Who is Ahad Ha’am?

Who is Ahad Ha’am?

December 13, 2020 Off By Felso

He is an Israeli philosopher who lived between 1856-1927.

Ahad Ha’am is a leading Zionist thinker and advocate of the spiritual Jewish renaissance. It is the nickname and known name of the Ukrainian-born Jewish philosopher Asher Ginzberg.

In 1890. He wrote a semi-satirical essay explaining that although we worship wisdom, self-confidence is more important. They are always smart, holding themselves in any difficult or dangerous situation, evaluating the advantages or disadvantages of their possible movements. Meanwhile (and in a way that the clever don’t approve of at all), they are the ones who are pushing forward and generally always self-confident if they win. Ha’am, he claims that a madman usually gets results because confidence goes horse-headed with it, and as we read it we must remember that this claim is half satire and half serious.

While Ha’am seemed to praise the potential advantages of madness in his original essay, he later distanced himself from this view, perhaps because he feared that a text written as an exercise in satire could be read as if it was written with supreme seriousness. As he later stated, self-confidence is only guaranteed when the difficulties of the situation are fully understood and evaluated.

Ha’am likes to repeat an old Hebrew saying: “Even if the act of a madman is successful, it is still the act of a madman.” In some cases, we go crazy without fully understanding the challenges of the business you are under, but we still win because luck is on our side. However, der Ha’am, this does not justify our madness. If we want our actions to produce results, we may indeed need the cultivation and exploitation of the kind of self-confidence often found in the mad. But at the same time, we have to mitigate this self-confidence with reason, otherwise our actions will not be effective.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Ömer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Department of Sociology 1st Class “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2., 3., 4. Class “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook