Archive for the ‘Socrates’ Category

INVICTUS We Should BE: Free Will, Determinism, Classical & Quantum Mechanics, Neurohormonal States

April 2, 2018

Conventional Wisdom sits back and whines: ’With Quantum Mechanics, we lost determinism. Is Free Will in truth just Quantum chaos?’

Advanced Wisdom replies: ’Not so, just the opposite. Absolute determinacy from classical mechanics never existed, because it depended upon infinitely precise initial conditions. These couldn’t be. Now, given that small initial discrepancy, after an arbitrarily long time, one will get an arbitrarily large discrepancy. Exit your sacrosanct “classical determinacy”, which will always churn out arbitrarily large errors, given enough time.

Conventional Wisdom:’In any case our brains are ruled by Quantum Mechanics, and that’s nondeterministic’.

Advanced Wisdom:’The Quantum is not truly “nondeterministic“. The Quantum attributes probabilities to outcomes, the so-called “Quanta”, but the latter outcomes don’t change ever more with time… whereas wilder and wilder outcomes is what happens in Classical Mechanics, as time goes by!

Classical Wisdom sees Classical Mechanics as deterministic, whereas Quantum Mechanics is not. However, Quantum outcomes are determined at the outset (so-called “Quanta”), whereas all and any classical mechanical evolutions diverge indefinitely ever more… SO CM predicts whatever, in the long run, whereas QM is more regimented…

Conventional Wisdom:’Quantum Mechanics more deterministic than Classical Mechanics? The world is upside down with you! Whatever, you confuse me. Forget these abstractions, forget Quantum Mechanics, for the sake of the argument at hand, I don’t believe in Free Will. Let me tell you why. View the brain as a machine with programs. Given some circumstances, the brain will make just one computation, with just one solution. Presto, no more Free Will! We are just Turing machines! Nothing you can do, you will always get the same result.’

Advanced Wisdom:’I embrace BRAIN BUILDING, not just body building! I have a little experiment for you. Sit in a chair, think about a given Problem, call it P. Then go run half an hour on a mountain trail, an exercise of the muscles, the heart, and the brain processing thousands of data points per second. See what happens to what you thought P was. By the way, I stupidly miscomputed today the firmness of the snow while running, I should have recognized the tint of that particular patch of snow, crashed forward after by right leg went deep through the treacherous white substance, skidded on my left knee, careened off the snow bank, crash landing in stones on the side, making a small bloody gash in my left hand, it sure impacted my mindset a bit… But I digress… The point is this: try then to think of Problem P, while running for quite a while, brain concentrated on potential trajectories’ dangers. You will think of P, but it will turn out in a different context, with different details, different motivations (typically more macroscopic, bigger picture style), in a different mood, in other words, in a different neurohormonal and oxygen set-up. The computational paths offered inside the brain to solve P will be different than those which were apparent while sitting on that chair. Hence if one had a set C of solutions from the chair, one now has a set R, from running: the set of solutions is not C, but C + R!’

In other words, if you want to get out of Plato’s Cave, go running! Running, physical activity, or different neurohormonal set-up, will change your mind. Learn to change minds as if it were clothes. It beats just putting someone’s else shoes.

CW:’What does that have to do with Free Will?’

AW: ‘Classical Free Will is a choice between a number of solutions, hypotheses, emphases, etc. Call that set of choices and outcomes N. Conventional Wisdom assumes that N just is, like the Moon, a well-determined object, like in a category (category is here in the mathematical sense). However, I just demonstrated that N, the set of choices and outcomes presented to Free Will is, itself, a function of neurohormonal states. Changing the neurohormones changes the categories which make up that set N (something Aristotle didn’t think of when he invented categories in the non-math sense). Moreover the latter neurohormonal states can be controlled and chosen from, or selected… At will. When Socrates and his golden youth friends and lovers decided to go get drunk and party all night, chewing the fat, they decided to change their neurohormonal states from normal to wacko. That’s the whole idea of Dionysus, bringing a fresh re-think, and re-emote of the whole mindset. Nietzsche correctly deduced that was one of the causes of the Greeks’ superiority. Similarly, religions prohibiting nuttiness, foolishness, jokes and feasts, as Catholicism and Islamism, fabricate dull minds. So thinking can be controlled with meta controls upon the environments in which the thinking, and the feeling, are conducted, and produced. That’s why people read books and go the theater, among other fantasies.

Conventional Wisdom: ‘Are you getting meta on me, once again?’

