"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Circle the Wagons, We're Surrounded!

Do you sometimes feel as though we're surrounded, that the pace at which Islam is infesting us is increasing?

You wouldn't be wrong. It IS happening faster. And faster and faster! The reason is, that if a new set of ideas is introduced into a system and the existing set of ideas is not defended, the new set will ultimately replace the existing set. Unfortunately, that's what happened when the postmodernist ideas, which were first cousins to Islamic ideas, were introduced into an undefended modernist society, which was the product of the Enlightenment.

Let me explain.

It started slowly, at first. We had a few troubles with the Barbary pirates, but President Jefferson took care of that, all the while saying things about Islam that our president today is too PC to say. Jefferson identified Islam as the enemy - and this was from the guy who stated, "It injures me not whether my neighbor believes in twenty gods or none; it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." He easily recognized the Islam, religion or not, as an enemy, pure and simple. He didn't care what they believed, but he deeply cared about their motives and actions.

Well, we were still enjoying the enormous benefits of our Englightenment heritage when, around the mid-1800s, two things happened; 1) because we were still mightily pissed off at the Mother Country, with whom we had just concluded a couple of wars, we began to send our (mainly) sons to Germany to complete their educations, rather than to Britain.

The significance of that was that Britain, the Mother Country, wasn't yet in the stranglehold of the Three Stooges of Philosophy, Kant/Hegel/Marx. Britain was still the birthplace of the Age of Enlightenment, which in turn had given birth to the U.S. and our Constitution.

Then 2) at about the same time, good ol' Horace Mann, the de-facto founder of our government-run schools did his thing, and voila, we had a tax-supported, attendence-required, compelled curriculum system.

Many people think that that's not so bad - after all, it enabled all kids to attend school. The unintended consequences were many, however, and none of them favored us. The one that relates most significantly to current events is that the anti-Enlightenment crowd, the followers of the Three Stooges, salivated when they saw that virtually all our children, and their children, and their children, etc. were captive minds. If they played their cards right, these anti-Enlightenment forces, now called by the term "postmodernists" (the thinkers of the Enlightenment were the "modernists") realized that they could have their way with our children and convert the U.S. into the country of their dreams.

And what would that be? OK, here it is, very briefly. The "modernists" of the Enlightenment recognized that the individual was the most important unit of society, and that if the rights of the individual were rigorously protected, then society as a whole would be rigorously protected. The Founders were modernists, so when they designed our country, they did so in order to apply Enlightenment principles. They designed a government whose sole legitimate function was to protect individual rights (a duty delegated to a police force and the courts) and our sovereignty as a nation (a duty delegated to the armed forces).

The Three Stooges, on the other hand, whose views prevailed in Europe, especially (at that time) Germany, were responsible for the "Organic Theory of State," where the state, or the government, was the most important entity, while the individual existed only at the pleasure of the government; it was the function of the individual to support the state, rather than the function of the government to protect the individual. The state was the "organism," while the individual was just a "cell" of the organism.

Needless to say, these views are 180 degrees apart.

So here's what happened; we sent our youths to Germany, where they absorbed Marx et al. like little sponges. Then they came home and went out to seek their fortunes - they got jobs as journalists, publishers, professors, school teachers, entertainers, politicians - well, you see the problem. The Stooges' postmodernist thinking, the one that was 180 degrees from the modernist thinking that our nation had been founded on, began to seep into the national fabric.

The best tool they had was the school system. They worked very hard, and a mere 100 years after the establishment of the government-run school system - that would be about 1950 - they had pretty much taken over what our kids were learning.

Result: Dumbed-down curriculum (can't have too much of that knowledge stuff, kids might begin questioning what they were being taught); kids who began to believe that the "organic theory of state" was virtuous, while "capitalism" was the boogy-man. Of course, they couldn't talk about either system, but they "felt it" like crazy.

This went on for generations. It wasn't long before the ultimate postmodernist tool was honed and sharpened and widely applied. That tool would be, of course, Political Correctness. At first, Political Correctness seemed like some sort of benign "be nice to others" sort of platitude. Then it grew into something approaching the legal prohibition against criticising anything the postmodernists said or did. In fact, criticism of the kind of thinking favored by the postmodernists utlimately bordered on the immoral.

It wasn't "nice" to criticise religion, for example. That is true, and entirely in line with good manners, provided the religion in question is merely someone's personal business, and not a government in disguised as a religion that wants to replace all governments on the planet with its own.

So while the great tool of the postmodernists, Political Correctness, was initially applied in an attempt to achieve their own Kantian/Hegelian/Marxist goals of subordination of the individual to the state with equalization of property and income, it also supported the creation of a blind spot to the danger of Islam. Under the aegis of political correctness, lesson plans on Islam, created by Islamic propagandists, were given to our teachers, who were even "helped" by Muslim mentors. Islam is a great religion of peace, they learned, among many other things, and it isn't "nice," or even moral, to say anything critical of it.

