Posts Tagged ‘ethology’

Rousseau’s Infamy

May 5, 2016

Jean-Jacques Rousseau famously started his treatise “The Social Contract” with: “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they are.”

Rousseau claimed that man was naturally good but became corrupted by the pernicious influence of human society and institutions. French sailors implemented Rousseau philosophy in Tasmania: they went swimming in the nude, to show the natives they had nothing to fear. Hundreds of Natives attacked the French, who gathered a vivid impression of Rousseau’s wickedness.

Rousseau’s beautiful tweet is only true as a poetic metaphor, a helpful bleating to a despondent sky. Otherwise, it is erroneous in roughly all ways. Man is not born free, but fatally dependent upon others, and especially lactating human female(s). (Until very recent technological developments.) The one who thought of himself as the master often was, or is, really the master, whose very mind had been made by an ideology of mastery. And thus, cannot be otherwise. Even more surely than Rousseau advanced by seducing judiciously chosen wealthy women. (Say Jean-Jacques: “To write a good love letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say, and to finish without knowing what you have written.”)

I Strike, Therefore You Die. Nature Is Not About Goodness, Just Balance

I Strike, Therefore You Die. Nature Is Not About Goodness, Just Balance

[Natural Quantum Supercomputer At Work. The latest on rattlesnakes show them capable of foresight and engineering, in preparation for a strike… a few hours later.]

As New Scientist puts it, April 13, 2016: “It’s a premeditated attack. A deadly rattlesnake seems to be planning attacks by clearing a path for its strike in advance.

Northern Pacific rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus) have been filmed manipulating vegetation near the burrows of ground squirrels. It’s the first time they have been captured on video moving grass in such a way, says Breanna Putman at San Diego State University in California.

Putman and her colleague Rulon Clark recorded two instances of hunting rattlesnakes pushing away grass around them at the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve in California’s Santa Clara County.”

If rattlesnakes can premeditate and prepare their deadly attacks, so can humans. (In particular, plutocrats.)

Chains, around ankles, are a rare sight. Yet ideologies, stunting minds, are common. Actually, the word “ideology” comes short: minds go deeper than ideas. Ideas are anchored in moods. Mentalities are ecosystems for ideas. Rousseau’s basic axiomatic mood, anchoring his entire critique, was anti-civilizational. (He got carried away from the Ancient Regime, not understanding that was not civilization, but plutocracy run amok.)

Rousseau preached returning to nature to live a natural life at peace with neighbors and self. He heaped scorn on civilization: “Civilization is a hopeless race to discover remedies for the evils it produces…Trust your heart rather than your head… What wisdom can you find greater than kindness… The truth brings no man a fortune… Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Maker of the world, but degenerates once it gets into the hands of man“.

Returning to nature is fundamental, agreed, because that is where the deepest structures of our minds come from. Yet lives in the wild were short, brutish, and cruel. Civilization is a remedy for nature.

We are made, evolutionarily speaking to handle the short, brutish and cruel. Paradoxically this may be what is missing now. Instead, we are slowly been overheated like the proverbial frog in an increasingly torrid bath.

Similarly, too much politeness can kill a proper debate. Calling fools and their stupid ideologies for what they are is a preliminary requirement to think correctly.

Even more paradoxically, politeness can be a diabolical weapon against those who do not expect it, especially our greatest enemies. Had I met Bin Laden, I would have been polite. I would have asked what exactly happened. Bin Laden was initially recruited by the CIA and SIA, to lead an Arab mercenary army against the Afghan Republic. The latter initially had a defense accord with the USSR, but also intended to develop Afghan geology with French expertise. All this became impossible as the White House conducted a secret war, using Pakistan. As that was not enough democratic president Carter gave a secret order of attack, July 3, 1979.

So politeness can be appropriate, or not. In the case of Rousseau, the answer was clear. Rousseau sent Voltaire a copy of his “The Social Contract” and Voltaire wrote him the following:

“I have received your new book against the human race, and thank you for it. Never was such a cleverness used in the design of making us all stupid. One longs, in reading your book, to walk on all fours. But as I have lost that habit for more than sixty years, I feel unhappily the impossibility of resuming it. Nor can I embark in search of the savages of Canada, because the maladies to which I am condemned render a European surgeon necessary to me; because war is going on in those regions; and because the example of our actions has made the savages nearly as bad as ourselves.”

De Sade coldly observed that Rousseau had no idea of the nature of nature (paraphrasing). The argument can be made, and has been made, that there is a direct filiation between the philosophers Rousseau and (the quite similar) Herder, and the Prussianized Nazism which disfigured Europe, after Metternich and Bismarck launched their conquering ways.

Voltaire said that “one must crush infamy!”. But infamy is clever. Even rattlesnakes are clever. Just as it was recently documented that a rattlesnake, preparing for an ambush, will clear its strike trajectory, so it is with most thinking beings, and not just predators. Elephants and rhinoceroses have been observed attacking with enormous fury and persistence even innocent calves. Surely, indeed, the nature of nature is not to be strictly cuddly.

In the end, Jean-Jacques himself had to admit the truth: “All my misfortunes come of having thought too well of my fellows“. Well, after behaving all too long like a rattlesnake of love, striking here, and there, lying in ambush… no wonder.

Patrice Ayme’

Sometimes, The Ends Justify The Means

March 6, 2015

Putin’s Reich, like Hitler’s Reich, can be thoroughly surrealistic.

Russia captured an Ukrainian army pilot, a well-known woman who served against in the Middle East. That an Ukrainian combat helicopter pilot ended in a cage in Russia is even stranger: did Ukraine invade Russia? No. Did Russia invade Ukraine? How else does Putin capture famous Ukrainian pilot (and then accuse her of “murder”).

Meanwhile, all over the Middle East, The Islamists bulldoze the past, as it proves that their so-called Prophet was just an analphabet raider who came thousands of years after the invention of civilization and secular law, in exactly the same place. The advantage, is that they show Islamist ideology for what it is. Here is how Islam conquered the Middle East:

Nazis Hid Such Pictures, Islamists Gloat About Them

Nazis Hid Such Pictures, Islamists Gloat About Them

OK, 13 centuries ago, they used swords, not guns. The child is Christian Armenian in Syria. Armenia was the first Christian nation (early Fourth Century, more than 400 years before the invention of Islam by a raider called Muhammad).

Per Kurowski, having read my Savage, The Franks? Islam Is Worse in Learning From Dogs, made the following comment, which I found weird (but it gave me an opening for a strong retort):

“Here a (nasty) question asked by Daniel C. Dennett in the book “Thinking” (2013) edited by John Brockman.

“Suppose that we face some horrific, terrible enemy… and here’s two different armies that we could use to defend ourselves. The Gold Army and the Silver Army: same numbers, same training, same weaponry. They’re all armored and armed as well as can do. The difference is that the Gold Army has been convinced that God is on their side and this is cause of righteousness, and it’s as simple as that. The Silver Army is entirely composed of economists. They’re all making side insurance bets and calculating the odds of everything… Which army do you want on the front lines?”

