Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

People Need Faith, Not Philosophy?

September 5, 2017

No, just the opposite:


Faith arises from philosophy. Saying one needs faith, not philosophy is as if one said one needs lungs, not air. I will defend a very different thesis: people need to have faith in philosophy, in the philosophical approach. Such an attitude is not very popular in the USA, where philosophy seems only second to Conspiracy Theory as a subject worth studying.

The word “faith” comes, through Old French as usual, from the Latin “fides”, trust. Anything we believe in, be it a physical law, or a historical fact, we have to trust it’s true. So trust, faith is at every corner, every step of the way.  

To have faith in philosophy never has been, and never will be, as long as the US population doesn’t make a deep analysis of the deliberate stupidity the USA used as a cover-up for 4 centuries of exploitative criminality and counting…

“People need faith, not philosophy” suggests a faithful commenter on Thoughts, Eugen R. The idea has been frequently brandished by intellectuals in the jungle of ideas out there. Some basic concepts cause problems here. “People”, and “Faith”. Their considerable, multidimensional bulk has to be examined. Moreover, I deplore the mood behind the entire aphorism: indeed, a correct, most appropriate faith can only be established by a more advanced philosophy. All and any faith is the fruit of a philosophical process. If not yours, then someone’s else (Zarathustra, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, etc.)

Contrarily to repute, “faith” is eminently practical. Because, in its most frequent form, it’s laic, not superstitious. “Faith” is necessary to operate: one has to have faith that, whatever one is engaging into, it will bring something good.

Take for example the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, which used to be called Burma, and whose PM is An San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace prize laureate (who deserved it, unlike Obama!). One has to have faith that the abominable situation they are in can be mitigated, if one pays enough attention to it. Myanmar claims that of almost 400 people killed since Aug. 25, nearly all are insurgents. Apparently Rohingya toddlers are very rebellious, and deserve death. Myanmar officials have accused insurgents of burning Buddhist monasteries and statues.

Well, I have faith in the good nature, overall, of most people, and that good things come from exhibiting this faith. This is why mentioning infamy leads to fighting it. Or so I believe. Faith, you see?


As life, or any project, ends in death always, faith in the desirability of daily tasks, is a triumph over the prospect of death. It’s an act of the deepest faith. That doesn’t mean that faith should be blind: one has to desire to indulge in worthy pursuits.

But of course, by “faith”, Eugen R implicitly meant the sort of fanaticism Abrahamists are known for. Consider Catholic priests in Japan, refusing to put their foot on an image of Christ (as if Christ would feel the foot, which it deserved, anyway; see the book and movies “Silence”)

Assuming “People” need “faith” but rulers do not, is a perpetual stand-by, as long as there are rulers and they rule. The nature of the faith varies: to oppress and subjugate other people, one has to oppress and subjugate their minds.


Toyotomi Hideyoshi Or When Rulers Decide What The Faith Of The People Is:

Toyotomi Hideyoshi correctly perceived that Christianity, known and perceived as the cult of equalitarian Christ, would have revolutionary consequences in Japan. Toyotomi Hideyoshi unified a warring Japan, thanks to an extremely hierarchized society where peasants had been disarmed. Christianity, under the guise of generalized goodness, threatened to undo all of this. So it had to be extinguished, and this started by extinguishing its symbols.


A Given Faith Can Be Revolutionary There, Anti-Revolutionary Here:

Overall ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi in Sixteenth Century Japan put an end to peasant revolts by making illegal for peasants to have swords (and a fortiori firearms). At the same time, he crucified 26 Franciscans in Nagasaki, and made Christianity illegal (although he had to embrace Christian traders). Toyotomi was a man of many strong faiths: for example he tried to conquer China (that involved conquering Korea first, and that he did; but next the Korean navy sank his fleet, a problem, considering that China had been pulled into the war…).

In 1600 CE Japanese society, Christianism was revolutionary (all men were equal in the eyes of Christ). Whereas in Fourth Century Rome, Christianism was debilitating, distracting and by 390 CE, a way to not just subjugate, by actually assassinating free spirits.

