Posts Tagged ‘Rousseau’

We’re (Potential) CANNIBALS: LACK Of CANNIBALISM Is EVIDENCE OF PROGRESS. Montaigne’s Erroneous Multiculturalism Denied This

November 4, 2018

MONTAIGNE’S INVENTION OF THE GOOD SAVAGE was naive, anti-progress, anti-civilizational. To put it in one word: nihilistic. Dismantling Montaigne’s offensive credulity exposes the rotten roots of  grotesquely erroneous, extreme, indiscriminate so-called multiculturalism.

Abstract: Cannibalism was probably the environment in which humanity evolved, in excess of 99% of the time (see the scientific evidence below). Cannibalism was common in the Neolithic, and everywhere regulated. The discovery of cannibalism in the Americas contributed to demolish the Christian mindset. Montaigne, in particular, drew an erroneous conclusion. That error justifies today’s excessive cultural relativism (so-called “multiculturalism”), and an excuse for (“Neo”) liberalization, plutocratic globalization, and it’s little helper, Islamization (now that Christianization is collapsing, so the sheep are thinking too free and too much).

I demolish here Montaigne’s injurious, naive and unimaginative assertion that barbarity is just what we don’t do. So doing I demolish naive, unimaginative cultural relativism, re-establishing the concept of progress, and of the best of all possible civilizations (not what we have, but it could be worse).

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Montaigne’s Extreme Cultural Relativism: Barbarians Are US:

Legend has it that Rousseau invented the lamentably unreal myth of the “Good Savage”. Reading the original writing, I just realized he may not have… Instead, it’s wise old Montaigne who invented the error of the Bon Sauvage. This monstrosity, the Good Savage, is of some consequence, as the Essays are generally viewed as an epitome of wisdom (Montaigne’s influence was enormous, for the better, on Henri III, IV and his wife, Queen Marguerite de Valois, féministe extraordinaire (among other things), and thereafter, as that good Catholic, crucially, yet unwittingly crucially helped to dismantle Christian terror; paradoxically the error I criticize today, helped to do so; by claiming everybody was a barbarian, Montaigne undermined moral religious superiority… perhaps, although Catholic that’s what he wanted).

Smart, but not that smart. And preaching this extreme multiculturalism had dreadful totalitarian consequences. Stalinism and Nazism among them. And now multiculturalism has been the main tool of global plutocratization.

Seeing Montaigne throwing overboard the concept of progress overboard came as a shock to me. The evidence can’t be denied, as it is blatant in the essay on “The Cannibals: ”we call barbarian what is not of our usage”. No, Michel, no, no, you got it all too grotesquely simplistic! And, Michel, you got it very dangerous: after all, following the erroneous Michel de Montaigne, the Nazis could call the Jews “barbarian” because, after all, they didn’t follow what the Nazis could call proper German usage…

Now, agreed “The Cannibals” was written seven years after the mad civil war of the Saint Barthelemy, ordered by the crowned plutocrats sitting pretty in the Louvres (which was crisscrossed by assassins that night). (The Duke of Sully, who barely escaped alive, esteemed 70,000 had been killed; people of Arles, down the Rhone from Lyon couldn’t drink the Rhone’s water for three months, from all the rotting corpses… the philosopher Petrus Ramus, and in Lyon the composer Claude Goudimel, among other intellectuals were killed.)

So Montaigne had good reason to be indignant, and suffer a momentary lapse of reason. Even more: all the Dark Ages was a direct consequence of that monstrous thought system, Christianism. Montaigne couldn’t say that. Very close friends and associates of Rabelais had been burned alive, just for printing books: the French plutocracy was that enlightened (Rabelais himself, an ex-Franciscan and ex-Benedictin, and a famous physician, and high level magistrate with highest level connections, including cardinals, escaped to the republic of Metz, the condemnation of the University of Paris. Others were not so favored).

I am even more of a cultural relativist than Montaigne. But I do not claim all cultures are equivalent. Far from it. Even a despicable culture can contain gems (this goes even for the Sharia!) Cultural traits, ideas and feeling can be picked and chosen, among all and any cultures, real, and imagined, to bring in nutrients into the salad of thoughts we need to forge forward into the richest world of possibilities Earthly intelligence has ever faced

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Progress, which progress? Could Renaissance thinkers say:

Progress was hard to ascertain: the instigation of the Dark Ages by the civilizationally deranged Christians shook the very foundations of human reason. Burning nearly all books & intellectuals made it more irrecoverable.