AW: ‘Yes, Free Will is not free of neurohormonal or other mental states, thus we are free to control Free Will by selecting for oneself one’s environmentsA form of meta control. For example, when the wrongfully revered philosopher Heidegger decided to become a Seminarist, or a Nazi, he made meta choices which impacted his freedom of thought or, of will, looking forward. Same when doctor Asperger decided to help support the Nazis’ first extermination program, a context which led him to invent the pseudo-disease named after him (and which was used as a reason to assassinate thousands of German children).’    

While in captivity, Nelson Mandela recited that poem by William Henley to fellow prisoners, and they felt empowered. The myth of “Sol Invictus” was imposed by Roman Emperor Aurelian, around 250 CE, it was a first run of the fascist Catholicism Constantine would impose in 325 CE, 75 years later…

CW:’Are you saying that I can act to steer my own Free Will, by controlling my mental context?’

AW:’Yes. And you are deeper than you think: the notion of “steering” was introduced by Schrodinger, in connection with Quantum Entanglement. Steering of mental state and Free Will is closely related. Indeed, changing context is pretty much how Quantum Steering shows up! Hence the Schrodinger cat conundrum…

CW:’Enough, my head is exploding in cats!’

AW:’Take hold of yourself, remember the honor of the human spirit! When talking about Free Will remember that, as in Quantum Mechanics, you can’t control the solutions, but you can control the spaces which make them appear!

CW: ‘Can we get practical here?

AW: ‘It’s very practical! I just said there was Free Will, and how to create more of it!”

CW: ‘You want to create Free Will by acting on the mental contexts, by making it so that they will offer, or create, more solutions?

AW: ‘Exactly! The idea is not exactly new. Forcefully changing neurohormonal states is why Socrates and his ilk got drunk, and Indian Swamis, and countless Shamans around the world experimented with mind altering drugs! Or why we dream, for that matter!’

CW:’Do you do drugs?’

AW:’No need, I just plug-in my brain, it’s foolish and creative enough on its own, no need to reduce performance with junk, no alcohol, nicotine, pot, or hallucinogens for me, I hallucinate in a controlled fashion, so to speak. Indeed, I do mind altering activities like mountain running in snow, hence yesterday’s amusing crash.’  

Conventional Wisdom: Alright, you, you and you. Kudos to you, oh great youyou. What is the point of Free Will anyway? Why should we worry about it?

AW: Because if we don’t we don’t do anything about it, we just wait for nuclear war, and the rising of oceans by 70 meters, whatever comes first.

CW:’You worry about big stuff. What’s in it for small people with small preoccupations?’

AW: ‘Very simple. If one doesn’t believe in Free Will, one is a slave to destiny. However, human beings aren’t made to be slave to destiny. Human beings, as they evolved, over millions of years, could check, every day, that they were actors of change. Profitable change, life saving change. Thus, lack of belief in Free Will is fundamentally inhuman. Lack of belief in Free Will corresponds to not behaving according to the owner’s manual. And it has to be discouraged, thought evolution. Therefore, lack of belief in Free Will makes individuals lugubrious, sinister, unhappy, and a danger to their human environment. Let alone the entire biosphere. Amen.

CW: Being happy is a moral duty?

AW: Being happy and willful is a moral duty, in the sense of the morality evolution itself created us with. We were evolutionary made to be Lords, not slaves! Embracing such an attitude, embracing happiness and wilfulness, has practical consequences, such as an unwillingness to confer our decisional powers to representatives whose powers corrupt them absolutely!

CW: What is the overall metaprinciple, to use your semantics, at work here?

AW: The honor of the human spirit is the ultimate principle. What evolution created us into, it did, because it enhanced our mental performances. We are naturally evolved artificial intelligence. It’s our mental superiority which drove us, as a species. Insinuating that we are not free to be happy, free to become captains, and even architects, and engineers, of our own souls, is to undermine the human spirit, our core principle, it is to subscribe to the principle of slavery.

Patrice Aymé

Is Philosophy Just About Death? Should Religion Be Mostly About Suffering? No! Such Moods Underlay Plutocracy!

December 27, 2017

Abstract: DEATH AND SUFFERING, THE FUNDAMENTAL PSYCHO DRIVERS inherited from Platonism, Stoicism, Abrahamism (Judeo-Christo-Islamism), Buddhism & Nihilism weaken minds and resolve. This is exactly why they have been imposed on the (clueless) masses.

Philosophy, especially the philosophy obsessed by death and suffering, drives politics. Death and suffering obsessed philosophies, and religions are Pluto friendly, and make it easier for plutocrats to govern us all.

