Sunday, July 13, 2008

Plato and totalitarianism


Plato (see picture) was a philosopher born at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war which raged from about 430BC to 400BC. Plato is correctly given a lot of credit for being a very influential philosopher, indeed he thought and wrote about most areas of philosophy during his lifetime. For this he is very much admired, so much in fact that critical voices tend to drown in this ocean of admiration. However, since I started reading "History of Western Philosophy" by Bertrand Russell (one of my favorite philosophers by the way) I have gained a new perspective on Plato, one which I will share here.

In "The Republic" Plato writes about Utopia, that is, the ideal society. It is indeed a very charming and interesting book, much more engaging then many contemporary books that I have read. Socrates, the protagonist in The Republic is a man of great charisma and charm, and as a reader it is difficult not to be seduced.

Nevertheless, if you take away the the charm that is undeniably great in this book, what you are in essence left with is a state that would have made Josef Stalin and Hitler envious, had it ever been created. Society, we are told, is to be divided up into three different classes of citizens, guardians who are to rule, soldiers who will fight and workers who will (you guessed it), work. The guardians decide who, in the next generation, will become the guardian and who will be the worker/soldier. In other words, what Plato is advocating is that we decide at birth whether a child will be ruling over others, fight for the state, or carry out all the dirty work. We have A, B, and C citizens i.e. what we have is fascism, in its most pure form.

A short defense of Plato may be in order here. I do not think that he was being selfish when he advocated this fascistic society, it was not to make life comfortable for himself and other philosophers. Rather, his argument is that rulers should be chosen according to how good they are at ruling, not according to how many people like that ruler. Just like you want a shoemaker to make your shoes, or a soldier to fight your wars you would like a ruler who is educated in his/her profession. The problem with this, as Bertrand Russell points out, is that it is all but impossible to decide who is a good ruler, and if we get a bad ruler who we then cannot get rid of (in a democracy you would typically replace a bad ruler), then the consequences can be very serious indeed. I believe that there is no education that you can give a person that will ensure that he or she will be a good leader, therefore democracy is to be preferred.


Plato was also a fan of positive eugenics in which you arrange the society so that men judged as having desirable traits get more children as well as negative eugenics in which you prevent "inferior" people from getting children. We are told that when a child is born it is to be taken away from its mother so that she will never know which child is hers. If the child is judged by the doctors to be deformed or if it simply has inferior parents, it will be put away in a mysterious place "as it ought to be". Is it just me who thinks this sounds uncomfortably similar to Nazi Germany? Like I said, Hitler and Plato would have had a lot of ideals in common.

Strict censorship of information is another policy dear to Plato. We are told that any book that portrays Gods doing something un-virtuous are to be forbidden because Gods only do acts that are good (yeah right). This of course meant banning all works of Homer where you finds Gods that are jealous, envious, evil, cheating, you name it. As if that was not enough, Plato also want censorship of every book in which people are fearful or afraid to die. The reason is that the soldiers could be affected in a negative way if they read about the horrors of war.

To sum up, if Plato had been given free hands he would have created a fascist eugenic society society with very strict censorship. Hardly utopia for a modern person (I hope). Such a society, like the Christian-based societies that existed in the dark middle ages would also have a detrimental effect on creative thought and on science. All such a society can hope to achieve is success against other societies of roughly equal size (as long as that society does not start to encourage progress). Bertrand Russell suggests that Plato may have been influenced by the fact that he grew up during war-time. There is a clear tendency among people who live in turbulent times to desire stability, and as just mentioned, that is what Plato's Republic may potentially achieve.

17 comments:

Db0 said...

Glad to see others recognizing this. Unfortunately it is true, Plato and the whole school of Stoics & Neoplatonics were very much in league with aristocracy and many were aristocrats themselves (like Plato and Aristotle)

Throughout Classical Greek history you will find them colluding with the Oligocracy of the Spartans or the Monarchy of the Macedonians and being steadfastly against democracy.

If you like ancient greek philosophers, you should check Epicurus for the truly good philosophy that era produced. A philosophy that, incidentally, was scrubbed from written history by the Christians.

PS: One-time awareness link for blogspot users.

rasmussenanders said...

