Posts Tagged ‘Aristotle’

Neat Suggestion For Net Neutrality

August 15, 2016

Under Obama, the US spy networks were given full power. Paying no, or little taxes, with the full resources of the USA behind them, they were mandated, as modern-day corsairs, to seize the world. They did (in spite of the Snowden scare; Snowden revealed the entanglement between the imperial machinery of the USA and the US Internet companies).

This Internet coup is a Obama’s great achievement, proving how great and just the brown president has been for the powers that be, over the powers that don’t deserve to be.

Here is the market capitalization of the forty largest French companies (the “CAC 40”), versus that of GAFA (Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon):

Thanks Oh Great, Wise, Respected Obama, For Having Made The USA Mightier Than Ever With Your Mighty Espionage Agents

Thanks Oh Great, Wise, Respected Obama, For Having Made The USA Mightier Than Ever With Your Mighty Espionage Agents

[Was the satanic Bush a smaller devil? One shudders at the question. Just asking…]

As you can see, GAFA, those four companies, Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon, under the presidency of Barack Obama, became everything, while the French Republic stagnated between being and nothingness. This is a general pattern, with all countries. It has to do with GAFA being above all and any local laws. And there are no global laws to speak of. (The Chinese joke that GAFA is the new world empire; well, new, not really.) In particular GAFA eschews most taxes, so stand above all and any companies and firms, worldwide.

Donald Trump, hated by GAFA, has said that he would make GAFA pay taxes. Said Trump, speaking of GAFA, and, in particular, Amazon:”Oh, God, would they have problems if I became president”. But what of the rest of the world? How can the world get out of this pickle?

First GAFA should pay taxes (France wants Google to pay billions in overdue taxes, Great Britain, though, asks for only a tenth of what the French Treasury is asking. Why? Because Great Britain is onto the plot, and understands that GAFA is one way for its overlord, the USA, to seize world control, and will be rewarded for getting on the program!)

To force GAFA to pay taxes, they should be threatened with exclusion. Now, of course, that would require guts. First, suffering of being accused of “anti-Americanism” by the soon to disappear in the oubliettes of history, Barack Obama, the great enabler of GAFA. (The US already makes war against the French economy, so it may as well come up to the surface!)

Unfortunately for, say, the French, GAFA uses massively treacherous countries without much industry such as Great Britain (full of subordinate tax havens, more than a dozen treasure isles which charge no income or wealth tax), and Ireland (top corporate tax rate, 12.5% in contrast with France 33% and the USA’s 35%!)

So going to war against GAFA means that the French would have to go to war with Ireland and the British Virgin Islands (hence the UK!) If the traditional parties don’t have this sort of guts, maybe Marine le Pen will… (She will be accused of dreadful “populism”, just as the Donald is, for doing something against the multibillionaire plutocrats of GAFA, and their demonic little helpers…)

Could we try something less bloody? Well, GAFA spy on people, and then tweak what they see on the Internet, accordingly. GAFA, and its ilk know you have a health problem, so they suggest businesses associated to treatment or relief from that condition. I have noticed search engines such as Google manipulate searches according to what they think i should see. Worse: Microsoft’s Bing censors completely some of my essays. For example “Violence In The Holy Qur’an” cannot be found on Bing (even looked directly by title and author) This sort of censorship is deliberate: the essay consists essentially of 10,000 words from quoting entire verses of the Qur’an. (The English paper, The Guardian, accused me to be someone who “blogged” the Qur’an, to justify censoring me!)

If these Internet manipulations were completely unlawful, all the time, the business model of GAFA and their ilk would collapse. Of course, one does not want to be that cruel (what would Obama do?)

But here is an idea nevertheless. Why are not GAFA (and its ilk) required, by LAW, to present a neutral web if asked to do so by someone using the Internet? As I said, one does not want to be too cruel with the corsairs of modern communications: after all, they have some public utility, as they (vaguely) innovate.

So, say, every time one turns on one of the GAFA, or other Internet manipulators, one should be offered, manually, the option of a neutral web.

Simple. Drastic.

The right to neutral information is basic to enable democracy. Without it, there is no democracy. The present rule of GAFA, and their present manners, is a complete denial of democracy. Time to fight. When the philosopher Demosthenes called the Greeks to fight the (gold mines propelled) the Macedonian plutocrats, who were quickly increasing in power, he was not listened to. It sounded alarmist to go fight the rich and nasty. When it turned out Demosthenes was finally observed to be right, it was too late. Democracy was destroyed in Greece, for the next 23 centuries. And it all originated from a philosophical debate where Aristotle was prominent.

We are what we know. And we are nought if we know not. The neutral Internet is not obsolete, it’s a human right. Are those obsolete? Hmm… Wait…

Patrice Ayme’

 

From Sentience, To Reason & Philosophy

February 17, 2016

Why Is It Modern To Study Ancient Philosophy?

Because one studies this way the roots of reason, as first put into digital form (that’s what writing is). One does not study ancient physics, so why ancient philosophy? Well, one should study ancient physics, that would be an occasion to mention obvious mistakes one is tempted to do, but that one should NOT to do when interpreting nature.

For example, Aristotle believed that one needed to keep on applying a force to keep on moving. That was a curious mistake: anybody running fast, or, a fortiori, galloping on top of a horse, realizes that air resistance is what necessitates to keep on applying a force. And that’s why arrows have the shape they have.

One could make arrows with other shapes: emperor Commodus amused himself by firing in the arena arrows with a crescent shaped blade. Commodus was an athlete of great physical beauty and power (said various contemporaries). The sharp crescent would hit an ostrich’s neck, and the bird would run without a head, to the amusement of spectators (they better be amused).

In serious usage arrows had a very aerodynamic shape (and even could be made to stabilize by rotation thanks to their back feathers).