Politics is practical philosophy. Plutocracy made sure that the ruling philosophies, and religions, would serve it well, by rejecting life and threatening the masses with pain and anxiety. The obsession they nourished with death and suffering, both of which have to be avoided at the cost of enjoying life in optimal honor and comfort, are the twin pillars of the sheep mentality they have imposed on most of humanity. Islam is a death cult, right: it’s all about Allah, who, in the end, throws nearly everybody “into the fire“. However the root of that disease are much deeper, they pervade the Greco-Roman West. The cult of Jesus Christ is basically a cosmetically improved version of Socrates’ Death Cult.

And no, Hinduism provides no relief. It is more of the same, from a different angle.

***

Plato, Or Philosophy As Fake News:

Some philosophers, to this day, claim that philosophy’s justification is to prepare for death (the same critters generally boast that philosophy is just “footnotes to Plato”, as if they should be proud of their lack of progress; notice in passing that philosophy as footnotes to Plato is an Anglo-Saxon notion, and it partakes to the general Anglo-Saxon plutocratic will to dismiss philosophy as a “worthy object of study”, to quote Bertrand Russell) .

The idea of reducing philosophy to a death rehearsal is presented by that old fascist, Plato, as an exposition from Socrates. Plato claims that life is all about making nice with the “Gods”. Life with the “Gods” will be better, so we may as well not be too attached to life.

Of course Plato and his savant parrot, Socrates were lying: their ives demonstrate it. They were actually party animals, depraved drinkers indulging in a life of wanton sex, luxury and commerce with all the dictators they could find or fabricate.

Even the judgment and execution of Socrates couldn’t stop them. The smartly vicious Aristotle was back with the same trick on steroids later, and when he fled Athens, made the self-aggrandizing statement that he wanted to save Athens from sinning against philosophy again. In truth, Aristotle was busy demolishing Greek democracy, and succeeded. 

Montaigne and his castle, as seen by Salvador Dali, 1947. Notice the “Hommage to France” at the bottom, by the Catalan Dali. The infuriating secret of Western Civilization, now world, is that it’s anchor has been France. Not sure it will be the case looking forward considering the results of children scholastic tests TIMMS, PIRLS, and PISA.!

***

The idea that life is nothing, and the “gods” everything, enabled the rule of the 1%:

The idea was recycled first by the Stoics, modest critters crawling by the feet of tyrants, while protesting of their soothing capacity to endure any abuse. The Christians five centuries later, were loud and clear that this world was nothing and making love to Jesus in the after world was all what matters. The Muslim ran away with the idea another half millennium after that. In the Qur’an the Jews are condemned because they “would like to live 1,000 years”, and nothing is more noble and richer in rewards to die for “God”..

Was Socrates the first Jihadist? Jihadists, apparently following Socrates, claim that life is nothing, while pleasing and obeying the “God(s)” everything. An Athenian jury thought so that Socrates’ advocated preference for death should be honored, and condemned him accordingly, for “perverting the youth” (long story; notice similarity with what should be done to Jihadism). Socrates was given an opportunity to escape, but as genuine Jihadist are won to do, he prefered to die for his Great Beyond, full of nice “Gods”.

This “lust for death”, the most acute form of nihilism, went so far that it was condemned by Seneca in “Moral Letters to Lucilius”:

“The grave and wise man should not beat a hasty retreat from life; he should make a becoming exit. And above all, he should avoid the weakness which has taken possession of so many, – the LUST FOR DEATH. For just as there is an unreflecting tendency of the mind towards other things, so, my dear Lucilius, there is an unreflecting tendency towards death; this often seizes upon the noblest and most spirited men, as well as upon the craven and the abject. The former despise life; the latter find it irksome.”

Seneca explains in other parts that the description of Socrates’s death was much meditated upon and emulated by many in the Roman elite, including Scipio, of the famous Scipio family, one of Cato’s generals, in the war against Pompey. A little example of how Plato inflected history… Christianism is the lust for death writ so large, with the brandishment of the nailed, writhing naked Jesus as its very grotesquely cruel and threatening symbol. It is astounding that Islam succeeded to lust for death even more than Christianism itself.

In some sense even the Aztecs were less lusting for death than the Christians were. The Aztecs tried to capture in war their enemies alive, so they could sacrificed on the top of magnificent pointy pyramids; that made the Aztec religion in a sense less bloody than Christianism, as the Aztecs discovered to their sorrow, too late! The Aztecs were in particular disgusted by the elaborated tortures the Conquistadores inflicted. Roasting Aztec nobility alive all night long was standard treatment, as far as the Spaniards were concerned. It no doubt reflected in their minds what their “Lord” had supposedly gone through, and had redeeming values.