Thank you for the comment. Personally I like democritus alot, but I haven't read very much about Epicurus yet.

It also seems to me that the pre-socratic philisophers in general were much more sensible than Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle...

Db0 said...

If you haven't seen Epicurus yet, you really don't know what you're missing. Epicurus was post-Socratic but his philosophy is absolutely novel and still current for today. He was affected by Democritus as well.

You can Start here ;)

Anonymous said...

Ja, denne "homo Mensura" tror jag inte mkt på (ideläran var väl ett gränssnitt med materia)

Bättre utbyggt energi- och tranportväsen (spinn-off) bla järnväg - och buss och ev annat (tex flyg och svävare, luftfarkoster etc)


Nord pool

Kraft därifrån

Solcell (tom fönster) energi (10% men dyrt) och värme (20% och billigt).
Fjärrvärme och saltkraft till vågkraft kanske och möjliga energiformer (fram till fusion någon gång)
Energilag = jfr i underversum (högre civilisation)= från människor (inrikta sig på rätt saker och energi = frigöra) till energieffektivitet (husfrågan och tex s politik = klimatskatt och energieffektivisering).

Anonymous said...

Jag tror det borgerliga försäkringskassesystemet är bra.
Det är bra med lösningar för individen, företag, rehab och kompetens.
Som turism 100 mdr (Arlandsindexet) och tex RFID för info (tanka info som gör att man blir bättre, nätverk, supporterhjälp och en sorts livförsäkring).
Norge har ju infört på mat.
Sen psykiskt det är ju inte alla tex kvinnor som är trevliga och snälla (personlighetsdrag= och egenintresse= inget annat). tex tjatar och förtrycker som forna tiders arbetsgivare= "du är ingenting värd", "du duger inget till", "jag kan allt om detta" - som om det vore lag (och mentalitet däri).
Det blir ett imprints (omvandling av vår biokemi = är ju redan här) som kristna prästerna som av egenintresse pratar om tex apokalyps (imprints= indoktrinerade= och försöker få en självuppfyllande profetia= jfr informationsfrihet och alla mord häri= kanske psykiatrisk reform för samtlig från kk till öv = er sjukdom ska inte störa andra)
Hcc mekanismen (hjärndelar, hyponeseffekt) väljer nämligen den version som ger mest validens (både info, gener och trovärdighet).
Tex då självuppfyllande profetia som gör det sämre för oss alla.
Indianerna har nog rätt = dom snälla i syd och norr = när gud själv står utanför vatikaen och visar sitt riktiga jag.
Använda ev eu medlemskap och upphäva denna idiotorg mm.

Och deras experiment då (indianerna)
Mayakulten
Ska vi ha samma?

Eller ett bättre?

http://www.physorg.com/news135253078.html

Passive learning imprints on the brain just like active learning

In a study titled "Sensitivity of the Action Observation Network to Physical and Observational Learning" published in the journal Cerebral Cortex in May 2008, Dartmouth researchers determined that people can acquire motor skills through the "seeing" as well as the "doing" form of learning.

Anonymous said...

utvecklingsmodell

"detektera detta jävla idiot"

Se igenom detta och fastna inte utan ta ett "kvant språng"

Skämt, ironi, brott mot mänskligheten

Spökfenomen= samma däri (även en ond varelse, satan)

Vetenskapen måste gå mot religionsförbud

http://strikeforcevetansvarreligionen.blogspot.com/

Precis som man förbjuder skadliga kemikalier, medicinsk och biologisk effekt och tex empiriska samband som a och b

För att kognitivt, utvecklingsmässigt (få upp många fler som studie visar= science kunskap) ta ett skutt som för alltid avgör och gör att vi blir vad vi är menade till (gudar som det tex står i bibeln= de vet inte mer än oss= självavslöjande likaså)
och rymdresenärer (babylon 5 tror jag vinner med då en del tekniska och vetenskapliga innovationer)
Kraften av vetenskaplig empirisk klarhet är allt

Anonymous said...

