Posts Tagged ‘Diogenes’

Hating Tech? Hate Man!

July 30, 2018

Rampages against technology are fashionable: after all, we, and our entire world, depends upon it. Dependents are prisoners of their benefactor(s). The unwise will resent that. Technology is worse than a drug, then: it is the life support system of the most advanced apes who ever were. It is even more: our soul? The world-changing apes world-changed, and evolved for, and from, technology. If we have a creator specific to our species, here it is! Technology is out mother, father, what makes us possible. Hating our provider, our god: how pleasing!

Homo, the genus, and genius, is inseparable from technology. Saying technology doesn’t help, or doesn’t even help define what is human, is to have understood nothing to the genus Homo. Socrates took a stance: he posed as an anti-science, anti-tech, even anti-mental creativity type. Socrates refused even to write: after all, that’s tech too. But for his living, he depended upon an inherited stock portfolio, and his plutocratic friends and fiends. And, when, as a wealthy hoplite, he killed the enemy, it was because of his technologically superior, and very expensive armor and weapons. I can’t afford, as Socrates did, to be a hypocrite.

Diogenes too, was an anti-tech, anti-progress hypocrite: he lived in a barrel: that’s advanced technology, an expensive Gallic import… soon Gallic armies would battle down into Greece, thanks to their superior weapons due to superior metal works. Diogenes also had a dog:  another advanced technology, a Genetically Modified Organism, whose carefully twisted mind makes him love and obey his master. The reason Diogenes didn’t have to battle giant European Cave Lions was that those had been driven to extinction, thanks to superior weapons.

Also Athens existed, and could feed Socrates and Diogenes, because it imported grain from the Black Sea, two weeks of shipping away (at best). Or from Cyrenaica. Attica was too dry to feed the largest Greek city. And Athens paid back, with superior tech. Demosthenes, the philosopher, inherited also from his father. His 40 slaves were making advanced tech, sold throughout the Mediterranean. As I said, it paid for food of the last Athenian dog. It goes without saying that this imperial organization rested on the mightiest army and navy, which had persuaded cities such as Byzantium to reasonably cooperate…

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The more human we get, the more tech we get, and live from:

So on tech we go.
An interest of technology is to solve problems, which can’t be solved otherwise, lest we want to use massively the oldest methods, like cannibalism. There are countless examples, in history, of populations which have been reduced to zero, as needed by the sustainable ecological load.

As it is, we use much more planet than we have. We need another planet, or we need to quickly consume, say, 90% of humanity (the latter can easily be done, though… thanks to tech, both as an exterminator, and a redemptor).

Colonizing Mars would double the land area at our disposal. And yes, it can be done: there are giant ice cliffs on Mars: water was the big problem to terraform Mars. Up to last year, Mars looked desiccated, and it appeared one would have to crash comets into it to bring water. Now, no more. All we need is a mighty energy source. That too, tech could bring us: controlled thermonuclear fusion, already used in decent airports, looms, ever closer: a thermonuclear reactor connected to the grid is feasible… if we spent, say 100 billion dollars (5% US or EU yearly GDP).

The Counties of Alameda and Contra Costa (“AC”), in the San Francisco Bay Area form together AC Transit, which has purchased dozens of Fuel Cell Electric Buses. Those buses refuel hydrogen at dedicated service stations. Their waste? Water! Those buses aren’t just zero emission, they are the ideal complement of the photovoltaic energy rising in California. Some cities of AC provide free PV installations.

Elon Musk is an entrepreneur: he takes science invented by much deeper minds, and turns it into profitable technology. True, he got favored by Obama, in a shameless manner… while Obama killed important technologies such as Fuel Cells… to leave room to Musk, and other Silicon Valley friends Obama had (now busy making him rich). True the plutocratic connection between Musk and tech monopolies and the Obama administration was disgusting, and many involved should how be prosecuted. I wrote extensively against Musk and Bezos in the past, because they go so much help from the Obama White House. However, the fact is now both of these two plutocrat have made an important technological advance: rockets can be reused! “Space Shuttle” launches used to cost 1.5 billion dollars (yes, billion, with a b… per launch). Musk thinks he could launch a much bigger rocket for six million dollars. Indeed, doing the math, the cost of launch should be no more than a jumbo jet transcontinental flight… if the rocket is sophisticated enough.

Yet, the transition from deep science to a deeper socio-economy shouldn’t be neglected: they are entangled. No advancement of the socio-economy, no advancement of science, and reciprocally.

Rome failed because it couldn’t get going the science it needed, because its exaggeratingly fascist, pathetically impotent socio-economy (the combination of slavery and autocracy, too strong for enabling the People to contribute, not enough to crush plutocrats). Now, of course, the Romans weren’t too brainy to start with… and they kept Greece too subjugated, before finally snuffing it by mad theocracy (when the Academies were ordered closed by a Roman emperor.)