As Nietzsche pointed out, European nobility’s operational morality was the opposite of Christianism. Yet, they were entangled: Christianism lust for death and suffering enabled the nobility to inflict maximal death and suffering, in the name of “religion”. When the commander of the crusade against the Cathars was told that one couldn’t tell who was Christian, and who was a Cathar, he famously replied:“Brulez-les tous, Dieu reconnaitra les siens” (Burn them all, Allah will recognize his own). That was not immediately cathartic. It should have been. This explains why Western Europe got rid of “God”. Now He is back in Arabic translation (“Allah”). And should be equally repulsed, lest Europe wants to end up like Syria.

***

Montaigne thought the obsession with death was poppycock:

Ever since they made a superficial reading of the Old Ones, simplistic “philosophers” have claimed that the aim of philosophy is to prepare for death. This reflects a lack of experience on the part of the beholders. Montaigne corrected this. Once, Montaigne was knocked of his horse by another horseman going at a full gallop. He described the incident in great detail in his “Essays”. He nearly died. His conclusion is that death can come unannounced, all of a sudden, and does not have to be painful. The whole experience was so disconcerting and weird, preparing for it would be completely impossible.

At this point he adds [free translation by yours truly, to make Montaigne more understandable]

“Nature herself assists and encourages us: if the death be sudden and violent, we don’t have the opportunity to fear; if otherwise, I perceive that as I engage further in my disease, I naturally enter into a certain loathing and disdain of life. I find I have much more difficulty to digest the perspective of dying, when I am well in health, than when languishing of a fever; and by how much I have less to do with the advantages of life, by reason that I begin to lose the use and pleasure of them, by so much I look upon death with less terror. Which makes me hope, that the further I remove from the life, and the nearer I approach to death, I shall the more easily exchange the one for the other.”

In case one does not get it, Montaigne hammers away:

“Not only the argument of reason invites us to it — for why should we fear to lose a thing [life], which being lost, cannot be lamented? — but, also, seeing we are threatened by so many sorts of death, is it not infinitely worse eternally to fear them all, than once to undergo one of them? … What a ridiculous thing it is to trouble ourselves about taking the only step that is to deliver us from all trouble! As our birth brought us the birth of all things, so in our death is the death of all things included. And therefore to lament that we shall not be alive a hundred years hence, is the same folly as to be sorry we were not alive a hundred years ago. … Long life, and short, are by death made all one; for there is no long, nor short, to things that are no more.”

It is of course not that simple: most painting of old famous men have a young girl, probably a granddaughter praying and crying on the death-bed (consider the deaths of Presidents Jackson and Washington). Desolate persons are always in attendance, crying. When we die, we live our loved ones behind. And if they loved us too, and they probably do, they will be deprived forever of our company. So, contrary to what Montaigne says, the loss of life can, and is, lamented. Simply, not by us. But what would we have been without the others?  

***

Is Buddhism A Pampered Caprice from The Wealthiest, For the Wealthiest??

The next prey we will devour today is the plump, jolly Buddha. Buddha, a pampered Prince (not just a plutocratic multi billionaire), naturally feared suffering more than anything. After all, he was not used to it. Suffering is something his class offered common people in abundance: if lower classes touched upper classes, they would be burned with a red-hot iron, where they touched, etc. From Buddha’s young perspective, as a princeling, suffering was not just something to fear, never having experienced it, but it was an humiliation, a descent to join the lower classes’ misery.

Make no mistake, suffering can be a horrendous thing, defying comprehension. Actually, it defies comprehension so much that, in its extreme forms, the brain just disconnects it. The brain probably does this with a massive release of endorphins, and other mechanisms not yet understood which block completely the pain pathways.  

Let notice in passing an important point here: the ultimate acceptance of pain, and its attendant dismissal is an evolutionary trait. But not an evolutionary trait to insure the survival of the individual (who, in the wild, when submitted to extreme pain can’t be far from death). Instead, the negation of pain profits the group, as a heroic defender will be free to concentrate on attacking the enemy, or then, counterintuitively, precisely not to hurt the predator during its dinner. This is a case where evolution acted at the level of groups and even ecosystems. (So much for the silly “selfish gene”! The real world is closer to the biosphere described in the movies “Avatar”!)

The brain is mostly in charge of ensuring survival of the individual, or the group. That’s why it evolved. Thus, in an ultimate struggle, this is the only thing the brain does. At least once, falling off a mountain in a rock avalanche in a mile high ice gully, my brain did just two things: finding an unlikely camming position between ice and granite, and mobilizing all the motor neurons, bringing hyper human strength. According to the usual mathematics of sportive performance, say at the Olympic Games, survival was impossible. But the usual parameters didn’t apply.