And Dennett has introduced the question by citing William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) with: “Far better is it for an army to be too savage, to cruel, too barbarous, than to possess too much sentimentality and human reasonableness”. 

So now you ponder on that for a while.”

Thanks Per, for mentioning Daniel Dennet, a well-known American philosopher, with a towering reputation, and this ineffable property of colossal boredom that seems to emanate from all American philosophers.

Like a giant Black Hole at the heart of a galaxy, I need to swallow stuff, so I can make light. Dennet will do for now.

First, let me say that I approve Paul’s answer 100%. Here I go:

***

GOODNESS ENABLES THE  RIGHTEOUS TO DEPLOY THE SAVAGERY SAVAGES CANNOT MUSTER:

The big mistake in World War two was to realize too late that Nazism had to be physically destroyed, with maximum savagery.

The French Republic understood it: by January 1938, the French War Ministry launched a hyper secret NUCLEAR bomb program (Irene Curie, daughter of Marie, had not already a Nobel Prize, but she also had discovered the nuclear chain reaction, and taught it to Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner, both German, who, fortunately, had not understood too well what the much smarter Irene had found).

The aim of the program was to atom bomb Berlin: Nazis were to get what they deserved (the project fled later to England, and then MANHATTAN, becoming the project by that name).

Morality? Against those who have none, but the Dark Side, only darker ways win. 

The British followed the French example (Churchill of course knew about the nuclear bomb project): against the Nazis, only a deeper darkness would do. So they prepared a strategic bomber fleet. The idea was to eradicate Nazi cities, if it had to come to that. The British were ready for the worst.

The British were ready for the worst, the Nazis were not: it would have meant, for the later, to look deep in their ugly souls.

So they did not look.

So they did not anticipate that they ugly souls would lead them to be at war, again, with France and Britain. Or, maybe in 1945 (some of them, including Hitler, planned, secretly). But not in 1939. Thus the Nazis did not prepare with a bomber fleet and enough anti-aircraft defenses. Britain did, because Britain anticipated the ugliness of what could follow: as the British soul was pure, it could look into the possible consequences of Nazi evil. So Britain prepared for the worst, all-out war (something the ex-director of Mi6 just suggested may happen with Putin).

To fight evil, one has to draw the line somewhere. Thus, in 1939, Britain followed France, which had a defense treaty with Poland, and told Hitler that invading Poland was out of the question.

Hitler, stuck, made his hyper secret alliance with Soviet dictator Stalin official.

France and Britain, and Poland were undeterred. Poland refused to concede any territory for its Prussian tormentors who had occupied her for centuries.

Hitler attacked. France and Britain declared war.

SAVAGE BOMBING EXTERMINATED THE NAZIS:

At that point, it was clear Hitler had lost. It was just a matter of time. The Nazis tried to get lucky, and they were, in May 1940, after several inconceivable blunders by the French and British commands, who had not anticipated how insane the Nazis were. And Lady Luck was Nazi in May 1940.

HITLER’S AIR FORCE LOST THE WAR IN 1940:

When the Nazis had to turn to air war against Britain, though, they were not ready. But the Brits were. Nazi attacks against English cities met the wrath of the RAF. Ultimately savage city bombing at night reduced Hitler’s Reich to smoldering ruins. One million men manned the anti-aircraft guns, but still, British bombers inflicted war hindering damage. (By comparison, the Nazis had never more than three million men trying to invade the USSR.)

Why could not the Nazis reciprocate in kind? They had no (long range) bomber fleet. Their puny force was mostly wiped out in 1940. they had never anticipated they would find themselves in total war with Britain… While they were still unprepared. They had not anticipated that the French and the British would see all the way through their nasty Nazi souls and decided to do away with them, mustering whatever it took.

Later the USAF joined, and the Nazis ran out of everything. Especially the capacity to make ammunitions, explosives, and fuel.

Was it rough? Sure. But there was no other way to win the war.

And if that war had been lost, the Nazis, in the end, would have simply killed most of humanity.

GOODNESS WITHOUT SUPERIOR WRATH IS NOUGHT:

That the ends never justify the means is cheap metaphysics. It’s a perfect metaphysics for slaves to have, if you are a master, as the servants will thus never revolt.

In practice, metaphysics ought to never contradict physics. In the real world, absolute force is justified by absolute morality.

Pointing guns at a toddler, and, or, gloating about it, is an absolute wrong.

Chimps or simple monkeys, or even dogs would understand this (once they have been shown what guns can do). Not only is morality absolute, but, ethological research shows, it is shared among all advanced species.

This is why dolphins rescue people at sea. It is also why dolphins do not attack people, although people do hunt, kill, and eat people in some parts of the world (I discovered that myself as a child in Africa; I have more to say on this another day).

Why is the genus Homo so demonic?

Well, it is a question of superiority.

However, that sense of superiority, with its Dark Side can only be moderated with even greater force. God is not our friend, as it is just an illusion, and allusion, that primitives have. However, force, inflicted with enough demonicity, is all the god we need.

Obama has learned that way: he has, de facto, allied himself with Iran (whose Prime Minister Abadi justified said alliance by claiming it was like that of the West with the USSR against the Nazis; I wonder if he realizes this means that he is working for Stalin…)

One should go one cynicism further: the strength of the Islamist State has come from officers from Saddam Hussein’s army. Should one want to finish the conflict, one could make them an offer they cannot refuse. But then, of course, does not want to really finish that conflict?

Situations develop an intelligence of their own, and conflicts are debates, at another level.

When rats are pressed in a cage, they become vicious. We have been building a cage, and it has not become more comfortable.

Belgium had, a little while back, 381 species of wild bees (crucial to the survival of the biosphere). Three years ago, it was down to 11, and a recent survey found only 5.

What, or rather, who, is killing the bees?

More on this later, and the connection with the world’s richest, and, according to himself, best man, the one who should pay no taxes, Bill Gates. Gates of hell are for those who make it so that too much power comes into too few hands.

Patrice Ayme’

Pain Is Relative, But Fishes Feel It

February 5, 2015

Armchair philosophers and ethologists are much to be feared. In Scientia Salon, Brian Key, a Professor of Developmental Neurobiology in the School of Biomedical Sciences, Head of the Brain Growth and Regeneration Lab, University of Queensland, argued “Why fish (likely) don’t feel pain”.

I will retort that Brian’s thoughts flow from fishy philosophy.