When we look way back, now that we can reconstitute civilization through the fog of the immense destruction by the sexually deranged Christian Jihadists, we discover that the Greco-Roman empire was immensely advanced (and that empire extended well beyond direct political control: the Celts used the Greek alphabet and deities, centuries before the conquest of Gallia by the unifying Roman brutes).

23 centuries ago, around 330 BCE, the Greek scientist Pytheas headed an expedition by the Marseilles empire. Pytheas circumnavigated Britain, and  discovered the mysterious Thule: Iceland, or at least Norway, and certainly the polar circle and sea ice (his ship couldn’t advance anymore). Pytheas also discovered the method to measure the spherical Earth within 1% (often attributed to Eratosthenes, but the latter came a century later). Don’t ask today’s ignorant French: they may know what PC, but they don’t know the history of the place now known as France.

Other Marseilles’ expeditions went to Senegal, while Carthaginians captured gorillas, went around Africa, and traded with subsaharan Africa.

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Native Americans Followed the Wrong Strategy With The Viking, Whereas Carolingian Franks Did it Right:

A thousand years ago, after following Irish monks to Iceland, the Vikings discovered a huge part of North America. The Viking were unable to hold North America militarily, though, as the Natives proved hostile, and uncontrollably so. Thus, ironically enough, American Natives organized their own demise, long-term… If the American Indians had invited the Viking in, Native Americans would have become civilizationally, militarily and biologically stronger, and could have endured!

By the way, by inviting the Viking to stay and colonize, what came to known as Normandy, the Franks put an end to their (more than a) century long war with the Scandinavians: the French were smarter than the Native Americans… Normandy also became arguably the world’s most mentally advanced place by the Eleventh Century: watch the Duke of Normandy casually tell dinners that the Earth turned around the Sun, or Berangarius de Tours,  a church authority, claiming all the god we needed was reason. Berengar was in turn discreetly protected by the Duke…

Experts may moan that the Franks got the war started by addressing ultimata to the Danes regarding Saxon refugees (in the Eighth Century)… So it was natural that after 900 CE they extend an olive branch. Yes, maybe. But it remains that the Native Americans were certainly stupid not to welcome and embrace the Vikings… And the massacre of Columbus’ men was more of the same. It’s not smart for savages to attack the gods, just after they showed up.

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America, A Discovery Whose Time Had Come Through General Scientific Enlightenment:

But the discovery of North America was kept hushed, although maps went around, just as the existence of Inuits, one of whom paddled all the way to Scotland during the beginning of the Little Ice Age. The rich cod fishing off Cape Cod was also kept secret.

Various Portuguese sailors had determined that there was a continent west of the Azores, for example by recovering wood sculpted, but not by iron instrument, and also various trees of non-European origin, and even corpses of American natives, carried from the west by the mighty wind and currents Columbus would use to return in just 31 days.  

This Portuguese discretion was turned on its head in 1492 CE, when the queen of Castille decided to launch the veteran and irresistible Spanish army towards the New World (instead of liberating North Africa and the Middle East from Islam, as had been planned previously; 1492 was also when the Jews were thrown out, coincident to the day Columbus sailed away). A Portuguese sailor, Columbus’ father in law, had extensively travelled. His documents persuaded Columbus of the existence of the continent which became America… while his brother-in-law, Pedro Correa, produced more sculpted wood from the West…

Columbus informed the queen (the queen was less keen that her husband in pursuing Jews and Muslims to the ends of the world).The possibly Jewish Columbus sailed back on January 15 1493, reaching the Azores February 15 (after a terrible storm)! Columbus announced the discovery of lush and gold laden large islands, among them the enormous Cuba and Hispaniola. He brought back with him a few Natives. The 39 men Viceroy Columbus had left behind in a fort, were killed to the last man by the Natives (who were later themselves annihilated: just as with the Viking, Native Americans would have been smarter to welcome the powerful, knowledgeable strangers and insure their safety, come what may…).

By the mid sixteenth educated Europeans had fully realized that much of the world thought and lived very differently from what they called “Christendom”. No thinker viewed Europe more critically in the light of the habits of the natives of the “New World” than Michel de Montaigne. He gathered much evidence from an employee of his, a Normand who had lived ten years in Brazil among the Natives (and who was used as a translator). Montaigne describes his Normand as “un homme simple et grossier”. The Normand (and thus Montaigne) described mostly the Tupinamba of Brazil.

