Friday, March 25, 2011

RIP My Little Friend

Almost a year ago, we adopted a dog. Last night, he died.

He was a good friend to myself and my two oldest children. Prince was gentle, intelligent and fiercely protective. Unfortunately, like many dogs, Prince loved to run away and explore the world. He probably escaped about once a month since we adopted him. Last night was the first time he escaped at night. Being black, he was not visible to drivers at night and he soon met his end on a busy road near our home. A police officer called me. I came and took away his lifeless body. He now rests buried in a nearby forest, next to a little stream.

What's interesting is how different this response was in comparison to a human, God forbid, being struck by a car. In that case, not just one police car, but several would have been called. A small truck, fitted out with medical equipment and containing several paramedics and emergency medical technicians, would have rushed to the scene within minutes. The victim's mouth would have been cleared, an oxygen mask would have been applied, CPR might have been performed and the patient would have been totally immobilized on a board before transport to prevent spinal damage. In the hospital, teams of doctors and nurses would have rushed to provide further intervention. Every person involved with the victim would have extensive training and licensing. Very likely, the outcome would have been the same. The body would then have been moved to the hospital morgue to await removal by a licensed funeral director for respectful burial or cremation. Many thousands of dollars would have been spent all to do anything possible to, first of all, save the victim and, failing that, to respectfully dispose of his remains. Boxes of paperwork would be generated as well to document every tiny detail. This might be in addition to a lawsuit being brought against the driver involved, a large settlement being paid to the victim's survivors, again huge expenses, legal fees, mountains of paperwork, etc. The process could extend for years and involve dozens if not hundreds of highly trained and educated professionals.

Why is there such a massively different response to a car running over a four year old dog or a four year old child? Surely, today, 150 years after the publication of Origin of Species, everyone except a few religious lunatics must know that man is merely an animal, and not even a very nice one.

The fact is, amazingly, not everyone's mind has become entirely poisoned by such nonsense. Most Americans still believe whole heartedly that man is fundamentally NOT an animal, but rather he is an image of God. A dog, however intelligent, kind, beloved and beautiful, is not.


BrooklynWolf said...

My condolences on the loss of your pet and friend.

We may disagree on a whole host of issues, but today is not the day to hash them out.

Enjoy the memories of your pet and friend, and may you and your family know happy days in the future.

The Wolf

NC said...

Sorry to hear about it.

Jeff said...

Is woman also in the image of God?

Chaim said...

Point taken.

BTW, Rabbi Avigdor Miller speaks very harshly on people adopting dogs, in the newly released book, Q&A Thursday Nights With Rabbi Avigdor Miller.

Shalmo said...

Do animals have a neshama ?

jewish philosopher said...

All humans, regardless of gender, have a divine soul, as mentioned in Genesis 2:7

Animals don't.

Thanks to this, Jews can make a clear distinction between animal and human life while atheists cannot.

I have heard atheists explain that they naturally empathize with other humans because we are all the same species.

What I find disturbing about this is that it reduces all ethics and morality to merely an irrational emotion. It leaves everything up the individuals feelings, and obviously different people have different temperaments. Some people might empathize with all humans, others with all animal life, others only with their own nationality, race, gender, religion, neighbors, family or no one but themselves. No feeling is more good or evil than any other; it's just how I feel.

Shalmo said...

But JP according to Judaism, gentiles don't have souls or the more moderate position they do not have as elevated souls as jews

Certainly then you can't use the soul stuff to say your position is superior to atheists

jewish philosopher said...

If a gentile has no soul, how could he convert?

Jeff said...

Genesis 2:7 deals solely with man. If you read further it states that woman was created from man:
כב וַיִּבֶן יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הַצֵּלָע אֲשֶׁר-לָקַח מִן-הָאָדָם, לְאִשָּׁה; וַיְבִאֶהָ, אֶל-הָאָדָם. 22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from the man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.
כג וַיֹּאמֶר, הָאָדָם, זֹאת הַפַּעַם עֶצֶם מֵעֲצָמַי, וּבָשָׂר מִבְּשָׂרִי; לְזֹאת יִקָּרֵא אִשָּׁה, כִּי מֵאִישׁ לֻקְחָה-זֹּאת. 23 And the man said: 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.' (Genesis 2:22-23)

So how do we know that woman has a Godly soul like man? Perhaps her soul is inferior to man: for just as man is inferior to God, from whom his soul is taken, perhaps woman, who is taken from man, is inferior to man.

