On Jewish Exceptionalism

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On Jewish Exceptionalism

#1  Postby Zwaarddijk » Apr 19, 2015 8:03 pm

I have on this forum run across a few members - not going to name any names - who have maintained that the reason Jews did not convert to the majority religions was basically ethnic exceptionalism and racism against non-Jews. This has been held up basically as a mitigating factor regarding the excesses to which anti-Semites have gone - basically, the Jews brought it on themselves by not giving in to the demands of the (equally mistaken) majority religion. (So basically, their argument also kind of assumes a weird fallacy where it's a moral failure not to convert to the majority religion!)

I here present a slight essay that demonstrates how western Christianity essentially put Jews in a situation where conversion could be quite problematic for the convert - in fact, in many cases a gambit that could lead to excessive personal loss at the hands of the very Christians which the convert joined through conversion.

I hope the members I am thinking of read this essay, though I doubt they will, and if they did, I doubt they'll care. Disliking the Jews is fun after all, especially if its possible to pretend they've brought it on themselves.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#2  Postby tuco » Apr 20, 2015 7:09 pm

While the issue may indeed be more complex than usually presented, I do not believe the conclusion is supported by data. The Jews had problems before Christians. Obviously those who converted were not racist, by definition.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#3  Postby Zwaarddijk » Apr 20, 2015 8:05 pm

tuco wrote:While the issue may indeed be more complex than usually presented, but I do not believe the conclusion is supported by data. The Jews had problems before Christians. Obviously those who converted were not racist, by definition.

1) We find much wider conversion from Judaism to Islam than to Christianity. IMHO, this probably hints at theological objections rather than racial ones - Islam's notion of what God's nature is is much closer to that of Judaism, than either is to Christianity. Christianity has a notion of God that is problematic for both sides.

2) There's some pretty good literature on pre-Christian persecution of Jews, and it turns out the anti-Judaism of pre-Christian times differed significantly. The Alexandrian riots were basically due to political alignments (Jews had aligned with one representative of Rome, the Greeks with a competing one) more so than religious strife (also, the Greek racism against the Egyptian natives made Jewish exceptionalism at the time seem rather meek). The Jews were not the only people in Rome to fight separatist battles (although some authors would want you to think the Jews alone resisted, due to their stubbornness and racism or whatnot). The Alexandrian riots seem to be, in combination with the Jewish wars, the major instances that anyone would associate with anti-Judaism. A few Roman authors say negative things - but these seem to indicate that most other people were not negatively inclined to Jews (and that this was a sad thing). The situation changes when Christianity appears.

3) Roman paganism was not all that interested in trying to convert anyone into a belief system. It's unclear to what extent Rome even really tried to make anyone properly assimilate beyond participating in the imperial cultic activity, i.e. making the right sacrifices. Again, given the Jewish arrangements (on the one hand fiscus judaicus, but on the other hand no need to sacrifice) this would fit in with the refusal to participate in "non-kosher" religious activities, rather than with a particularly racist approach. Conversion to Judaism seems to have been common enough in the Roman empire before Christianity took over - as we have, indeed, archaeological evidence of. If Jews were very driven by racism, acquiring converts (and thus diluting their race) would seem a weird approach.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#4  Postby tuco » Apr 20, 2015 8:14 pm

To me its about whether the Jews segregated themselves or if they were segregated.

---

edit: socially, ideologically and genetically. then we could debate each and look for cause or rather context. OP tells me segment, not the whole picture.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#5  Postby igorfrankensteen » Apr 20, 2015 11:25 pm

The more that I have pondered and directly observed anti-WHATEVER prejudices, the more I have been frustrated by the very nature of them.

The main concern that I find, is that prejudiced people tend to be what I refer to as "Anti's."

"Anti's" are people who don't reason from concern---> opposition, they instead reason either that

* if someone is a member of group XXXXX, then they are "bad," by my definition of the "group XXXXX" designation. They are inherently guilty of whatever crimes and personal defects that I have assigned to all members of that group.

* if someone does something which I don't like, this proves that they are members of "group XXXXX," and this explains why they offended me.