Here are the most famous extracts from the Essais from the essay “Des Cannibales”. After making the apology of cannibalism, Montaigne concludes:

Nous les pouvons donc bien appeler barbares, eu égard aux règles de la raison, mais non pas eu égard à nous, qui les surpassons en toute sorte de barbarie. Leur guerre est toute noble et généreuse, et a autant d’excuse et de beauté que cette maladie humaine peut en recevoir…

(Personal) Translation:

We may therefore call them barbarous, by judging them according to the rules of reason, but not relatively to ourselves, who surpass them in all sorts of barbarism. Their war is all noble and generous, and has as much excuse and beauty as this human disease can receive …

But there is worse on Montaigne’s part:

“Or je trouve, pour revenir à mon propos, qu’il n’y a rien de barbare et de sauvage en cette nation, à ce qu’on m’en a rapporté, sinon que CHACUN APPELLE BARBARIE CE QUI N’EST PAS DE SON USAGE; comme de vrai, il semble que nous n’avons autre critère (“mire”) de la vérité et de la raison que l’exemple et idée des opinions et usages du pays où nous sommes. Là est toujours la parfaite religion, le parfait gouvernement (“police”), parfait et accompli usage de toutes choses. Ils sont sauvages, de même que nous appelons sauvages les fruits que nature, de soi et de son progrès ordinaire, a produits : là où à la vérité, ce sont ceux que nous avons altérés par notre artifice et détournés de l’ordre commun, que nous devrions appeler sauvages.”

Essays, l. I, chap. XXXI, “Cannibals”,

Folio, Volume 1, Gallimard, p. 305 sq.

Now, to return to my subject, I find that there is nothing barbarous or savage in this nation, as far as I have been told, except that EVERYONE CALLS BARBARIAN WHAT IS NOT OF HIS OWN USAGE (1); in truth, it seems that we have no other test of truth and reason than the example and idea of ​​the opinions and usages of the country where we live. There, in that country of ours, is always the perfect religion, the perfect police, perfect and accomplished use of all things. They are savage, just as we call savages the fruits which nature, of itself and of its ordinary progress, has produced: where, in truth, they are those which we have altered by our artifice and diverted from the common order, that we should call savages (2).

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Montaigne relaunched a tradition of using non-European peoples as a basis for engaging in a critique of Euro-Greco-Roman own culture. However Montaigne also went where (most) antique thinkers had not. He engaged in simplistic analysis, worthy of a 6 years old, undoubtedly in the process romanticizing what Jean-Jacques Rousseau would later celebrate. It is a theme which still appeals to many West-hating Westerners.

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Montaigne:

. . . “ I do not find that there is anything barbaric or savage about this nation, according to what I’ve been told, unless we are to call barbarism whatever differs from our own customs. Indeed, we seem to have no other standard of truth and reason than the opinions and customs of our own country. There at home is always the perfect religion, the perfect legal system–the perfect and most accomplished way of doing everything.

These people are wild in the same sense that fruits are, produced by nature, alone, in her ordinary way. Indeed, in that land, it is we who refuse to alter our artificial ways and reject the common order that ought rather to be called wild, or savage.  In them the most natural virtues and abilities are alive and vigorous, whereas we have bastardized them and adopted them solely to our corrupt taste. Even so, the flavor and delicacy of some of the wild fruits from those countries is excellent, even to our taste, better than our cultivated ones. After all, it would hardly be reasonable that artificial breeding should be able to outdo our great and powerful mother, Nature. We have so burdened the beauty and richness of her works by our innovations that we have entirely stifled her. Yet whenever she shines forth in her purity she puts our vain and frivolous enterprises amazingly to shame. . . . All our efforts cannot create the nest of the tiniest bird: its structure, its beauty, or the usefulness of its form; nor can we create the web of the lowly spider. All things, said Plato are produced by nature, chance, or human skill, the greatest and most beautiful things by one of the first two, the lesser and most imperfect, by the latter. . . .

These nations seem to me, then, barbaric in that they have been little refashioned by the human mind and are still quite close to their original naivety. They are still ruled by natural laws, only slightly corrupted by ours. They are in such a state of purity that I am sometimes saddened by the thought that we did not discover them earlier, when there were people who would have known how to judge them better than we. It displeases me that Lycurgus or Plato didn’t know them, for it seems to me that these peoples surpass not only the portraits which poetry has made of the Golden Age and all the invented, imaginary notions of the ideal state of humanity, but even the conceptions and the very aims of philosophers themselves. They could not imagine such a pure and simple naivety as we encounter in them; nor would they have been able to believe that our society might be maintained with so little artifice and social structure.