The author uses neuro-anatomy to over-rule ethology. Instead I will start from ethology, starring some actors of the wilderness:

Very Long Horns, And Very Smart Brain

Very Long Horns, And Very Smart Brain

He starts poorly, by demonstrating wolves are not (likely) smart. Says he:

“Resisting anthropomorphic tendencies:

Grey wolves hunt as a pack. They carefully select their prey, and then perform a series of highly coordinated maneuvers as a team, in order to corral their target. Initially, each wolf maintains a safe working distance from other members of the pack as well as from their prey. They are relentless and seemingly strategic with an overall goal of driving the agitated prey towards one wolf. A cohesive group mentality emerges that portrays logic, intelligence and a willingness to achieve a common goal. Eventually one wolf comes close enough to lock its jaws on a rear leg of the prey, before wrestling it to the ground. The rest of the pack converges to share in the kill. There appears a purpose to their collective behavior that ensures a successful outcome.

But is everything as it seems? A team of international scientists from Spain and the U.S.A. has simulated the behavior of a hunting pack of wolves using very simple rules

Their computer models do not rely on high-level cognitive skills or sophisticated intra-pack social communication. The complex spatial dynamics of the hunting group emerges by having the computer-generated wolves obey simple inter-wolf and wolf-prey attractive/repulsive rules.”

This is, simply said, dumb.

Assuming animals are computer programs may work for humans, but it does not resist careful examination in the wild. I have seen snakes being smart.

Once, by accident, I prevented a very large wolf to kill his prey (long story). The wolf could have jumped on me. He was three meters away. It was sunset, high above timberline in the Alps, kilometers from the first road, hours away walking (I was running, of course).

We looked at each other. I could read the yellow eyes of the wolf, he looked as intelligent as a monkey (not at all dull and agitated like a dog would have been in such circumstances). His eyes were saying: ‘What is a human being doing up here at this hour? What the hell! What is this world coming to? And now what?’

His purported dinner, a chamois, had passed at a high clip, within centimeters of me, going the other way.

It was a magnificent animal, all red, long hair all standing up, with face at least twice wider than a large dog. He was neither panicked nor upset, once the initial surprise was passed. He did not threaten me, and went his way (now the opposite of his initial way).

Anybody who has interacted with fishes know that they behave as if they experienced pain. Another objection: (some) fishes can act in a very clever way. Pain is a big help for intelligence. It’s a more economical hypothesis. Consider:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/diving-into-truth/

Anti-anthropomorphism sounds scientific, but it is actually a contrived hypothesis, insisting, with the Bible, that man is special. Instead of just an animal.

Once I was in an African National Park. I saw a large antelope (Hypotragus Equinuus), obviously in a panic, dash down a twenty foot embankment, on the other side of a wide river. He landed on the 200 foot wide beach, separated from the river itself by dunes… A large lioness followed down the embankment. Then the lioness took a hard left, from my perspective, instead of following her prey, she went ninety degrees! She went full speed for 400 meters or so, and then angled through the field of dunes, along the river, which was much wider there. Meanwhile the antelope, seeing the lioness was not in hot pursuit, had slowed down. But he was confronted to a new problem: a wide river, full of crocodiles.

From my vantage point, I could see at least a hundred trunks floating in the river, each one a croc. The antelope trotted upstream, knowing full well that to swim across meant certain death. Soon it saw the solution in the distance: shallow rapids. He accelerated. By then the lioness was in ambush near the top of the large last dune dominating the narrows.

The antelope arrived at a very brisk pace, scanning ahead to figure out the optimal point. He was obviously doing some fast thinking on the hoof. The lioness was crouched, observing just saw within the grass hidden by the very top of the dune, which she had craftily put between herself and the direction she knew her prey would come from.

I screamed.

The two beasts sprang into action. The antelope understood that there was an ambush, and bounded in an enormous effort, taking a dangerous short-cut. At the same time, realizing apes were foiling her plan, as apes tend to do, the lioness also charged.

She missed.

The antelope climbed on our side of the river, still pursued by the lioness, who took the time to throw us a very dirty look.

This was not my only encounter with very clever wild animals.

I have encountered lions many times. Lions in good standing resist hunting instinct and pangs of hunger, and don’t attack human beings.

Once I was diving as a child in Africa, spear in hand. I caught a lobster. However the critter screamed in such a heart breaking fashion, I did not renew the experience. Another time, I had caught an octopus, and, although mostly dead and hopeless, it made a point to bite me in protest. Yes, it was clearly a protest, because the creature looked dead, and I was inflicting pain at it, at that particular point. (Meanwhile experiences with octopuses have shown that they are extremely clever, and perfectly capable of the sort of reasoning I imputed them; as a species they are limited with very short lifespans and no possibility to transmit culture.)

So animals have feelings and emotions. If we directly interact with them, it’s blatant.

Brian Key uses poor ethology: he claims fishes fight when hooked in a way that show they don’t feel pain. Whereas trapped bears do (because they stop fighting after a while, when trapped). Actually fishes stop fighting after a while.

Then Brian proceeds to say that sometimes human beings don’t feel pain. Once again, anybody who has lived in the wild knows this is true.

Once a famous solo sailor got his foot torn off. He kept doing what he needed to do to stabilize the situation on his boat that had caused him to lose his foot. He stopped the blood loss. He called for rescue. He secured his boat. Once rescue arrived, he felt the pain.

Anybody who has been outside, broke ribs, arms, lost lots of skin, got injected a lot of painful venom, got burned third degree (all of those personal experiences) knows well that pain is felt only when it is advantageous, or safe, to do so. Bleeding experienced rock climbers will calmly exert maximal pressure on the rock, even when they have no more skin, just where they have no more skin… And barely feel it.

Pain is a relative thing, and evolution has gifted us with strong overrides (for example endorphins).

A fortiori so it is, with fishes.

Patrice Ayme’

IS LIFE ALL ABOUT THE QUANTUM?

January 22, 2015

Far From Being Absurd, Life May Be A Quantum Force That Gets Ever More Complex

The most striking feature of the Quantum is that, by doing something somewhere, one can change the state of something else, somewhere else. Einstein found this “spooky”. Philosophically, it just says that, whatever the universe is about, it’s not about old fashion “points”, as found in old fashion mathematics.

This “Quantum Entanglement” and the related, yet diluted “Quantum Discord” constitute the true architecture of the universe. This revelation ought to impact everything. Not just philosophy, but also psychology.

I propose the following. Life, its gathering complexity, adaptability, progress, ethology, meaning, are all animated by the very nature of the Quantum. It’s neither weird, nor absurd, it’s a force that proceeds.

Let me backtrack a bit.

“There is only one really serious philosophical problem,” Camus says in his book, The Myth of Sisyphus, “and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that.”

What does this mean? Not much. Besides the admission that apparently much of Camus’ life was absurd. Camus should have done like Nietzsche, and go climb mountains solo. There, as Nietzsche did, he would have found meaning.

One does not decide if life is worth living, most of the time, because, most of the time, life is not a choice. One does chose to breathe. One breathes. When one is thirsty, one drinks, and so on. There is a mechanical aspect to animals, who are machines which live. Most of the time, an animal’s systems are on automatic, best described by inertia.