I had more than one close call, although another where survival was impossible. Each time, I have noticed that the brain blanks out all and any non sensory functions (in particular memorization). This happens during solo climbing: the brain shuts down unnecessary brain activity, immediately achieving what the great meditation masters are looking for (hey, it’s this, or death!) Once I was up a very pretty red and yellow, extremely exposed “Naked Edge” of Colorado front range rock, quasi-soloing the rope going straight down. I was laybacking, feet walking up close to my walking up hands holding a vertical edge. A gust of wind came, pushed and slowly turned me like a weather wane. I had to convert from laybacking position to lousy jamming. Then the wind blew the other way, and back I went. During this weird sequence, back and forth, fall forbidden, I was just making one with the rock and the wind. I clang to dear life.

Thus those who talk of death as if it were to be feared know little: as Montaigne more or less say, it will not come when our brain is in a normal state.

If one wants to embrace the future, where progress will hopefully shine, one has to dismiss the past. Contemplate for example that youthful, vigorous invigorating, open-minded vision of Palestine: young Palestinians dancing, some dressed like so-called Father Christmas, embracing modernity, life, the world, the future! The right direction for the embattled Middle Earth. (If Jesus is Socrates death cult v 2.0, Islam is Socrates death cult v. 3; and the fact Aristotle’s love of monarchy underlays the entire world political system is also something which has to be detected, understood, condemned and discarded.)

Giving an exaggerated mental space to death and suffering, while despising life, discourages rebellion against the established order. People besotted by common sense will think twice before fighting an established order whose symbol of goodness, brandished all around, is a squirming naked guy nailed on a cross.

Egyptian and Indian Plutocracies found another tricky metaphysics to discourage rebellion against the masters: the Eternal Return of the Same. That, too demonstrated the unworthiness of life, and how useless it was to try to change institutions: after all, everything will go back to what it was before.

In truth there is plenty of evidence that the “gods” were all in Socrates’ head (as he readily admits, when he talks about the “deamons” in his head; said “daemons” are so convenient an excuse, they are even found in the Qur’an!). There are no god(s), it’s all lunacy, but there are evolutions. On every sustainably habitable planet, life no doubt evolved (for indigenous life to survive, though, a long shot). And the universe also obviously evolves (although I am against the Big Bang theory, the evolution of the universe itself is in no doubt).

To be obsessed by death, suffering, and the eternal return of the same are ways to cast a maleficent spell on life, to make life, or, at least, rebellion, not worth living.  To claim that this is how to love wisdom, is equating philosophy with the love of what sustains plutocracy. Science, that means what is known with (more or less greater) certainty offered us plenty of proof for evolution. In particular evolution of our genus, the genus Homo, and of our genius, the genius of our culture, and what is now a worldwide civilization.

Rebellion against the established order is intrinsic to civilization: lack of appropriate evolution and revolution is why the Roman Republic collapsed. The Republic found itself hemmed by savage ideologies (some home-made) and tribes, while its industry became unsustainable (from a mix of social and ecological reasons). Rome had to turn back to the more total democracy it had known, and develop further coal combustion for energy production and the use of steam energized machines. Rome could have done it, it didn’t. Greatly because it was so inspired by the Socratic death cult (as we know from historiography). Lust for death? Rome itself died. Because the Greco-Roman empire didn’t embrace the future to get out of the predicament its very success had brought.

A few men, a few families took all the decisions in Rome, during the Principate and the Dominate. They were the worst, because excess select for the excessive (including Marcus Aurelius, the cruel and demented saint of the Stoics, who always sound so reasonable to the not-so-knowledgeable…)

Being completely penetrated by a death wish is exactly what the elites want their subjects to be driven by: death wish critters are easier to manipulate. If all one can look forward is death, hoping to foster a revolution against said elite is pointless. This is why death-wish superstitious religions are so frequent. A contributor to this site, SDM concurred: ‘Well said. Keep them worrying about unknowns such as an “afterlife” to accept the abuses inflicted in life.’

Indeed, yes, and even telling the low lives that, the more they suffer in real life, the greater their rewards in the famed “after life“. Thus, suffering is good, and the more suffering, the more of a gift of the elites is made to them, commoners.