In short, they have arranged the circuitry of their mind, such that EVERY fact, no matter what the fact is, proves that the person they are "anti" about, is what they thought they were. The common follow on, is that any "correct" acts the members of group XXXXX commit, isn't proof that they aren't that bad, it is proof that they are sneaky and duplicitous.

When seeking explanations of why they think that way, since they BEGIN from an assumption of guilt, their explanations will all be designed to prove they are right, rather than being the result of genuine investigation.

In this case, prejudice against Jews is explained by the "fact" that Jews are difficult to get along with. Or that the reason why lots of Christians don't trust Jews who convert, is that Christians don't trust Jews who convert. Perhaps because Jews can't be trusted, because they are so "Jewy."

The Exceptionalism in the thread title is linked to one of my own guesses as to why so many Christians in particular don't trust Jews. I have heard and read that Jews themselves believe that what makes someone a Jew or not, isn't their knowledge and fealty to their mutual Faith, it is the fact that their mom was Jewish. Add in the notion of the "chosen people," and I can easily imagine a Middle-School-style "clique" resentment situation, where non-Jews hate the Jews, because the Jews declare that "We are all members of a club which is naturally superior to all non-members, and you can't join, because your mom wasn't already a member."

But I have seen in other aspects of human life, that the phenomenon of holding that some group is exceptional, and simultaneously praising those who work to join it while at the same time distrusting and even despising them for doing so, is repeated in secular areas as well.

Historical precedents include the relatively modern idea of an Upper Class status. Even in the United States, where individual effort is supposedly praised and recognized, people who "make it big" are often still shunned by the upper classes they have managed to become members of, on the grounds that they are "new money," and therefore don't know what it actually takes to be Aristocrats. Many Upper Classes have much more respect for INHERITED wealth, than for EARNED wealth.

This suggests that the reason for actively creating prejudice-based conflicting groups has nothing to do with religion at all, per se, and instead is somehow inherent to being human.

The religious iterations of prejudice are merely one of the more common cover stories for the act of segregating and despising exercises which all humans are prone to, and is a favored cover story because religion is such a powerful subject area for humans to deal with.

Perhaps humans want to think of themselves as magically and inherently superior to other humans (out of laziness, or the desire to be classed as superior without having to work at it all the time?) , and since religious belief ALREADY has powerful magic associated with it, AND has the great advantage of allowing us to shift blame for our decision to hate our fellow beings irrationally to either an imaginary all powerful being, or to nature itself (inheritance), it is an ideal cover story.

This may be why, when any given group of XXXXX's go though a long period of general comfort, they are often seen to subdivide themselves into the "true believers" and the "wannabe's" .
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#6  Postby tuco » Apr 21, 2015 12:45 am

On Jewish Exceptionalism in Christian context.

I need to correct myself though, conclusion: Given these facts, there's no need to posit that Jewish reticence was particularly a result of Jewish racism against others. seems fitting. However, given these facts we can say little about alleged or real Jewish racism, exceptionalism.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#7  Postby epepke » Apr 21, 2015 1:05 am

igorfrankensteen wrote:The more that I have pondered and directly observed anti-WHATEVER prejudices, the more I have been frustrated by the very nature of them.

The main concern that I find, is that prejudiced people tend to be what I refer to as "Anti's."

"Anti's" are people who don't reason from concern---> opposition, they instead reason either that

* if someone is a member of group XXXXX, then they are "bad," by my definition of the "group XXXXX" designation. They are inherently guilty of whatever crimes and personal defects that I have assigned to all members of that group.

* if someone does something which I don't like, this proves that they are members of "group XXXXX," and this explains why they offended me.

In short, they have arranged the circuitry of their mind, such that EVERY fact, no matter what the fact is, proves that the person they are "anti" about, is what they thought they were. The common follow on, is that any "correct" acts the members of group XXXXX commit, isn't proof that they aren't that bad, it is proof that they are sneaky and duplicitous.