Does one not see evidence of woman's inferiority later on:
טז אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה אָמַר, הַרְבָּה אַרְבֶּה עִצְּבוֹנֵךְ וְהֵרֹנֵךְ--בְּעֶצֶב, תֵּלְדִי בָנִים; וְאֶל-אִישֵׁךְ, תְּשׁוּקָתֵךְ, וְהוּא, יִמְשָׁל-בָּךְ. {ס} 16 Unto the woman He said: 'I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy travail; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.' (Genesis 3:16)

Just sayin' said...

Perhaps your dog was a gilgul of a Jewish skeptic, heretic or atheist, and his demise is something you should celebrate. It is a punishment for his sins.

jewish philosopher said...

Of course, men are socially dominant

However since Eve was cloned from man, she was spiritually equal. In fact, cabalistically, a person may well be reincarnated in a different gender.

Squirrels in my backyard are definitely rejoicing over Prince's untimely demise. I suspect they are reincarnated skeptics while he was a reincarnated orthodox blogger.

Jeff said...

I see, men are socially dominant, yet somehow spiritually woman is his equal. I'm sorry but something doesn't ring true about this theory of yours.

Dante Inferno said...

I'm sorry for your dog.

jewish philosopher said...

I think billionaires, geniuses, etc are also more powerful than other people. Their souls are not superior however.

Jeff said...

I think there is a difference between the two. In one case you are proposing a difference based solely on sex without regard to intelligence, or other factors. Would you say that women who are socially powerful also have a higher spiritual soul, or are they committing blasphemy by ignoring the word of God?
Also, there is a flaw in suggesting that social dominance equals spiritual superiority, for it suggests a type of self-fulfilling mechanism of 'might makes right.'

jewish philosopher said...

The rabbis are also more influential than the ignorant, the biblical kings were more powerful than the commoners. Same souls however.

Abe said...

No. Women have no souls and you can't prove that they do. OTOH, this video proves that they don't.

2:55 of the video

jewish philosopher said...

Abe, according to atheism, we are all soulless.

NC said...

"Of course, men are socially dominant "

I am confused by your position. There are descriptive statements and ethical "should be" statements mixed up.

On one hand, since "men are dominant", that is how it should be. You have no problem with human nature determining morality. On the other hand, you criticize Darwinism because it says that some races are stronger, which to you allows that some people SHOULD dominate others, therefore making it immoral. You also correctly note the darker, violent aspects of human nature, which must be controlled.

This seems inconsistent. Why should women's equality, or homosexuality, despite their "un-naturalness" be immoral?

I know that you can answer simply that "the Torah says so". But I want an answer based on reason and logic or psychology.

Tigerboy said...

So, this poor dog, which, presumably, had a first family who didn't care for him, a first family who let him run around the public streets, unsupervised, unloved, this poor dog was adopted by Jacob Stein who let him, again, run around the public streets, unsupervised, unloved, until he was struck and killed by a car.


Was the dog getting out and running away an isolated incident? No. By your own admission, the dog got out and ran away all the time.

And you spend your days lecturing OTHER people about irresponsible behavior?

Ever hear of a leash?

That dog was depending on you.

And then, the poor dog's eulogy is all about how he's not as worthy of love as you are. God loves Jacob, not the dog!

You're amazing.

Go ask the Humane Society if they think allowing a dog to roam the public streets is a good idea.

This poor dog was neglected his whole life. Good job.

jewish philosopher said...

"Why should women's equality, or homosexuality, despite their "un-naturalness" be immoral?"

I think in regards to women's rights the Torah is merely recognizing and channeling in a humane way something which is going to happen anyway everywhere.

The United States supposedly supports gender equality

while at the same time millions of women each year are beaten


or impregnated and dumped,2933,59963,00.html

"Go ask the Humane Society if they think allowing a dog to roam the public streets is a good idea."

It's probably a better idea than letting you roam the public streets. Are leashed, Tigerboy?

Law mom said...

If you read the original Hebrew text, the word translated as "man" is actually "the Adam" ie. the first human created from the ground. The word "ish", which specifically refers to a male, is not used. One explanation is that the first being initially contained both genders, and was then split into separate people.

Here's a more detailed explanation, esp. at 1:50 and 5:30, including insights from Maimonaides:

jewish philosopher said...

That's interesting; I think that's a midrash.

The plain meaning of Genesis 2:23 however seems to be that the woman was created from the man

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
Abe, according to atheism, we are all soulless.


