Plato Pollution

Reading Plato is pollution to the human mind.

He taught that “common people” should display obedience and subservience to their “masters”  – to be happy as the cattle for the elite to burden, slaughter and eat.

His teaching offer nothing but a “totalitarian nightmare of deceit, violence, master-race rhetoric.”

The greatest principle of all is that nobody, whether male or female, should be without a leader.

Nor should the mind of anybody be habituated to letting him do anything at all on his own initiative; neither out of zeal, nor even playfully.

But in war and in the midst of peace — to his leader he shall direct his eye and follow him faithfully.

And even in the smallest matter he should stand under leadership.

For example, he should get up, or move, or wash, or take his meals… only if he has been told to do so. In a word, he should teach his soul, by long habit, never to dream of acting independently, and to become utterly incapable of it”

It is no surprise to me that academia – who depend on elitism – continues to teach this mind junk to their “students”.

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9 Responses to “Plato Pollution”

  1. kentmcmanigal Says:

    No wonder intersexual “Platonic relationships” always chilled me to the bone. (Only half joking…)

  2. modestypress Says:

    Well, I am getting old, and was not that swift, especially at philosophical analysis, to begin with.

    I don’t remember Plato that well. (I am not that old!) I vaguely remember something about Aristotelian thinking referring to limiting a discussion to “either/or” choices, and that this tied into “sophistry,” which was not very clear thinking.

    For a long time, I have regarded a lot of arguments about political economy as falling into this trap, arguing that the only choices in how people can deal with economics are socialism/communism or totally unrestrained competition [free enterprise].

    Without some restrictions, such as enforcement of contracts and protection against violence, anarchism/libertarianism [unrestrained freedom] becomes difficult.

    For much of my life I have belonged to and participated in co-ops of various sorts. The most successful branch of the cooperative movement have been credit unions. They compete with each other and with banks, so they are not socialistic or run by the government. Over the last few decades we have had many scandals involving banks. Credit unions are not perfect. You can find examples of credit unions that have gone broke and have been involved in scandals, but the ratio of credit unions fiascoes is probably 1/100 of ones attributed to banks. Why is that? One reason is that credit unions and other coops are democratic and responsible to their members (who are like stockholders, but much less speculative in their participation than the typical stockholder).

    I also belong to one of the largest and successful food coops in the United States. Again, the agriculture/food industry has been involved in many scandals involving the safety of food, and the problems caused by running farms like factories. Well, I go on too long. My main point is that “either/or” thinking is something to be avoided as much as Plato’s elitism and willingness to restrict freedom.

    • Black Flag® Says:

      Modesty,

      Most people do not understand what anarchy actually means.

      The roots of the word “anarchy”:
      An – “no”
      Archy – “rulers”

      It does not mean no rules.

      One man cannot have his freedom while denying freedom to others.

      The natural order of this understanding is the golden rule:
      Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you.

      So when some believe anarchy is “me free, you not” – it is a false understanding.

      Anarchy is:
      “for me to be free, you must be free – for you to be free, I must be free”

      Economics:
      Again, I have found it is bordering on humorous that people proclaim that men voluntarily trading with each other (Free Market) is violent and corrupt.

      What they are saying:
      you voluntarily taking what you do not want, trading it with another man who voluntarily offering what he does not want and in the end, each having what they want … all non-violently and in peace …. is corrupt.

      Where does any man with a brain start against that?

      Enforcement of contracts:
      There is a lot of debate on this, but my position is this.
      1) The Universe prohibits contradictions – they cannot exist.
      2) Man can imagine contradictions
      3) When man, against the Universe, attempts to manifest into reality a contradiction, human evil is created.

      4) A lie is a contradiction to the truth, hence evil.

      5) A contract is a promise.
      5a) A promise is something that has not (yet) become real – therefore is not a truth.
      6) A promise is NOT a truth – it is a HOPE.
      7) A breach of contract is NOT a lie – it is a breach of a promise, a breach of HOPE.
      8 ) Hope is a psychological state where a fantasy is projected into the future.
      9) To treat a fantasy equal to be the truth is irrational.

