Archive for February 9th, 2021

Did Socrates Say We Know Nothing? No! He Said The Exact Opposite! Why Plutocracy Pushes Cognitive Nihilism

February 9, 2021

We live in the age of cognitive and collective nihilism. Nothing really new there; Friedrich Nietzsche was already fighting the same exact mass psychology of ignorance extolled as wisdom… in Germany. That’s why the musician Nietzsche broke away from his friend the musician Wagner. (a German hypernationalistic racist) Nietzsche said the herd constituted by most Germans had become ignorant nationalistic brutes and terrible things would result from this. So Friedrich went to live in France and Italy, celebrating both cultures, and calling himself a Pole. Einstein, three decades later would follow a similar path, with similar (very justified) complaints.

A preferred tactic of Internet bullies, is to claim that Socrates would have said that he knew nothing, and, thus that it is the epitome of wisdom for Internet critters to say that their opponents know nothing, because, well, we know nothing. In particular Internet critters claim that whatever a superior interlocutor said in a cognitive dimension they didn’t even know existed, is irrelevant, because there is no knowledge in knowledge. 

Actually Socrates said the exact opposite of claiming that we knew nothing… And that we know plenty, and can know much more, and much better, is probably Socrates’ main message. The so-called Socratic method is a way to get to the truth, not just a s consequence, but as hypothesis. To claim the opposite is a piece of vicious disinformation. Actually, to tell the whole truth, the so-called Socrates method was probably invented as soon as language was. It is just the manner of improving ideas, hypotheses, observations and principles through a debate, by looking at all the consequences. When all the false stuff has been eliminated, the truth is left. 

The lie that Socrates claimed to be a cognitive nihilist was planted by Roman plutocrats four centuries after Socrates’ death, in an effort to devalue knowledge, all of knowledge

The Socratic Methods consists in conducting a succession of ever more refined thought experiments. The method is probably as old as language itself.

So now we have this paradox of people who think they are wise because they do as Socrates did, according to them, scrupulously knowing nothing and replacing this by frantic tribal howling (presently with the word “Trump” within in the USA, although that will pass soon). And they repeat what their owners told them to say, presently from media owned by the world’s wealthiest persons…

Socrates is viewed as a pillar of philosophy, yet Socrates wrote directly or indirectly, nothing. This is remarkable. By indirectly writing nothing I mean that we do not know of a text that Socrates originated: we have to take Plato’s word for it (and there are reasons to doubt Plato’s good judgement, namely his love affair with the tyrant of Syracuse). Whereas, for example, we know that it is Pericles’ wife, Aspasia of Miletus, who made explicit the concept of “Open Society”… a very important concept explicitly mentioned in the funeral oration given by Pericles… (We know this, because Pericles himself did not believe in the Open Society that much; clearly his wife forced him to extoll the Open Society…)… The concept of open Society was later picked and expanded upon by French Nobel laureate philosopher Henri Bergson, then Popper. By contrast the “Socratic Method” is something that Plato shows in various dialogues, conducted in pursuit of… the truth. The truth envisioned as axiomatics and consequences.

Thus, we have no direct evidence of Socrates’ thinking. Aristophanes, Xenophon and of course Plato mention Socrates. Aristophanes makes fun of Socrates for instituting a “thinkery“… if it sounds akin to a winery, this is no accident: Plato himself presents Socrates as having been the most depraved of men before he became a lover to the best, war hero, and finally beyond it all.. So the Socratic Method arose in the sort of circumstances that were rather informal… And we are not too sure in what Socrates really believed (the reason is that he may have had different political beliefs than Plato who was already an obvious right wing authoritarian…)

The result has been that many thoughts are attributed to Socrates which he did not have. As he and Plato are viewed (somewhat idiotically) as the fathers of philosophy, “philosophy” is then viewed as something it was never meant to be… Namely, a negation of knowledge. 

In particular many fake thinkers quote Socrates as saying that he only knew one thing, and that was that he knew nothing. Socrates did not say this, and actually in some places, as reported by Plato, Socrates says explicitly that he knows some things very well. 

Indeed, one of Socrates’ thought system insisted that specialized mental activities should be left to specialists who know the body of knowledge. That was Socrates’ main beef against Athenian style Direct Democracy, according to Plato. For example, Socrates-Plato points out, generals should be professionals, just as shoemakers are professionals.

Pretending that the “father of philosophy” (as the snobs love to say) said that we knew nothing is to claim that wisdom is not grounded in knowledge, and we may as well be a barnacle, knowing nothing while clinging to stuff. The “we know nothing mantra” is nihilism at its best.

That silliness, that Socrates said he knew nothing, was a lie invented 4 centuries later, in a civilization which wanted to know nothing, because knowing something was highly inconvenient: that society had Pluto Derangement Syndrome.

Roman society was busy devaluing wisdom, and thus knowledge. So Roman intellectual-prostitutes invented and glorified the cretin, by pretended that the highest wisdom was to claim one knew nothing, so that the idiotic greedy brutes could rule the world… as they do now… consider the Gamestop scandal, where the friends of the Treasury Secretary are involved, with their “Citadel”. So Yellen and company are worried that Internet critters conspired against the world’s wealthiest conspirators… Because the latter pay her, while the former do not… presumably…

Instead Socrates thought he could learn a lot by dialoguing with ignorant students. Learning from the naive and ignorant works quite a bit along the same principles as a heat pump…

The Internet is a cornucopia of the ignorant belching creative absurdities…

Socrates would have been delighted…

Patrice Ayme


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