Humans and Horses Are Capable of Reason. Human Reason Was Communicated to the Horse, and This Is How Horses Learn To Jump

Humans and Horses Are Capable of Reason. Human Reason Was Communicated to the Horse, and This Is How Horses Learn To Jump

[I have practiced that sport, by the way… In Africa, with stallions. Definitively, a good obstacle rider has to be able to able to communicate… reason (what else?) to the horse, in a spirit of trust and conviviality! Otherwise, death and mayhem may result… Aristotle was definitively not a rider, while Xenophon, general, superlative philosopher, and horse breeder, was.]

It took 16 centuries to correct Aristotle’s confusion of aerodynamic resistance and violation of inertia. Buridan, a physicist, philosopher and mathematician, was the first to do so, with his theory of impetus. (Even then he got confused in some detailed examples.)

Explaining to children Aristotle’s mistake should be part of the (early) teaching of physics.

In “Why is ancient philosophy still relevant?”, February 16, 2016, Massimo Pigliucci ponders:

“Why on earth am I devoting years of my life to studying (and practicing) Stoicism? Good question, I’m glad you asked. Seriously, it would seem that the whole idea of going back two millennia to seek advice on how to live one’s life is simply preposterous.

Have I not heard of modern science? Wouldn’t psychology be a better source of guidance, for instance? And even philosophy itself, surely it has moved beyond the ancient Greco-Romans by now, yes?”

Massimo finds the answer in eternal human nature:

“…there is clearly something that the Stoics, the Epicureans, the Peripatetics (followers of Aristotle), the Buddhist, the Confucianists and so forth clearly got right. There is something they thought about and taught to their students that still resonates today, even though we obviously live in a very different environment, socially, technologically, and otherwise.

The answer, I think, is to be found in the relative stability of human nature. This is a concept on which the Hellenistic philosophers relied heavily, though they didn’t use that specific term.”

Notice, by the way, that all our mathematics and physics rest on what the Ancient Greeks knew which happened to be right (although much of their mathematics came from Egypt, for example “Euclid’s Theorem”; also the Greek had modern number system half baked, the final baking happened in India, and were christened “Arabic Numerals”, although they were brought to the West by a Persian…)

Thinking works in a hierarchized way: from the obvious to the extremely subtle revealed by the latest neurology. The Greeks were the first to write extensively on the first aspects of thinking, so their considerations have to be considered first, whenever one studies thinking. So they stay first, and always will, as long as the memory of the past survives.

Massimo: “For Aristotle, humans were essentially rational (meaning capable of reason) social animals. The Stoics agreed, and in fact their theory of oikeiosis (“familiarization”) was essentially an account of developmental moral psychology… Crucially, although other primates seem to share in our natural instinct for sociability, they are incapable of extending it by reason.”

And the big question is: what is reason?

Reason can be put in words, thus expressed digitally. But it can also be transferred by a drawing (that’s not digital). Basically reason is neurology that works, and which can be transferred to other minds.

So reason can be transferred to a dog, or a horse (say when one teaches a horse to jump obstacles).

A sentient animal is one with feelings, it can reason. However, it cannot communicate that reason easily. Although it can learn through communications: songbirds are known to learn from other birds, more or less well, to make more or less complicated songs: educating birds to make mini symphonies is national craze in Indonesia.

Philosophy is the study of reason for reason’s sake. Animals do not do that industrially, nor tribally, but our species and two or three before that, obviously do.

Patrice Ayme’

Beyond Cynicism, Reason

October 27, 2015

We have a lot to learn from the history of ideas and moods in Greco-Roman antiquity, and how it was entangled with the history of battles, empires, and the near destruction of civilization. We are clearly in a similar scheme. Except now it’s the biosphere itself, not just civilization, which is in peril. So let’s have no pity for our so-called “leaders”, and those who admire them.

In that light, Diogenes and the mental topology around him ought to be contemplated. The founding cynic Diogenes of Sinope, was of the opinion that people ought to behave more like dogs (or, even, mice). To this, I would add baboons. Understand what moves a baboon, shine a light on the human soul.

In particular, Diogenes’ followers would have sex in public. This was viewed as a much ridiculed oddity at the time. But Diogenes persisted loud and clear, even in the marketplace, responding: “he wished it were as easy to relieve hunger by rubbing an empty stomach” (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Book 6, Chapter 46).

Diogenes believed that each individual would either be guided by reason, or, like a domesticated animal, she would be led by a leash. Diogenes, did not despise knowledge per se, but spited pretensions to knowledge which serve only domestication. He had the intuition that the logic of behavior (human and animal) was the master wisdom. And more can be said. Why don’t human beings poop in public? (Aside from “Sun King” Louis XIV, but he was certainly not human.)

A dog has got to do what a dog has got to do. However, the point of human, is that human does not have to do what a dog has got to do. A human ought not to do what a human ought to do: this is the difference with dogs. We are free, free to go against the grain, and that’s all the freedom we have, as free human beings.

Diogenes was labeled mad for acting against convention to the extent he did (allegedly by Plato). To this, Diogenes retorted that conventions often lacked reason: “Most people, are so nearly mad that a finger makes all the difference. For if you go along with your middle finger stretched out, someone will think you mad, but, if it’s the little finger, he will not think so” (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Book 6, Chapter 35).

For Diogenes, reason clearly plays the central role. There is a report that Diogenes “would continually say that for the conduct of life we need the right reason or a halter”.  (Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Book 6, Chapter 24). A halter is something one puts around the head of a dog or horse to lead them around. So either the truth will make you free, or you are just cattle. Cattle ready to trample over civilization.

Diogenes’ influence was deep. He started a line of argument which denied motion (it evolved into Zeno’s paradoxes which have caught a second wind with Quantum Physics; Zeno founded the philosophical school known as Stoicism; probably being a stoic was best when subjugated by the “Hellenistic Kingdoms”, the dictatorship Antipater imposed by naval battle).

Diogenes was a harsh critic of Plato, disparaging Plato’s metaphysics and breaking away from theoretical ethics which only justified oligarchy.