Animals find meaning by experiencing the life that they are made for.

Recent studies have shown that young lions get neurological damage, if they don’t chew hard on tough flesh. Being a lion is meant to be tough, to be fulfilling. Camus and company lived too soft, in their hour of glory.

Lamarck believed that two forces acted on evolution. One had to do with adapting to the environment, the other was the “Pouvoir de Vie”. This “Life Power” brought increasing complexity to biological evolution. It goes without saying that it is observed. It is an open question whether life started on Mars (it probably did). What is clear, though, is that fortunes are spent to sterilize landers sent to other planets (including the Moon), because exobiologists are worried that today’s Earth life would take over: Earth life has become so complex, it can adapt to what space can throw at it.

This “Life Power” made reductionists spiteful, because they saw no science based reason for it. However, if they had been smarter, they would have seen it that it was a fact. They knew too much Classical and Thermo Dynamics… While the true nature of Quantum Physics was hidden by the siren song of the Copenhagen Interpretation.

Quantum Physics depends upon law (unfortunately, that “law” varies; it can be an infuriatingly parachuted wave equation, or another, or, more generally in the “Standard Model”, some manipulation of a hyper complicated Laplacian; in any case, it has to do with waves… Non-linear waves, in the general case!), initial conditions, and also the final space (a Hilbert space generated by eigenstates). This makes Quantum Mechanics somewhat teleological, an inconceivable horror for the classic-mechanical minded.

It means the Quantum looks far ahead, and everywhere, as if it were a god in the machine. It is a god, the god, in the machine…

The final space for genes is the environment. Genes are Quantum machines (a bit like Turing machines, but operated by the Quantum). This interaction between the genetic machinery and the environment means that we have a Quantum mechanism for fast adaptation to the environment.

Someday, soon, Quantum Biology may well become the queen of sciences… Ruling even mathamatics.

But not only this. The Quantum force operates through Quantum Entanglement… Entanglement creates a complexity at a distance, and that complexity propagates, as the Quantum Entanglement does.

So it is as if life progressed by extending Quantum tendrils in all spaces that it can reach, and it can reach a lot. There is Lamarck’ Life Power, there is the increasing complexity, and there is progress. If biology itself progresses, at fortiori culture, the minds’ tendrils.

Why was Camus so obsessed by absurdity? Because he got surrounded by absurdity. He came from a dirt poor environment in Algeria, and, in exchange for valor and work, was given everything by the Republic. This testimony, a celebration of human rights and equal opportunity, was then confronted to “intellectuals” who inverted, and buried all these values… In their names. Camus was told to follow Comrade Stalin, instead. When he begged to differ, he is called a colonial racist.

What is teleology? It’s the logic of the ends, the logic of purposes, logic at a distance. Socrates believed in it. Plato and Aristotle had their own versions. During the Enlightenment, dominated , and inspired as it was by Classical Mechanics, teleology got assimilated to the discredited Christian god, and fell into contempt.

We know more now, and we can afford different, more sophisticated teleologies. I claim that life is teleological, because it evolves not just haphazardly (“stochastically”), but also teleologically (thanks to Quantum Physics, which provides eyes and a feeling… for what is going on at a distance).

Teleology at the level of hydrogen bonds? Most probably (surprise, surprise). Modify the DNA’s environment, and Quantum Computational pressure is exerted on DNA’s hydrogen bonds (among other bonds). Thus the DNA  will evolve much faster than (classical “Darwinian”) haphazard mutations would have it.  It is such an obvious mechanism that evolution is bound to have selected for it. Life’s little secret is the Quantum!

Experiments are planned. All this will be probably viewed as obvious, all along, within ten years.

What this teleology does is to make life ever more adapted and ever more adaptable. If one measures progress by adaptability, progress there has been, as adaptability has progressed.

Philosophically, it means that, in the deepest sense, life, thanks to the Quantum, is behaving as if it were making value judgments. For example, at the molecular level, lowest energy solutions can be evaluated, and selected.

What is the aim of that teleology? Survival of the life form adapting. A question which immediately surges, is what is life? One thing that is clear, though, is the definition of goodness. For a give lifeform, that means survival of said lifeform. So, naturally enough, goodness will vary according to species, but also tribes, and even individuals.

So let the biggest goodness, and the goodness of the strongest lifeform win (as Nietzsche insisted… and this is the way life always has had it… as Nietzsche himself pointed out, following Sade, who was even clearer!)

Experiments in ethology are starting to test this (EJ Winner ought to consider them! ;-)). Basic psychology, such as a sense of fairness, have obvious survival values in social species such as primates.

Intelligence is also teleological. Philosophically, one can argue that intelligence, and even culture, are an extension of the adaptability of life at the nanometer scale, harnessing the Quantum. The extension probably uses the same Quantum machinery that starts to be put in evidence at the molecular level (say in the chlorophyll molecule).

If Homo Is Aware, Is the Universe Aware? It’s a bit like the question of pondering whether a planet harboring life is alive, or not. Earth is certainly alive, because life enables the very conditions on Earth that enable of its on-going existence, so far. The advent of oxygen producing lifeforms enabled the progress of complexity, hence the apparition of intelligence and advanced ethology of the conscious type.

Speaking of this, a question naturally arises: what is the definition of life? Life, so far, has no definition. The greatest minds have been left speechless.

Considering the preceding, clearly, such a definition will have to involve the Quantum, and Entanglement, besides reproduction. Crystals, and Quasi-crystals can reproduce an Entanglement architecture, but they are intensely boring.  They can be described by just one equation.

Life is any Quantum Entanglement architecture which can approximately self-reproduce and adapt while being described by a potentially growing set of equations.

Probably, we are aspects of the Entanglements and Delocalization that the Quantum is capable of, at least in a little corner of the universe. We don’t need no Sisyphus: we can operate on it, at a distance.

Spooky, admittedly, but that’s what we are.

All these revelations  change the overall mood towards the purpose of life. Life is not absurd, it simply is a growing, entangled complexity, our morality and intelligence, hopes, meaning, and consciousness are entangled with it. But the solutions we cling to, all too long, can well be, indeed, all too disjointed, point-wise, disconnected, and thoroughly absurd.

Equally clearly, the (meta, or final!) solution is to have all the absurdities gobbled up by life itself.

Patrice Ayme’

Against Emotional Shrinkage

December 29, 2014

Is Rejecting The Human Condition Wise? Or Simply Inhuman?