I've become interested in this lately from a Cognitive Science perspective. I'm writing a paper in which I'm introducing a new kind of category that I call "dissociative." As far as I can tell, all category theory is about what I call "associative" categories. Whether one is talking about classical category theory (which is demonstrably wrong) or prototype and metaphorical theory, it always associates a group of things or ideas, in classical theory by attributes or properties, and in prototype theory by similarities through certain prototypes by a wide range of connections.

I argue that some categories are really based on the need to distinguish one group from another, and that coherence within the group is secondary. In the case of Jews, the category is dissociatively constructed simply to distinguish Jews from others in the society. "Pagan" is perhaps a clearer modern example of this. There is no coherent idea that I have been able to find that categorizes pagans in any meaningful sense. It is essentially defined as not-Abrahamic.

The thing about this that I find interesting is that there is good evidence that dissociative categories will become associative categories. Dissociative categories require much more and more complex cognitive machinery than associative categories, so over time in a culture or even in an individual, the meaning will shift. So everything that the default or contrasting category is will become stuck to the the other category as is-not. It is simply a lot easier for the brain to think that way. When this happens, the resulting categories will work poorly, but the fact that they are much easier for cognition means that they will win. To keep a dissociative category dissociative requires a lot of work.

I think this goes a long way toward explaining why people develop various -isms without much experience with the people in question. There is no contrasting need to form the associative category properly, so an inaccurate associative category forms pretty much automatically. This is depressing to me. It would mean that an -ism is the normal tendency of the brain, which has to be challenged. On the other hand, it explains a connection between mental effort and avoiding -isms.

Your second statement also follows from this. There is no real cognitive direction in association, which is simply Hebbian. For example, hearing a song may make you think of a time when you heard it, and thinking about that time will make you think of the song. It is ultimately circular, but the circularity simply emerges from the way the brain forms associations. Not to do that requires extra work.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#8  Postby Zwaarddijk » Apr 21, 2015 7:44 am

igorfrankensteen wrote:

The Exceptionalism in the thread title is linked to one of my own guesses as to why so many Christians in particular don't trust Jews. I have heard and read that Jews themselves believe that what makes someone a Jew or not, isn't their knowledge and fealty to their mutual Faith, it is the fact that their mom was Jewish. Add in the notion of the "chosen people," and I can easily imagine a Middle-School-style "clique" resentment situation, where non-Jews hate the Jews, because the Jews declare that "We are all members of a club which is naturally superior to all non-members, and you can't join, because your mom wasn't already a member."

But this contains a factual mistake! Judaism has always accepted converts - it's just that in medieval Christianity (and medieval Islam), accepting a convert lead to Christian (or Muslim) authorities coming down hard on the convert, and sometimes on whichever community accepted him. (Even in those times, converts were accepted, however.)
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#9  Postby igorfrankensteen » Apr 22, 2015 12:30 pm

epepke:
I think this goes a long way toward explaining why people develop various -isms without much experience with the people in question. There is no contrasting need to form the associative category properly, so an inaccurate associative category forms pretty much automatically. This is depressing to me. It would mean that an -ism is the normal tendency of the brain, which has to be challenged. On the other hand, it explains a connection between mental effort and avoiding -isms.


I don't have the background you do, so I don't understand a lot of what you said. I looked up various things, and if I understood what I read, you are depressed at the idea that a physiological reason may be behind why people are jerks, essentially.

I suggest something else entirely, from my own "softer" field of History. That is, that humans ALWAYS tend to seek the easiest answers first, and the logical ones second, if at all. If this is linked to physiology or natural selection or any like mechanical thing, then it would only be in a general sense. Easy tends to be faster than difficult, and in survival situations, speed can be a factor, so perhaps the idea of coming to a conclusion and acting quickly as being "smart" has come to be ingrained in our species, at least culturally.

Note as well, how many prejudices develop: they don't spring into the minds of the anti-person all at once, they are built up a bit at a time. Catch an anti-person early enough, and their only explanation for why they are anti- someone else, will be "I feel oogy when I look at them." It's only later that they add in specifics.

And further, the motivation to add each specific in, often no longer is to explain why they feel oogy. They add many of the specifics in, so as to acquire "allies," and therefore enhance their sense of safety, and of being approved.