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Yes, Indeed, Cannibals Are Us, to the point we have cannibal DNA:

One thing Montaigne is right on, is to view cannibalism as nothing special. To quote Wikipedia:

Among modern humans, cannibalism has been practiced by various groups.[25] It was practiced by humans in Prehistoric Europe,[35][36] Mesoamerica[37] South America,[38]among Iroquoian peoples in North America,[39] Māori in New Zealand,[40] the Solomon Islands,[41] parts of West Africa[17] and Central Africa,[17] some of the islands of Polynesia,[17] New Guinea,[42] Sumatra,[17] and Fiji.[43] Evidence of cannibalism has been found in ruins associated with the Ancestral Puebloans of the Southwestern United States as well as (at Cowboy Wash in Colorado).[44][45][46]

Not just this: the evidence of cannibalism in humans is at least 600,000 years old. There are two reasons for it, I reckon: proteins were hard to find in the past. But not just this: by eating humans themselves, humans prevented predators to acquire a taste for human flesh, a paramount security consideration  around potentially human eating predators. Eating dead humans is then, indeed, nothing special, having two good reasons for it. What of the possibility of prion disease? (That was found in North Africa, and the Fore of New Guinea, who were too enthusiastic in eating their parents, causing the prion disease kuru).

In 2003, a publication in Science magazine suggested that prehistoric humans practiced extensive cannibalism, to the point human genetics adapted to this practice. According to this research, genetic markers commonly found in modern humans, worldwide, suggest that today many people carry a gene providing protection against the brain diseases that can be spread by consuming human brain tissue… A study of the Fore, an isolated tribe living in Papua New Guinea by Simon Mead, John Collinge and colleagues, at the MRC’s Prion Unit at University College London, found evidence that a gene variant arose in some of the Fore to protect against a deadly prion disease transmitted by their former cannibalistic habits. Prion diseases include CJD in humans and BSE – mad cow disease – in cattle.

The team found from analysing DNA samples that the same protective gene variant is common in people all over the world. This led the researchers to conclude that it evolved when cannibalism was widespread, in order to shield cannibals from prion diseases lurking in the flesh of victims.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18172-gene-change-in-cannibals-reveals-evolution-in-action/

A DNA debate ensued, but my hunch is that the cannibalistic protection gene has got to exist, for the ubiquitous reasons I gave. Why New Guinea Highlanders are susceptible may have to do paradoxically with cannibalism being less practiced in that lush area since it was colonized by humans…

I suggested that cannibalism had, in part to do with not giving predators a taste for human flesh (notice the expression). Guess what? Native mammal fauna of New Guinea lacks large predators, so what I see as a main reason for cannibalism was absent in New Guinea! (Right, there are both Saltwater and Freshwater crocodiles in New Guinea, but those saurians are not smart enough to develop distinguished and cultural culinary habits, differently from felines, hyenas, canids, bears, eagles, etc.)

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Montaigne had little imagination:

If eating dead humans is then, indeed, nothing special, having two good reasons for it, not eating humans is a deviation from normalcy. Thus, not eating humans is an indication of civilization, that most striking anomaly life ever evolved.

In the 21th Century, the Disney company has a problem: patrons spreading around the ashes of their loved ones (which they put in medication bottles as large containers are checked). Haunted houses are a preferred place. People can be weird, but there is nothing weird about cannibalism (psychiatrist associations have refused to label cannibalism a mental disease).

The word “cannibalism” is derived from Caníbales, the Spanish name for the Caribs, whom Columbus encountered. (Some say the Spaniards invented the word in analogy with the Latin “canis”, mixing it with the sound for the karina as the islanders described themselves). Dog eat dog, in other words… In any case, “cannibalism” was introduced in France in 1515 CE.  

Spanish conquistadores observed that the Carib Indians were cannibals who regularly ate roasted human flesh. There is evidence as to the taking of human trophies and the ritual cannibalism of war captives among both Carib and other Amerindian groups such as the Arawak and Tupinamba (the ones from Brazil Montaigne knew best). The Caribs themselves were invaders from South America, having arrived around 1200 and displaced the indigenous Tainos. With the Mexican Aztecs, cannibalism took industrial proportions (and turned out into their undoing).

In long prose I will not bother to reproduce here, Montaigne makes an idyllic description of cannibalism: something that happened peacefully after death. What a dearth of imagination!

