There Is No Enlightenment Without Violence

Violence, like folly, has been unfairly criticized by ingrate thinkers. Both methods are central to proper mental creativity. Any serious change of mind is a form of crazy violence, this is why great thinkers have been so thoroughly hated throughout history.

The list of the martyrs of thought is long. Socrates, condemned to death, Plato and Aristotle barely escaping execution, Demosthenes suicided by Aristotle’s BFF, the Gracchi and thousands of their collaborators assassinated for fighting the “Optimates”,  Caesar treacherously and stupidly assassinated, Christ crucified, Domitians killing all philosophy, except supine Stoicism, Julian mysteriously stabbed, Hypatia flayed alive (and her torturer in chief made into a Christian saint!), Boethius executed by having his bones broken (because the Ostrogoth in chief heard some rumors which he recognized later were erroneous)… 

… and then when one gets to medieval times, many of the most important western thinkers were involved in life and death struggles, for trying to reconcile the Christian madness with reason, the most famous being Abelard’s fighting the genocidal upper society maniac Saint Bernard… but Hus, Dolet and Bruno were among the many top teachers burned alive by the Vatican… Descartes had to run for his life… But the guillotine caught up with Lavoisier, the world’s top chemist… Of course, under the Nazis many intellectuals died the hard way. The situation was worse on the Muslim side, and got actually so bad that, when the west got finally thoroughly islamized (that took centuries), so did intellectual life (which thus died).

Why we need lions (as Nietzsche, last of a long line, pointed out). Wisdom needs claws. I prefer to master the lion, as the lady above… then feed him my enemies. I made it so that I have enough of those, my lion will not go hungry…

Why so much violence against thinkers? Because violence is force and it requires enormous force to change minds. This all arises from the fact it takes enormous amounts of energy to make up a brain: baby brains consume up to 25% of a body’s energy. Thus, when a mind is made up, they are nearly impossible to change… before rebuilding a brain one would need to demolish it, and it’s not clear how to do this: thoughts and emotions are literally physical objects, highly nonlinear neural networks of axons, dendrites perfused by emotional topoi from various organ, organelles, and even neurons. Let me quote one of my frenemies, celebrated by Critical Race theorists, Frantz Fanon, a very smart Martiniquais psychiatrist FLN-Soviet-CIA agent who exerted violence for the liberation-destruction of Algeria: “Violence is man recreating himself.” I explained that neurologically.

Socrates and Machiavelli are generally held to hold vastly different views on violence and violent actions, the former advocates strongly that it is always better to be harmed rather than to harm while the latter argues that violence is essential, when used correctly, in order to gain and maintain power. The former was a real warrior, killing and saving people in combat. Machiavel was just a paper-pusher with boyish admiration for Cesare Biorgia. 

However, Socrates was put on trial for injuring the Athenian democracy, corrupting the youth: several of his followers and lovers, decades younger than him, engaged in high treason against Athens. So Socrates was basically accused of exerting violence against democracy. And that’s pretty much what some of his philosophy does. (As with anything Socratic, much of this may have been “fiction”, as indicated by Aristotle…) Thus Socrates, bathing as he was in violence, demonstrates, by his own life, that violence is everywhere. His own attempt at showing showy non-violence is itself a violence: Socrates insisted to punish Athens by making her sin… As a fleeing Aristotle himself pointed out, as he chuckled, fleeing, that he would not let Athens sin against philosophy again….

So I say: sometimes the ends justify the means. For proof I direct you to contemplation of aerial Allied bombings in World War Two. Including the nuclear bombings and deaths by irradiation, those bombings on Germany and Japan killed less than 1.5 million people, most of them sort-of innocent, or even completely innocent (children). However their effects on the war were so great that those two fascist powers were unable to pursue the war. Without prior aerial bombing for years, which weakened it considerably, Nazi Germany would have had, ironically enough, to be atom bombed into submission… 

Plato claims that often it is better to get injured, that’s how to be more open, and submit to others and other things. But, although the view has merits, within bounds, it cannot be absolute. As an absolute, it only reflects Plato’s inclination to dictators (namely the tyrant of Syracuse) and dictatorship (“philosopher-kings”). So Plato makes Socrates mouth this sort of opinion, focusing on rape (“eros”)… As if normal people had to make a philosophy of rape… to guide daily life… Levinas was more subtle: on the first page of Totality and Infinity,he writes: “being reveals itself as war—even more, war is “the very patency, or the truth of the real.” (TI, 21/9)

As I said, neurological war, if nothing else. Socrates recognizes things around us are tumbling in and out of being. In spite of his dissemblance on violence, Socrates was more real on folly. He considered it 2440 years ago that:”the greatest blessing granted to mankind comes by way of madness, which is a divine gift.” Erasmus followed, 19 centuries later.  