In Against Invulnerability, philosophy professor Todd May has walked some of my way, and I will help him with some of the rest (empathy in action!). Here is Todd, in the New York Times, for “The Stone”, a succession of rather stony essays in philosophy:

“Like many of us, I am often troubled. I am distressed by my failure to be more than I am: a better philosopher, a better family member, a better person. And I know that if I could take a little more distance on the daily goings-on in my world that trouble me, I would probably be better in many if not all of these ways. This knowledge leads me to think of those philosophies that counsel rising above the things that disturb me so that I may arrive at a tranquil state of mind. Philosophies like Buddhism, Stoicism, Taoism, and possibly Epicureanism (the ancient philosophy, not its modern association with pleasures of the flesh) offer different ways of achieving such a tranquil state, and so they are tempting. I believe, however, that for most of us they are a false if beguiling path.”

Chameleons Are Not Stoic, They Anticipate The World

Chameleons Are Not Stoic, They Anticipate The World

[Chameleons are found in the Namibian desert, not just tropical rain forest; there they have to cover huge distances in search of prey… while avoiding to become dinner, so they change colors just as fast as they run across. The chameleonic way of life is not Buddhist, just begging inertly for crumbs from the rich, dressed in bright orange.]

Let me applaud Todd May. There was some predictable screaming on the Internet from Stoics and Buddhists, claiming for both that they do not shun emotions, but bears them.

However, that’s somewhat besides the point. Indeed, not enough is, in crucial situations, the equivalent of not at all: if a plane tries to fly, and it does not have enough speed, it crashes.

Stoicism and Buddhism, and the sort of Fatalism connected to Christianism (Dieu le veut!) or Islam (Inch Allah) have crashed civilization repeatedly (at some point, before a crash, Buddhism controlled most of India).

Here is more of what the heroic (by academic standards) Todd says:

“Buddhism, at least in its official doctrine, argues that if we abandon our desires by coming to understand the true nature of the cosmos and follow the Noble Eightfold Path, the end of suffering will follow. Stoicism similarly (but distinctly) counsels that we rid ourselves of emotion, and similarly (but again distinctly) offers a path of recognition of our place in the universe to help us get there. I do not wish to claim that either or both of these or related doctrines are mistaken. Instead, I want to say that most of us, when we really reflect upon our lives, would not want what is officially on offer, but instead something else.”

But the author is right on target on his main point, the excellent notion of “invulnerability“:

“In their official guise, these doctrines are examples of what I am going to label “invulnerabilism.” They say that we can, and we should, make ourselves immune to the world’s vicissitudes. What is central to invulnerabilist views is the belief that we can extricate ourselves from the world’s contingencies so that they do not affect us. We are capable of making ourselves immune to the fortunes of our bodies, our thoughts, and our environment, and we will live better or happier or more pure lives if we do so. Whether the task involves the abolition of desire, the elimination of emotion or the recognition of the ultimate oneness of all things, the guiding idea is that we can and ought to make ourselves invulnerable to the world’s vagaries.”

Todd makes implicitly the point that, fundamentally, the invulnerabilists deny the human condition:

“For invulnerabilist views, what matters is only the present. After all, as they argue, the present is all there is, and therefore the only thing we can have an effect upon. Moreover, we can only be assured of having an effect upon ourselves in the present. Our effects upon the world are always uncertain. The task of invulnerabilism, then, is for us to inhabit the present fully and without reserve, letting go of the grip of our past and our desires for the future. Only if we do this can we render ourselves immune to the predations of our psychological tendencies, tendencies tied up with hope, regret, expectation and mourning.

Invulnerabilism recommends that we secrete a distance between ourselves and the world so that ultimately it cannot touch us.”

This is all very true. Its major defect is that it denies what the brain is made for. The brain is made for predicting the future. Even a chameleon’s brain anticipates the future, as it focuses, and prepares its tongue. Stoics, Buddhism and the like, want to have no tongue, and no focus on anticipation. They want to amputate us, please help! Are they why there is so much plutocracy, and nobody is doing anything about it?

As I have argued for years, that, by reducing emotions, one reduces the human condition, and, thus, the very ability to reduce pain. Invulnerabilists are self-defeating. Todd touches upon that:

“Most of us want to feel caught up in the world. We want to feel gripped by what we do and those we care about, involved with them, taken up by them. The price of this involvement is our vulnerability. We must stand prepared to feel the loss of what we care about, because that is part of what it means to care. Caring requires desiring for the sake of others, which in an uncertain world entails that that desiring can be frustrated.”

Stoicism, as defined by Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius is centered on trying to achieve emotional detachment from what one cannot change.

Of course the problem is that one finds out what one cannot change from thinking, and thinking arises from emoting. So, if you don’t emote right, or not enough, you won’t think right.

By insisting that acceptance and tranquility are the most important, somehow most noble moods, invulnerability theories shrink the imagination, and mental reach.

Thus making acceptance and tranquility into a religion dwarves the human spirit into a shadow of its former self..

Are we going to accept infamy, too, because we cannot change it?

Marcus Aurelius is exhibit number one. Somehow he decided that he could not change the old way to select an emperor, and it had to be simply the son of himself. Thus he named his own son Commodus on a whole succession of honors by the age of 12, then made that boy a Consul, and finally co-emperor by the age of sixteen (16).

The son was Commodus, one of the most atrocious Roman emperors, and certainly the worst one (he gave up huge chunks of the empire, next to its core).

Marcus Aurelius, and the four emperors before him had been selected on merit. But merit and performance, selecting the best, were apparently antagonistic to Marcus Aurelius’ acceptance and tranquility.

Marcus Aurelius ought to have cracked down on plutocrats who did not pay enough taxes to sustain the army, then engaged in desperate defense. There, again, Marcus opted for acceptance (of infamy) and tranquility.

Stoicism is comfort, but duty is not always comfortable.

Moods and emotions are at the root of thinking. Cancelling the former would cancel the later, and turn us into beasts. That would be counterproductive to the oftentimes loudly advocated aim, reducing human suffering (people behaving like beasts do not live optimal lives in the complicated civilization we have).

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/moods-rule-thoughts/

Trying to reduce pain through invulnerability theories is a bit hypocritical, because one could swallow a great quantity of sleeping pills, or take other drastic measures, to achieve a pain-free coma… Or death, surely an end to suffering in this allegedly terrible world.

So why are these theories arise so popular? Two viewpoints, as usual: those of the masters, and those of the slaves.

A meta question ponders who pushed, and pushes these theories on the masses? The mechanism is obvious: it is easier to domesticate the emotion-deprived, and thus thought-deprived ones, than fully intelligent human beings.

Thus invulnerability theories and religions are actually optimal for great masters who want to have many emotion-less, inhuman little slaves, with reduced intelligence.

That’s why the masters love Buddhism and company. But then why do the small people love this mood which serves to oppress them too?

Acceptance and tranquility should not be the end-all, be-all. Except, of course, for people with frayed nerves living in denial. Or then people who wants to live gloriously.

Anger is crucial to crush infamy. Absolutely excluding anger is absolutely accepting infamy as a matter of principle. Instead one should follow Voltaire’s advice: “Il faut ecraser l’infame!”. One ought to crush infamy.

