Fiction: The Fragmented Philosophy of Avrum Leib

Introduction

As with the pre-Socratics, the philosophy of Avrum Leib comes to us in fragments. He did not develop a complete system of thought. Instead, Leib employed a seltzer-based approach, schpritzing aphorisms here and there. Further, the fragments we do have were not written down. Rather, they come to us as recollections by those who were deeply touched by his thoughts. Scholars have cross-checked many of these recollections through extensive interviews. However, some fragments could not be easily verified though we are confident of their authenticity. We have marked them with a single dagger (†).

Little is known of Leib’s education. Scholars have determined that it was severely curtailed by the outbreak of World War II. It is not likely that before or after the war he had any intercourse with the Polish-Jewish intelligentsia. However, one can discern echoes of pre-Socratic thought, such as in his application of Parmenides’ ex nihilo principle (“Out of Nothing, Nothing is Made”), indicating a familiarity with the basic questions of philosophy. It is not known how or where he acquired his knowledge and understanding of philosophy.

His family life also remains a mystery. It is believed that the woman referred to in one of the philosophical fragments was his wife. However, at the time of this writing, this is no more than intelligent conjecture. There is anecdotal evidence that he fathered two sons but little is known about them.

It is believed that Leib passed away in 2008.

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Truth

For Leib, Truth was discovered through a close examination of the available evidence, allowing for a precise and unequivocal decision concerning truth or falsity.

Am I Right or Am I Wrong? (AIRAIW): After a brief examination of the evidence, a verdict is rendered that clearly demarcates truth from falsehood. Unfortunately, Leib left no indication of the methodology one should use to determine right from wrong.

Am I Right, Bevy? (AIRB): “Bevy” does not refer to a group of objects but, as used here, it represents the name of a woman.  Research has uncovered evidence that she may have been instrumental in providing the philosophical groundwork necessary for applying the AIRAIW principle, going well beyond merely schmaltzing up the truth. In fact, she may have helped develop the full Leibsian philosophy. 1

Let Me Say Is This (LMSIT): There are two possible uses of LMSIT. It can be the final statement of a philosophical proof, analogous to quod erat demonstrandum (That Which Was To Be Shown, often abbreviated as QED) that medieval geometers were fond of using at the end of a proof. It can also be used to introduce a critical piece of information. 2

Justice

For Leib, justice was not an abstract concept but was something that occurred within the world. Justice arrived in one of two ways: “internal justice,” that is, justice that occurred through processes internal to those who were deserving of justice, and “external justice,” a form of justice carried out by another on that person in need of justice. In both cases, justice was always sure, never in doubt, though not always swift. 3

Internal Justice

They Should Drop Dead (TSDD): This punishment follows after application of the AIRAIW principle. This is a swift form of punishment committed by internal forces.

They Should Get A Cancer (TSGC): Similar to TSDD, this is a slow form of punishment, again caused by forces internal to the person.

They Should Cock So Long (TSCSL): “Cock,” in this context, refers to defecation, specifically as it relates to constipation. It is based on the assumption that, for the constipated, evacuating one’s bowels is both a time-consuming and a painful, or uncomfortable, process. This form of justice applies to anyone who bears false witness where the effects of false testimony do not reach the level of TSDD or TSGC.

External Justice

They Should Get Killed (TSGK): This contrasts with TSDD and TSGC. The punishment comes from an external force.

A Note About the Pronoun “They”: As used here, “they” can refer to a single person or to many people. It can also be used as an abstract noun where it may refer to an economic or political outcome, or even a social movement. When used this way, the particular form of punishment is to be interpreted figuratively, not literally.

Epistemology

Leibsian epistemology mainly concerns itself with differentiating appearance from reality. It does not concern itself with the origin of knowledge.

Nothing With Nothing (NWN): This concept has strong affinities with Parmenides’ ex nihilo principle. It explains how, after examination, something that seems to exist does not, in fact, exist. This plays on the dual meaning of the word ‘nothing.’ It can mean, literally, the complete absence of being, that is, that something does not exist. But it can also refer to something that does exist. Therefore, NWN means that something that seems to exist doesn’t exist. Again, like some of the other fragments noted herein, the methodology used to determine the correct application of NWN is not known.

They’re Full Of Shit (TFOS): This principle is used to classify evidence according to the Leibsian truth/falsity dichotomy. Conceptually related to NWN, it too deals with the question of appearance versus reality. Like NWN, the methodology used to determine whether evidence falls within the scope of the TFOS principle is not known. However, recent scholarship has shown that LMSIT (see entry “Let Me Say Is This”) was employed as a way to separate appearance from reality when determining the value of any particular piece of evidence. It is likely that TFOS and LMSIT performed complementary roles when determining whether something was really nothing (see entry “Nothing With Nothing”).

A Note About LMSIT Complementarity:

Some scholars have argued that if LMSIT is a complementary principle, its only purpose would be as a philosophical ‘glue,’ binding axioms and supporting statements to the final epistemological judgement, such as TFOS. It cannot, logically and linguistically, be a statement of that judgement. Following this line of reasoning, LMSIT has been falsely elevated in importance and should be removed from the Leibsian canon. Admittedly, this is a minority view. 4

Suggested Reading

Those interested in further study may find the following publications to be of interest.

Freimlich, Robert, They Should Drop Dead: A Leibsian Perspective on Lindsay, Liberalism, and the New York Welfare State. New York: New York Universal Press, 2001.

Van Woodard, Charles, editor. The Schpritz of Life: Recollections of Avrum Leib. Ellenville, New York: Brustein & Brustein, 1993.

  1.  Sarah Farnsworth, “Et Tu, Bevy? Feminist Influence on Leibsian Truth,” Journal of Brooklyn Philosophy, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 23-47.
  2.  These applications of LMSIT are not without controversy. See the note accompanying the entry for TFOS.
  3.  Robert Krensworth, “Could Leibsian Justice Eliminate Political Corruption?” Journal of the American Political Scientists Association, Vol. 45, No. 3, pp. 45-81. See also, Israel Weinblatt, “A Bayesian Application of Leibsian Justice: Controlling Irrational Market Exuberance,” Econometricals, Vol. 61, No. 2, pp. 3-103. See also, Dr. Hussein Al-Sabbah, “Biblical Origins of Leibsian Justice,” Middle Eastern & Brooklyn Studies, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 26-35.
  4.  Joseph Scapporinni, “LMSIT: A Philosophical Interloper?,” Studies in Leibsian Thought, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 18-36. For the mainstream view see, Saul Goldfarb, “NWN: A Response to Scapporinni’s Interloper Argument,” Studies in Leibsian Thought, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 12-15. 
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