The source of the madness is simple: when genuinely new neural circuitry is erected, old erroneous circuitry has to be destroyed. This violent act requires so much, one may feel it makes no sense, hence the appearance, at the very least, of folly. 

Incitation and redemption comes from humans being, instinctively, truth machines. For this we have to enjoy changing our minds, hard, painful and energetically expensive. So we have to enjoy pain, at least that way. 

So here you have it:

Sometimes the ends justify the means. Those who claim otherwise are just posing without knowledge of the most eminent facts.

There is something such as new and better thinking, and that is defined as thinking that is closer to reality, and feed the beholder better. Ultimately superior thinking will be all proven by destroying the enemy. Same old same old. (That does not mean I am advocating to go out kill people 24/7: Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, destroyed their enemies pretty well… by marching.)

Energetic violence inside one’s mind implements new and better thinking, starting with oneself, but it’s more fun when imposed upon others. 

Folly, or the appearance, and the appreciation thereof, is an indispensable method to implement the systematic and systemic doubt Descartes advocated. Even Socrates/Plato got that one right. 

It’s a complicated world out there, best dealt with subtlety greater than what has been previously described in the classical imagination… Descartes, a man of the sword, a captain, had forgotten, or did not dare, to make explicit a few methods indispensable to thinkers. He knew those methods all too well, and the accusations they led to, thus why he had to flee France for his life.

Patrice Ayme


P/S: It may, and will be argued that, in truth, the “violence” and “folly” I am talking about is not really either, since they are fully legitimate as part of creativity. Was Van Gogh violent and mad? We don’t know, as we don’t know how he really died (OK, a gunshot, but who fired it and how?). But whatever his mental status, thank you. However, I was reflecting on various bans I received over the years on the Internet, several of them permanent and forever (“we have the means to know who you are, etc.”). The most recent ban for “hate” being in May 2021, for alleged “hate” on Facebook, the punishment being for 30 days. The reason for the alleged “hate” was a case of shooting the messenger because Facebook didn’t like the message. Facebook recognized it was in error and suspended its own suspension. Meanwhile I sent a few comments to the New York Times, including to some famous pseudo-intellectuals, and they got banned, and I was wondering what goes through the minds of such people, pretending to think publicly while enabling trite comments and banning important and intelligent ones.

So the verdict was that, in any case, mental creativity will often show up as violent madness to some. Authentic tolerance is, then, to tolerate the appearance of intellectual violence and madness… As long as it doesn’t really hurt those who can’t defend themselves.

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6 Responses to “There Is No Enlightenment Without Violence”

  1. Gmax Says:

    Deep… but won’t make you friends. Not that you care…


  2. Larry Miller Says:

    Wisdom says file the claws.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Sometimes compassion, justice and progress need lions to fight on their behalf. Full lions with saber fangs, hot claws, and the attitude to go with them. Filed claws didn’t kill Nazis and make Hirohito stop killing 10,000 Chinese a day. Carpet bombing and nukes were decisive.


  3. Henry Kuyvenhoven Says:

    Please understand that lions are going to disappear if they are forced to be vegetarians. The wolves, bears and the eagles have heard the masked one and learned to adapt. The tigers are to proud because they know their place. The disappearance of the tigers is not the cause for humanity’s destruction but the removal of their home has consequences that appear to be destroying mankind. The women know what to do. They have joined the solution. Gentle changes are often well thought out but catching the wine glass before it spills the delightful spirit requires intuitive quick and relaxed change.
    Be wonderful and expect your miracle.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Indeed, vegetarian lions would mean disappeared lions. The whole point of lions is that they are carnivorous. It is no coincidence that the wisest animal is also the most ferocious, and the most tender and loving. Both aspects are related, one makes the other possible, and reciprocally. Wealth of mind keeps on giving and gives everything.
      We shall try for wonder, and wait for miracle! 😉


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