Posts Tagged ‘Death’

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.

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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.!

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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.

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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?  

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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’

Death By Police State: The Case Of Dean Potter

May 24, 2015

HUMANITY WOULD NOT BE WITHOUT LOVE FOR RISK TAKING

Some pragmatic and biased partisans of the police state will immediately interject that the famous climber Dean Potter died from hitting the ground as he flew his wingsuit too low in Yosemite. The Guardian, though, saw a bit further: “Did rules, not risk, cause Dean Potter’s Base jumping death?”

Potter Above The Alps. Some Day, We Will Fly Better Than That, Because We Tried

Potter Above The Alps. Some Day, We Will Fly Better Than That, Because We Tried

See also: The Last Flight of Dean Potter by my friend Dan Duane.

Humanity evolved because it learned to enjoy ever greater feats, by taking ever more risks thanks to, and inciting to inventing ever more sophisticated technology.

Therefore risk takers have to be respected: they are animated by the essence of what makes us humans.

That does not mean one should make a cult of them. And the cult around many a climber has irritated me over the years. Yes, when risk takers go too far, and misrepresent the risks they take to the youth, thus making a lot of victims, they have to be cut down to size. In that sense Dean Potter, and other like him, some of them personal friends, have irritated me. I think climbing is dangerous enough to not overdo it. Most of my friends died climbing.

Wingsuit flying is even more dangerous: around 5% of wingsuit fliers die, every year.  However, the philosophy of wingsuit flying holds together.

Indeed, I am a climber too, and I have free soloed (mostly by force, during mountaineering, because it was safer than the alternative). I have observed, during a long climbing career, that those who solo too much, or at too high a level, die. They don’t necessarily die climbing: they get so used to cheat death free soloing, that they take inconsiderate risks in other activities such as driving, or BASE jumping (indeed). So I view the hard line taken by Dr. Paul Preuss, a fanatical free soloist and with hundreds of first ascents as stupid and criminal. A free soloing Preuss died in 1913, at 27, after falling off a thousand feet. Preuss was a genius, but he went too far.

I use to climb a lot in U.S. National Parks, especially Yosemite. However, over times, those parks turned into training grounds for the police state. Once, long ago, after a hard climb in Rocky National Park, Colorado, our ropes got cut by rock fall on the descent. We had to spend the night at 13,000 feet, freezing, and finished the descent the next day. By the time we made it out to the trailhead, hours away, a ranger was there to arrest us for staying out without an overnight permit (we had only a permit to climb that particular mountain).

In Yosemite, entire casual, or cheap campsites were closed, while the Valley itself became a city, complete with judge and jail. Rangers go about with infrared detectors to arrest those who would be out in the woods at night. And so on.

There is little doubt that forcing parachutists to jump with low visibility, or worrying first about arrests, is a factor increasing the probability of dying.

Why then have the National Parks, and a lot of the wilderness, in the USA, be transformed into a police state? Well, precisely because, so doing, people are trained to live in a police state.

A particularly comic aspect of this happened when the government of the USA ran out of money, and closed all the National Parks.

I came for one of my mountain runs, starting at the end of a dirt road where there is never anybody. For this sort of long, solitary runs, I get dropped somewhere, and run to somewhere else, where I get picked up (it’s more challenging than climbing, these days).

But that period, the Parks were closed. And to make sure that the Parks would stay closed, the government had sent plenty of supplementary law enforcement (so the government spent more money, because it wanted to spend less money!). A runner had to run in the woods to escape the Rangers’ SUVs, and then play hide and seek with a horse patrol, which had been especially sent in pursuit. Those days I saw plenty of rangers in places where one never sees anyone (let alone rangers), on access dirt roads to various Parks. Many people, even families, with children, got actually chased down and arrested for daring to penetrate their National Parks, on their habitual dominical hikes.

What was taught by Big Police by this barely credible repression? That in the USA, the law is hard, but it is the law, and humanity is nothing, if it stands in the way of the law. So Dean Potter died, flying at dusk, and many in law enforcement in the USA rejoice, and so do their fellow travelers. Because it reminds all that people are nothing, and orders, everything. National Park do not teach nature first. They teach the police state, first. That is considered much more important, nowadays.

There has been recently some indignation about the methods of the police in the USA. Racist allegations were made. However, those familiar with the police in the USA know that racism is not the fundamental problem. Some of the officers indicted for violence were actually “colored” (to use an old American expression). Police, in the USA, is very well paid, and associates with the rich, and the order they gave rise to. But not just that.

The Romans used to say: ”The Law Is Hard, But It Is the Law!” The Americans say the same. Brutal application of “justice” and the law is what holds the USA together.

(Obama himself has perceived this, and just cracked down, deciding to forbid the police access to some military equipment.)

325 million citizens of the USA are taught to toe the line, and there is no better place to do so, in a semi-playful way, than in National Parks. And it’s getting worse, in parallel, and related to, the mercantilization of the Parks. That’s why I don’t go there anymore.

Increasing authoritarianism is multifaceted: this week, all my comments to the New York Times, but one, were censored. I cannot even imagine why. But the general trend is clear: if one has something really interesting to say, don’t try to say it on the New York Times: this is the propaganda piece of the pseudo-fair. (Most interesting commenters have disappeared  from there. However, The Guardian, and other British publications publish my comments. So does the… Wall Street Journal.)

Increasing authoritarianism is a slow suffocation of the human spirit. Resisting it, our essence. As Jefferson, third president of the USA pointed out, when a law is bad, it’s not just our right, but our duty, not to obey it.

Patrice Ayme