I have seen that "feeling you are Right" is possibly the strongest of all common human desires or emotional states. It gets tangled up in everything from feeling love from parents, to trusting mates and teammates.

The associations of neurons you refer to might indeed be the mechanism, but the reason that the mechanisms are engaged may be entirely different than you've listed, owing to being more complex, and to beginning much earlier in the individuals' development.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#10  Postby epepke » Apr 22, 2015 8:17 pm

igorfrankensteen wrote:I don't have the background you do, so I don't understand a lot of what you said. I looked up various things,


Since I'm doing original research, that is, new stuff, it's perfectly normal not to understand. I'm swimming in the terminology and approaches of Cognitive Science; it's pretty understandable if what I say doesn't map on easily to another brain. I freely admit that the terminology sucks, but that's unavoidable, because the language we use evolved to talk about things outside the brain, and so we're making up terminology as we go along. Cognitive Science, as a field, has only been around for 30 years to be generous, so the basic ideas aren't taught in school, unlike medicine or biology, which also have a lot of weird words.

I'd be happy to explain terms upon request, though. Since I've been following the field for its entire existence, I tend to forget which ones are unfamiliar to other people.

and if I understood what I read, you are depressed at the idea that a physiological reason may be behind why people are jerks, essentially.


No, I'm not particularly depressed about it. I love figuring out this stuff, and it makes me happy.

I do have to say that psychology is at a pretty coarse level of abstraction. Cognitive Science is an attempt to bridge the gap between psychology and neurochemical processes in the brain. It's actually doing a pretty good job, though I want to push it much further.


I suggest something else entirely, from my own "softer" field of History. That is, that humans ALWAYS tend to seek the easiest answers first, and the logical ones second, if at all.


I don't disagree with that at all. In fact, you've just inspired me to write a couple more paragraphs in my paper.

Again, though, this is a coarse level of abstraction. You take "easy" versus "difficult" for granted, as you have the "easy" or the "difficult" experience in your own brain, and then you present it to another brain, and it says, "yeah, I agree." All that you have shown is that brains agree, more or less, on what is easy or difficult (though you might get different results with a savant).

Interpreted in those terms, what I'm trying to do is figure out what is in a brain that makes some things easy or difficult.

Note that we don't have that problem with computers, as the basic elements in computer hardware are engineered to have a complete, Boolean logic built in. Brains do not. The basic mechanism, again with some abstraction but not too much, is what is called Hebbian, after the guy who wrote about it way back in 1949. This is a kind of weighted average mechanism, and it could be seen as combining AND and OR, metaphorically.

To provide a NOT function that you need for a complete logic, however, requires in the brain an extremely elaborate system of inhibitory synapses that are regulated by neurotransmitters that get controlled not only in the brain overall but in small regions by glia, and there are even small structures named (badly) "topographic maps" that are allocated for use in reasoning.

In your terms, associative categories are "easier" than dissociative categories. I'm trying to introduce the concept and, vaguely, show why they are "easier."

Note as well, how many prejudices develop: they don't spring into the minds of the anti-person all at once, they are built up a bit at a time. Catch an anti-person early enough, and their only explanation for why they are anti- someone else, will be "I feel oogy when I look at them." It's only later that they add in specifics.


Again, that would vaguely map onto the transition of a dissociative category to an associative one. A purely dissociative category would have no prejudices, just a recognition of differences. You'll see this in children; they first become aware of differences but don't obviously care very much. Then, progressively, the category becomes associated with specific ideas. These can be taught, of course, but they can also come about through reasoning. Once reasoned, they "stick" to the associative category and become automatic.

Let's say, for instance, there is a dissociative category. You're a freeny, and the beeny's look different.

Let's say you have a good experience with a beeny. That doesn't cause cognitive dissonance, so it isn't a learning experience.

Now let's say you have a bad experience with a beeny. This causes cognitive dissonance. So your brain thinks about it more; that's what cognitive dissonance makes happen. A part of your brain encoding "bad" is activated at the same time that a part of your brain with the memory is activated at the same time that a part of your brain encoding "beeny" is activated. By the Hebbian mechanism, axons are strengthened between all these parts of your brain. Also, other paths between them tend to shorten. (I could explain this algorithmically by graph theory, but I won't, because it would be quite long.)