“Plato had defined the human being as an animal, biped and featherless, and was applauded. Diogenes plucked a fowl and brought it into the lecture-room with the words, ‘Here is Plato’s human being.’ In consequence of which there was added to the definition, ‘having broad nails’” (LOEP, chap 40).

Diogenes insisted that true human beings lived in accordance with nature. He lit a candle in broad daylight, and proclaimed he was searching for a human being, as so few lived in accordance with nature. Life in accordance with nature made human beings fully rational.

This was indeed true. Plato the chicken let to Aristotle, who was worse: that famed philosopher played a direct role in the destruction of civilization, and why there are still “royals” in England, leading, at least symbolically, the worldwide plutocratic charade.

That Diogenes had an anti-plutocratic bend is clear. He was captured at some  point by pirates (long story), and ended his life in Corinth. Alexander so-called the Great, was thrilled to meet the famous philosopher. The thinker was basking in the sun. ‘Could I do anything for you’, asked Alexander. Diogenes replied to the exterminator of cities and states alike: “You could stand out of my sun”.

Not easily defeated, Alexander tried the rejoinder: “Were I not Alexander, I wish I could be Diogenes”. In answer, Diogenes stared at a pile of bones: “I am looking for the bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave.”

You have to understand that this was the turning point of civilization in Greco-Roman antiquity: Greek philosophy, at its sharpest, was meeting the fascists, wealthy savage gangsters from the north, the Macedonians, rich from horses and gold mines. Macedonia was the world’s foremost sophisticated military.

Yet, the Greeks, led by Athens and Corinth, had the brains. Alexander, taught by Aristotle, was not too sure where he was standing. In the east was monstrous Persia, a hyperpower made of an archipelago of plutocracies (satrapies).

Alexander was hesitant about which course to follow, clearly. Alexander respected demographically vanishing Sparta, and fully resurgent Athens. Yet he annihilated Thebes (a move that would have helped Athens, actually, had a mild Alexander stuck around). Alexander went on to destroy Persia. He gave up on his attempt to reach the Pacific, after he discovered that India’s kingdoms could defend themselves.

Alexander then died, all too soon (a conquest of Arabia was being prepared). Alexander was perhaps assassinated by Antipater, Aristotle’s estate executor. Antipater, senior even to Alexander, certainly replaced Alexander and encouraged by Aristotle, destroyed Athenian democracy, replacing it by a plutocracy (only the rich could vote).

Antipater and the world Aristotle created, that of monarchies, thereafter ruled for around two millennia (although the Franks allowed small republics here and there, starting with Venice, then Firenze, Genoa, Switzerland, Escartons, Netherlands, etc., the first big break was the French Republic, a full acknowledgment that the Roman Republic was right all along).

Monarchies make no sense: if anything, being just the brain of one, they are dumb and weak against democracies (as the Swiss Canton demonstrated when they rebelled against the (Germanized)Roman empire ). So, for peoples to accept to be subjugated by individuals and their families, one has to make them stupid.

According to Diogenes, nature makes intelligent.

Thus, to reign monarchs (the Roman emperors in this case) had to fight nature and its gods. Switching to the fascist, cruel, demented and jealous Christian god was not enough. One had also to destroy the interface with nature, the body. Making it gross and smelly, reeked with lice and infections, was a good start.

In the fullness of time, the Catholics decided that anything having to do with the body was dirty. Some woman became a saint just because she never washed, and waited for her clothes to rot of as she piled more clothes on top. Her face was black with grime: she was lauded for that.

The Catholics were after the entire mood of the Greco-Roman civilization, and kept at it for more than eleven centuries: when they took the last Muslim kingdom in Grenada, their very fascist, cruel and demented majesties, Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon, inventors of the Inquisition in Spain, closed all the 2,000 or so baths therein (disclaimer: an ancestor was ennobled by the Aragon king, 12 centuries ago).

So Diogenes was right: if one wants unreason, behaving unnaturally is a good start.

But now let’s go further than Diogenes: what is the interest of a sharp dichotomy between the public and private spheres? It enforces a morality, a sort of hygiene: just as it is good to wash one hands. Recent studies show that just washing hands would cut down child mortality by 40%, in the most destitute countries  (diarrhea kills more children than all other diseases combined). Symbolically, preserving a private sphere is a king of conceptual washing: it keeps some bodily functions and activities out of the public morality, thus segregates and hence weakens their influence, allowing for a more elevated society, let alone diarrhea free..

Any question?

Patrice Ayme’

 

 

The Future Of The Soul?

February 21, 2015

Evolving, And Collective, The Soul Still Exists, And Science Is Its Prophet:

Is it useful to speak of the “soul”? Why not? Why to deprive us of words? Over the millennia, the word “soul” had many meanings. No, immortality is not necessarily a property of the soul.

There was always physics, and, thus, there was always metaphysics. The latter being the logical universe of the former. There will be always physics, and thus there always will be metaphysics.

Metaphysics is what is beyond physics. Any logical discourse has a universe that is beyond itself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_of_discourse

Our Soul Decides What It Means

Our Soul Decides What It Means

And mathematicians have agreed to disagree with themselves about metamathematics:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universe

Thus, both physics and metaphysics are moving targets. So the soul, naturally, should be, as understanding progresses. But we thinkers, are hunters, and we go after the biggest preys. We need an unending chase, to feed our souls.

To each stage in the mentalization of the universe, to each stage in human understanding, its own physics, metaphysics, and thus, then notion of a soul.

Neurology indeed enables to embody some of the notions of soul Aristotle floated across. One can speak of the “German soul”. And the “German soul” has changed.

Quantum Physics has started to spawn Quantum Biology, thus, soon, a scientific system of ideas that will be best described as “Quantum Minds”, not to say Quantum Mentalization.

If one brings all what we know about Quantum Physics, to bear on what the soul could be, our mental universe, the universe of possibilities and the imagination, tremendously expands.