Indeed we are bereft of any asomatous souls. But we are not necessarily soulless.
If you go to Sylvia's restauarnt in Harlem, you can have the most delicious soul food available. Indeed, such a soulful meal is such an expressive god-like cuisine. You just need a soul to enjoy those gustatory delights.
Or anything else for that matter.

ksil said...

"The question is not, can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But can they suffer?" The measure of who deserves protection is not intelligence, it is the capacity to feel pain."

tza'ar ballei chaim addresses this

jewish philosopher said...

I don't think that the creators of soul food were atheists. If they were, the might have named it "evolution food".

Anonymous said...

Abe, according to atheism, we are all soulless.

No, no, According to reality.

Unless you care to (a) define exactly what the soul is and what it is not, and (b) describe the test that unambiguously demonstrates the existence of the soul in humans and the lack of soul in animals, including that killer dog you let get struck.

jewish philosopher said...


We see ourselves as inhabiting our bodies but we don't identify ourselves by it. This feeling begins with the smallest children and is universal culturally. Also, we all feel the freedom to make choices that are not determined by prior causes. Therefore, we hold people responsible for their behavior and either reward or punish them accordingly. These perceptions imply the existence of an incorporeal essence.

Anonymous said...

That tells me nothing about what the soul is and is not.

That provides no test that shows the soul in humans and the lack of one in animals.

Please, provide a clear definition of the soul and explain how one can verify which beings have one and which do not.

It's your theory, after all.

jewish philosopher said...

What's gravity? What's magnetism? If you don't know, that proves they aren't real?

Anonymous said...

We are not talking about gravity or magnetism. We're talking about the soul. You say, "All humans, regardless of gender, have a divine soul, as mentioned in Genesis 2:7

Animals don't."

Please explain these statements as I have asked, and if you cannot explain them please explain why you should not retract them.

jewish philosopher said...

The existence of the human soul is proven by the fact that we see ourselves as inhabiting our bodies but we don't identify ourselves by it. Also, we all feel the freedom to make choices that are not determined by prior causes.

The existence of animals possessing a soul is not proven by anything I know of. We therefore do not generally hold animals personally responsible for their behavior.

Regaeding what the soul is, I don't know, which proves nothing. I also don't know what gravity and magnetism are.

Anonymous said...

You say: "The existence of the human soul is proven by the fact that we see ourselves as inhabiting our bodies but we don't identify ourselves by it."

No, I don't think we do see ourselves this way at all. In fact, I don't know how what you say is meaningful at all.

You say: "we all feel the freedom to make choices that are not determined by prior causes." We all feel that the sun moves in the sky.

Glad you admit not knowing what the soul is. What would it take to convince you that the soul is a real thing that exists? What would it take to convince you that gravity and magnetism are real forces?

What would it take to convince you that someone was lying about the soul, that s/he didn't actually know what it was, either?

jewish philosopher said...

How do you know that gravity and magnetism exist although you don't know what they are? Because you see the effects of them.

The same is true of the soul. We feel it and experience. In fact, our entire criminal justice system is based on it, as I explained here.

Anonymous said...

It means nothing to say we "feel" the soul or we "experience" the soul. I really don't know what you are talking about. Please give a specific, unambiguous example of how one feels and experiences the soul.

To observe gravity, I can release an object in the air and watch it fall to the ground every time. Why does the object fall to the earth? Because the earth's gravity "pulls" the object.

Tao observe magnetism, I can place a magnet of my refrigerator and watch it stay there. I can feel the pull between the two objects. Why is there a pull? Because there is a magnetic force attracting the two.

To observe the soul, what exactly should I do? What will I see happen, no matter how many times I do what you tell me? How will "the soul" explain what I see happen?

jewish philosopher said...

"Please give a specific, unambiguous example of how one feels and experiences the soul."

I'm sorry, however if you honestly feel nothing then you have to speak to a psychiatrist and a neurologist for more help.

Anonymous said...

That doesn't answer the question. If you have a soul, as you claim, then the answer should be easy for you to give--as easy as for gravity and magnetism.

I'm getting the impression that you not only don't know what the soul is but you also don't actually know if there is any such thing.

NC said...

Anonymous, let me help here.

"proven by the fact that we see ourselves as inhabiting our bodies but we don't identify ourselves by it.

JP, all that is proven by that fact, is, that we have that feeling.

Reasoning can be inductive or deductive. In this case, inductive logic could dictate, that, in other cases where creatures had such a feeling, a "soul" exists, and therefore here, when we have such a feeling, a soul also exists. This logic obviously does not apply, since we have no proven examples.