In the Roman context, the death wish superstition was so-called Stoicism (not really started under a “Stoa”, but by Socrates, as I showed above). As it rejected emotions, thus full logic, Stoicism brought despair, and was a secularized prototype of Christianism (which it gave birth to, in mood space). The rise of Stoicism coincided with that of “Hellenistic” dictatorships (and contaminated the Roman Republic).

Verily, philosophy is not just to prepare death. and avoiding suffering. Philosophy is for life. And not just the life of bacteria, but the life of the mind, and the human spirit which extends it. Better philosophy is how to think better. And better is something we do, because, why not?

Patrice Ayme’

Socrates A Poisonous, Unexamined Fascist?

September 22, 2016

The Pathos Of Truth Seeked & Violated. Unexamined Fascist, Unexamined Prostitute? Both. Why Was That Covered Up, So Long? For The Same Exact Cause Which Made Socrates Famous!

The death of Socrates keeps haunting philosophy. And that, per se, is a sad, yet very revealing tale. The old common wisdom was that Socrates died, as a martyr to truth (as Hypatia, Boetius, Giordano Bruno, and many others certainly were). You want a hero for philosophy? Celebrate Jean Cavaillès. In the presence of Cavaillès, Sartre nearly wetted his pants. We will see that the mood behind Socrates’ actions is significantly different. Socrates was rather on the side of those who killed Cavaillès.

Indeed, a casual look at the basic setup of Socrates’ trial contradicts the theme that Socrates was mostly a martyr for truth. Socrates was simply accused to be the mastermind of the young dictators who ruled Athens after her tremendous defeat, and half annihilation at the hands of Sparta, the tool of Persia. Socrates was also mentor, friend and lover (!) of the young Alcibiades who, deprived of a generalship by Athens, then betrayed her for her lethal enemy, fascist, ultra-racist, Persian financed Sparta.

Agreed, philosophy needs heroes, and has plenty. Here is one:

Jean Cavaillès. Here Is A Hero For Truth & Philosophy. Socrates Was Nearly The Exact Opposite.

Jean Cavaillès, Anti-Fascist Martyr. Here Is A Hero For Truth & Philosophy. Socrates Was Nearly The Exact Opposite.

[Jean Cavaillès was tortured and assassinated by the Gestapo in 1943-1944. He is buried in the crypt of the Sorbonne.]

Thus Socrates was a sort of Charlie Manson of serial traitors and killers, whose mental actions led, or accompanied, Athens’ near-death experience in losing a devastating war, and the resulting dictatorship by Socrates’ students. Temples of democracy such as Britain, France, and the USA have gaily executed traitors, or incompetents, for much less than that.

Socrates Used To Look At People As A bull Does. Ugly Inside Out? To Reveal the Truth, Some Will Say Torture Works Even Better

Socrates Used To Look At People As A bull Does. Ugly Inside Out? To Reveal the Truth, Some Will Say Torture Works Even Better

Stanford political science and classics professor, Josiah Ober opines in “The Civic Drama Of Socrates’ Trial” that:  “Conventional wisdom sees Socrates as a martyr for free speech, but he accepted his death sentence for a different cause… In his influential interpretation The Trial of Socrates (1988), the US journalist-turned-classicist I F Stone saw this trial as an embattled democracy defending itself. In Stone’s view, Socrates had helped to justify the junta’s savage programme of oligarchic misrule and was a traitor. More commonly, Socrates is seen as a victim of an opportunistic prosecutor and a wilfully ignorant citizenry. In truth, politics is indispensable to understanding the trial of Socrates, but in a slightly more sophisticated way.”

I love sophistication, philosophy is all about increased sophistication (so is science). Sophistication, translated, is wisdomization: sticking to reality ever better by ever more subtle, complex logic.

The point was not so much that Socrates justified the savage programme, but that he formed the minds who organized said programme, “corrupting the youth”. And he was at it again, even after being amnestied. Professor Ober describes the problem well (although he fails to fathom the enormity of what he describes).

Stanford’s Josiah: For what people today call ‘the wisdom of crowds’, Socrates had nothing but scorn. Athenian democrats who argued that the many, the group, were collectively more likely to get important matters right than any individual expert earned his antipathy. Whether or not anyone actually was expert in the art of politics, Socrates certainly supposed that there could be such an expert, and that the Athenians were deluded in thinking themselves collectively wise.”

The “experts” would have been naturally his rich, best (“aristos”) boyfriends. Professor Ober is led to the obvious question, but fail to recognize that he does not answer it:

“How did Socrates both scorn the idea of collective wisdom and yet maintain obedience to Athens’ laws, even when he disagreed with how they were interpreted? The rudimentary answer lay in the foundation that Athens (as opposed to, for example, Sparta) provided in its laws and political culture. Athens mandated liberty of public speech and tolerance for a wide range of private behaviour.”