The Quantum is characterized by waves, something intrinsically vague (pun intended, except it’s not a pun: “wave” and “vague” have the same root).

Quantum waves are non-local, and entangled, so they embody (sort of, as they constitute, de facto, the “ether”) something going much further than the body.

When a mind is operating, a beyond-astronomical, beyond-set, beyond-category, entanglement of wavy delocalizations is self interacting. This is the soul.

The Quantum Mind, per its very nature, is hard to know: it’s always changing, and interacting with it is a more-than-delicate matter. So the very question of whether it survives is inappropriate.

Souls are always interacting with souls. Quantum-interacting (even though the interaction goes through classical means, that is, particles, at some point).

Thus souls survive in the collective.

Ever more arguments, and even now experiments, show that those waves, while not particles, are endowed with an ethereal existence capable of differences, thus identity.https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/structured-light-why-light-slows-down-in-water/

One of the philosophical lessons of Quantum Physics is that local is global. Another lesson is that the particular world (the world of particles), is only a minute part of the world. This universe is full of waves, and Dark matter is its prophet.

Full Quantum Neurology is a soul in waiting. Only thus will consciousness be explained. Meanwhile, as physics cannot even get started on consciousness, we have to admit, just because of that, its incompleteness.

Notice in passing that the Quantum Biology based soul does not suffer of predestination problem often plaguing old fashion religion. The Quantum seems to say that the spirit is everything, and has a global reach, but still, it is, somehow, local. That’s unifying, somehow, very disparate and traditionally contradictory notions.

Our moral discourse needs to know there is more than us, because our discourse itself is more than us, and Quantum Wavy, besides. Morality needs a universe, the framework Nihilism is deprived of. And, logically there is more than us. This supplement d’ame, we give it a name, the soul. We are a discourse, the soul is our universe. Amen.

To diminish words and concepts diminishes the reach of our poetical imagination, central to mental creativity. Let’s not be afraid of words. Let’s, instead, endow them with refresh meaning.

Patrice Ayme’

Philosophy Is Moody

October 7, 2014

Philosophy Is About Moods, Systems of Moods, Not Just Systems of Thoughts

Science creates extremely precise systems of thoughts. This is why it is obsessed with equations, which are, first of all, rigid structures.

Philosophy is the domain of guess work. That makes it crucial to all new fields of enquiry: they all have to start somewhere, most often with guesswork (although serendipity can play a role, as when Fleming discovered penicillin).

As it is rich with possibility, rather than been just tied to precise logic, new philosophy is more about vague emotion, per force, than the new science, or the new law, it will orient towards, and give rise to.

If philosophy cannot teach precise things, precise things comparable to Einstein’s gravitational equation, what does it teach?

Some have accused me of making the mistake of judging a philosophy by the philosopher who created it. However, I am not that naïve. Instead, I enlighten the former with the later.

Montaigne’s philosophy may sound plutocratic friendly to a sharp critic (much of his essays have to do with the lives of plutocrats, generally heaping praise on them for astounding prowess on the battlefield, or the fairness of their magnanimous rule). A look at Montaigne’s life confirms that here was a man of wealth and means, closest, and most obsequious, to the highest (such as his friend and accomplice Henri IV), and who knew how to advance himself that way. So Montaigne’s plutophile tendencies are confirmed by the considerable interest he had to wallop in the mud.

In striking contrast with the haughty objections of my critics, many hold that philosophies are ways of life, they are nothing without the examples of the lives of those who proposed them.

Some have tried to make philosophy scientific, thus throwing unwittingly, the stillborn baby with the bath.

Verily, science itself is often not that scientific, except in a very restricted sense. Much scientific progress is about finding that science one thought was well established, urbi et orbi, is actually false, in some circumstances.

On second inspection, Einstein’s equation is not that precise: as Einstein himself admitted, the right hand side of the equation, the mass-energy tensor, is junk. (Quantum Field Theory has confirmed this.)

But Einstein’s equation is at least very precise in a very restricted domain (say in Earth’s orbit).

Not so with philosophy.

Instead of building systems of thoughts with extremely pointed relevance, philosophies are more general: they build systems of mood. Perhaps, instead of just living inside neuronal networks, philosophy will be tied to more vague emotional structures: organs such as the amygdala, or glial networks.

Philosophers create moods. Philosophies are, to a great extent, moods.

What a better example than “Stoicism”? “Stoic”, initially a place, a portico, from which a philosopher taught, became an adjective, a noun, a concept. And certainly a mood.

Same for Mr. Sade, and Mr. Maso.

It ought to be obvious that nature did not wait for the guy from the portico, or Sade, or Maso, to invent stoicism, masochism, or sadism. All what the philosophers found was labels, distinctions, and the revelation of the moods to go with them. They did not replace 600 million years of evolution.

Creating a nefarious mood is how Heidegger helped to generate Nazism: in conjunction with the respect he was endowed with, as the young rector of his university, and his aura as master thinker, by writing an unreadable book, Heidegger sang the praises of Nazi philosophy.

Heidegger extolled the Führerprinzip, the exact core of Nazism. Thus Heidegger made many clear statements supporting Nazism before critical junctures. Such as a major referendum in Fall 1933.

Heidegger’s philosophy (love of Führerprinzip), and Heidegger himself, the philosopher, helped the establishment of Hitler’s dictatorship. Big time.

Similarly Aristotle celebrated what he celebrated as the “first and most divine“, and… “straightest” regime, kingship.

Unbelievably, some philosophers assert that these political positions of Aristotle have nothing to do, and did not help the man closest to Aristotle, and also the worst king ever, Antipater, the single handed destroyer of all Greek civilization.

Aristotle clearly asserted that democracy was the “least bad of the deviant regimes”. Yes, deviant. Aristotle said democracy was the “rule of the indigent”.

