Sunday, January 18, 2009

Grand Wizards of Oz

A picture of a few words is worth a ... well, a lot. Thanks to Gramfan at JihadWatch.


Charles Henry said...

It seems that it's the littlest of children who carry the worst of signs at these protests.

truepeers said...

I doubt that's accidental, Charles. The child represents the totally innocent victim; the sign represents how the parents seek, through hopes for their children, to "redeem" their "nation"'s innocent victims. It's the Islamist "equivalent" of a Christian giving a child a cross to wear.

By the way Dag, this picture provoked a thought: how can the schoolteachers with guns be completely unsympathetic to Plato and his, at the time it was written, unprecedented Republican vision, when they see this kind of reminder of the tribal past?

Dag said...

Plato wanted a return to the ideal tribal past, frozen forever to keep change from making the Perfect decay. He is one of the evil minds of history. He hoped to create a fascist Republic dominated by those old men who were to be, eventually, unknowing of the "Noble Lies" they told, so brainwashed would they be by their training and their socially engineered lives. Plato's Republic is a totalitarian nightmare.

And here is the contradiction in my position vis "School-Teachers with Guns." That I to am in favor of social engineering, if we call education such. My point in arguing in favor of armed teachers is that they must, like army medics, carry guns to protect the helpless. Look at an army medic and you'll see side-arms. It's part of the job. They must defend to the death their patients. They cannot run away. It's a terrible job for brave men and women.

I've lived in places where children are murdered by their fathers and uncles for disobedience. If the teacher is to teach "freedom," by which I mean active Socratic dialogue, not relativist sophistries or Platonist totalitarianism, but the endless and open-ended quest for a higher understanding of the ethical through conversation and honest debate, then the pupil must be saved, physically and by force of arms, from the parents who would kill him for verging from the given Moral. Yes, parents kill their children for disagreement or contradiction. Imagine the child who says to his tribalist or even Leftist-tribalist parent, "But Truepeers said today that...."

We have our disgreements over the nature of "tradition." I think it's a matter of definition. I see tradition as the ossification of evil perpetuated on generations eternal. that's what I've seen, and tradition of that kind is tradition at its worse, most evil, and most deserving of being smashed and destroyed to the best of our abilities. Patient reform? It depends on the urgency of the situation. A murderer might someday change his ways. It's not for us to make that decision.

If we aren't relativists, then we look at the child above pictured and see a crime against the child and against Humanity. We have a moral obligation to intervene. If it requires guns to defend the children of people such as that child's parents, then let us look for brave men and women-- and let us arm them fully.

truepeers said...

Well we are going to have to continue this discussion sometime. I don't think there was anything Platonic about how most of the tribesmen of Plato's time thought. Plato invented a new way of thinking, one that made philosophers kings as a way of trying to understand what this new experience of philosophy was. The Republic was for Plato a thought experiment at a time of decline in the political culture of the polis, not a party manifesto. It is more important to remember it as a new way of thinking that influences all of us, not least you Dag, than as a program.

Anyway, what is "totalitarian" to us is a rather modern concept that could not possibly have appeared in anything like the same light to Plato let alone someone who was truly ruled by the relatively unthinking ritual/myth-bound order of the more primitive gods. In other words, there is something much more totalitarian than our modern concept of totalitarianism. FWIW, there were more degrees of freedom in Stalinist Russia than in traditional tribal life. That's no excuse for Stalinism in the 20thC, but only an encouragement to think about why things first emerged in the past - why new things ever come into the world. We understand things in terms of their origins. And if we write off Plato we also condemn to some kind of rejection much of Western thought. We need not see the history of philosophy as variously suggestive of programs for us; we can and should today read it for anthropological insights and an understanding of the historical process.

We have our disgreements over the nature of "tradition." I think it's a matter of definition. I see tradition as the ossification of evil perpetuated on generations eternal.

-that's a rather Platonic approach to thinking about concepts.

Anyway, there is evil in all forms of culture, including the modern. My point about studying tradition is to understand how history has unfolded in struggles to develop new degrees of freedom in our ethical forms, that we may ourselves be further liberated by understanding history as cultural evolution and not as some largely evil process (until some exceptional moment of enlightenment in recent times).

However, the championing of orthodoxy is another matter. And I only really champion Judeo-Christian orthodoxy because I see it in today's world as a more radical and liberating potential than the Gnostic tradition which has had much influence over our modernity, for better and worse. There are indeed many traditions that should be trashed if they are clearly played out.

Patient reform? It depends on the urgency of the situation

yes, but the point I was making in that previous post was that people who are not spiritually patient are often unable to act in urgent situations in ways that are conducive to expanding human freedom. I was not offering a dichotomy of patience vs. action, but rather suggesting that the latter is highly dependent on the former.

truepeers said...

Imagine the child who says to his tribalist or even Leftist-tribalist parent, "But Truepeers said today that...."

by the way, I wouldn't tell the child that she can have freedom to do her own thing like kids in middle-class California, until her society is ruled by law and by a variety of modern disciplines. The goal is to liberate the individual, but a truly tribal person cannot become a modern individual overnight. Inevitably there has to be something relatively authoritarian in between. It's not enough the schoolteacher has a gun to keep the parents in line; inevitably the kids too will need to learn the rule of law, sometimes the hard way. That's why we need patience and bravery.

Dag said...

A quick point: to define isn't to come to a conclusion about the meaning of a word but to dispel our assumptions that we know or can know the meaning of X with any certainty. We can define what we assume till we find out we are not informed or certain; and then we can walk away with some confidence that we are no longer as ignorant as we were, though not informed necessarily of anything more than our own ignorance. We can try honestly, knowing that we were previously mistaken. That's the point of definition.

truepeers said...


my point was simply that before Plato, people did not have the kind of interest in abstract "ideas" and their definition as we do now. So, whatever we think of his politics, it's his philosophical approach to developing it that was historically revolutionary.

If we are truly to get beyond the metaphysical era that Plato founded, we need to see it had a distinctive origin and was not simply a return to some tribal past. Plato's detractors should want to recognize what is revolutionary about him. To more fully understand a beginning is to overcome its hold on us. This is the central point of Generative Anthropology: that we should no longer take for granted the declarative sentence or propositional language of philosophy. This is not any kind of original or primitive language, and so when we take it for granted as the route to human self-understanding, we hide from questions of how to understand the emergence or origin of our shared meanings in particular historical events. The abstract scene of philosophy works by forgetting the origins of all human language, and its own Platonic point of departure.

One of the many points that follow from this is that if we can get beyond taking propositional language for granted, it will not mean that we can do without this language, or without definitions, but that in better seeing how our ideas emerge in events we will understand better the basis of our rivalry to define them, and in doing so that rivalry can be deferred or transcended. We will become less dependent on the elites who would define the world for us in authoratative metaphysical terms.
see, for example.

Similarly to the Platonic revolution, before the Mosaic revolution, no one tried to *define* God/s in propositional language. The fact that the Jews went first in this, giving us/receiving a definition of the one God of everyone - "I am what I am" - and that only one people can go first in discovering this propositional approach to understanding humanity's universal Being - that the Jews thus became a peculiar people in relation to the historical unfolding of the monotheistic approach to human self-understanding, is the basis of antisemitism. Anti-Platonism does not have the same moral consequences but it would be interesting to reflect on the long history of philosophers' rivalry with their founder in this light. In other words, "the Jew" may be wrong or incomplete in his definition of the one God, but that does not justify our resentment of his being first at this question of defining God. Someone had to go first just as someone had to go first in proposing we rule ourselves by philosophy.