Skulle ju kunna kontrollera vädret med tex aerosolerna och styra paramterarna där.
Jfr också tex olika tillstånd (nu utforskning av mott tillståndet, intressant studie).
Teknik som utforskas (vetenskapens tjänst= frukten av det sas , resultatbaserad lön, även så genetiskt sätt).
En dag kanske mit medialab = gå in o ta en balong och släppa ut kemi som omvandlar nanodiskarna där och omvandlar ett gentiskt-virtuellt rum (tex en folkstam som växer i ett experiment = det vi kanske är inne i i materietillstånd/aggregationstillstånd). En dag vi kan använda vår intelligens (g-intelligensen har ju empiriskt bäring) till evolutionär materia och energi (nästa flashback av kunskap= urskilja info och mönster och separera och vara konsekvnet= detta materiatillstånd har ju mkt som gör oss sårbara = jfr psykologi därefter som påverkas (mind technology)

Demokrati = 1 röst (och prognos däri= vem vill inte införa detta, jfr premie= försäkring och inte införa utveckling som ju enligt många samhällsvetenskaper är vår mening och mål - och även neurofysiologiskt som "hjärnan vill ha roligt" men också tänka rätt och då friare

Platon såg ju inte detta enkla= att empirism (utforskning), logik och fenotyp-genotyp ändrar vår värld

Fler som involveras desto bättre (högre överlevnadsrisk)
Kognitiv spets men också lösningar (biokemi, genotyp, experiment, fenotyp) som behövs

rasmussenanders said...

Thank you for the comments, anonymous, although I must admit I have had some trouble understanding what it is you want to say? Could you write it a bit clearer and preferably in English?

Thank you

Anonymous said...

bättre med folkmord (etnisk riskpremie)

nanorobotar, återkräva förlorat land , inkräva rättigheter , rättsrekvisit och skingra och splittra

usa tex störst bäst och vackrast
känna på sitt folkmord i vietnam (napalm och svart fosfor)

Jo, vår gamla krigslag mot Katolska kyrkan kan ju nu realiseras
Berlusconis lagar (kk har ju länge sett sig som över lagen)

med konfiskationslagarna mm (skyddande av brottsling)

Lägga ner kk

Och då inte knullkontakt

Som pedofilerna använt mot små barn och kanske nunnor och korgossar också

http://katolskaeuhydrahelvetet.blogspot.com/

en fästing i röven på dom


http://strikeforcevetansvarreligionen.blogspot.com/

http://juridiskaresonemang.blogspot.com/

Vetenskap
Beprövad erfarenhet (läkaretik, högskolans tredje uppgift= inte sant religonen, aliens i så fall)
hela er själva då å belasta inte försäkringssystemet

inte ha allmänna medel, pension etc

Anonymous said...

I have tried to say that perhaps 80% and not a white, yellow överlevnadsvärld (conclusions and democracy, etc.).
In order to survive (democracy = most choose the truest, most överlevnadsflexibla = solutions that have the breadth and width of the tip but above all - more artistic).
As a matter
Tex replace coal in us (Germanium)
Plants and planter to replace, and make photosynthesis more efficient (only percent today to 25%)

Local democracy
Toquevilles analysis (best social sciences through and in all times)
Local democracy and a sufficient number of wins and voted for

Italy-USA-England one part

Otherwise, we go over (our leaders are capable sas is not this)
Just as Tolkiens world = kind of democracy
Experts (knowledge = implemntera and make on the basis of a policy). See paradigm which today replaced (and the judgement then made some wrong with that thinking).
See, all senior experts (Cambridge) judgement is as firm in thinking, etc. (and believe theories be right). Empirical and darwinism therein (choose above simply so you can manipulate a world - so it is doing and stand up for generations and centuries)
Tex da Vinci world paint a picture and get it designed (like trees) and stimulants that integrate the interface ml of our world and the states (perception).

Technical solutions that are most important

And ordinary people who say the truth = do this for överlevnadsvärdet (democracy)


And we are going into space (also överlevnadsvärde 2.0)


Egenintresset = so strong force
Turn on a sufficient number who actively take responsibility

Anonymous said...