Certainly those clear, stridently anti-democratic statements of Aristotle generated a mood of admiration for kings such as Aristotle’s closest souls, or aristocracy in general, (“straight” regimes), while heaping contempt on “devious” democracy.

Aristotle created a mood, as the Nazi philosopher Rosenberg created a mood. Rosenberg was, rightfully, hanged at Nuremberg. Heidegger should have been punished, at the very least, with a long prison sentence.

While Aristotle’s closest associates established “aristocracy”, and plutocracy, all over, Zeno was born.

Zeno was born in an age when stoicism was as far as one could disagree with what came to be known as the “Hellenistic” regimes. The mood was definitively to let kings and aristocrats rule.

And to view We The People as “indigent” (to call the master aristocrat, Aristotle). Was Aristotle the Rosenberg of the Greek world? Just asking.

“Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC. (It’s named after the portico from which he taught.) The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of “moral and intellectual perfection”, would not suffer such emotions.” (Per Wikipedia.)

What is a “destructive emotion”? Is anger a destructive emotion? Is anger towards a lion destructive? Is that bad? Shall we go on our four and bleat peacefully instead? Notice the naivety: persons of moral and intellectual description do not suffer “destructive emotions”.

So if you want to destroy Xerxes’ fleet at Salamis, are you imperfect?

Clearly Stoicism was the perfect emotion, the perfect mood, for the Hellenistic dictatorships. In the entire Greek world, youngsters who aspire to wisdom were taught that they should not destroy… their masters, the heirs of the closest friends of Aristotle, the heirs of the court which Aristotle knew as a child.

Naturally most Hellenistic regimes allied themselves with Carthage against the Republic. The one and only directly democratic republic in existence at the time. Rome.

The Roman Republic wiped out Aristotle’s insufferable children of greed.

We The People won then. But, before soon, the leading classes of Rome, including Cicero, were worshipping at the altar of Aristotle’s mood: kingship is “first and most divine”. Hence the Princeps (“First”) and most divine Augustus, soon to smother civilization below his family.

Time to learn something.

Aristotle put us in a very bad mood. And Zeno’s sulking did not help.

Patrice Ayme’

ARISTOTLE DESTROYED DEMOCRACY

September 28, 2014

Abstract: Aristotle was, in many ways, a great philosopher, and even, one should say, scientist. However, Aristotle replaced the supremacy, and rule, of freedom, openness, intelligence, and the vote of We The People, by the “pursuit of happiness“, or general “feel good” (eudemonia). So doing, Aristotle demolished the natural, instinctual, debating human ethics, which had triumphed in Athens in the two preceding centuries.

The love of Aristotle for dictatorship (“monarchy”, he called it) fatally weakened the animal spirits, the human ethology, without which democracy is impossible (that involves the love of debate, a form of combat distinct from eudemonia). Thus, more fundamentally than even Christianity, and not just by defending slavery extensively, Aristotle and his atrocious, mass murdering, yet trusted, and beloved, pupils, students and friends, launched the mental processes that set civilization back by millennia.

It’s high time to understand how much of this Aristotelian garbage festers at the root of today’s systems of thoughts and moods. All the more as plutocracy, Aristotle’s baby, is going all out, once again, to seize power absolutely.

Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were master thinkers. Their influence was so great, they changed human psychology, for millennia to come. However the way they changed it, in some important ways civilization cannot like, because if it did, and it did all too much already, it would be self-destructive.

***

Aristotle Taught These Guys Democracy Was A Devious Beast

Aristotle Taught These Guys Democracy Was A Devious Beast

[Painting Allegedly Representing Macedonian Plutocrats Antipater and Craterus Killing a Lion; these are the Antipater and Craterus found in the present text; top predators, indeed; shortly before Alexander The Great died, Alexander had ordered Antipater, then ruling Europe, to come to Babylon to answer the charges of Olympias, Alexander’s mom, that Antipater was conspiring to seize power; Antipater refused to come, and sent another of his sons in his stead; his youngest son was Alexander’s closest valet… More on this further down. Yes, at the time, there were lions in the Middle East, and in Europe.]

***

WHEN ATHENS BETRAYED DEMOCRACY, THAT IS, HERSELF:

In 330 BCE, more than 23 centuries ago, the Spartans, led by king Agis, made an all-out effort to destroy Macedonian hegemony. The prospects were good: Antipater had only 13,500 genuine Macedonian soldiers, as Alexander, then fighting the Persian plutocracy, had mobilized all the manpower he could find, to fight far away all over Eurasia. Alexander, though, sent lots of gold in a hurry, so that Antipater could recruit a huge army of northern barbarians to boost his small force.

These were strange times: for about a century much of the elite of the Persian army consisted of Greek mercenaries. Moreover, most Greeks had refused to follow Alexander. No doubt that the fact Alexander had annihilated the city-state of Thebes, and sold 30,000 surviving women and children into slavery, had to do with it. Some of the Persian plutocrats were bad, but the Macedonian plutocrats, in many ways, were worse. The Persians managed an immensely complicated empire, the Macedonians just had to keep (their slaves) extracting the gold, while breeding horses to keep invading further with ever more violence.

The Battle of Megalopolis against Antipater’s 40,000 mercenaries was bloody, long indecisive. But, from the sheer weight of numbers, the 20,000 Spartans, after breaking Antipater’s lines, lost. 5,300 of the best ones died. Diodorus comments:

“Agis III had fought gloriously and fell with many frontal wounds. As he was being carried by his soldiers back to Sparta, he found himself surrounded by the enemy. Despairing of his own life, he ordered the rest to make their escape with all speed and to save themselves for the service of their country, but he himself armed and rising to his knees defended himself, killed some of the enemy and was himself slain by a javelin cast.”