      10) A contract is a voluntary agreement between parties.

      11) No violence entered into the voluntary agreement.

      12) Violence can only legitimately be used to prevent, protect from, repair and mitigate the initiation of violence.

      13) A voluntary contract has no legitimate right to use violence to enforcement.

      14) Non-violent breaches of human conduct can only use non-violent responses to those breaches.

      The use of violence on the non-violent to enforce non-violent action will end up justifying any violence on the non-violent for any reason. Tyranny is the ultimate and guaranteed consequence.

      I agree that false dichotomies are easy to proclaim and can trap the unwary.

      But between Good/Evil or RIght/Wrong, Violent/Non-violent what is the third way?

      How do you non-violently punch a person?
      How do you Righteously kill a non-violent person?

      You cannot do half evil and proclaim a good.
      You cannot half murder someone non-violently.
      You cannot protect a man’s Rights by destroying them.

      Not all things are black/white.

      But there are some things that are.

  3. modestypress Says:

    My understanding of anthropology is sketchy and old (similar to my understanding of just about anything). Some anthropologists argue that in times before humans settled into cities and adopted agriculture, they lived in small groups we call “hunter-gatherers” and lived quite peacefully. The tribe or clan shared resources and settled disputes mostly by social custom, face to face interaction, and at worst, some moving out to form a new group. By custom, the tribe cared for small children, the infirm, and the elderly who could not care for themselves. We don’t know for sure if modern “hunter-gatherer” groups (not very many any more and now not very isolated from modern civilization) illustrate what per-historic human culture was like.

    Some argue that as civilization developed, involving agriculture, and towns, cities, and states, rulers and priests also developed and formed a kind of unholy (so to speak) alliance to explain how the world developed (developing what we now call myths) and to maintain order. The priests nurtured the myths and declared the rules ordained by god; the chiefs and kings told the serfs to feed the priests, etc., and backed it up with the swords of the warriors (who also got fed for playing this game).

    If something like this happened over the centuries, perhaps it led to the mess we are in now. In any case, I am not sure how we can squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube. And for all the grief of modern civilization with governments and guns and what not, do we want to give up some of the benefits such as modern medicine and communication?

    Violence is a subtle problem. One kind of violence comes from the person with the gun or the club. A group that does not tolerate violence (as its social norm) and discourages obedience to rulers might eliminate a lot of “beat you over the head and shoot you from next door violence.”

    However, if a person in the process of making a product that involves water releases poison into the water is that also not a form of violence?

    For example (from Wikipedia):

    “Minamata disease, sometimes referred to as Chisso-Minamata disease is a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning. Symptoms include ataxia, numbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, narrowing of the field of vision and damage to hearing and speech. In extreme cases, insanity, paralysis, coma and death follow within weeks of the onset of symptoms. A congenital form of the disease can also affect fetuses in the womb.

    “Minamata disease was first discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan in 1956. It was caused by the release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation’s chemical factory, which continued from 1932 to 1968. This highly toxic chemical bioaccumulated in shellfish and fish in Minamata Bay and the Shiranui Sea, which when eaten by the local populace resulted in mercury poisoning. While cat, dog, pig, and human deaths continued over more than 30 years, the government and company did little to prevent the pollution.

    “As of March 2001, 2,265 victims had been officially recognised (1,784 of whom had died) and over 10,000 had received financial compensation from Chisso. By 2004, Chisso Corporation had paid $86 million in compensation, and in the same year was ordered to clean up its contamination. On March 29, 2010, a settlement was reached to compensate as-yet uncertified victims.”

    Without discussing the specific steps for prevention or remediation taken in this case (or similar ones involving products and activities such as asbestos, coal, undersea drilling for petroleum, and so on), in a modern, complex, and technological society one person or group conducting what they consider perfectly to be perfectly constructive economic activity might be regarded as others as perpetrators of harm and even what might be called a kind of violence.