Real cannibalism is something else. Did Montaigne think about the problem of indigestion? One does not want to eat too much meat at one time. How to preserve the meat, when one has no salt, no cold drying wind, no deep freezing lakes? Well, one can eat the meat, one piece at a time. Over a period of weeks.

In 1910, the American anthropologist, A P Rice, described how the people of the Marquesas Islands ritualistically killed their captives.

First, they broke their legs, to stop them running away, then they broke their arms, to stop them resisting. This was an unhurried killing, because the Marquesans enjoyed observing their victim contemplating his fate. Eventually, the man would be skewered and roasted.

Nuku Hiva has a population of just over 2000 and has a history of cannibalism, but the practice was believed to have ceased. Not so sure. In any case, when battling the enemy, eating him, or her, can be viewed as the ultimate insult. So it was perceived for many cannibalisms, such as the one in New Zealand.(Dishonoring the dead is a long practice for cherished enemies: see Obama with Bin Laden.)

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If One Really Hates Them, One May As Well, Eat Them Alive:

(No, I won’t tweet that one! Such a statement will be evilly contextualized by the ill-minded and the mentally challenged…)

Long ago, I read extensive nineteenth century description of cannibalism in Oceania (I searched but could not find references). It goes from the humoristic to the grim. On the humoristic side, that time when the British delegation to New Zealand was invited to celebrate a treaty with the Maoris, with an extensive Luau comprising many roasted Natives.

That we have so much indications of cannibalism in Oceania is per the nature of islands (small, no extensive crops to raid after killing the peasants), and the fact these were Neolithic societies, equivalent to those found in Europe before the Mesopotamian farmers and their intensive agriculture crops colonized Europe, 7,000 years ago… (So, it’s not anti-Pacific Islander racism; actually the ethnicities of those islanders vary a lot, between Filipino derived and Melanesian… History is complicated, and not PC, as the case of New Zealand shows…)

One grim truth is that, in hot tropical climate, without refrigeration, some captives were eaten, ALIVE,  piece by piece over a period of days, or even weeks (not to say that Europeans wouldn’t do such a thing: the assassin of one of the “Orange” leaders of the Netherlands, William the Silent, was publicly tortured to death over several days).

The necessity to eat some people alive, under some circumstances, illustrates clearly that cannibalism, or the absence thereof, is dependent upon the environment and technology, not just the “mores”: there are widespread rumors that the Wehrmacht resorted to cannibalism in Stalingrad (in any case, the Wehrmacht’s Sixth Army resorted to practices, like torture to death, which are fully documented, in Poland, France, and Russia…)

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Conclusion: As an indication of barbarity, eating people is neither here, nor there. Eating corpses when there is no other choice, is viewed as correct, even in the most conservative societies. The real barbarity is to set-up, or contribute to set-up, or tolerate situations where cannibalism would be a natural outcome. It goes without saying that, in a world of 8 billion people highly dependent on international trade to feed themselves (most energy is traded, at this point), a serious war would disrupt trade, and invite cannibalism.

Montaigne, by claiming that what we do not practice we view as barbaric, and, by claiming implicitly that this was legitimate, or by transmogrifying cannibalism into something nice, voided the concept of barbarity from any content.

To stay attached to the notion of progress, we have to be able to distinguish between what is bad and what is better. For example, having a situation where one has to eat one’s enemy alive is bad, and a situation in which we have no enemy is better.

Montaigne, dejected by the Saint Bartholomew massacre launched by his Catholic party was led to hint that Catholics viewed Protestants as barbaric, just because of their different ways (“usage”). Understood. However, the concept that barbarity is entirely relative has since taken a life of its own: one can see it loud and clear in Nazism (Himmler recommended to his men, after their daily massacres, of civilians, women and children, to immerse themselves to eternal German culture, complete with soothing classical music).

Cultural multiculturalism, in its extreme contemporary form, claims we can’t judge other cultures. Or even other cultures’ ideas and practices. If religiously endowed, the more horrendous practices, sexual mutilations or executions, are tolerated.

For example, Pakistan’s court condemned a young Christian woman, Asia Noreen – commonly known as Asia Bibi, to be executed for allegedly insulting Islam during a dispute with neighbors (she already spent eight years on death row). The Pakistan Supreme Court ordered her freed in November 2018, but she was left in prison as the Islamists called for her death. Her senior male lawyer, saying he regretted nothing, fled Pakistan.

