Saturday, 26 July 2014

Philosophy and Danger


Background

Like almost all of my blog posts from this period I was thinking from an emotional place of anger, inner conflict and irresolution rather than one of temperance and serenity. This reflects in the rather high-handed and haughty manner in which I expressed and presented my 'ideas' with which I largely disagree now. 

Philosophy and Danger

As I pointed out earlier, Lucifer The Light-Bearer, Rank Ordering, Five Sentences from The Thinker as Poet, Factual Truth, good philosophising, quality thinking, is by nature dangerous. The greatest thinkers of the tradition, including the philosophers behind the scientific revolution of over three centuries ago, almost without exception fought long and hard for their insights against overwhelming odds (namely their time). They were heroes, albeit not popular heroes. And again, to use a hackneyed example, Socrates was put to death, Aristotle met with the persecution of the powers of his time
"I won't let them sin twice against philosophy."
Noam Chomsky for his part - despite his obvious vengeful social liberalism - has battled long and hard for many decades the cynical will-to-power of the 'elites' of his homeland and has thereby achieved greatness - and recognises greatness in others such as the great spirit behind the enigma code who was persecuted for his homosexuality. 

Michel Foucault, a very different spirit from Chomsky, also fought his whole life long for his insights (which, unlike mine, are thoroughly researched histories). Wittgenstein, the same. Heidegger, the same. Derrida, the same. Arendt, the same. Benjamin, the same. Spinoza, the same. The list is long.

Countless other spirits as well on the internet: James Corbett from www.corbettreport.com, Paul Craig Roberts from www.paulcraigroberts.org, Scriptonite Daily from www.scriptonitedaily.com, Alain Soral in France and the comedian Dieudonné and many, many spirits unknown to most fighting their own battles, helping to dis-close the constant manipulations and calculations of the global technocratic order. It would be unnecessarily defeatist to claim that they are not having an effect, even if it be a mute and quiet one.


Ditto the greatest film-makers, story-tellers, artists: they systematically show truth in various ways. The film The Shining is a severe indictment of American civilisation and contains many layers; not least the fact that the haunted hotel is built on a Native American burial ground and that the cut ending of The Shining (I owe this insight to an actor friend, Paul Clemens, who saw these very last minutes of the film) shows the hotel manager to have known all along what would happen to Jack, Danny and Wendy Torrence; there is also a toy axe on the hotel manager's desk in the scene of the interview - there is, in this regard, an excellent documentary on The Shining called Room 237 (see also blog post Note on the Shining).


Ditto, the film Eyes Wide Shut is a hilarious satire of American bourgeois life cut off from reality; Tom Cruise - well cast in the role, it has to be said - as the ultimate naive medical doctor whose world shatters the moment his bourgeois-darwinist-hobbesian worldview is challenged by his wife, who then, following this dissolution, discovers the strange (i.e. real) world of secret societies, drugs, sex, of both the powerful and the not so powerful. Every layer of civilisation laid bare, so to speak.


A film by Kubrick is worth more than a 1000 years of academic classes and mere theory.


Academic philosophy is all fine and well but it remains mere scholarship - it is not questioning nor is it running the danger of termination by the powers that should not be, nor does it redeem the questionable aspects of existence including what is ugly and base in human nature. Nietzsche in The Will to Power. 

"Truth is ugly."
Also in Beyond Good and Evil 
"Truth is hard."
Bad philosophy is philosophy which flees from reality into idealistic-moral value judgements; for this reason Nietzsche ranked Thucydides higher than Plato in Ecce Homo on the basis that Thucydides resisted and faced up to reality - in his case, the Peloponnesian War - without fleeing into a redeeming ideal (since, for Nietzsche, moral judgements always betray a baser instinct, namely revenge, which diminishes, denies the greatness in others, and are predominantly a function of what he calls ressentiment, frustrated instinct - which is why in The Anti-Christ he attacks Judaism and Christianity for being religions of revenge, of punishment, of malignant ressentiment).

Thus, in the simplest terms, bad philosophy (which includes all 'theory') is un-endangered, comfortable, does not risk itself and thus necessarily flees into vacuous non-entities, illusions, ideals, empty linguistic diarrhoea - into theory, into reason, in short, into nihilism


Good philosophy confronts and resists reality without passing easy value judgments but acknowledges the complexity of the human condition. 

Christian Moraline


Background

This blog post showcases a certain poisoned state of mind. But it makes the basic point that Christianity wasn't adequate for my needs as a thinker. 

Christian Moraline

... systematically corrupts and attacks noble souls and in doing so allows the coming to power of the mob (the rabble).

