If someone was making a case for human psychological determinism and didn’t take into account the history of creative ideas, (where they come from, if everyone or even most could have them, their effect on culture and civilization and their outcome on individuals who strived for originality), but instead fathered an unseen dimension where all ideas reside, thus giving them no credit as original inventions in us but only as entities in the unseen spiritual world, then we would judge that thinker as all for God and none for us, maybe even a hater of human nature. This is what we mean by massive structural negation in a system of thought. By proposing freedom for mankind, Plato * was in fact introducing a new form of slavery. He was an evil genius who disdained life the way it was and turned philosophy toward mysticism.
If a patriotic apologist was making the claim that the American state has long stood for liberty in the world without regards to the issues of either its history of institutional slavery, its state-sponsored genocide of the First Peoples, the harboring of Nazi War Criminals after World War II or it’s overthrow of duly elected governments in the second and third worlds, especially in the Americas during The Cold War, then the historical theory being espoused (i.e. America and liberty go hand in hand), would be an abject failure based on an error from experience. The known historical facts contradict the assertion. America is often a democratic fascist state. Its conservative apologists excuse the state’s sins – such as human rights violations and the use of torture on POW during the War on Terror fiasco – as part of its manifest destiny.
Here’s another structural negation: In a concerted negative thesis on the subconscious of man, the “Great Rationalist,” Sigmund Freud presented his case rationally for the conclusion that man is essentially irrational. The universal intent of the Ego, Id and Superego, human sexuality as substratum of the personality and The Dream Theory itself, lead to no other conclusion except that man is at the whim of forces he has no control over. Freud took the rational scientific co-relationship of hysteria and sexual abuse – his patients suffering from hysteria at the time he wrote and published his seduction theory, The Aetiology of Hysteria, were, in some form or another, sexually abused – and then after its unanimous rejection by colleagues, suppressed the theory as an act of intellectual cowardice, see The Assault on Truth and The Dark Science.
Here’s an error from experience: Marx asserted that humans weren’t free but that their epoch was the product of the sum of the social relations of production, i.e., culture in economic terms. He produced an overall scientific theory discredited by the failure of its predictions, especially that capitalism would increase human misery in the advanced nations to the point of revolution, where then, technical evolution would bring about wonderful socialist developments. The falseness of the theory of surplus labor value, i.e, the capitalists steal labor in the guise of profit, has also proved difficult. He maintained that surplus value is the general groundwork of the entire capitalist system, ignoring supply, demand, distribution, profit by non-productive ends and much else. See, The Counter-Revolution of Science, Capitalism and the Historians, The Constitution of Liberty, The Open Society and Its Enemies, Marxism, Bolshevism,The Anti-Capitalist Mentality, The Exploitation Theory, The Red Prussian, The New Class, The Main Currents of Marxism and The Gulag Archipelago.
Well, there’s Plato, America, Freud and Marx, but if you’re really talking myth, then there’s Jesus and Muhammad. If you’re a Christian, you have to live with this depressing fact: little existential credible evidence exists that such a historical figure ever walked this earth. ** He, like so many sun-gods was born in December of a virgin birth, a lone mystic wanderer who was killed by the old guard when he challenged current wisdom and was resurrected in the spring. In works such as Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God, this very phenomena of a virgin birth in winter, a death by execution by the established power and a resurrection in the spring is not uncommon among ancient and native cultures. And if he did exist, what he preached and stood for is a universe away from what modern Christians think he meant; he was a Jewish apocalyptic prophet-messiah from Nazareth who believed the world was ending in his lifetime.
If you are on the other side of monolithic intolerance, then here’s what you have to live with: the Quran on the Medina-side is one of the most militant hateful and irrational documents ever put to pen by an individual. Muhammad’s hatred for the infidel is worse than Marx’s for the bourgeoisie.
Here’s something about truth claims and apologetics: If Freud says it’s about sex, he’s right, but in a way he could never imagine, indeed, it’s about sexual abuse. If Marx said it was all about surplus labor value, he could never have thought modern middle-class labor would become the basis of the modern global economy. If the Prophet produced a hate-filled firebrand about ‘Us and Them’ he could never have hoped that Nazi-type zealots would commandeer his labor and literally kill his enemies. Platonic and Neoplatonic effects on the world-stage, especially through Christianity and Marxism have been a historical disaster, one causing the Dark Ages, the other the monumental figures of democide of the last century. Turns out there were way more middle-class people to eliminate than Marx predicted, far more Jews and witches than the Christians counted on, billions of more infidels than Mohammed could dream and way more philosopher kings applying for the job as dictator than Plato could have ever guessed.