So what was Athens doing while Sparta led the entire Peloponnese against Macedonia? Nothing. Athens sat on her hands. A wounded Spartan king fought, even on his knees, while Athens watched. Some derangement had infected Athena’s city. Was it still Athena’s city? Or was it the city of admirers, friends, lovers, advisers and teachers to tyrants? In spite of a blitz by Demosthenes, the pseudo-Demosthenes, and other philosophers, who saw the terrible danger civilization was in, Athens did not send an army to help Sparta. There is no doubt that the smallest Athenian army would have allowed to extirpate the Macedonian metastatic cancer, all the way to where it festered from, Macedonian gold mines.

If that had happened, the history of the world would have been different, and the event would be barely mentioned in Alpha Centauri libraries. (Just before the Macedonian tyrannical takeover, Greek science was expanding at an astounding rate.)

Once he was rid of Alexander, the senior Macedonian general and dictator Antipater, turned against Athens.

The fate of democracy was decided on the sea. The Athenian fleet, having suffered losses in two battles, surrendered. It did not even try to fight to death. The captains of the Athenian ships were not as determined as their ancestors, who, 170 years earlier, had confronted the Persian fleet and its Greek allies, under incomparably greater odds.

***

THE PHILOSOPHICAL TROIKA FROM HELL CHANGED ATHENS’ MIND ABOUT THE HIGHEST GOOD:

Historians are at a loss to explain that massive change of psychology. Why did Athens not fight for freedom in 330 CE, while it had gone all out for it in 500 CE?

Some may suggest that Alexander and Antipater were not as antipathic as Darius and Xerxes. Well that is not even true: the massacres the two Macedonians engaged in were worse. The Persian plutocracy found plenty of Greeks to help it, over a century, including all of Sparta for decades, and generations of top notch mercenaries. By contrast, very few Greeks accepted to work for the Greek speaking Macedonian tyrants, and Sparta always refused to do so.

So, when the Athenian captains decided to surrender to Antipater, without much fighting, it was not because they did not perceive him to be a monster. They knew he was a monster. It was widely suspected, for excellent reasons and strong circumstantial evidence, that Antipater had used one of his sons to empoison Alexander.

Something else had happened to change the psychology of the Athenian elite: accepting monstrosity had become acceptable. Thanks to whom? Aristotle’s student, Alexander (“the great”)? No, he was too busy crucifying thousands in Tyr for having dared to resist him. Nor was Alexander known for intellectual babbling (whereas Antipater was an author).

My explanation for this degeneracy in the minds of Athenian warriors, and statesmen, is that, thanks to the pernicious influence of the troika Socrates-Plato-Aristotle, Athenians changed their notion of superior wisdom.

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ARISTOTLE’S EUDEMONIA, OR BEING GOOD TO ONESELF AS THE HIGHEST PRINCIPLE:

The freedom that had made their ancestors, and other Greeks stand on the pinnacle of civilization, had been displaced by an obsession with self-flourishing (“Eudaimonism”).

An ethical system where Eudaimonia, that is good (eu) spirits (daimon) is viewed as the highest good, is the door to materialism and the lowest passions.

the problem about the pursuit of happiness as the highest good, is that human beings out-lion, lions. Let’s have Conan the Barbarian (1982) lead the charge against Aristotle’s pursuit of happiness:

“Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?

Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.

Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?

Conan: Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.

Mongol General: That is good! That is good.”

[Thanks “Wtquinn” a commenter from Scientia Salon!]

The point: our ancestors have been top predators for a few million years. A top predator, at some point, will take pleasure in deploying top ferocity. Lionesses and wolves have been seen adopting orphan baby preys, out of goodness, and that clearly make them happy. But, still, their business is ferocity.

One needs to base one’s ethics on a more stable base than one’s own perception of what constitute happiness.

***

PROPER ETHICS: SALAMIS. DYING FOR FREEDOM AS THE HIGHEST CALLING: :

An ethical system where dying for freedom is the highest calling is very different from one where one is pursuing the vague notion of “happiness”, and “self-flourishing”. Were the 300 with king Leonidas happy at Thermopylae? Yes! Why? They were happy to die for freedom. They were not just into their little self-flourishing as the Athenian captains confronting Antipater’s armada would be 170 years later.

The happiness of Themistocles’ sailors at the Battle of Salamis while their city burned in the background, and the invader Xerxes watched from a throne, came from fighting for causes bigger than themselves, freedom and justice. If they had been pursuing happiness, they would have fled, as Aristotle, faced with freedom and justice, did. Instead Themistocles’ men confronted a thousand ships.

Human beings cannot just pursue self-flourishing, because, instinctually, or as we moderns say, ethologically, human beings have evolved to make others in the group flourish, as an even higher good.

Salamis was perhaps the most important battle in the history of civilization. That’s when freedom looked for a fight, and broke the back of plutocracy, in spite of overwhelming odds.

375 freedom ships confronted a plutocratic armada of 1200. But the Greeks had better equipment, better training, better spirits, their cause was just, freedom on their sides. Born free, they knew how to swim (most Persians did not). The narrow confines prevented the vast Persian fleet to maneuver, and surround them.

The entire population of Athens had been moved to the island of Salamis. Themistocles had around 200 Athenian warships. When his Peloponnesian allies threatened to fold, he threatened to move the entire population of Athens to the Western Mediterranean (this is how Marseilles, Massilia, had been founded from Phocea). Athens had a colony there, Athenopolis (unfortunately called Saint Tropez nowadays).

Or, at least, this is what the immensely clever Themistocles succeeded to make Xerxes believe.

In one of the best plots ever written, Themistocles, using this sort of subtle disinformation and outright lies, misled emperor Xerxes into battle, in spite of the objections of the much more clever Artemisia, evil queen of Halicarnassus, commanding the fiercest squadron of the plutocratic fleet.

It does not take much to influence a human mind. Themistocles knew this, and played with Xerxes’ as a cat with a mouse. Artemisia, an experienced warrior, clearly saw that the battle in the narrow confines between the island and the mainland was an unnecessary risk.