In the Tenth Century, new cultivars, of beans for the Franks, and of rice for the Vietnamese/Chinese, made a better fed Europe and East Asia forge ahead as ever more domineering civilizations… New cultivars are new technology…

Facebook is a different problem from the space adventures of Musk and Bezos. First, Facebook has no added value: all it does is spy, and find new fixes for its addicts (Instagram). Facebook is horrendously unethical, and a return to a primitivism worse than the Middle Ages. Facebook has indeed decided to censor artwork from the Middle Ages… “even if it has educational value“… Facebook grotesquely asserts. No wonder, it’s led by an uneducated grabster, used to wrap presidents around its little robotic fingers…

In general plutocracy is killing civilization. Always has, always will. However, the grandeur of Bezos’ and Musk’s missions is such, one has to make a grudging exception for them, as long as they keep on going… to Mars. That doesn’t mean we have run out of targets: all the financial derivative sector, worth 1,400 trillion dollars (yes, with a t, $1,400 thousand billions) should be destroyed. It is because it doesn’t exist in China, that China has become the world’s greatest economic power… Financiers bootstrapping themselves so they can crush us when they come down… What’s worse?
Patrice Ayme

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For comic relief, one can read Massimo Pigliucci’s and Correy Mohler’s”Diogenes the Cynic vs Elon Musk
What wisdom could the great Cynic offer to our modern-day Alexander?“. Dogs can bark, but thinking deep is not their forte… So I thank Massimo for the spark to the blistering critique above… And indeed, first, to compare Musk to Alexander the Great is beyond grotesque: Alexander is a serious, not to say mass lethal, subject. Musk is cute, but basically completely replaceable (first, consider Bezos, who is coming up with similar rockets…)

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’

 

 

When Dog Turned Into God

December 18, 2014

We have a striking historical case of someone, whom history ought to treat as a dog, and who was famously told he was a dog (but in a way too sophisticated for him to understand), who later came to consider himself as a god.

Alexander, son of Philippe, visited Diogenes. He stood in front of Diogenes’ barrel, and told him he would do for him whatever he wanted. Great leaders like to pose as helpful, and open minded.

Diogenes told him to stop making a shadow.

These were the times when a shadow was been thrown over all of civilization.

In the USA, Church And State Are Not Separated. Anymore.

In the USA, Church And State Are Not Separated. Anymore.

A correct trajectory is one according to the Principle of Least Action. Correct thinking may be the one achieving the most, while supposing the least.

Cynics know the theists have a dog in the fight, and his name, or that of his Representative, Messenger, Archangel, Son, Demiurge, or whatever, is Sacrosanct. Sacrosanct is a concept coming from Republican Rome: Tribunes were sacrosanct: attacking them physically meant death.

Cynics know theists insist upon a particular name, because they want to make their champions more respected and powerful than anybody else. Alexander went back east where Orientalism thrived. Alexander saw his blood flow. He wondered: “Is that the blood of a God?” His fellow Macedonians, and a few Greeks, companion in arms, laughed.

In the Orient, Godism was strong (sorry, let’s be polite with those who come from the fanum, the temple: Theism). Because, in a Hydraulic Dictatorship, you need a great dictator, and thus a great god created in His image, thus demonstrating that the dictatorship on the ground is ordained by the dictatorship in heavens.

The original cynicism was a reaction to the rising plutocracy: it’s no accident that the fundamental plutocrat, this follower of the demonic instinct, who had annihilated the entire City-State of Thebes, Alexander the Great, was viewed by the fundamental cynic, Diogenes, as a blot on an otherwise cloudless sky.

Reminding Alexander that humans were just dogs, was a way to remind Alexander that he himself was just a dog. (And a dog who kills tens of thousands in a city which has surrounded, is indeed rabid; Alexander the “Great” also crucified thousands in Tyr, and annihilated that City-Civilization too.)

Alexander’s reply: I am a God, not a Dog.

If humans are dogs are not their deities in their image too? Are not, thus, the gods, dogs? It’s hilarious to see debates about cynicism in the USA being transformed into the usual my-god-is-bigger-than-your-dog quarrel. As one commenter said, “continental” philosophy is pretty ignored. Too anti-God, of course, to survive deep down in the American aquarium.

To kill the Dog who wants to rule us (Alexander and his countless imitators, some contemporary), we have to kill the God they pretend to be, or in the image of (or live according to, thus giving them divine power, while bringing to life the ahistorical Jesus)

Nietzsche famously said: “Man is a rope, stretched between beast and Übermensch.” I prefer the truth: “Man is a hope, stretched between beast and Übermensch.”

But there is no hope, when all the hope there is to follow the Dog, especially when he strive to make himself believe he is a so-called “God” (As Alexander did, until Antipater told his valet, Antipater’s youngest son to do away with him… At least so it is pleasant to believe).

There is the paradox of the (make-)believer. Somebody who goes through life, assuming more than s/he needs, to gain theoretical advantage.

In the blessed USA, churches don’t pay tax, and thus legions believing the American world is the will of God (or, as Diogenes implicitly said, Dog) are ready to serve a government of plutocrats, by plutocrats, for plutocrats.

Don’t tell me what your society is: tell me what your gods are, and I will tell you what your elites do claim they believe in, and what they can get away with.

Patrice Ayme’