Some specialists of Asian sociology believe that a lot of the problems in Asia (for example the holocaust in Cambodia) originated with too much tranquility and acceptance for the intolerable.

Obsessively focusing on acceptance and tranquility is self-serving, as it persuades the beholders, and those who look at them, that they are good, elevated people. And yes, it gets hot and passionate, where civilization is progressing. Yes, as with a kitchen, it gets hot there. But those who stay out ought not to get the respect they crave for.

Get angry, expand thinking, crush infamy!

Patrice Ayme’

Human Minds: Absolute, Relative, Baboon-Like

December 19, 2014

The discovery of primate ancestors of mass up to 1.5 kilograms contemporary to dinosaurs was just announced. Our primate ethology is old, and made ready to handle big, ferocious things.

A few lapidary answers to some recent comments.

Brodix, in an impressive conceptual salad, brandished Good and Bad. Are God and Evil relative or absolute? The answer is both.

Is Bad good because without bad there would not be good, and that would be bad? This is an old quandary, often used cynically by various brutes throughout history.

The oldest process is the fight for resources, as Putin pointed out yesterday, adding that is why Russia will be alright in the future, as the fight for resources will intensify, and Russia is resource-rich (so my dictatorship is OK).

Baboons Are Resourceful

Baboons Are Resourceful

Clearly Mr. Brodix is no physicist (Brodix believes “all the colors of the spectrum are between black and white”… whereas the colors are between ultraviolet and infrared…or deep red and deep violet).

However, Brodix touched on deep stuff.  Brodix pondered where do things start, where do they end? And suggested that “Form is the apex of that process.”

Believe it or not, Quantum Physics is in the process of answering a lot of this, it turns out, using non-locality, and entanglement. The Tunnel Effect means things do not start, or end, as we thought. And so on.

“Form” is indeed what drives Quantum processes. And the Quantum is certainly a driver of the sort of evolution Lamarck envisioned (no screaming: this is state of the art research…).

The fundamental property of life is adaptation.

Human ethology is also, like Baboon ethology, absolute. Morality, ultimately, is codified ethology, so morality, good and bad, are also absolute.

Another commenter, Brandholm “would consider us closer to super-Bonobos than super-Baboons. Regardless, I have a question regarding your claim that ancient Greeks didn’t know of them.”

The Greeks knew about baboons, indeed. They also learned mathematics from the Egyptians, including some theorems which now bear Greek names. However, no Greek school of philosophy took baboons as models for humans. I do. But well, I’m not Greek.

My point: Homo is a super-baboon because both species evolved in the same environment, and found the same neurological, and thus ethological, solutions.

There were giant baboons, and they came early on the the Homo Erectus extermination list, as they competed for the same resources.

It’s fashionable to laud Bonobos. Bonobos are the modern version of the good savage of Rousseau. A figment of the politically correct imagination.

However, it’s fashionable to admire what one does not know. Bonobos live south of the Congo River, in the deep, tall forest, in a gentle environment, free of lions, hyenas, gorillas, chimpanzees. Bonobos have few enemies: leopards fear them, and humans are few. They eat the world’s largest fruits, some of them fifty pounds or more. Bonobos have plenty of sex in captivity, and females are large and dominant. So cheap lovers of love proclaimed Bonobos to be lovers, and ideal primates.

Yet, it turns out, Bonobos still kill each other. However, not doing it with as much enthusiasm as normal chimps do, Bonobos could never compete with normal chimps, let alone kill the occasional lion (some chimpanzee races are called “lion killers”).

Normal chimps have evolved in a very competitive, lethal environment. I saw one once, in the savannah park, miles from any serious forest, where plenty of lions roam. He went up a ridiculously small tree, looking very threatening and hyper energetic. Then he ran off. How could that be, miles from any forest? Well, lions are not stupid: they avoid dangerous prey (they will generally leave if human children walk towards them, as I personally experienced).

 

Baboons roam the savannah, far from any forest. They are very much like human in a crucial way: to survive in the savannah, they are born soldiers. They form armies, they get militarily organized, with lethal discipline, they have fierce leaders. And they are experts of terror and make-belief: they depend upon both to drink everyday.

 

Predators fear baboons: although they sometimes sneak on them at night, they typically flee when a large baboon troop is on the move towards water. As baboons need to drink, nothing stop them. And their terror tactics are astounding. They also throw stones (from below, and that gave me some advantage, in mock fighting; yes, they are playful).

 

The quandary of the Baboon condition is that they need lethality, organized mass violence and terror, so that they can express the love that allows them to survive. No species does this to this extent, but for man.

If you want to understand, and, thus, predict, the Islamist State, you have to understand baboons.

Double entendre meant, of course! Differently from Sony pictures, which does not dare risk satire with the North Korean nuclear dictator, crazed baboons don’t scare me. Making scathing fun of the North Korean dictator is not just a question of freedom of speech, or thought. It is a question of survival.

North Korean goons have often threatened even pre-emptive nuclear strikes.

“If the U.S. imperialists threaten our sovereignty and survival … our troops will fire our nuclear-armed rockets at the White House and the Pentagon — the sources of all evil,” Hwang Pyong-So, the director of the North Korean military’s General Political Bureau, said in a televised speech 28 July 2014, according to Agence France-Presse.

Charlie Chaplin made a satire of Hitler. It was not enough to wake-up the supine public opinion of the USA. But it helped.

From lack of satire, few in the USA know that their country is threatened by one of the most grotesque dictators in history, a crazed baboon who, Constantine-like, killed a large part of his family (and even his main sponsor).

Satire is not just about what we know for sure, it is also about what could very well be. Obama correctly irate, pointed out that: “We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship in the United States.”

The Baboons’ main weapons are make-belief, and terrorization. They are experts at moving an entire front of trees (by jumping on branches, hidden by leaves), or at looking completely crazed, and as if inflecting a terrible bite was the only thing in the universe which mattered to them, due to their astronomical hatred and derangement of all senses.

These extreme behaviors are actually careful computations. How do I know this? I have played with wild baboons who engaged in parodic versions of the more serious, really crazed stuff.

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.

***

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’

Animal Minds, As NATURE IS NURTURE

February 25, 2014

Descartes famously pontificated that animals were machines. Actually, Descartes was just parroting famous stoic philosophers from way back (Chrysippus, Diogenes, etc.). Not to worry. According to his own logic, Descartes, being a parrot, was a machine. (Descartes may have had an anti-theocracy agenda, but that’s another story.)

Darwin, a non-peer reviewed, non academic hyper intellectual, dared to show more subtlety in the Origin of Species when he wrote: It is a significant fact, that the more the habits of any particular animal are studied by a naturalist, the more he attributes to reason, and the less to unlearnt instinct” (1871, Book I, page 46)

I pushed that point of view further in Instinct Is Fast Learning”.