See also, Reason and Skepticism, The Rational Inidvidual, Reason and Myth, Reason and Religion, Six Reasonable Men and Naive Sensual Comprehension.
No Platonic Love
Tell me no more of minds embracing minds,
And hearts exchang’d for hearts;
That spirits spirits meet, as winds do winds,
And mix their subt’lest parts;
That two unbodied essences may kiss,
And then like Angels, twist and feel one Bliss.
I was that silly thing that once was wrought
To practise this thin love;
I climb’d from sex to soul, from soul to thought;
But thinking there to move,
Headlong I rolled from thought to soul, and then
From soul I lighted at the sex again.
As some strict down-looked men pretend to fast,
Who yet in closets eat;
So lovers who profess they spirits taste,
Feed yet on grosser meat;
I know they boast they souls to souls convey,
Howe’r they meet, the body is the way.
Come I will undeceive thee, they that tread
Those vain aerial ways,
Are like young heirs and alchemists misled
To waste their wealth and days,
For searching thus to be for ever rich,
They only find a med’cine for the itch.
* About my anti-platonic theory, one could plausibly charge that “my” Plato is a straw-man, in that I've emptied nearly the whole of my intellectual enmity into the concept; however, in my defense, I wanted a modern counter-distinction that was concise and easily apparent to anyone. Plato of course was a multifaceted thinker, and came like Marx or other Platonists with both the love of man and animosity toward ‘sensual life’ and ‘human nature’ in some more or less equal mix. I sometimes feel like a samizdat rodent—pen in hand—stuck in a scientist’s cage with only a tax bill, a Solzhenitsyn-like tendency to make-believe Platonic ideology is my prison guard and a seminal, yet sardonic, rage to stop the ‘unthinking’ ‘state-levied’ human sacrifice in the democracies against the individual for the benefit of all. It's a utilitarian nightmare!
To quote S J Gould from The Mismeasure of Man: "The spirit of Plato dies hard. We have been unable to escape the philosophical tradition that what we can see and measure in the world is merely the superficial and imperfect representation of an underlying reality. Much of the fascination of statistics lies embedded in our gut feeling—and never trust a gut feeling—that abstract measures summarizing large tables of data must express something more real and fundamental than the data themselves. (Much professional training in statistics involves a conscious effort to counteract this gut feeling.) The technique of correlation has been particularly subject to such misuse because it seems to provide a path for inferences about causality (and indeed it does, sometimes—but only sometimes)".
** Many scholars of antiquity conclude that such a person as Jesus Christ actually existed, (or not), that he was publicly baptized and crucified by Pontius Pilate but agreement on little else is forthcoming. Statements by the Roman Historian Tacitus in 116 AD, in one of the last books he wrote, there is a non-Christian reference to Jesus Christ as opposed to the many Christian sources such as the Gospels or the Pauline letters. Nonetheless, 116 AD is over seven decades after ‘The Crucifixion’. With the historian Plutarch (46 -120 AD) who is an even closer contemporary of the alleged Jesus Christ figure and has many extant works, such a world-rending event as the Son of God arriving on planet earth is not ever mentioned. Unlike many historical figures from that time, such as Julius Caesar, there are absolutely no primary sources for Jesus Christ, not one. The skeptics' incredulity remains understandable. Christopher Hitchens was probably right when he said that the movement was started by some individual preacher (likely a Jewish apocalyptic prophet-messiah from Nazareth). It’s hard to believe that his name at the very beginning would have been Jesus Christ; nonetheless, maybe it was. The important thing here is, that a peace & love (i.e., the glad-tidings) proto sun-religion with many Jewish traditions and a few pagan rituals was over time radically altered by three commingling events: it’s conversion from a religion of resignation to one of (Messianic) resentment by St. Paul, the infusion of Platonism by St Augustine and the acculturative backdrop of Neo-Platonism. Platonism defined the centuries of its birth in the Middle-East and Mediterranean, seeping by social osmosis -- through Jesus of Nazareth or otherwise -- into most of the early doctrines of Christianity. As it moved north to the heart of Empire, it became revolutionary; i.e., violent, much like Islam started as a religion of accommodation and tolerance in Mecca and transformed to a Jihad-Warrior Code in Medina. Christianity became a legal religion under Constantine (AD 272 -337) and a state religion under Theodosius (AD 347 - 395). No one that I've read argues against the historical fact that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are now or were at times in the past, religions of intolerance and violence.
© 2017 - E. A. St. Amant