Am Communist Party wrote a book, "We will never surrender" (named = but historical analysis of old austria hungary, was sold in few copies)

Completion

We can not survive without neoliberalism (am project = information, force, its own responsibility, etc).
Sex, violence and work.
Then, it is the Jewish question - many Jews in the labour movement (selling in intellectual solutions that kommunistpacket today "mass empty words without substance").
The same mentality today = perhaps that nature is moving towards eradication. The control of some media - and similar organizations.
The Devil's people (easy on eliminating).

Count 1 million times
What gave nybyggaranda etc

Spider, which can kill judgement

It was a jew girl who now is named Rebecca Lord
She was not horny, but well on the crafty manipulation of others (Rebecca mata hari).
She was fitted and dejected, but one day she committed suicide.
Then came a klumpedunsröv from israeli higher uni, Haifa, and would learn empiricism but then struck schizopartikeln to, and it scratched at the robber and he pulled out a hemorojd
it was shown to contain a worm that later destroyed a large part of the human world

it was late in the history books
astroillium israelis

particle =
nervous system has, of course, new data on databasförmåga (activates when the schizophrenia of us)
Tex send nano-robots and religious cultural context and play on (socialpsykologi) and then endanger humanity
threat to humanity


when you sit in a solitary confinement (by 1000 mdr who really would gone to the West-am project) and attackhund who rapes and våldsmusik

Chinese-Chinese person who he said
now gaining ground, we manchuriet
so hästarmén who was genklonad
and sold his Old Norse kýr
it turned out later that he was a little underestimated
so it impoterade a cow

(vv spread on)

Tex replace coal in us (Germanium)
Plants and planter to replace, and make photosynthesis more efficient (only percent today to 25%)
Brainlaw for optional (energy used right tex alpha waves)
Props in EUrope


Obama = optional, and be able to govern, one should say have 300 iqpoäng otherwise is not optional.
Individuals should be able to control the environment (cf. chosen best in the past to defend the stem end, but today also the environment, science, art, personalities, creativity and above all the complexity).
Set is most important (based on 300 and a superstructure)

We would introduce the following countries


http://vitgulworld.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Am Communist Party wrote a book, "We will never surrender" (named = but historical analysis of old austria hungary, was sold in few copies)

Completion

We can not survive without neoliberalism (am project = information, force, its own responsibility, etc).
Sex, violence and work.
Then, it is the Jewish question - many Jews in the labour movement (selling in intellectual solutions that kommunistpacket today "mass empty words without substance").
The same mentality today = perhaps that nature is moving towards eradication. The control of some media - and similar organizations.
The Devil's people (easy on eliminating).

Count 1 million times
What gave nybyggaranda etc

Spider, which can kill judgement

It was a jew girl who now is named Rebecca Lord
She was not horny, but well on the crafty manipulation of others (Rebecca mata hari).
She was fitted and dejected, but one day she committed suicide.
Then came a klumpedunsröv from israeli higher uni, Haifa, and would learn empiricism but then struck schizopartikeln to, and it scratched at the robber and he pulled out a hemorojd
it was shown to contain a worm that later destroyed a large part of the human world

it was late in the history books
astroillium israelis

particle =
nervous system has, of course, new data on databasförmåga (activates when the schizophrenia of us)
Tex send nano-robots and religious cultural context and play on (socialpsykologi) and then endanger humanity
threat to humanity


when you sit in a solitary confinement (by 1000 mdr who really would gone to the West-am project) and attackhund who rapes and våldsmusik

Chinese-Chinese person who he said
now gaining ground, we manchuriet
so hästarmén who was genklonad
and sold his Old Norse kýr
it turned out later that he was a little underestimated
so it impoterade a cow

(vv spread on)

Tex replace coal in us (Germanium)
Plants and planter to replace, and make photosynthesis more efficient (only percent today to 25%)
Brainlaw for optional (energy used right tex alpha waves)
Props in EUrope


Obama = optional, and be able to govern, one should say have 300 iqpoäng otherwise is not optional.
Individuals should be able to control the environment (cf. chosen best in the past to defend the stem end, but today also the environment, science, art, personalities, creativity and above all the complexity).
Set is most important (based on 300 and a superstructure)

We would introduce the following countries


http://vitgulworld.blogspot.com/

Bede said...