So today, the enemy has succeeded in flip-flopping the country from a modernist to a postmodernist one which welcomes its enemy, Islam, with open arms. What's the problem with turning over our ports to the same people who flew into the Twin Towers? And we all know that they are the very same people; all Muslims, be they from Dubai or Saudi Arabia, know that it is their religious duty to impose Islam on the infidel.

The warm-fuzzy relationship that the postmodernists have with Islam is not coincidental. Way back in the 4th century B.C.E., Plato and Aristotle had a big fat fight. Plato was the teacher, and Aristotle was his student. The fight was so bad that they had a very cool relationship thereafter.

What the heck does that have with turning the ports over to Dubai?

I know this is pretty long, but bear with me; I'll try to make it as brief as possible.

Up to the time of Plato, everything that happened was caused by the will/actions of some sort of god or spirit or something like that. Aristotle started looking around, and he noticed that there was a relationship between the way things were constructed and what they were able to do. The fins of a fish caused it to be able to swim, the fur of an animal caused it to be warm in cold weather, the heat of a flame caused a cotton boll to burst into flame, and so on.

That seems pretty obvious to us, but in those days, it was a paradigm-shifting event. From this kind of thinking, Aristotle went on to conceive of the Law of Causality, the Law of Identity, and a whole bunch of other things that we take for granted today (if we aren't Muslims - but that's for later), including how to define words, from which, naturally, the invention of the dictionary followed.

Because of this, Aristotle realized that events everywhere - here on earth, or out there in space - happened because of the Laws of Nature, and not because of spirits' whims etc. The whole universe took on a more predictable, understandable quality as a result, and people began to think in terms never available to them before. They were also happier, since they realized that they could depend on the universe to act in predictable ways, and they could plan for the future and so on.

Now that was where Aristotle and Plato only began to have differences, but it wasn't what the big fight was about. Both men were interested in how concepts were formed. You know, there are "percepts," the actual concretes that you can touch and smell etc., like a "chair" and a "table." But there are also "concepts," ideas that you can't touch or smell etc., like "furniture."

Be patient. Plato thought that in order to be "real," something had to be able to be touched or smelled etc. It had to be a "percept." But he knew that ideas - "concepts" - actually existed. After all, he could look at a "chair" and a "table" and when someone said "furniture," he knew what they were talking about.

But he couldn't figure out just how to make "furniture," which he knew was just as real as a "chair" or a "table," really be real. Finally he had an "aha" moment. "There must," he thought, "be another world, another 'reality,' where such things are possible, where you can actually touch 'furniture' as well as a 'chair' or a 'table.'" So he told all his philosopher buddies and students that he had solved the problem; there were TWO realities, the one we lived in, and the other one, where concepts existed in a "real" form.

He maintained that the "other reality" must be BETTER than the one we lived in, because after all, concepts were touchable there. Even the concepts were BETTER than the percepts we had to live with. He went even further, and decided that the world where concepts existed in a touchable form was "perfect," while this one, where they didn't, was a mere "pale reflection" of the "perfect forms" in the "perfect world." Even we, the people, were mere pale reflections of "perfect people" in that "perfect world."

Aristotle thought he was nuts, and that was what the fight was about. Aristotle just said, "Hey, we don't know how the mind works. Learning takes time; we'll figure it out one day, and then we'll understand how concepts are formed, but trust me, there is only one reality, and this is it; you, Plato, are just trying to cover up the fact that you haven't figured out how concepts are formed, so you've invented this phony storeroom where you can throw all the stuff you don't understand."

He was right, too. Today, there actually exist philosophers who understand how concepts are formed (it ain't Kant/Hegel/Marx, though).

But the point is, that Aristotle started a revolution in terms of how to think about reality. People began to look for causes, and not just accept the "spirit" thing. And when they started finding them, along with a lot of other Aristotelian ideas, all sorts of things began to happen. There were breakthroughs in architecture, engineering, medicine, geography, meteorology, mathematics, biology, manufacturing - well, you catch my drift.

All schools of Greek philosophy spread around the known world with Alexander the Great, who was tutored by Aristotle. Very quickly, because of that, great centers of learning began to spring up in the areas conquered by Alexander; Byzantium, Pergamom, Alexandria (the one in Egypt) etc. They sprang up for the same reason that Greek civilization bloomed so quickly - Aristotelian philosophy.

Plato could write better than Aristotle could, though, so even if he was wrong about a lot, he could "get through" to a lot of people, and his mistaken ideas hung on.

The biggest mistaken idea of Plato that hung on was that the process of understanding two realities was so complicated that only an elite few could guide the rest of us "little people" enough to help us muddle through. That was the beginning of the notion that eventually became "the organic theory of state." We BTOs in the government will take care of (read: "control") you poor slobs, since everything is so complicated. When's the last time you heard "Well, it's so complicated!" or "It's not that simple!" when some government toady is asked about something? Muddy the waters; that's their specialty. Keep 'em confused and uncertain, that way they'll accept your "help."