Thereafter, when any of the parts of your brain encoding either "beeny," the event, or "bad" will have a higher probability of being activated. This is a purely automatic process; no conscious thought required. After a while, your "beeny" category will become more and more associative. This is a stereotype.

Note, of course, that this will not happen if you have a bad experience with another freeny. Your brain will "look for" or create another category. (I put the hand-waving in quotes. It's really not so bad, as this can be explained by other fairly simple mechanisms. But this is a bit like teaching how to write recursive programs. Until you understand it all, a bit of handwaving is required.)

The associations of neurons you refer to might indeed be the mechanism, but the reason that the mechanisms are engaged may be entirely different than you've listed, owing to being more complex, and to beginning much earlier in the individuals' development.


Maybe. Who knows? But this mechanism seems to have sufficient explanatory power to me, at least now. And I do have to note that it may also simply be that explanations unlike Cognitive Science seem easier to you because they are unfamiliar. And they might seem easier to me because they are familiar. But this is why we have discussions and write and publish papers and do simulations.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#11  Postby Beatsong » Apr 22, 2015 8:42 pm

Zwaarddijk wrote:I have on this forum run across a few members - not going to name any names - who have maintained that the reason Jews did not convert to the majority religions was basically ethnic exceptionalism and racism against non-Jews. This has been held up basically as a mitigating factor regarding the excesses to which anti-Semites have gone - basically, the Jews brought it on themselves by not giving in to the demands of the (equally mistaken) majority religion.


Why not?

If this is indeed what these members have openly maintained, then they clearly see no shame in being associated with such an idea and there's nothing wrong with you taking it on with their name attached.

The problem with putting it the way you have above is that it's difficult to tell whether that's really what anyone thinks, or whether you might have misrepresented them a little in your telling of it. Without any quotes or context, it's hard to know what exactly you're arguing against, and whether it's real or straw.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#12  Postby Macdoc » Apr 23, 2015 5:31 am

Image

I see an affinity for straw ;)

carry on :coffee:
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#13  Postby duvduv » Aug 05, 2015 2:12 am

Everybody can be portrayed as exceptionalist.
The religion that offers the only way to salvation.
The religion that offers the true Word of submission to Allah.
The religion that offers the true way to Samadhi.
The religion that offers the true way to Nirvana.
The religion that offers the True Way period (Lao Tsu).
Everybody can be presented with exceptionalism.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#14  Postby Saim » Apr 24, 2016 10:34 am

Great points. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Another thing to keep in mind is the position of Ashkenazi Jews in the territories of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, parts of Ukraine), which before the Second World War had the largest concentration of Jews in the world. This area was very much multireligious and multilingual -- you had Poles (Catholics), Germans (Prussians, mostly Protestants), Ruthenians (Rusyns and Ukrainians, both Greek-rite Catholics and Eastern Orthodox) and Lithuanians (mostly Catholic). The Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews in this context were just one of the myriad nationalities of Central Europe, and indeed most of them lived in Jewish-majority communities (ghettoes and shtetls).

Asking why the Ashkenazi Jews didn't just assimilate into neighbouring communities is just as silly a question as asking why the Lithuanians or Galician Ukrainians didn't assimilate and become Poles. Why should they have?

Beatsong wrote:Without any quotes or context, it's hard to know what exactly you're arguing against, and whether it's real or straw.


Take a look at some of the threads in the News and Politics section on the Israel-Palestine conflict. They all inevitably get derailed at some point by people claiming that the problem is Jewish identity itself.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#15  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Apr 24, 2016 1:26 pm

Saim wrote:

Beatsong wrote:Without any quotes or context, it's hard to know what exactly you're arguing against, and whether it's real or straw.


Take a look at some of the threads in the News and Politics section on the Israel-Palestine conflict. They all inevitably get derailed at some point by people claiming that the problem is Jewish identity itself.