It’s actually fascinating that the same religion could be liberating in Japan, and subjugating in the Roman empire. The reasons are clear, albeit complex: Rome started as a republican democracy, Japan as a military ruled society (where Rome ended, yet not so well, because it didn’t start this way).


Constantine, Theodosius, & Other Roman Emperors Imposed Faith In Catholic Terror:

In all societies, religions of the rulers is different from that of those they rule: Charlemagne wanted the Saxons to submit to Christianism scrupulously, under the penalty of death, but he personally took king David of Israel as a model, and in his realm Christians were free to convert to Judaism, while he himself, like all the top Franks, lived with a harem.

Nietzsche spent much time exposing the hypocrisy of Christianism as practiced in Europe: the military hereditary class known as the “nobles” or “aristocrats”, similar to the one in Japan, had, in practice, a very different religion from the “People”.

(By the way, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who achieved immense power, even trying to invade China after invading all of Korea, was of unknown peasant stock, he rose through the military hierarchy, all by himself, a story not found in Rome, and Europe, because, there, those who reached ultimate command, were themselves children of individuals who had reached power by themselves: for example the uncle of emperor Justinian, or the parents of emperor Constantine, etc; most of the others were part of dynasties, some of them last centuries).


The Roman Republic Had Faith In Itself:

In other words the Roman PEOPLE, during the full Roman Republic, had faith in itself, and reason, not some fascistic, capricious, jealous Bible god.

Continual, overwhelming, astounding heroism, fortitude and obdurate will characterized the Roman Republic for centuries. Many times, the Republic should have perished, facing desperate military situations, as when the Gauls seized Rome, and a few geese saved the Capitol. These were the times, and they lasted for ever, when the religion of the Romans was the Republic.

That mood, that faith, was so strong, that it survived the collapse of the Roman government, and transmogrified into faith in what was called the “Christian Republic” (basically an early form of Liberté, égalité, fraternité “liberty, equality, fraternity”.

Actually the original motto of the French Republic was: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Or Death”.

“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”: a faith worth dying for. At least so have thought many Western societies in the last 26 centuries.

Liberty Or Death! The death part, which is very Roman Republican (and later, Roman Catholic), was dropped later, because it was too reminiscent of the “terror” of 1793-94… itself an answer to earlier terrors…). (Bibliothèque Nationale de France; republican poster from circa 1793.)

People don’t need “faith” in a superstitious religion as a motivation to rule; the fruits that exploiting others bring, are obvious enough. However, subjugated people do need faith, to justify their own subjugation (Abrahamism and Buddhist like faiths have proven highly suitable)…

That “people need faith, not philosophy”. That was an idea imposed sneakily in the PRINCIPATE period of the Roman empire, which lasted 3 centuries. It became clear when some dead rulers were proclaimed to be gods.

Then faith in superstitious faith was imposed loud and clear by emperor Diocletian with the cult of SOL, around 300 CE. (The Cult of Sol was similar to the Japanese one in some ways… Japan also had a military government, by its own admission, from the middle of the Middle Ages). At that point, the emperor started to be recognized as a living god, although Constantine backed that down to himself being only the 13th Apostle; Theodosius would further back down by recognizing the primacy of the bishop of Milan (Saint Ambrose) over himself (the secular leader, who had to beg public forgiveness to the bishop over some massacre, under the threat of excommunication).

A fully liberated people is emperor of its own realm. The realm is secular. Faith of the superstitious type, irrelevant.

Full democracy means no rulers, but for We The People themselves.

It’s no utopia, but increasingly, as pragmatic, no-nonsense Switzerland is governed. Athens, at her best, was governed that way.


Faith In Tyranny Is Requested By Tyrants:

Instead what we have nowadays, increasingly is structures like the Eurogroup, the government of the Euro Zone. The Eurogroup, made of finance ministers of the Euro Zone, has huge powers. However, its unelected, uncontrolled, and not even formally acknowledged by the European Constitution.

Common people are supposed to have faith in their in their European masters. So we see that faith in masters replaces democracy, people-power.

