Letter To Robert J. Aumann, Co-Winner Of The Bank Of Sweden Prize In Economic Sciences In Memory Of Alfred Nobel 2005

8 November, 2005.

Dear Professor Aumann, 

Re: Your comments on understanding the essence of war, as reported by Doron Sheffer in 'Israel is choking its scientists,' YnetNews, 10-Oct-05, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3154050,00.html

You are quoted as saying "War is not irrational, it is actually the most stable thing . . . Our goal is to research its rationality and its reasons, and that's what we do in game theory. We'll only know how to solve war if we understand its essence.”

I have a few comments regarding your comments on understanding the essence of war through game theory -- and a suggestion for the Center for Rationality at the Hebrew University.


If Babylonian and Egyptian high priests knew about the Americas, would the Covenant of the God of Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, and Moses have included the landmass from the St. Lawrence River to the Amazon --, in addition to the landmass from the “river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates”? Game theory may well suggest yes! However, the Covenant requires that Jews obey the Decalog -- in particular, “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s house.” In this connection, it is worth noting that Herzl, who calculated that “Arabs as are immune from fever might be employed to do the work” in support of Jewish colonization, appears to have been ignorant of Machiavelli’s admonition:

"[A prince] must abstain from taking the property of others, for men forget more easily the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.”

Thus, Israel will not know peace for a long time – the benefits of game theory notwithstanding.


I am familiar with some of your articles and with the works of Morgenstern, von Neuman, Shubick, Keyney and Raifa. Game theory, like financial theory, gives the illusion of understanding. “Calculative” thinking calculates what is “better” -- a loan or a lease; “reflective” thinking decides against both borrowing and leasing, as both options are based on “usury,” and “usury” enslaves.

Tanach, Proverbs 22:7: “The rich rule the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

Kant (Soros’ nemesis), in Perpetual Peace: "[A]s an instrument in the struggle among powers, the credit system -- the ingenious invention of a commercial people [England] during this century -- of endlessly growing debts that remain safe against immediate demand . . . is a dangerous financial power. It is a war chest exceeding the treasure of all other nations taken together . . . This ease in making war, combined with the inclination of those in power to do so . . . is a great obstacle to perpetual peace. Thus, forbidding foreign debt must be a preliminary article for perpetual peace."

Considering that the total debt of the U.S. (financial and non-financial sectors) is currently greater than $37 trillion (see the Z.1 Release at the Federal Reserve Board), the chances for peace are currently nil.


I respectfully suggest that you, and your students at the Center for Rationality at the Hebrew University, start following Heidegger’s advice: It is not enough to calculate, you must reflect. 

Heidegger, in The Principle of Reason: "If this is the way it's going to be, may we give up what is worthy of thought in favor of the recklessness of exclusively calculative thinking and its immense achievements? Or are we obliged to find paths upon which thinking is capable of responding to what is worthy of thought instead of, enchanted by calculative thinking, mindlessly passing over what is worthy of thought?" 

Sincerely yours, 

Dr. Edward E. Ayoub


The Holy Bible. The Old Testament. King James Version. London, England: Collins' Clear-Type Press, 1957.

The Diaries of Theodor Herzl.
Edited and Translated with an Introduction by Marvin Lowenthal. The Dial Press, Inc., 1956. Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1978.

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527). The Prince (1531). Translated by Luigi Ricci. Revised by E.R.P. Vincent. Introduction by Christian Gauss. New York, NY: The New American Library of World Literature, Inc., 1952. (Reprint of a hardcover edition published by Oxford University Press, Inc.)

Immanuel Kant. To Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795). Essay included in Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace and Other Essays on Politics, History, and Moral Practice. Translated with an Introduction by Ted Humphrey. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1983, at 107-143.

Z.1 Flow of Funds Accounts of the United States, 21-Sep-05. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. [D3. Debt Outstanding by Sector.] http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/z1/current/z1r-2.pdf

Martin Heidegger. The Principle of Reason. Translated by Reginald Lilly. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1991, at 129.