  4. Black Flag® Says:

    Modesty,

    Without discussing the specific steps for prevention or remediation taken in this case (or similar ones involving products and activities such as asbestos, coal, undersea drilling for petroleum, and so on), in a modern, complex, and technological society one person or group conducting what they consider perfectly to be perfectly constructive economic activity might be regarded as others as perpetrators of harm and even what might be called a kind of violence.

    A perfect “constructive” economic activity, from the point of view of a thief, is stealing from you.

    However, such economic activity is unsustainable – though a thief wins over the innocent man, the murderer rules the thief, and society devolves into an orgy of slaughter.

    Sustainable economic activity is achieved through the free market – that is, voluntary exchange of goods and services

  5. Edwin Herdman Says:

    To the writer:

    Where do you see academia teaching Plato’s elitism straight-faced to students? I’m following a philosophy program right now (after a Political Science major) and nobody on the faculty that I can think of was especially enamored of Plato’s anti-democratic ideals, as quoted above.

    In studying the history of early science (at a time when it was still called philosophy), Plato usually is contrasted with Aristotle as rather monomaniacal – putting his own words in Socrates’ mouth in his later works, and trying to push Aristotle towards a more geometric view of universal motions, for example. He’s generally used as the foil for Aristotelian thinking – in setting up a polemic distinction for philosophy instructors: The geometrizer (using Kepler’s word, albeit translated to English) to Aristotle’s…well, whatever Aristotle was. Different instructors will translate it differently. An instructor for PHIL 3500 (The Modern Worldview) introduced this construction (as a dichotomy to “watch out for”):

    Plato: Rationalist. Shared attribute with Johannes Kepler: dour, boring personality (supposedly!)

    Aristotle: Empiricist. Shared attribute with Tycho Brahe: Wealthy and charismatic.

    These simple dichotomies aren’t especially convincing for me and they can be shown to be backwards at various times (especially when one attempts to fit later philosophers or scientists into these molds). They are an example of polemics, the kind that Plato and Aristotle both seem to have enjoyed, and which some instructors do employ now and then, but it does depend on the field and how rigorous that field is (in my humble opinion).

    That reminds me: Recently I saw an article criticising the use of the “Aristotelian method” – I forget exactly, but I think this was characterized as an outspoken, adversarial system pitting one point against another, contrasted with a “collaborative learning” approach – in law schools. I believe this was a legal journal, though I can’t say for certain – was it the ABA Journal, or something else?

    Introductory economics – you’ll hear about Keynes before Plato, without a doubt. Instructors are more interested in explaining how to save an economy and avoid a Depression than they are in trying to hypnotize students into “greed is good” thinking (but laying Gordon Gekko at Plato’s feet seems pretty heavy).

    Logic – “Aristotle allows us to make an extra mark on our Venn diagram.” Both professors I’ve spoken to: “Aristotle is old hat.” And heck, Plato figures in the textbook (A Concise Intro. to Logic, Patrick J. Hurley, 11th Ed.) as merely background for Aristotle (paraphrase from p. 15: At 17, Aristotle is sent to “Plato’s Academy, the finest institution of higher learning in the Greek world. After Plato’s death Aristotle left for Assos, a small town…”), or as a counterpoint with modern systems (p. 93): “Over the years philosophers have held various conflicting views about the purpose of definitions. For example, Plato claimed that definitions were intended to explicate the meaning of certain eternal essences or forms, such as justice, piety, and virtue. For most logicians today, however, definitions are intended exclusively to explicate the meaning of words.” Those are the ONLY two references to Plato in the first hundred pages of the textbook. There are four others from pages 594 to 630 (“Plato’s theory of forms” is the entire p. 594 reference) and the longest relevant passage in the book is the roughly half a page on p. 615 which details Plato’s distinction between opinion and knowledge. Again, mere background.

    Political Science – again, nothing about Plato I encountered. You’re more likely to read from G. William Domhoff than from Plato.

    Business students – I must profess ignorance here, but I assumed business students are mainly learning about TPS reports and the like, less about the (un-)ethics of ancient philosophers.