That was excusable to some extent in societies such as the Late Greco-Roman empire, where most of the country folks didn’t know how to read and write, whereas the aristocrats and top urban types did. At least this is what some will say.  

However, when people have power, and thus take the decisions, faith in masters is replaced by attention to detail.

Thus, and conversely, throughout history, the greatest rulers tended to be contributors to top intellectual debate. Darius, Alexander the Great, Caesar, Constantine, Saint Augustine, Clovis, even Genghis Khan, Saint Louis or Louis XIV have contributed heavily to the history of thought. They all understood that having faith in what they viewed as philosophy was at the core of their essence, as rulers.


To Rule Best, One Has To Be Ruled By The Highest Faiths

Education had been front and center with the Franks, for centuries, causing a strident conflict with the Papacy (for which knowing god was enough). Weirdly, Charlemagne’s father had not given a full literary education to his two sons. However, when he became ruler of what was in many ways, the most advanced empire, Charlemagne was fully aware of the necessity of knowledge. He was an admirable speaker in Frankish and Latin, his mother tongues, and also knew Greek. He surrounded himself with some of Europe’s top philosophers, making the British thinker Alcuin his Prime Minister. Charles spent hours in study to improve his writing.

Charlemagne had faith in knowledge. He knew that Augustus’ will to leave a undefendable frontier in Germany was absurd. So the last tribe had to be reduced into submission, the Saxons. He fought them for 32 years, including 18 main battles. Charlemagne had faith that this last corner in north-east Germany had to be civilized. His faith bore fruit: 150 years later, the Saxons had become the main force of the Renovated Roman empire.

We need faith in knowledge too. And faith in ourselves as we confront cannibalistic thermonuclear punks (Kim and his allies).

The higher faiths are grounded in the highest philosophy.


Look at physics:


New Physics, New Philosophy:

Buridan proposed the heliocentric system around 1350 CE, from his new mechanics (the completion of which is now called “Newtonian Mechanics”). He observed that one didn’t have experimental means to make sure heliocentrism was true, directly (those would appear in the Seventeenth Century, a careful observation of the phases of Venus, the way the Sun was illuminating Sol). However Buridan ruefully scoffed that one may as well believe in geocentrism, because “Scripture” said so.

In 1350 CE, physics was thus philosophically decided. Should one believe the Bible, something written by some exiled Jews in Babylon, 19 centuries prior, or should one believe that the little, presumably less massive thing (the Earth) rotated around the giant thing (the Sun)? A philosophical choice said Buridan (and it was clear that the most rational thing was not to follow “Scripture”).

In the Twentieth Century, Einstein made a big deal that one should incorporate as fundamental laws in a theory only what one observed. Einstein was actually parroting Science and Hypothesis (La Science et l’Hypothèse) a book by French philosopher, physicist and mathematician Henri Poincaré, first published in 1902. When Quantum Mechanics, Copenhagen version, arose, a few years after De Broglie’s thesis, an incensed, hyper famous Einstein confronted the junior Werner Heisenberg about the craziness of Bohr-Heisenberg Quantum Mechanics. Calmly, Heisenberg replied he was just applying the philosophical insights Einstein himself had defended, and that he, Heisenberg, had learned by reading Einstein…

For example,  Poincaré had observed that light was always observed to be going at speed c, thus that had got to be a fundamental law. Bohr and Heisenberg similarly put in their theory of reality only ingredients which were observed (or, more exactly, observable). (Einstein chomping at the bit, tried for years to ruin the notion of reality of the Copenhagen school; ultimately, after a wise debate with the philosopher Popper, Einstein came out, in 1935, with the famous EPR paper revealing that Quantum mechanics was nonlocal… Amazingly nobody, aside from yours truly, seems to have noticed that this showed that a crucial part of Einstein 1905 Photoelectric Effect paper is nonsensical… This is an error which led to the absurd “Multiverse” Theory…)

Any significant, fundamental advance in physics, the nature of nature, is always accompanied with trusting new elements of reality, and less so, previous ones. As we change physics, we change faith.

Any cognition entails faith. We know, because we trust.

Patrice Ayme’