Examples?
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#16  Postby crank » Apr 24, 2016 4:21 pm

igorfrankensteen wrote:The more that I have pondered and directly observed anti-WHATEVER prejudices, the more I have been frustrated by the very nature of them.

The main concern that I find, is that prejudiced people tend to be what I refer to as "Anti's."

"Anti's" are people who don't reason from concern---> opposition, they instead reason either that

* if someone is a member of group XXXXX, then they are "bad," by my definition of the "group XXXXX" designation. They are inherently guilty of whatever crimes and personal defects that I have assigned to all members of that group.

* if someone does something which I don't like, this proves that they are members of "group XXXXX," and this explains why they offended me.

In short, they have arranged the circuitry of their mind, such that EVERY fact, no matter what the fact is, proves that the person they are "anti" about, is what they thought they were. The common follow on, is that any "correct" acts the members of group XXXXX commit, isn't proof that they aren't that bad, it is proof that they are sneaky and duplicitous.

When seeking explanations of why they think that way, since they BEGIN from an assumption of guilt, their explanations will all be designed to prove they are right, rather than being the result of genuine investigation.

In this case, prejudice against Jews is explained by the "fact" that Jews are difficult to get along with. Or that the reason why lots of Christians don't trust Jews who convert, is that Christians don't trust Jews who convert. Perhaps because Jews can't be trusted, because they are so "Jewy."

The Exceptionalism in the thread title is linked to one of my own guesses as to why so many Christians in particular don't trust Jews. I have heard and read that Jews themselves believe that what makes someone a Jew or not, isn't their knowledge and fealty to their mutual Faith, it is the fact that their mom was Jewish. Add in the notion of the "chosen people," and I can easily imagine a Middle-School-style "clique" resentment situation, where non-Jews hate the Jews, because the Jews declare that "We are all members of a club which is naturally superior to all non-members, and you can't join, because your mom wasn't already a member."

But I have seen in other aspects of human life, that the phenomenon of holding that some group is exceptional, and simultaneously praising those who work to join it while at the same time distrusting and even despising them for doing so, is repeated in secular areas as well.

Historical precedents include the relatively modern idea of an Upper Class status. Even in the United States, where individual effort is supposedly praised and recognized, people who "make it big" are often still shunned by the upper classes they have managed to become members of, on the grounds that they are "new money," and therefore don't know what it actually takes to be Aristocrats. Many Upper Classes have much more respect for INHERITED wealth, than for EARNED wealth.

This suggests that the reason for actively creating prejudice-based conflicting groups has nothing to do with religion at all, per se, and instead is somehow inherent to being human.

The religious iterations of prejudice are merely one of the more common cover stories for the act of segregating and despising exercises which all humans are prone to, and is a favored cover story because religion is such a powerful subject area for humans to deal with.

Perhaps humans want to think of themselves as magically and inherently superior to other humans (out of laziness, or the desire to be classed as superior without having to work at it all the time?) , and since religious belief ALREADY has powerful magic associated with it, AND has the great advantage of allowing us to shift blame for our decision to hate our fellow beings irrationally to either an imaginary all powerful being, or to nature itself (inheritance), it is an ideal cover story.

This may be why, when any given group of XXXXX's go though a long period of general comfort, they are often seen to subdivide themselves into the "true believers" and the "wannabe's" .

I think a lot of what you are describing is a conservative mind, this isn't the same as the political conservative. They are manichean, viewing everything in black or white, god or bad, ambiguity makes them very uncomfortable. They tend to having strong senses of some things being sacred, they're not open to new experiences, and are quite authoritarian. This will give you people that will naturally think if you're not like us, then there is something wrong with you, you are probably evil.

There are many variations on this, you should search out Jonathon Haidt, he has done some interesting work, though I don't like a lot of his conclusions, and Chris Mooney with his The Republican Brain and other books/work, shows how some of these theories seem to be at work in political conservatives. There is another way to look at it that goes by the label 'systems justification'. The whole area is fascinating, I've just mentioned a few issues that popped into my head, anyone interested should head to the google. To me, the implications of this type of thinking is far more useful than focusing on religion, which is a byproduct of a mind wired to think conservatively.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#17  Postby igorfrankensteen » Apr 24, 2016 6:43 pm

The factor that makes this subject extra difficult to work out, is one which affects it from two completely different angles.

