. An agent who was sent to Argentina was asked to visit Hermann. He was surprised to discover that the man was blind. He was inclined to dismiss the entire matter until he spoke with Sylvia. ... The investigation would probably have been abandoned without the active involvement of Bauer, who approach the Israeli Attorney General, Haim Cohen, in 1959. Then things started moving quickly. ... A team of agents was sent to Argentina and they had no difficulties capturing the criminal. But they were not aware that the Argentinean secret police was also keeping close tabs on Eichmann, at that time. "On the night of the kidnapping, an undercover agent was tailing him. He saw three men grab, subdue and bundle Eichmann into a car. The agents followed the car to the save house where he was held. The secret police was also aware that, a few days before the kidnapping, a contingent of Israelis had arrived in the country and were engaged in some sort of surreptitious activity. Apparently, this much-touted secret action was anything but secret."
  11. Science and theology

    Those who were interested in my earlier post about NOMA are invited to read the modified version of http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/theo/atheist.html The last sentence of this short essay is: “Unresolved conflicts in debates about God usually result from absence of agreements on what the word God stands for." Ludwik
  12. Racism: a social disease I am worried after reading the "Stop Syjionizmowi," published in one of the Polish websites, not in English: http://stopsyjonizmowi.wordpress.com/poznaj-zyda/ I did not read the well-known forgery: "Protocol of Elders of Zion," fabricated over a hundred years ago in Tsarist Russia. But this Polish post is probably more nonsensical and more poisonous. The author writes, for instance, "the greatest criminals, murderers and traitors in history were mostly Jews (Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Dzerzhinsky)." This statement is false: none of them was a Jew. Also false is the claim that "The Jewish religion is not ... based on the Old Testament." The article is full of such nonsense; I think that the author knows this very well. But I have no desire to argue with him. This kind of propaganda is very dangerous; it may lead, under some conditions, to a new wave of massive tragedies. Who should criticize and expose authors of such articles? I do not think that this should be done by Jews. Our (Jewish) participation in the fight against potential murderers should be reduced to criticism of anti-Polish statements made by some Jews. And our day-to-day behavior should demonstrate that we are not liars, thieves and murderers, as claimed in the slanderous article. At the forefront of the struggle with Polish anti-Semitism should be Poles - right wing, left wing, theists, atheists, scientists, and ordinary people. Why do I think so? Because I know that such struggle can be very effective. Passivity in the face of racism makes us morally responsible for what may take place in the future. Such passivity is also an insult to our national honors. I often think about this when I read our common Golden Rule: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Ludwik

    OUR TWO WORLDS, SPIRITUAL AND MATERIAL Sections 2 and 3 have been added to "Futile Confrontations by Ludwik Kowalski" at: ******* THE LINK IS NOT ALLOWED. USE GOOGLE Comments will be appreciated, Thank you in advance, Ludwik .
  14. Is it moral to kill leaders of the environmentalist movement?

    A better option is to debate the issue. Ludwik .
  15. Two kinds of ethics

    TWO KINDS OF MORALITIES, MARXIST VERSUS THEOLOGICAL I am reading interesting comments about communist morality, in a book devoted to Judaism, published in 1975. The authors are two rabbis, D. Prager and J. Telushkin. A Christian theologian would probably make similar observations. Marxists and theologians, they write, "are both motivated by the desire to perfect the world and establish a utopia on earth. ... Both promote all-encompassing worldviews. But they diametrically oppose one another in almost every other way." The authors remind us that communists rejected "all morality derived from nonhuman [i.e. God] and nonclass concepts," as stated in 1920 by Lenin. ... "Marxist morality sanctions any act so long as that act was committed in the interest of [economic and political] class struggle." Nothing that Stalin, and Mao did was immoral, according to such ideology. Theologians, on the other hand, hold "that morality transcends economic, national, and individual interests." God's commandments are objective rather than subjective. Evil human acts are condemned, no matter what economic or political gains are derived from them. That is the essential difference. Greed in human nature, they emphasize, "may have helped create capitalism, but capitalism did not create greed in human nature." Theologians also deplore social injustice. But they reject brutal proletarian revolutions because "the roots of evil and injustice lie not in economics or society but in man himself." This has to do with the concept of freedom. "For Marxism, which conceives of the world in materialist terms, bondage is defined solely as servitude to external sources such as slave owners, capitalist bosses, or other forms of material inequality. Freedom is liberation from such servitude." People, as stated in the Communist Manifesto, written by Marx and Engels, must get rid of economic chains binding them. Then they will automatically cease to be evil. Theologians, on the other hand, see two kinds of liberation, from external and from internal bonds. "Once liberation from external servitude takes place, one must then liberate oneself from internal domination, the domination of one's life by passions, needs, irrationality and wants." The conflict between theologians and Marxists "is not economic, it is moral." Proletarian dictatorship was practiced in several countries; the results show that "when Marxist revolutionaries attain power they are at least as crual as their predecessors." Philosophical differences about morality, among different kinds of theologians, are minimal, as far as I know. But attempts to impose morality are not very successful. Why is it so? What can be done to improve the situation, to bring our reality a little closer to "utopia" dreams? Ludwik