Note. J.K. Rowling's work is an interesting example. While her Harry Potter series superficially fits the Disney-like mold in its conception of evil, it is in fact far more nuanced than that and its depiction of evil is far more subtle that any Disney production could ever hope to be; evil springs not just from the Machiavellian Lord Voldemort (which means will-of-death, i.e. Lord Voldemort is, in Nietzsche's language, a preacher of death) but, quite the contrary, his rise to absolute power is assured in advance by the weakness and fear of many sub-characters who have a vicious desire for power, i.e. they need somebody powerful - evil - to guide and rule over them. We also have petty-stupid evil portrayed very well in the shape of Harry Potter's Daily Mail reading foster family, the Vernons.




Fanatics of Harry Potter will know the names of the power-lustful weaklings who support and ensure the rise and triumph of Lord Voldemort by heart no doubt - Professor Quirrell, Wormtail, Dolores Umbridge, Draco Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy but also the feeble and hopeless members of the Ministry of Magic who constantly set traps for the heroes of the seven volume story. Better still, the long supposed evil character of Professor Snape turns out to be the bravest, most courageous, noble man of the lot, more so even than Albus Dumbledore who, as is apparent in the last volume, The Deathly Hallows, has a history of dubious power machinations.




Professor Snape has to play the thankless and bad role in order to save Wizarding land and in this respect it is noteworthy that he is a formidably gifted wizard and was bullied in Hogwarts by Harry Potter's father (as evidenced in The Half-Blood Prince)... Professor Heidegger as a real life Professor Snape? 


It would be worth asking the extent to which the likes of Adolf Hitler and our modern 'democratic leaders' were/are not allowed to come to power because of fear mongering which forces feebler spirits to desire a supposed strong man (i.e wrongly perceived to be strong) to come to power. 

The undervalued The Casual Vacancy  - undervalued no doubt because it is a grimly real and everyday indictment of British society, the reality of which feebler spirits find hard to admit to themselves - also shows in all-too-glaring clarity the observation of Hannah Arendt in The Human Condition 
"The will to power, far from being a characteristic of the strong is, among envy and greed, one of the vices of the weak and possibly even their most dangerous one."
The will-to-power is more than traditional snobbery - it is malignant and malicious such as the everyday propaganda machine of the Daily Fail. As with J.K Rowling (a Christian who does doubt her faith - in any case, a noble soul, trained in the Classics and French) and Hannah Arendt, the same holds for Martin Heidegger (even a cursory glance at his biography would suggest this) that they were noble souls who rebelled against the Christian moral worldview as the Christian moral Weltanshaung has ceased to shed light on phenomenological, i.e. everyday, reality.

Classical Education


My mid-twenties decision to study Classics and, specifically, the Classical tongues (on my use of the word tongue, see A Brief Anatomy of Perception, Note (2)), Ancient Greek and Latin, may strike common sense as odd - disregarding its lack of immediate technical application - given my philosophical disposition.

The answer is simple. The tongue of the Ancient Greeks is philosophy. All the foundational concepts of Western thought are Greek in origin. For me there is no philosophising possible without, at the very least, a superficial knowledge of Ancient Greek.


The Ancient Greek tongue, rather like modern day German, is a deeply spiritual, i.e. thoughtful language, and ignoring the copious and tediously difficult grammar rules, has deeply therapeutic qualities, esp. in an age such as today where the word, to use Nietzsche's expression, is starting (and not only starting)

"to stink of mob."
Latin is not a particularly philosophical tongue; on the other hand, some of the best poetry ever composed is in Latin. Latin offers a solid, structural foundation to one's Dasein and the tongue of the Romans offers as many possibilities for wisdom and thought as does Ancient Greek. Elite, aristocratic Roman is exceedingly rich and full of political nuance. Moreover, Latin makes strong in its rigour and uncompromising elitism.

Nietzsche, in Ecce Homo I think, claimed that the Greeks were still too foreign for us modern day Europeans. It strikes me as one of Martin Heidegger's supreme achievements to have made the Greeks accessible to us in a creative way. With Heidegger, and Arendt to a lesser extent, Ancient Greek becomes attractive again. 


Modern Continental Philosophy gives rise to polemics in so far as it tends to flout the conventional rules of academic scholarship and precision, including in its free use of etymological arguments, yet this conflict is at the root of the divide between the tasks of scholars, men of knowledge, and creative thinkers, who are more akin to lawgivers who, as rule, and provided they are good, unsettle common understanding and transform concepts creatively. Theirs is a more dangerous task.

I can only refer my readers to the last section of my post Five Sentences from Thinker as Poet to highlight the gap which lies between thinkers and scholars, a gap not watertight since thinkers can be more or less scholarly and scholars more or less thoughtful. 

In summary thinkers are primarily lawgivers. Scholars by contrast are primarily men of knowledge.