That is, the fact that there are multiple unrelated motivations involved with it at all times.

Even a small child has more than one motivation driving them to come to conclusions and make decisions about their experiences. Actual survival is clearly not the primary motivator, because babies and small children usually don't have the experience derived insight required to look out for their own best interests. Instead, they have to draw conclusions based on such things as their sense of the emotional state of their caretaker, their most basic sense of personal physical comfort, and a host of environmental conditions. Sequences are critical. Learn one little lesson in a different order, and the same bits of information which lead to a loving cousin in one person, can lead to the certainty that everyone must die in another.

In larger groups of people, answering why a given group, such as Jews, have a large other group who insist a set of bad things about them are true, can be the result of a multitude of motivations, and usually is. One small subset group has one set of concerns. Another group comes along who also dislike the "culprit" group, but for different reasons entirely, and in order to join forces, the two groups will meld their reasons together. Often another group, which really doesn't care about the "culprit group" at all, will see opportunity for easy allies, and will PRETEND to hate them.

And from the point of view of the people trying to figure out what's going on, multiple motivations come in to play as well. Some of the same ones, in fact (desire for allies, for example) can crop up and impede our ability to come to an unbiased conclusion.

The only way I know if to deal with the multiplicity of motivations in each situation, is to heighten one's awareness of them, in order to minimize how much they deflect us from recognizing what's going on.

And never forget, even what seems to be the BEST of motivations can turn on us, so to speak. The classic one, is that the dedication to remaining impartial at all costs, can become a reason to ignore real data. And the fact that a new discovery about some physiological process or chemical process, can be so entrancing, that we try to make it explain EVERYTHING, just because it feels so good to "tidy things up" that way.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#18  Postby crank » Apr 24, 2016 8:05 pm

I think there are numerous examples demonstrating at least some of what you say. Nero blaming christians for the Rome fire. Numerous pogroms against the Jews I think likely had benefits to some ruler or some other group. And that the jews had a history of being a scapegoat made them that much more easily portrayed as such again. I just got a mail list from Patheos, they have a series on Scapegoating and Atonement, might have some relevance, just fyi. Looked interesting and I have no time to read.
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-George Carlin, who died 2008. Ha, now we have human centipedes running the place
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#19  Postby Saim » Apr 25, 2016 9:34 am

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
Examples?


Here's one:

don't get me started wrote:Of course, the proximate cause was the oppression and murderous anti-semetism that Jewish people faced in Europe and elsewhere.

[...]

But this obscures (in my view) the more distal cause of the Jewish people of Europe somehow managing to keep themselves as a distinct and separate demographic group over the centuries, and not meld in, assimilate, marry out and gradually leave behind the Jewish identity. The history of Europe is replete with examples of in-mixing, marrying out, and endless change of groupings and cultures and religions and tribes. Wither away the Picts and the Dacians? Who are the pure Anglo-Saxons and have they betrayed their ancestors by sullying their blood with that of the Norman invaders, whoever they may be? Of course not.
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Re: On Jewish Exceptionalism

#20  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Apr 25, 2016 12:10 pm

Saim wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
Examples?


Here's one:

don't get me started wrote:Of course, the proximate cause was the oppression and murderous anti-semetism that Jewish people faced in Europe and elsewhere.

[...]

But this obscures (in my view) the more distal cause of the Jewish people of Europe somehow managing to keep themselves as a distinct and separate demographic group over the centuries, and not meld in, assimilate, marry out and gradually leave behind the Jewish identity. The history of Europe is replete with examples of in-mixing, marrying out, and endless change of groupings and cultures and religions and tribes. Wither away the Picts and the Dacians? Who are the pure Anglo-Saxons and have they betrayed their ancestors by sullying their blood with that of the Norman invaders, whoever they may be? Of course not.

I dont see where the OP puts the blame on Jewish exceptionalism.
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