Hmm, I'd just like to comment that this idea of"the Christian-based societies that existed in the dark middle ages would also have a detrimental effect on creative thought and on science." is really completely false. On the contrary, the christian middle ages were a period of astonishing intellectual, economic, technological and scientific advance. Do you have any examples in mind?

rasmussenanders said...

Thank you for the comment Bede.
For example philosophy did barely develop at all during a thousand years, rather the catholic church relied heavily on aristotle. First when the renessaince came did significant change occur.

Meanwhile the spanish inquisition would hunt down people who expressed ideas that did not fill their criteria.

I guess I could find more examples, but I think it is clear that the development to todays society occured in greece and after the 15th century, and very little happened in between...

Bede said...

hi again Anders, and thanks for your comments!

I must say they surprised me greatly, as they seem to be strikingly false.

The Middle Ages, say from 800-1500 were a period of profound advances in all sorts of areas: scientific, economic, legal, technological, philosophical, just to name a few. Let me give some examples:

The key thing about technology here is, I think, that the middle ages greatly expanded it, far beyond anything their predecessors in the western classical civilizations did. After all, the Romans knew about water mills, but hardly built many; the medievals built hundreds, even before c. 1050 when the moslems invaded spain and the mediterranean, leaving the west in an even more parlous state of poverty and deep economic depression. The doomsday book records about 6000 water mills in england alone in 1086. Furthermore, the population was thin and poor - no big towns, no important industries, feeble agriculture, after a succession of disasters. After this time, and for about two centuries, western europe underwent the most remarkable period of growth it has ever seen, and for the first time in its history started producing surpluses in all directions and the so-called "twelth century renaissance", no doubt partly or mainly fueled by this expansion, completely transformed the arts, learning and economy of europe in a remarkably short time. Like all periods of expansion, technology was one of the driving forces, especially in agriculture where the introduction of the heavy plough, the whipple tree, the artesian well, the percussion drill and so on were all helpful, much of which was actually sponsored by the Church (compare the invention of spectacles and the mechanical clock). And in England, the newly-founded university of Oxford quickly established itself at the forefront of scientific observation and theory, the Mertonian mathematicians; the astronomical observations of Walcher (writing around 1135), Adelard of Bath (translater of Euclid; and islamic astronomical works; and dealing with physics and biology); Roger de Hereford and Daniel of Morley (astronomy); Alfred of Sarashel (Aristotelian physics and psychology) and other famous names such as Grosseteste, Bacon and Bradwardine and their pupils in turn. It is during this era that magnetism was thoroughly investigated by Peter of Maricourt; following work of William of Auvergne, who was Bishop of Paris.
In Philosophy: in many ways, medieval philosophy was better than the cartesian world view that replaced it. Jorge Gracia has indeed argued that "'in intensity, sophistication, and achievement, the philosophical flowering in the thirteenth century could be rightly said to rival the golden age of Greek philosophy in the fourth century B.C.". What about Augustine and Boethius, and Aquinas and Anselm, or William of Ockham or Duns Scotus? What about Abelard or Adelard of Bath, or Peter Helias or Robert Grosseteste? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grosseteste).

As for the Spanish Inquisition; this is a Renaissance body, founded 1478! And, like all the inquisitions, it was designed to maintain orthodoxy, not suppress science and philosophy.

Here is Adelard of Bath (fl. first half of 12th century):

God rules the Universe but this does not mean that Man should not use the Reason with which God has endowed him to study Natural Causes.

From his treatise to his nephew:

This one thing, however, I will say. We must first search after reason, and when it has been found, and not until then, authority if added to it, may be received. Authority by itself can inspire no confidence in the philosopher, nor ought it to be used for such a purpose. Hence logicians have agreed in treating the argument from authority not as necessary, but probable only. if, therefore, you want to bear anything from me, you must both give and take reason.

And so on. Adelard was not writing about theology, and did not get into any trouble at all for writing this stuff.

rasmussenanders said...

Thanks for the comments bede,

I owe you an apology, you were right, and my sources were old. It seems that the middle ages were not as bad in terms of science and creativity as I had previously thought...
So thank you for enlightening me.

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