We Think, Therefore We Floss

We Think, Therefore We Floss

Lions premeditate when hunting in the wild. They spent hours plotting under the weary eye of their potential prey. They reveal each other presence by discreetly pointing up their dark circled ears. Lions are good scientists with a knowledge of the minds of others, and excellent geography. Don’t ask me for a link, I saw it done as a child in West Africa. A few days ago, I ran below a rock where a puma was contemplating a gigantic panorama. It was not just to admire the forests tumbling in the Pacific Ocean.

Some will feebly object to my use of the word “science”. I stand ready to devour them, having long premeditated this. Science means to know, and lion knowledge has to be effective enough to feed them, it’s an excellent thing. Take much of today’s physics: differently from aerospace engineering, it could be completely wrong. Planes fly, but not necessarily the Big Bang. Lion science is much more true than much of physics. Why? The proof is in the pudding, or more exactly the buffalo lying in his own blood.

(See note.)

Lions have to be very innovative. Protecting cubs require quite a bit of knowledge about physics and the ethology of various species. Including saurian: watch this lioness protect her cubs by deliberately attacking a crocodile. I have seen a lioness use what she knew to be the knowledge of antelopes have about crocodiles to foresee what said antelopes would do (and thus follow a trajectory that would make her prey fall under her claws).

That told me lions’ hunts depend upon a theory of other minds to feed themselves.

Alexi Helligar, objecting to my vision of lions premeditating when planning dinner: … “Birds do this as well, especially corvidae. Just because an animal is able to calculate a priori means to an end does not meet my definition of premeditation.”

Tyranosopher: Call it precalculation then! Some birds plan and make tools, others speak and outperform chimps mentally. Wild animals are smart. Underestimating the mental capabilities of animals is the first order of the rawest, crudest anthropomorphism.

Brazilian scientists are discovering that wild parrots speak and name each other (work in progress).

Alexi Helligar: “Overestimating the mental capabilities of animals is the first order of anthropomorphism.”

This reflects Ivan Pavlov who in 1927, wrote that animals should be considered “without any need to resort to fantastic speculations as to the existence of any possible subjective states“. The Oxford companion to animal behaviour (1987) parroted this: “one is well advised to study the behaviour rather than attempting to get at any underlying emotion”.

Well that’s Conventional, not to say Communal, Wisdom (let me not think of other things communal). Claiming that animals are not like humans, that various tales for children with animals as if they were human, were completely wrong, is what a whole line of thinkers following a gross interpretation of mysteriously subtle statements of the Stoics, took for granted. It fit perfectly well their religions. That became the philosophical party line: animals have nothing to do with humans. Some, all too many, scientists have goose stepped behind that.

The simplest observations show that claiming that animals don’t think is completely unthinkable. To survive in the wilds, one has to outsmart animals, and it’s not easy to do. I have extensively observed animals in the wild. I still do this. Call it Ethological Watching (in analogy to Bird Watching).

Observing animals in the wild is like observing a human outside of a small cage: it’s very different. According to my theory of mind, the mind is constructed by the environment.

NATURE BECOMES NURTURE.

Experiments on rats support this: a rat in a richer cage has a richer brain. The richest cage of all is the grand wild outdoors. Hence a wild animal will have more of a mind.

I have had dozens of bear encounters, typically when I run. Once I charged two mountain lions within 15 minutes (cautiously establishing a prudent life-saving hierarchy of ferocity: charging the enemy is often most wise).

Last week, during a run, I was loudly growled at, by a mountain lion (whom I did not see it). We had a short, but complicated interaction. S/he clearly wanted to scare me off, as s/he crossed the trail I just ran on (and ran back minutes later, because my way got blocked by poisonous vegetation).

Reason for the unusual growl? There was a dog with some hikers barking in the far distance, and the lion got worried that we were together doing lion hunting, and was legitimately worried. Hence the attempt to terrify me away.

I used to follow lions on foot in Africa. Using plenty of psychology.  General psychology applies to animals. It is not anthropomorphism, it’s life-saving. It’s ethology. Paleolithic natives knew well this science. Their lives depended upon it.

The animal kingdom on Earth is a bit like the network of mind on the planet Pandora (represented in the movie Avatar). Animals communicate, and they use their common psychology to do it.

Crocodiles concur. Their flossing and tooth cleaning methods are arguably more advanced than ours (as we can’t invent tiny cleaning robots yet). They can use them only because both birds and crocs have sophisticated theories of each other’s minds. Even feeding sharks under water involves shared theories of mind. The sharks know enough to have figured out they should not eat the feeder, lest the feeding stopped, and that, if they behave cool and nice, they will be fed tuna heads.

Why to think that animals don’t think? Descartes and his fellow theocrats would have to admit that animals had souls. That would have opened a vast can of worms: do worms have souls, can I eat them? Does that make me into the Devil? (One should get carried away in attributing too much equality to animals as Peter Singer tends to do; the main danger there is that deference to the individual animal could lead to the disappearance of the species; say by forbidding the incarceration of the last remaining specimen while attempting to save species.)

However the logical thing to do is that, considering we are animals, other animals do like us, and think. It’s the most natural approach: when a reasoning, or observation, works, so should what’s not too far topologically.

This is the line of inquiry that was started in Paris in the 1950s, where Eric Kandel was told to study the neurology of Aplysia Californica. The idea was that STUDYING THINKING IS ONE. That is the exact affirmation of anthropomorphism.

And it was highly fruitful. Ever since, and ever more, the minds of animals, all the way down to the fly Drosophila, have been studied, and the result of these studies has illuminated the way humans think.

We Think, Therefore We Floss.

Patrice Aymé

Note: A French scientist just found 120 gibberish published articles written haphazardly by computer, another scandal in peer review. Much of peer reviewed published biology is irreproducible, biotech companies such as Amgen have complained. This for those who have whined that I do not publish among my non-existent peers. Let them steal instead.

TRIBALISM IS FASCISM.

March 13, 2008

TRIBES KEPT THE EARTH IN BALANCE AND MINDS SHARP, BUT HAVE TO BE PHASED OUT. IN AFRICA, AND ELSEWHERE.

Abstract: Tribes are WMD. In light of this, overall, empires allowed progress: transnationalism and overlords are a necessity to hold back the well ingrained tribal Dark Side of man. Although one should not forget that the battle of ideas has been helped by the battles of tribes.
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EMPIRES CONTROL TRIBES WITH HIGHER PHILOSOPHY:
In a more distant past, land transportation was very difficult, so the nations were smaller. Now we call them tribes. But tribes were a stronger notion than nations. Tribes are often characterized, and separated, by language, religion, color, often biological inheritance. Denying the later is futile: just look at Pigmies.