Yes, but public incompetence could lead to trial (as happened to Pericles and many strategoi, generals and admirals). Anyway, that is not an answer. I will give a better answer: Socrates himself had no answer to his drastic self-contradictions, so hise self-delusion fatally committed him to self-destruction. Yet political science professor Ober sees the problem:

“By 399 BCE, however, four years after the end of the tyranny, and with Socrates doing the same things in public that had seemingly inspired the junta’s leaders, the Athenians regarded his speech very differently. In the eyes of the majority of his fellow citizens, Socrates was no longer an eccentric with potential for contributing to public life. He was now either a malevolent public enemy, or deluded and dangerously unable to recognise that his speech predictably produced seriously bad outcomes. And so the way was left open for Meletus to launch his prosecution.”

Right. What professor Ober fails to mention is that only the intervention of mighty Sparta prevented Athens’ annihilation after she surrendered, having lost already half of her population (other cities wanted to do to Athens what Athens did to Melos). Try to imagine this: the city-state half annihilated, democracy destroyed by Socrates’ students, and then? The strongest mood that Socrates had been instilling was to oppose democracy. And he was again at it, after the amnesty he had profited from. What could motivate such a rage?

Unsurprisingly, Socrates was put on trial for “corrupting the youth and impiety”. (The City was to some extent divinized, with Athena as her protecting goddess.)

“With unsettling metaphors and logical demonstrations, he made it clear that he [Socrates] opposed democracy… Xenophon implies that Socrates chose that sort of speech as a method of jury-assisted suicide: he was… tired of life and allowed the Athenians to end it for him.”

This is what I believe. And I go further than Xenophon, by explaining the cause of Socrates’ depression. Socrates may have been tired of his own contradictions.And may have been ravaged by regret. (Regret, I reckon, is a powerful human instinct.)

The Socrates’ worship interpretation is due to Plato. It poses Socrates as martyr to civic duty. But, as it turns out, “civic duty”, for Socrates, seems to be mostly blind obedience to “the Laws”, while viciously criticizing the Direct Democracy which gave birth to them.

That Socrates respected the laws of Athens while despising the Direct Democracy which had passed them is illogical in the extreme. Yes, I know Socrates said he respected “the Laws”, as if they were disembodied gods with a life of their own. But We The People passed said laws, and they lived only because We The People had created them, and We thge People could extinguish them just the same.

The “Laws” were nothing. We The People was everything. Socrates behaved as if he could not understand that.

Insisting that the Laws were everything reveals that the concept of blind obedience was more important to Socrates than arguing about the nature of what one should be obeying to, and why. Blind obedience is also the traditional ultimate value of standard fascism: law and order as supreme.

Blind obedience had been what the junta’s rule was all about. What the rule of Socrates’ young students and lovers had been all about. That’s also what fascism is all about. However, arguing, debating, fighting is how to get to the thorough examination necessary for the “examined life”.   

The contradiction was, and is, blatant. Socrates’ mental system was shorting out. Socrates had been shorting out for half a decade or more: he ambitiously wanted to “examine life”, but he could not even examine the minds of his followers, let alone his own, or why he was hanging around them. Why was he hanging around them? They were rich, he was not, but he lived off their backs and crumbs. And the feeling of power they provided with (after Obama got to power I saw some in his entourage becoming drunk with power).  

Arguably, Socrates was a martyr to fascism, a Jihadist without god. There is nothing remarkable about that. The very instinct of fascism is to give one’s life, just because fanatical combat is the ultimate value, when one gets in the fascist mood. In this case, the fanatical combat was against We The People.

Posing Socrates as a martyr for intellectual freedom is farfetched: fascism, blind obedience, passion for oligarchs are all opposed to the broad mind searching for wisdom requires.

Some will sneer: you accuse Socrates to be a fascist, why not a racist? Well, I will do this too. The golden youth Socrates loved so much and drank with were hereditary so. Socrates believed knowledge was innate (so an ignorant shepherd boy knew all of math: this is the example he rolled out!) If knowledge was innate, one can guess that the “aristos”, the best, were also innately superior. That is the essence of racism.

Logically enough, Socrates disliked science: nothing was truly new under the sun (as all knowledge was innate). So much for examining life.

It is more probable that Socrates was indeed, just a stinging insect buzzing around, stinging the idea of Direct Democracy. In exchange, his rich, young, plutocratic boyfriends would fete and feed him. Such was Socrates’ life, a rather sad state of affair, something that needed to be examined, indeed, by the head doctor.

