(Before anyone starts wittering on about historical accuracy, about factual details, let me make it clear here: this is not about INESSENTIAL facts, not about recording every last unnecessary detail. This is not a tome. It is a short essay which offers the distilled essence of garnered knowledge and understanding.)
The list of rug pulling examples could go on and on. The image that comes to mind is that of the school pupil, the lout, intent on making trouble. The teacher has finally settled the class down, pupils are working calmly and well, and that is the lout’s cue to stir things up, to create discord and conflict, to destabilize and de-rail. The last thing the lout wants to see is a settled, stable, secure environment, the sort of environment that allows people to go about their own business undisturbed and productively. And that is not the half of it. What the lout is REALLY about is teasing and getting up people’s noses.
This lout is science. But the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. This lout is also its daddy, Philosophy. And Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy beautifully lays out the development of this loutish behaviour in Philosophy.
Take the religions of the Ancient Greeks. The worship of Bacchus involved physical intoxication. Then along came the Orphics who declared that mental, not physical, intoxication was the required form of worship.
As to the Greek philosophers……
…….Thales declared that everything is made of water. “Oh no it isn’t,” said Anaximander. His claim was that all things are made from a single, primal substance. Anaximenes, on the other hand, decided that both his predecessors were wrong: everything is made of air. Heraclitus? He claimed that everything is made from fire. He also claimed that the world is in a constant state of flux. No prizes, then, for guessing that the next one to come along, Parmenides, contradicted Heraclitus: he said that nothing changes.
So, one minute everything is made of water, the next it is made of air then fire. Running out of elements to choose from, Empedocles opted for a sort of synthesis of all the previous ideas: everything is made of water, air, fire and earth. He claimed that the elements were combined by Love and separated by Strife --- which strikes me as a sort of synthesis of the theory that the world is in a constant state of flux with its antithesis, that nothing changes. Anaxagoras didn’t directly de-rail the 4 elements theory i.e everything is made of water, air, fire and earth. But everything is infinitely divisible, he claimed. Then came the Atomists. Forget fire, air, earth, water and all that rubbish. Everything is made of atoms. And, wouldn’t you know it, atoms are not infinitely divisible, so UP YOURS, ANAXAGORAS!!!!
Do I really need to go on? I mean, how can anyone take this nonsense seriously? But just in case you still do……….
………..enter Socrates. His speciality was the Socratic Dialogue i.e. the practice of publicly humiliating people using logic and argument.
Then we come to Socrates’ pupil Plato, and specifically to Plato’s Republic and his construction of an ideal commonwealth, his Utopia.
Plato’s Utopia had 3 castes or classes of people. The superior class, the “guardians”, i.e. the rulers, of this state are……. wait for it ………. PHILOSOPHERS!!!!! (Now isn’t that a surprise?!!) In other words, Plato’s Utopia was just an excuse for him to lord it over everyone else and, more importantly, to really get up their noses. To put it another way, Plato was a power addict. Thus his Utopia has rigid censorship with respect to literature, music and just about everything else. In fact, this is a world in which people will have absolutely no freedom to think or speak what they want or do what they want or live the way they want. It is a state in which Plato can exercise his addiction to the drug power by micro-managing people’s lives right down to what they may or may not eat --- no fish and only roasted meat --- and even, if I know power addicts, right down to when they are permitted a toilet break. (Plato’s Utopia is the world of the film Shawshank Redemption. When Red (Morgan Freeman) finally gets his parole, he is set to work as a supermarket packer. Red’s new boss gets fed up being asked b y Red for toilet breaks and tells Red to take them without asking. But Red explains to the viewer that he has been in prison so long, is so used to a rigidly controlled life, that as a free man he “can’t squeeze a drop” unless someone gives him permission.)
If you can imagine a society that you would want to live in LESS than Plato’s Utopia, then I’d like to know about it, because I can’t. And that’s because that’s the way Plato wanted it. He wasn’t actually stupid enough to believe what he was saying himself. He was a lout. He wanted to get up people’s noses. And that is why he could appear to be stupid enough to design a Hell and call it a Utopia.
So Plato was nothing more than a power addict who wanted to feed his addiction by exercising complete control over other people’s lives. He was a lout who wanted to tease and get up people’s noses. And this man is taken seriously? Plato is considered a Great Man? This man’s ideas, his philosophy, is the basis of modern western society? Our society is Plato’s heir???!!!????
(If you don’t smell a whole army of rats by now then you need a check-up from the neck up!)
What Russell’s history illustrates, then, is as much the history of power addiction as philosophy. One expression of power addiction is competitiveness. Competition is not about winning. The aim of a competitive person is to DEFEAT his competitors. One way of defeating the competition is to destabilise, is to disturb, is to pull the rug out from under people’s feet. (Whereas Science de-stabilizes with ever more interpretations of ever more facts, the weapon of Philosophy is reason and logic, a tool which supplies a counter-argument for every argument and therefore solves nothing.) This is what the Greek philosophers were about. This is what drives philosophy. Philosophy is no more about seeking Truth than is its son, Science.