Such behaviors from powers in Pakistan depict barbarity unchained: in the place known as Pakistan, at some point Jihadists invaded, and imposed their barbarity (centuries after Christianism peacefully seduced Pakistanis). That Islamists use terror doesn’t make terror any less barbaric. Michel de Montaigne would have us believe that, because terror is a usage of Jihadists, we shouldn’t call it barbaric, as they use it, and we, the secular civilians, don’t. Well, that’s swine level reasoning.

We can only love those we can debate, as, at worst, they provide us with the occasion to prove them wrong. At best, they make us more intelligent, wiser and knowledgeable, making us stronger. So I love Montaigne more than ever, even though my esteem for him went down a lot, while Rousseau’s, to my dismay, went up.

I am a real multicultural, multilingual, even multi continental fanatic. I even call Chinese history home, although I grew up (mostly) in Africa. Good multiculturalism is to pick and choose particular elements of the hundreds of culture we have at our disposal, and reject others we find horrid. I understand what Native North Americans were up to, with their tortures to death. I also understand and appreciate the psychology and traditions which motivated the “47 Ronins. I know very well that some Africans traits viewed as primitive, are actually more advanced. But in all this there is one meta principles: some ideas and feelings are more advanced than others. Comparing, or accepting, cultures wholesale is naive, even criminal.

Patrice Ayme

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Notes:

  1. Parroted by Levi Strauss in Race et Histoire, Unesco, 1952, pp. 19 sq.

“Dans les Grandes Antilles, quelques années après la découverte de l’Amérique, pendant que les Espagnols envoyaient des commissions d’enquête pour rechercher si les indigènes possédaient ou non une âme, ces derniers s’employaient à immerger des blancs prisonniers afin de vérifier par une surveillance prolongée si leur cadavre était ou non, sujet à la putréfaction.

Cette anecdote à la fois baroque et tragique illustre bien le paradoxe du relativisme culturel (que nous retrouverons ailleurs sous d’autres formes) : c’est dans la mesure même où l’on prétend établir une discrimination entre les cultures et les coutumes que l’on s’identifie le plus complètement avec celles qu’on essaye de nier. En refusant l’humanité à ceux qui apparaissent comme les plus “sauvages” ou ” barbares ” de ses représentants, on ne fait que leur emprunter une de leurs attitudes typiques. Le barbare, c’est d’abord l’homme qui croit à la barbarie.”

Notice that this piece of brain-dead sophistry minded devious apology of extreme multiculturalism was published by the United Nations. Now the UN can be proud that non-Muslims get executed in Pakistan for just being non-Muslim (as many Islam texts say they should).

Translation: “In the Greater Antilles, a few years after the discovery of America, while the Spaniards sent commissions of inquiry to find out whether the natives had a soul or not, the natives were trying to immerse white prisoners to check by prolonged surveillance if their body was or was not, subject to putrefaction.

This baroque and tragic anecdote illustrates the paradox of cultural relativism (which we will find elsewhere in other forms): it is to the very extent that we claim to discriminate between cultures and customs that we identify ourselves most completely with those we try to deny. By denying humanity to those who appear to be the most “savage” or “barbarian” of its representatives, one only borrows one of their typical attitudes. The barbarian is first and foremost the man who believes in barbarism.

“The barbarian is first and foremost the man who believes in barbarism?” that’s Levi-Strauss parroting Montaigne, denying there is such a thing as barbarity. Here Levi Strauss is poorly informed, repeating mindlessly a racist insult (against Spaniards): the notion of Indians having a soul was never put in doubt by the Spaniards: that’s precisely why they tried to convert them to Catholicism, as ordered by the Pope! Thus, irony of ironies, the holier-than-thou Levi-Strauss proclaims those who believe in barbarity barbarians, while himself indulging in fake news, fake, and racially insulting data, trying to make us believe that the Conquistadors were themselves delirious stupid racist brutes (they could be as brutish as needed, but were nether racist, nor stupid: for example, Cortez’s relationship with La Malinche, a multilingual Yucatan Princess, was crucial for the conquest… He recognized the children.)

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(2) Rousseau parroted Montaigne, but not just... It is often said that Rousseau parroted Montaigne, but, reading the originals, I didn’t find just this. Instead I found this:

Ce qu’il y a de plus cruel, encore, c’est que, tous les progrès de l’espèce humaine l’éloignant sans cesse de son état primitif, plus nous accumulons de nouvelles connaissances et plus nous nous ôtons les moyens d’acquérir la plus importante de toutes, et que c’est en un sens à force d’étudier l’homme que nous nous sommes mis hors d’état de le connaître.