    The one place I can think of support for your premise is a rather entertaining interview with the British comics artist Alan Grant, of 2000 AD fame: http://www.2000adreview.co.uk/features/interviews/2005/grant/grant7.shtml and especially the next page, which features “Philosophy 101 with Anarky,” drawing Plato and Aristotle up on a blackboard as polar opposites once again:

    Plato: Others know best / Increasing misery / death
    Aristotle: Self-responsibility / Increasing happiness / life

    Suffice to say Aristotle (often called “The Teacher”) is still well-loved, whilst “Broad Shoulders,” Plato, has had aspects of Stoicism and Cynicism blamed on him (well, maybe rightly so: Cynicism was a direct response to Plato being blamed for distorting Socrates, and Stoicism was a later development of Cynicism). Interestingly, Cynicism might have been a cornerstone of early Christian thought, beginning with Jesus – or at least he is thought to fit the pattern of a Cynic – while later European Christians seem much more interested in Aristotle generally, possibly making things better than they might otherwise have been.

    What’s my point? My point is you’re trying to beat a drum for a problem that you haven’t shown to exist, and which my own (rather extensive, sadly) university experience has shown me no evidence of. If I had seen any evidence at all of this theory, I would have mentioned it in support of your claim. Sadly, instead I see a lot of polemics but no sources. Polemics are not the cure for sloppy Platonism, but just another form of the argumentative style from pure “reason” he championed, in my view. In that sense, Aristotle asking us to experiment with the world is one place where I agree that there is something very different between the two philosophers – and following Aristotle’s advice we see that few people in academia, and indeed in the world at large, seem to take Plato very seriously anymore.

    A very interesting subject nevertheless, and I thank you for making me think about it further.

    @modestypress:

    The “primitive hunter-gatherers” model isn’t universally accepted, not least because none of us were there and few physical artifacts survive, let alone artifacts that would serve as incontrovertible evidence exactly how people lived and organized. Even if it were accepted for one group of people, how would you be able to generalize that to all early peoples across the globe? I believe the recent Nat Geo article on Göbekli Tepe in Turkey has an article on exactly this subject.

  6. modestypress Says:

    Edwin, if my old brain remembers I will look up the Nat Geo article you mention. Thank you.

    If Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle popped in on us through time travel or far-seeing or some such sci-fi, I hope they would be gratified that we are still wrestling with their thoughts thousands of years later. If Ray Kurzweil’s “Singularity,” pops up in a few decades, and our descendents turn into transformed future human super race, I doubt they will be much interested in our mumblings and mutterings.

  7. modestypress Says:

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/gobekli-tepe/mann-text

    Fascinating. Thank you for the tip.

    Bewilderingly, the people at Göbekli Tepe got steadily worse at temple building. The earliest rings are the biggest and most sophisticated, technically and artistically. As time went by, the pillars became smaller, simpler, and were mounted with less and less care. Finally the effort seems to have petered out altogether by 8200 B.C. Göbekli Tepe was all fall and no rise.

    My not very interesting blog is titled “Collapse of Civilization.” Apparently civilization has been collapsing a lot longer than we thought.

    • Black Flag® Says:

      Modesty,

      There is more going on the the Tepe (and other examples) then meets the eye.

      Success breeds failure – because it masks the small, but exponential growing problems that all human action, including successful actions, creates – behind the theory “if its worked yesterday, it will work today”.

      People rest on their laurels, and consume their riches, instead of doing the work that made them rich.

      This is -I believe- why free market systems are the most powerful forces – the market quickly clears away those that forgot how to create wealth, as well as reward those that do.

      When politics interferes with this market clearing, things begin to fall apart – where we reward consumption and punish production – it won’t be long before that societal level mistakes reeks of consequences.

      The difference, though, is that people do forget how to create wealth – it does become a distant memory. In ex-Soviet Russia, people believed they didn’t know how they would get milk, since the government no longer provided it…..

      Thus the consequences become long-term – and humanity slips backwards.

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