***

SOCRATES, PLATO AND ARISTOTLE WERE LOVERS OF PLUTOCRACY:

Those who advocate that Socrates, Plato and Aristotle could not have possibly sabotaged civilization understand little to the power of the mind.

Generally, it goes like this: when one points at their philosophical failures, such as the advocacy of dictatorship by Plato, their partisans smirk that the fact that the fact the philosopher spent years with the tyrant of Syracuse has nothing to do with it (see Massimo’s intervention in the preceding essay).

However, the failure of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were not personal accidents (such as Francois Villon murdering a priest). Socrates’ courageous battle exploits and death are shining examples. Plato, and Aristotle exhibited personal courage, close and personal, licking the toes, of some of the worst tyrants in history.

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle’s failure was systemic, not personal. And it’s all of the same kind. They replaced freedom, equality, and brotherhood with an obsession with taking care of the oligarchic self. Instead it is the greater primacy that they accorded to some values which devalued.

The Athenian fleet was defeated at the Battle of Amorgos (322 BCE) and failed in stopping reinforcements to reach Antipater.

The Athenian and allied democrats were finally defeated in 322 BCE at the Battle of Crannon in central Thessaly helped by another Macedonian gangster, Craterus. They beat back the weary Athenians in a long series of cavalry and hoplite engagements. Once again, their spirits failed the Athenians. While they were not routed, Athens and her allies, spurning Demosthenes strident, and cogent warnings, sued for peace on Antipater’s terms.

Antipater forced Athens to dissolve her government and establish a plutocratic system in its stead. Only those possessing 2,000 drachmas or more could remain citizens. The Demos was viewed, correctly, by the Macedonians, as the cause of the war.

But the Demos wanted to be free, and Aristotle wanted slaves.

***

23 CENTURIES OF PLUTOCRACY FOLLOWED, BUT THAT’S NOT US, ETHICALLY, & ETHOLOGICALLY:

The very failure of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, made their success. The common denominator ethics that they promoted was favorable to tyrants, and that it is precisely why their work survived through the Dark Ages. Whereas those who defended freedom, equality and democracy were extinguished by the Christian censors and their plutocratic sponsors.

Am I advocating a return to some kind of paleo-state and, or, instinctual ethics?

Well, yes. Except it’s not a return, because we never left. We are what we are. Human ethology exists, and is a subset of primate ethology. We are 60 million years of evolution as primates.

What is the basic principle, the fundamental evolutionary force, of a primate? Higher, superior intelligence. How do we get it? Through independent minds then allowing their ideas to compete inside vast cultural system. Only openness, freedom and justice enable this independence. This was all pointed out in Pericles’ famous Funeral Oration. So it’s not like the plutocratic troika of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, never heard of the notion.

Instead, what Pericles celebrated, the glory of the all-thinking Demos, was exactly the opposite of what Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Antipater wanted.

Pericles was on the winning side, the side of Instinctual Ethics.

Monkey studies show that “instinctual ethics” is a fact. (Whatever “instinct” really mean: it could actually be logic masquerading as innate!) To talk about ethics without that fact front and central would be like talking about atoms, while discounting anything that may have been discovered after Lucretius.

Aristotle was the first biologist. He invented categories, now at the forefront of mathematics, where they increasingly replace old fashion algebra, by lifting up its essence into richer structures.

The ethical attacks of Socrates against (direct) democracy were always justified. What was not justified was the lack of temperance that made him throw the baby, democracy, with some of the problems it caused.

The intellectual troika from hell was all the more dangerous, that those were master thinkers. Aristotle was the first biologist. He invented categories, now at the forefront of mathematics, where they increasingly replace old fashion algebra, by lifting up its essence into richer structures.

The ethical attacks of Socrates against (direct) democracy were justified. What was not justified was the lack of temperance that made him throw the baby, democracy, with the bath, into the trash.

***

TOLERATING ARISTOTLE’S ETHICS IS TOLERATING PLUTOCRACY:

Their influence is still all too great, and solidly tied to minimizing the phenomenon of plutocracy, and how it influences people. A few hours ago, I met with an engineer, who reigns over a major international airport, a man of many languages and many countries. I fumed against Aristotle, but he told me: ”Yes, but we owe him everything!”

The exact opposite is true. Although the troika from hell made important contributions, it was much more important to have democracy survive and prosper.

Democracy is intelligence. If Athens had survived, and established a second, larger empire, displaced and replaced Rome, civilization could well have got millennia ahead… Although, of course, slavery would have had to be outlawed, be it only because it blocked technological progress (by discouraging and out-competing it).

So let’s sink the ethics of good spirits. Aristotle’s eudemonia. Instead let’s pursue the grim war of freedom against plutocracy, and the hellish superstitions which support it.

Some will smirk that plutocracy is not everything. But that’s like saying metastatic cancer is not everything. By killing the freedom of spirits, plutocracy kills what makes humans human and replaces it with the stupidity of primitive beasts.

History demonstrates this: Greek science, not just philosophy, tragedy (etc.) peaked immediately before Antipater, as Alexander’s executive regent, organized the fascist “Hellenistic” plutocratic dictatorships which ruled until the Roman Republic, a democracy, swept them away.

And peaked science did. In the last year of the Fourth Century BCE, Aristarchus proposed the heliocentric system, Euclid wrote the Elements, Archimedes invented Infinitesimal Calculus, and the Greek number system came very close to the one we use today.

Aristotle classifies democracy, the rule of We The People, as a deviant constitution. Being a crafty polemicist, he gives it a bone by saying in Politics III.11, that the multitude may be better than the virtuous few, sometimes. But that’s in an ocean of praise for aristocracy.

When he died in 322 BC, Aristotle named his student Antipater as executor-in-charge of his will. And what a will: destroy democracy, establish plutocracy. Enough said about Aristotle’s ethics.

Patrice Ayme’

Virtue Ethics Devalued

September 25, 2014

Virtue ethics consists into worshipping abstractly defined virtues: wisdom, prudence, courage, temperance, justice, happiness (Eudaimonia)… I will explain why this is erroneous.