“What is most cruel, still, is that, as all the progress of the human species constantly removes it ever more from its primitive state, the more we accumulate new knowledge and the more we take away from us the means to acquire the most important knowledge of all, and that it is in a sense the more we study man, the more we put ourselves out of the state necessary to know him.”

This is correct in the sense of the salons Rousseau frequented, but not in the sense of laboratories exploring dendrites and neurotransmitters. Such a quote is also extremely far from the myth of the “Bon Sauvage” attributed to Rousseau…

However it remains that Rousseau held that men in a state of nature do not know good and evil, but their independence, along with “the peacefulness of their passions, and their ignorance of vice”, keep them from doing ill (A Discourse…, 71-73). Curious that Rousseau never heard of the systematic usage of lethal, prolonged torture among North American Natives, as the way to end prisoners’ lives… That was extremely well documented and known at the time, so one can see Rousseau was extremely biased, to the point of idiocy.

I tied in Montaigne’s divagations with Jihadism. So did Rousseau, I discovered after I wrote the preceding… except that Rousseau approves of Jihadism, Christian or Islamist, and approves of burning libraries:

They say that Caliph Omar, when consulted about what had to be done with the library of Alexandria, answered as follows: ‘If the books of this library contain matters opposed to the Koran, they are bad and must be burned. If they contain only the doctrine of the Koran, burn them anyway, for they are superfluous.’ Our learned men have cited this reasoning as the height of absurdity. However, suppose Gregory the Great was there instead of Omar and the Gospel instead of the Koran. The library would still have been burned, and that might well have been the finest moment in the life of this illustrious pontiff.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Sciences and Arts (1st Discourse) and Polemics

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3) So what’s barbarian?

Barbarian is relative to the circumstances. For example, many elements of the doctrine advocated by Muhammad, in his day, and age, and place of worship, was not barbarian… but, just the opposite, progressive! However, now, it both barbarian and regressive.  

Christianism, though, is another matter. When Constantine imposed “Catholic Orthodoxy” that was definitively barbarian and regressive. It opened an anti-intellectual abyss under Greco-Roman civilization it collapsed into.

PA

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’

Free Will, Consequence of Meta Will

December 22, 2014

Systems of thought arise from individual wills to create what Jean-Jacques Rousseau introduced, and named the “General Will”. In the last 150 years or so, it has become increasingly clear that the notion of “Free Will” was in turn highly dependent upon other notions, including “General Will”.

I prefer the expression “Meta Will” (which is even more general).

A philosophical site managed by professional academic philosophers ran an essay entitled Free Will Skepticism and its Implications an Argument for Optimism (part-1). My comment below was repeatedly censored, supposedly for making “grating” anti-German, or anti-Nazi declarations. (I think the truth is even more sinister: professional philosophers fear me; I will reproduce the exchange in the comments.)

Free Will Ought To Give Way To Meta Will

Whenever an action is taken, it turns out to be dependent of some context, often cultural, or some preparation, often neurological, or some ulterior motives, often self-aggrandizing. In other words, free will is never free of contingence.

So what? This just show that the expression “Free Will” depicts the wrong semantics. After all, we are not free to stop breathing. In theory, yes. In practice, it is impossible, except if we carefully prepare a mechanism that will take over (a lot of sleeping pills, or a noose).

The problem of suffocation suggests that, if we want to be more free (for example free to stop breathing), we have to make the environment take over. Thus Free Will has to operate not just on “us”, but on the environment which controls us.

This is why philosophers’ Free Will have led them to the desert, since times immemorial. In the desert, they are more free to think.

Quantum Physics helps here. It is non-local. Actually some physicists are in the process to make really sure of that, by running entanglement experiments with haphazard impulses coming from the opposite sides of the universe.

Intriguingly, if the experiment turns out as expected, this variant of the famed Einstein-Podolski-Rosen Thought Experiment will show that local Free Will cannot exist. But, once again, so what? Free Will is obsolete, Meta Will is what one can help to free, by controlling more the contexts we think in.

The soul is most probably some sort of large scale Quantum effect. How do Quantum processes work? They extract solutions from geometry, or, more generally, form. Non-local geometry, and non-local form.

Thus, if we want to achieve soul control, we need to achieve geometrical and topological control on our environment. And this starts by being conscious that those control our outcomes.