We leap now to the modern world. Where is philosophy now? Have the Great Problems been solved? Have the Great Questions been answered? Of course not! What did I say at the beginning? Philosophers are louts whose aim is to tease, to get up people’s noses and to disturb. If they were to give the final answers to these Great Questions, they would be going completely against their own purpose. People could heave a great sigh of relief and sit back and put their feet up and say: “Well, that’s it then. Thank the Lord it’s all been finally settled. Now we can get on with the business of living.” Well, that’s the last thing the louts want to hear, so they say now that these Great Questions cannot be answered (so no sitting down and putting your feet up); they say now that the questions are more important than the answers. Ah yes, now they can tease and torment us by questioning everything we thought had been settled and proving that the opposite is always true. The louts have made a heaven for themselves in Philosophy and a Hell for the rest of us illogical, ignorant dummies.
So you missed the point, did you? No surprises there then, eh? Though I'm only making the same point as I've made time and again in different ways about different con artists: philosophers and philosophy are not what they would have you think them. Just as with modern DVDs and books the advertising bears very little relationship to the contents.thundril wrote:An appropriate response
This is an opinion piece. It offers a unique take on the history of philosophy. It is always good to hear the opinions and ideas of others, especially when they are different from one’s own. It keeps the mind alive and always allows for the possibility that through having to follow somebody else’s thought processes, one not only develops one’s own ability to think, but potentially one weeds out some errors in one’s own thinking --- these need not be catastrophic or fatal errors as regards one’s beliefs.
It is always, of course, much, much more difficult to accept somebody else’s thinking as genuine and well meant, and to therefore try and follow and suss out what it is all about and what thought processes they are using, than to simply go for sniping. Criticising is easy and unproductive for the most part. Appreciating and trying to go with another’s thinking is far, far harder and much, much more productive.
On the basis of these responses I rather understand that no one has understood a word I've said and worse, no one has even TRIED to understand what I have said --- it's what I expect on this forum. I only need to put my name to a piece to elicit the same response, a response which has now become a knee-jerk response. As to offering opinions within these areas, I've explained till I'm blue in the face why I do not do so. There is little point in me explaining again.animist wrote:sorry, Panto, seems the game is up - on the basis of these responses, which do not deem you worth a single word. If you simply reject gigantic areas of human intellectual effort like science and philosophy (as opposed to offering some opinion within these areas), what else can you expect? Dream on if you like, the rest of us try to understand each other's opinions
Then we come to: what is the point of my writing? If you suppose that it is to persuade you all to abandon your current beliefs and to adopt mine, you would suppose wrong.
You're wrong again. There is a point to what I do. I doubt if you'd be able to guess what it is, or rather, what they are. Want to have a go?Dave B wrote:Then is it merely to propagate your own views? Seems pretty silly to keep doing so for an audience that stands at 90 degrees to your the large majority of your positions. Not opposite, just in a place where most of your ideas go past without touching.
"a place where most of your ideas go past without touching" --- you'd be surprised! And especially when truth is concerned. The fact is that truth has a power that lies do not. Truth has a way of seeding itself in the mind where it is nurtured and will eventually grow whereas lies, being sick and harmful to the mind, even if they do seed and sprout will be attacked by the psychological immune system.
You'd be surprised. My evidence? How often have I spotted phrases/arguments etc of mine in other people's comments? It happens in real life too. There are times when people have told me things as though I didn't know them when in fact, I DO know, and further, I know that the person talking to me did NOT know this thing until I told them! I have seen my own words come back to me so often that I am quite sure that people take things in without realizing it.Dave B wrote:It is impossible to interact to even the tiniest degree with another person without the that affecting some sort of change to you - if only by reinforcing a previously held opinion by a teensy weensy little bit. You have alluded to some sort of subliminal influence before, Pantaloon, but there is delusion in your allusion.
Then there is the unintentional adoption by incomers of the local ways of speaking, phraseology etc.
Well, even morons sometimes come up with unassailable wisdom that is worthy of remembering and passing on!pantodragon wrote:You'd be surprised. My evidence? How often have I spotted phrases/arguments etc of mine in other people's comments? It happens in real life too. There are times when people have told me things as though I didn't know them when in fact, I DO know, and further, I know that the person talking to me did NOT know this thing until I told them! I have seen my own words come back to me so often that I am quite sure that people take things in without realizing it.Dave B wrote:It is impossible to interact to even the tiniest degree with another person without the that affecting some sort of change to you - if only by reinforcing a previously held opinion by a teensy weensy little bit. You have alluded to some sort of subliminal influence before, Pantaloon, but there is delusion in your allusion.
Then there is the unintentional adoption by incomers of the local ways of speaking, phraseology etc.
It is also often the case that you seem to see your own words in another situation when, though you have forgotten it, it is a widely accepted truism that you have probably heard elsewhere, yourself, in the past and merely repeated.
It is possible for people of disparate types and beliefs to come to the same conclusion about a given situation or phenomenon.
And all those who believe in the same kind of things tend to flock together, and that includes irrational woo!