Deductive reasoning would say: a- Souls uniquely create the feeling of inhabiting bodies. b- Humans have such a feeling. c- Therefore we have a soul. This reasoning would also be flawed because it assumes the premise, which is itself being disputed.

What do you say?

NC said...

Logic 101 continued--

JP, the best you can say is, given this feeling phenomenon (at least in some people), you posit a "soul" theory to explain it. There exist of course alternate theories to explain this phenomenon, and your burden is to then demonstrate why the "soul theory" explains our observations better then alternate theories.

It is here you run into a problem, because the soul theory does not explain many things and in fact contradicts them. For example, mental illness, drug states, unconsciousness or dementia. Here, this "feeling" you described is profoundly altered or absent, which would not occur if a fixed non-corporeal soul were responsible for it.

Furthermore, the soul theory is not accessible to testing.

So to accept the truth of the soul theory, is to believe it on faith or authority alone. It also exempts you from actually trying to understand the physiology.

NC said...

"This feeling begins with the smallest children and is universal culturally."

Who better than you should know that a universal belief proves nothing about truth? Do you need reminding that 99.9% of humanity believes Judaism is false. And therefore?

"Also, we all feel the freedom to make choices that are not determined by prior causes. "

We "feel" many things. Like anger, admiration, jealousy or sadness. Animals appear to experience some of those as well. Do those prove a soul?

"Therefore, we hold people responsible for their behavior and either reward or punish them accordingly. "

There are many useful fictions in organized societies. For example, an American soldier must believe many things in order to preserve unity with his fellows, a sense of purpose and combat preparedness. He must believe in that his side is just. That Americans value freedom and equality, and help the weak. Whether these are actually true is besides the point.

The same could be said of the Nazi Army. In order to do what it did, its soldiers had to believe in many useful fictions. They were prepared for great self-sacrifice, for a lie. Perhaps some people know that these beliefs were BS, but that did not matter.

So I think that free will and soul are useful fictions, to help societies and individuals cope. Its a useful model, but not necessarily true.

jewish philosopher said...

If you would visit a psychiatrist or a neurologist and explain to him that you have no sense of identity independent of your body. Your body is "you". Children and handicapped people are reduced people because there is physically less of them. In addition, you would explain to him that you are not able to make choices that are not determined by prior causes. You automatically react to external and internal stimulus.

I think this would be considered evidence of probably severe physical brain damage. It would not be an indication that you are finally thinking rationally.

ksil said...

JP, why cant you just say that "I cant prove it, but it is something that i intrinsically feel and know. I am sorry that you cannot feel your soul as I do mine, and that is a shame, becasue that feeling i have gives me purpose to my life - without it, i would just be a bag of chemicals, and serve no purpose in this world"

jewish philosopher said...

Why not say instead: this is something universally perceived therefore it's obviously a reality.

ksil said...

lots of things over time have been perceived universally, but prooven to be incorrect at a later time

jewish philosopher said...

I'm waiting for the proof. Once we have that we stop punishing criminals, since they had no choice, and we can stop going crazy when children get hit by cars, since they are no different than dogs.

ksil said...

"I'm waiting for the proof"

you cant proove a negative.

over time, things that were universally accepted, have been shown to be false. like Thor and zeus, like bloodletting

jewish philosopher said...

So I'm waiting for the proof.

ksil said...

please prove that santa claus is not real. thank you.

jewish philosopher said...

Simple. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Santa Claus seems pretty extraordinary

evidence, none.

ksil said...

seriously? you are going there?


jewish philosopher said...

Hey, that's kind of original. You are one of the few atheists to go the "no true scotsman" route.

"North koreans may claim to be communists, however they are not true communists."

Parek said...

I know I am a little bit late with this, but upon hearing about the death of your dog, I am overflowing with a certain emotion. Unfortunately there is no word in the English language that describes it. Fortunately, there is such a word in the German language...


Seriously, to help you and your family cope with the loss of your pet, I would like to prescribe you a dose of humor, as the eminent Dr. Patch Adams would.

Q: What did the motor vehicle say to the pit bull?
A: Smack!

Q: What were the last words of Prince the Pit Bull?
A: Splat!

Q: Sarah Palin once quipped that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick. What's the difference between a pit bull and lipstick?
A: Lipstick spreads a little bit better!

I have plenty more! JP, I remember that you posted your son's email address on the first post about your dog. Is it still the same? What about your wife? What about the rest of your family? I would appreciate the opportunity to email them dead dog jokes because as the good doctor would say, laughter is the best medicine, and sometimes there is no better way to cope with loss than humor.