Thus, instead of just talking about our morality, we have to start talking about the environment in which it is supposed to blossom, as the later will control the former. Thus individual responsibility shifts more to social contexts.

And therefore, the systems of thoughts which support social structures are the agents most responsible. This is where much of Free Will is hiding.

Let me give an example: Germans behaved deplorably for generations, more than people of other nations (that is more than the Italians, French, British, American, etc.). This nasty robotic aspect of German mentality allowed dictators to make the German armies behave in atrocious ways for generations (differently from the armies of the nations quoted above, which did not engage in systematic war crimes).

That unfortunate character of the German soul killed 22 million in extermination camps alone, due to the fascist, robotic nature of the dictatorships (the Second Reich, and then the Third Reich) in Germany, and the education it provided with (as Friedrich Nietzsche and Albert Einstein pointed out, deplored and condemned stridently, among others).

German genetics did not change that much. Yet, present day German souls are completely different. They have become French souls, so to speak. They are sister souls for Republican France against old German fascism.

German Free Will has become gentle. This shows that Free Will depends crucially of the universe it evolves in.

Patrice Ayme’

Baboon Philosophy Needed

December 17, 2014

Many people hold a cynical attitude about Cynicism. They hold that it’s nothing other than an unwarranted, exaggerated, mostly negative attitude, non-constructive way to live, feel and think.

And, as Scientia Salon puts it “if they think they’re talking about Cynicism the philosophy, with a capital C, they’re dead wrong“.

I propose to go much further than simply rehashing cynicism.

Baboons Are A better Model Than Dogs To Understand Humans

Baboons Are A better Model Than Dogs To Understand Humans

Cynics, kynikos, means “dog-like”. The main idea was for humans to live according to nature… And thus reject the “nomos” (the way things are managed), when it does not fit nature. In extreme form, it meant living like dogs (that Diogenes embraced, and so did the enemies of cynicism).

The question arises: what is it, to live according to nature? Rousseau thought it was to live like angels. Sade replied that Rousseau had no idea what he was talking about. Voltaire (a friend of Sade) told Rousseau that “jamais autant d’intelligence” had been deployed to make us all stupid, and he felt like “marcher a quatre pattes” after reading his book.

French sailors, fresh from believing Rousseau, discovered Tasmania. The French has dressed au naturel, as they expected that the Natives, being the most primitives on Earth, would be happy and welcoming. Instead, the Tasmanian tried to kill the French in a massive premeditated ambush, and the sailors came back to France, announcing Rousseau had been found incorrect.

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/tasmanian-effect/

So is the nature of man that of a dog, or wolf? Is the famous Roman “Homo Homini Lupus”, true?

Well Ancient Greeks knew dogs, but not baboons. Baboons technical name is “cynocephali” (dog-heads). In more ways than simple appearances, they are half-way between dog and men. As I grew up in Africa, I observed baboons in the wild, or captivity. I was struck by their humaneness.

Recently the great apes were re-labelled as “Hominidae”, to remind us of their humaneness. However, in one important way, baboons are closer to man than to any other species. Both man and baboons have evolved to make a living in the savannah, instead of among the trees. This brought to bear on the species the same evolutionary pressures, hence the same solutions. Particularly in the realms of defense, attack, group-think (and specifically what I call intellectual fascism).

To do so, to live in the savannah, where they go drink everyday, in a killing gallery, baboons had to evolve not just an omnivorous way of life, but super-predatory ways, all the way to the fascist, military instinct some insist could NOT possibly be human. As they move about, baboons form well organized armies, and the fierce military spirit to go with them. The larger, the noisier, the more horrific the army, led by seemingly crazed leaders, mad with uncontrollable hatred and rage, the better, to put all predators to flight.

Back in Africa, it seemed to me that no philosophy that did not understand baboons could pretend to understand man. Thus a philosophy of origins had to encompass baboons. Conversely, baboons are easier to understand than people: people hide behind complicated cultures and their various make-belief “creators”, whereas baboons do not have this sort of arrogance.

The zoologist Buffon pontificated that baboons were “too obscene to describe”. Baboons were an experimental model contradicting Rousseau. A progress from the Greeks, I would respectfully suggest, would be to graduate from dog to baboon, as a philosophical paradigm, a simpler model of Homo Sapiens.

Once one has understood that people are super-baboons, one has made a gigantic step forward in the true nature of humanity, and its “nomos”. As we bring the greatest crisis in 65 million years, it’s high time.

Patrice Ayme’