Socrates may have been clever enough to feel that he was an ethical wreck. His suicidal submission may have been an attempt to redeem himself, or whatever was left of his honor (which he also tried to regain with his insolence to the jury).

Plato would pursue the fight for fascism (“kingship”). Aristotle, by teaching, mentoring, educating, befriending, advising a number of extremely close, family-like friends, the abominable Alexander, Craterus and Antipater, finally fulfilled Socrates’ wet dream: Athenian Direct Democracy was destroyed and replaced by an official plutocracy overlorded by Antipater (supremo dictator, and executor of Aristotle’s will, in more ways than one).

This trio of philosophical malefactors became the heroes 22 centuries of dictatorship (“monarchy”) needed as a justification. A justification where “civic duty” was defined as blind obedience to the “Laws” (whatever they were, even unjust “Laws”). This amplified Socrates’ hatred of Direct Democracy. So the works of the trio were preciously preserved, and elevated to the rank of the admirable.

It is rather a basket of deplorables. We owe them the destruction of Direct Democracy for 23 centuries, and counting.

And what Of Socrates’ regret for being so deplorable? (Which I alleged he had to experience.) A dying Socrates lying on a couch, uncovered his face and uttered— “Crito, I owe the sacrifice of a rooster to Asklepios; will you pay that debt and not neglect to do so?”  Asklepios cured disease, and provided with rebirth, symbolized by the singing of the rooster calling the new day. This has been traditionally interpreted (by Nietzsche) as meaning that (Socrates’?) death was a cure for (his?) life. Nietzsche accused Socrates to be culprit of the subsequent degeneracy of civilization (and I do agree with that thesis). Certainly, Socrates, a self-described “gadfly” was deprived of gravitas.

Wisdom needs to dance, but cannot be altogether deprived of gravitas, as it is, after all, the gravest thing.. Maybe Socrates felt this confusedly, besides having regrets for his status of thinking insect. Socrates could have easily escaped, and Crito had an evasion ready. By killing himself Socrates behaved like a serious Japanese Lord opening his belly to show his insides were clean, and its intent good. Well, many a scoundrel has committed seppuku, and hemlock is nothing like cutting the belly.

Human beings are endowed with the instinct of regret, because we are the thinking species. It is crucial that we find the truth, and when we have lived a lie, indulged in error, the best of use are haunted by the past, and revisit it to find what the truth really was. Regrets has many stages, like cancer. The most correct philosophical form of regret is to re-established the truth. The cheap way out is to flee from reality, as Socrates did.

How to explain Socrates’ insolence to the jury? There again, it was a desperate attempt at reaching the sensation of self-righteousness and trying to impart it to the jury (this is often seen  on the Internet, with the glib one-liners and vacuous logic which pass for depth nowadays).

The inexperienced democracy in Athens did not always behave well. Athens behaved terribly with Melos (see link above). But the case of Socrates is different. Ultimately, the train of thoughts and moods promoted by Socrates weakened those who wanted to defend the free republics of Greece against the fascist, exterminationist Macedonian plutocracy. Demosthenes and Athenian Direct Democracy was mortally poisoned by Socrates.

Thus, Socrates execution was not just tit for tat. It was not enough of tit for tat. It was a preventive measure, in defense of Direct Democracy, which failed, because it was too meek.

Democracy does not mean to turn the other cheek, to have the golden beast eat that one too. In ultimate circumstances, democracy has an ultimate weapon too, and that is fascism. This is why the Roman, French and American republics prominently brandish the fasces. Fascism is the ultimate war weapon. But fascism is not the ultimate society. Far from it: political fascism, just a few individuals leading entails intellectual fascism, namely just a few moods and ideas leading. Before one knows it, one is in plutocracy, where not only wealth rules, but so does the cortege of the worst ideas and moods which characterize it.

Socrates often talk the talk, contradicting completely the way he lived (for example he said one should never return an injury, but, as a hoplite, he killed at least four men in combat!)

Socrates spoke so well sometimes, that he can stay a symbol of truth persecuted. But, because it is a lie, replacing him by Hypatia, Boetius, Bruno and, or Cavaillès, and, or, others, is urgent. Indeed, the reality is that Socrates was not just inimical to democracy. The current of thought he floated by was inimical to science, mental progress, and the truth he claimed to be pining for.  And even him may have been so overwhelmed by these astounding contradictions, that, in the end, assisted suicide for his pathetic mental writhing was, indeed, the optimal outcome.

Patrice Ayme’