Virtue ethics was founded by Aristotle, who considered slavery to be necessary… (Let me add immediately that Greco-Roman slavery was apparently by far the worst of those suffered by the Middle Earth in the last 5,000 years; only the Muslim habit of impaling slaves who had attempted to flee compares: and look what Islam did with civilization; in other ways the Muslims did not treat their slaves as badly as the Greco-Romans; the fact both civilizations collapsed is no coincidence.)

By approving of slavery Aristotle contradicted several of the eight virtues he claimed to found ethics on. The fact that the founder of virtue ethics could not make virtue ethics work, is telling. Indeed the “virtues” are derivative, not absolute. I have, and will show, this in other essays. Let me offer just a few words here.

It was virtuous for Aristotle to enslave. Yet slavery is unnatural.

It was so unnatural that, arguably, it caused the fall of the Greco-Roman empire (by enabling Senatorial plutocracy, which undermined the Republic). A civilizational collapse is no way to survive.

The Franks, who took control of the West, soon outlawed slavery, thus contradicting Aristotle, and enabling a civilizational system which survives to this day. So debating the nature of ethics is all very practical: it’s about why, when, how, and for whom, or what, to go to war. Look towards the Middle East for practical applications.

Naturalist ethics is much better than abstractly defined “virtues”. If one thinks about deeply, surviving as a species (or group) is the fundamental purpose of moral behavior. Ethics, or “mores” comes from “habitual character”. What’s more “habitual” than what insures the survival of the species. True, wisdom, foresight, prudence, fortitude are necessary to insure survival. But they are consequences.

Some brandish “religion” as something natural ethicists ought to respect. But there is more than 10,000 “religions” known, each of them actually a set of superstitions to enable the rule of some oligarchy (who adores the Hummingbird god of the Aztecs, nowadays?).

“Religion” means to tie (the people) together. A secular set of beliefs can do this very well, as long as it embraces the Republic of Human Rights, and, thus, survival. Indeed, human rights are best to insure long term survival of the species. They define the virtues Aristotle extolled, but could not define properly enough to insure the survival of his civilization (which was soon destroyed by Alexander, Aristotle’s student and friend).

The Republic of Human Rights is the only religion upon which all human beings can agree on, and, thus, the only one to respect, and found ethics on.

To this the editor of Scientia Salon objected (September 25) that:

“This idea that because Aristotle lived in a society that condoned slavery therefore virtue ethics is bullocks keeps rearing its ugly head, but seems to me a total non sequitur. You might as well say that we should throw out Newtonian mechanics because, after all, Newton was also interested in alchemy and the Bible.”

My reply:

I was unaware that I was ambling down a well-trodden road. Thus I can only observe that the notion that virtue ethics was a personal sin of Aristotle, although admittedly ugly, is entirely natural (as a naïve, untutored, independent mind, such as mine, discovers it readily).

Slavery, as practiced in Athens’ silver mines, and, later, Roman ore mines, was the worst. It was quickly lethal. And it did not stop with treating foreigners as less than animals. Aristotle’s student, and others he was familiar with (senior Macedonian general Antipater) enslaved all of Greece, shortly thereafter.

When the mood is to enslave, it does not stop anywhere, short of the brute force of invaders (and that’s exactly what happened).

Greco-Roman slavery was particularly harsh. There were much milder forms of slavery in Babylon, a millennium earlier, and Egypt used no slavery (except for captured enemy armies).

Peter Do Smith claimed that I suffered from “presentism” by condemning slavery. I guess, in the USA, slavery is just yesterday, and condemning it, so today.

But the Germans, at the time, condemned slavery, at least to the industrial scale the Greco-Romans engaged into it. Archeology has confirmed that small German farms did not use slaves.

Resting all of society upon slavery was not cautious: as soon as the Greco-Romans ran out of conquest, they ran out of slaves, and the GDP collapsed (it peaked within a couple of decades from Augustus’ accession to permanent Princeps and censor status). Another problem was the rise of enormous slavery propelled latifundia, giant Senatorial farms which put most Romans out of employment, and fed plutocracy.

Newton’s researches in… shall we call it proto-chemistry? Or Biblical considerations, were not viewed by him, or any smart observer, as consequences of his mechanics.

Aristotle’s ethical shortcomings were not restricted to his opinion on slavery, and one can only assume that they were consequences of his general ethics. Whereas Demosthenes was a philosophical, and physical hero, ethically, Aristotle sounds like someone raised at the court of the fascist plutocrats, Philippe and Alexander of Macedonia. As, indeed, happened (his father was physician to the Macedonian crown).

There were consequences to Aristotle’s ethics. Alexander had ethical reasons to annihilate Thebes, and sell surviving women and children into slavery. It’s natural to wonder if he shared them with his teacher. Another example of even heavier import: Aristotle’s enormous influence on Rome’s first moralist, Cicero. Cicero, literally, invented the word “morality” by translating the Greek “ethics”.

Aristotle comforted important Romans, centuries later, into the comfortable mood that ethics was all about feeling virtuous.

When Consul Cicero repressed savagely the Conspiracy of Cataline, without bothering with proper judicial procedure, he felt himself to be the incarnation of the eight virtues.

Cicero’s enormous ethical breach helped demolish the democratic Republic.

At all times, tyrants have proclaimed themselves virtuous. That’s tyranny 101. Proclaiming that, from now on, virtue will dominate ethics, besides being self-evident, and thus empty, is just self-congratulatory. Self-congratulations lay at the evil end of the spectrum of the examined life.

Instead, as Demosthenes pointed out, ethics ought to rest on survival. If the aim was survival, the non-conflictual, disunited approach to Aristotle’s bankrollers (Philippe and Alexander) was suicide.

Greece recovered freedom 23 centuries later. Thanks to the European Union.

Patrice Ayme’