When Africa was completely administered by Europeans it was cut up in larger administrative units the size of large European nations (except Ethiopia). This arranging was not arbitrary. For example, there used to be an empire of Mali, pretty much where the French decided Mali was. Nevertheless, the creation of each of the African nations was an experience in TRANSNATIONALISM (otherwise we would have several hundred African nations). Under the overlordship of the Europeans, that forced experience in calm understanding of the other worked just fine. But it’s unlikely it can be pursued without overlords.

In Europe nations fought each other for centuries, and before this, tribes did it for even longer. Europe has improved recently, but mostly because of the presence of OVERLORDING STRUCTURES (occupational armies and now the EU).

Lesson? Africa should be overlorded upon. The African Union (AU), the EU, the UN, the IMF and NGOs can play such roles. This is how the crises in Rhodesia, South Africa, the Sahara, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, Ivory Coast, Darfur and Kenya have been dealt with. This is how Europeans have been dealing with their own tribal conflicts, using supranational structures (many now part of the EU).

It’s fashionable among some shallow European intellectuals to scorn the Europeans for having “created” a mess in Africa, although such an attitude only denotes a dismissive lack of knowledge of not just World, but, also, of European history. Europe used to be all cut up in smaller nations, in other words, tribes. Tribes used to fight all out (with plenty of Shoahs, as in the Bible). The Celts invaded North Western Europe, and then half of Italy (where Rome stopped them with extreme difficulty); some Celts invaded all the way to the center of present day Anatolia, “fearing only that the sky would fall on their heads”. Four centuries later, Julius Caesar used a migration of the Helvetic tribe across Long-Haired-Gaul (Gallia Comida) as a pretext to invade all of Gaul. Caesar won, because Rome represented progress and union, and many Celts could feel this, so they did not resist (a similar phenomenon happened when Judea got conquered). Europe united because the empires of the Romans and Franks crushed most tribal organization (including, in the end, their own: Romans were forbidden to enroll in the … Roman army!).

The emotional mess in Southern Slav lands (Yugo-Slavia) was a consequence of the fact those were, in the fullness of time, at the intersection of no less than seven empires. Yugoslavia did not erase its tribal differences because it was never solidly inside one empire long enough (emperor Heraclius had allowed the Serbs to settle in present day Serbia in the 7C, to reward them for fighting (the ancestors of) the Mongols; the frontier with the “Pars Occidentalis” was just west). 

The Greco-Roman empire and various versions of the Persian empire, were gigantic experiments in transnationalism, in tribal extermination, and in the advancement of higher philosophical principles, especially tolerance, and even enrichment by difference (this is also true for the Mongols and early Islam). This was deliberate: after Rome destroyed “Judea” (70 CE), she immediately installed Yahve, the Jewish God, in the Roman pantheon, to grab Yahve’s best. That courtesy was not extended to Celtic or Punic divinities, which depicted traits Rome viewed as inferior. One hundred fifty years later, all free men of the empire were made citizens.
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TRIBAL CONFLICT AS AN ADJUVANT TO IDEA FORMATION:

“What does not kill me makes me stronger” said Nietzsche famously. One could say a fortiori the same for ideas: “War does not kill ideas, it makes them stronger” (for examples, the Franks invented plenty of new techniques as they faced the Muslims in a war of extermination, including the idea of nationalization of the church). Inter tribal murder makes ideas stronger, and they don’t even have to die. In other words, inter tribal holocausts have encouraged mental creativity. Desperate situations make for innovative thinking; the brain is first a survival machine. (When Syracuse was sieged, super thinker Archimedes helped with war machines (giant claw, burning mirrors, steam canon) which struck imaginations for millennia to come, if not the Romans; the first recipes for gunpowder are found in a Chinese military textbook of 1044; the first recorded use of rockets was by the Chinese in 1232 against the Mongols.)

So much innovation came from deadly conflicts that it is unlikely that the world of ideas would have achieved as much without the world of war (the point is moot, anyway, because without war, mankind would not have survived agriculture). It is actually unlikely; the human brain’s high energetic demands required fat and flesh. Not only is it in general true that in the fullness of time, the best way to become a successful carnivore is to have a big brain (wild chimpanzees love meat, and dolphin know how to kill sharks), but, as early Homos became more and more delicate and precise in their physiology, hence weaker, armed bellicosity became ever more important (Homo is much weaker than a chimpanzee in muscle and compensate this with brain and weapon).

As we do away with tribes, we want to keep mock, make believe conflicts, lest we fall in mental torpor. That is why a lot of academia is organized so as to promote strong emotions to keep those mental juices flowing with lots of tempting payments, and titles, and even as they had it in the Middle Ages and similarly retarded places, silly costumes.
***

TRIBALISM IS FASCISM:
Hominids are social predators, they fight best in groups, as one mass, and the delight they take in satisfying the fascist instinct makes sure of that. As agriculture made tribes possible, those masses became enormous, and so did the fascism. The Dark Side of human beings made tribes into Weapons of Mass Destruction. The foundational document of Judeo-Christo-Islamism shows Israel being born from holocausts (“Shoahs”). That was pretty much typical. The alternative was to eat everything down to the last rat.

Hominids have been on this planet for millions of years, as top predators, and they knew no enemy as lethal as themselves. This gave plenty of time and necessity for evolution to hardwire the hatred of man towards man in man. Homo killing Homo not only created Homo (by eliminating closely related monsters), but also kept the earth in balance (Homo being the top predator had to self predate). Man had to kill man so man could be, and it’s somewhat hypocritical to deny this. And also dangerous, because the tribal instinct feeds on the fact that the Dark Side, deep down, for the reasons we just sketched, is more enlightened than it looks, and, thus, cannot be completely avoided, ever.

To deny this is to fall into the trap of extinction. Hillel the Elder abstracted his view of Jewish morality this way: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. The rest is commentary” (~0 CE). The problem with this (Babylonian) “Golden Rule” is that it eschews the Dark Side, which, as we said, was necessary not just to the continuation of man, but to his evolutionary creation. If one chooses to ignore this formidable, constitutive element of the moral universe, one ends with a lower dimensional hypersurface in reality. The resulting low dimensional morality can get folded by higher dimensional reality, like a crepe can be, because it’s all it is, and it is so voluntarily naive, that it should be viewed as a morality made conveniently edible, something to consume, a self immolating accomplice of the greatest evil (except in genuine mental retards).

Nazism was a typical modern synthetic tribalism. All united, in the hatred of the other (French, Jew, Communist, Slav, etc.). Tribalism is made to kill, the rest is commentary. Commentary can actually augment tribalism: Germany was the most literate country in the world, as she sank into tribal fascism. This has to be kept in mind as, thanks to the Internet, literacy is augmenting worldwide. It’s not reading which does it, it’s what you read: garbage in, holocaust out. 

The moral idea of tribe is now too dangerous (because of Weapons of Mass Destruction). The future belongs to the UN, the EU, and honest brokers therein, or imperial principles built along those lines. Tribes have got to go.
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Patrice Ayme
Patriceayme.com
Patriceayme.wordpress.com