Artistotle said that existence, reality, the world, was entirely understandable, and that we were all very capable of taking care of ourselves, thank you very much. Because we are all capable of managing our own affairs, we don't need an intellectual elite to manage them for us (read: "control us.").

Well, Plato's argument with Aristotle not only damaged their friendship - they were never able to work closely together after that - it also eventually led to the concept of a heaven, a nice place to go when you died. It ceased to become an epistemological issue, and became a theological issue instead.

That happened because a Roman philosopher named Plotinus got excited by the two-reality concept (no pun intended). The "Perfect World" with its "Perfect Inhabitants" and "Perfect Concepts" became Heaven, which was a lot more fun than the gloomy underground world of Hades and all its equally gloomy counterparts around the world.

When Christianity became widespread, Plato became a sort of "honorary Christian" because of his contribution. Aristotle, on the other hand, became something of a red-headed stepson, since he said there was no reality except this one.

His admirers weren't exactly welcomed in Christian hangouts like Byzantium, so they drifted into other areas of the world where they could think and create and invent in peace. Those places were often the still pagan Arab lands - places like Damascus, Persia, and fairly soon, Baghdad, and they also became great centers of learning.

I'm not making this up - remember, Islam didn't exist yet.

Anyway, all sorts of intellectual gains were made. By the time Mohammed showed up on the scene, universities, libraries, the arts and sciences, etc. were already making great progress. And since Islam wasn't all that well organized in the 700s, progress continued. There was a sect, the Mu'tazilites, that really seemed to adapt well to Aristotelian thinking, then they shot themselves in the foot by trying to compell - there's that word again - reason, which was entirely unreasonable, of course.

Their opponents, the literalist/fundamentalist Ash'arites, won that little quibble at a Muslim equivalent of the Council of Nicea, where the mullahs gathered together to decide what Islam was to "look like" from then on. That was in the 900s. Needless to say, it was the fundamentalism that we are all familiar with today. Aristotle wasn't well liked by the Muslims, either. They liked Plato much better, what with it's ruling elite and all that. And they liked the notion of Paradise, too, since it gave them a carrot to shape the behavior of the "little people."

The thing the Muslim fundamentalists especially hated about Aristotle was the idea that there was one reality, and that everything had a natural cause and a specific identity which made the way it would behave in a given set of circumstances quite predictable. This notion was at serious odds with their hangover from the old days that a spirit or one of their gods or something had a whim and boom! it happened. For example, they (you gotta hear this!) believed (and still do) that a flame will burn a cotton boll because Allah WILLS it at that particular moment. It's only because Allah wills it so often that we have gotten into the habit of EXPECTING the cotton to burn. Really, it has nothing to do with the nature of cotton or of a flame - Allah wills it, and that's that.

So from now on, whenever you hear some poor Muslim utter "If Allah wills," you'll know he really means it. We're all in deep doo-doo if Allah gets up on the wrong side of the bed one day!

As you know, Islam spread from Arabia throughout the rest of the lands it ultimately occupied; Spain was the last on the list. So the Muslims in Spain were the last ones to pay a lot of attention to the decisions made at that meeting, and they pretty much kept on reading and doing whatever they wanted.

There was one very bright man born in Cordova named Ibn Rushd. He may have been the son of Spaniards who were forced to convert, but anyway, he was a bright man - a physician, a jurist, and above all, an Aristotle freak. He spent his whole life trying to "clean up" those works of Aristotle that were still extant. Over the centuries, people had translated them into different languages, made changes, and generally messed him up. Ibn Rushd worked very hard to return Aristotle's stuff to its original form.

He lived in the 1100s, and by that time, the fundamentalists had caught up with him. They destroyed his works, and he was sent into exile, where it is rumored that he may have died under suspicious circumstances. Fortunately, though, he was reinstated just in time to enter Paradise.

But the cat was out of the bag. The Spanish had begun their push to evict the Muslims, and the man who became Bishop of Toledo found a library that still had copies of Ibn Rushd's work. He called on Muslim, Christian, and Jewish translators to translate everything in the library, including Aristotle, and to the everlasting credit of his intellectual integrity, he did not try to impose his own religious views on the work, and did not allow the translators to do so either.

Ibn Rushd's writings were designed for student consumption, at the elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels, and now, available in Latin, they began to leak into the infidel universities of Italy. You know how university students are - well, they got terribly excited about this stuff. Then St. Thomas got a hold of them, and even though he was officially a neoplatonist (the Church favored Plato), he admired Aristotle and tried to reconcile him with the Platonic orientation of the Church. He worked so hard on that project that he was probably a "closet Aristotelian." Problem was, the two men hadn't been able to clear up their differences in their own lifetimes, and bright as he was, neither could St. Thomas. But his efforts were the best advertising you could ever wish for, and the rest is history.

The Dark Age began to disappear within the usual 100 years of the availability of Aristotle's work. With the printing press, Aristotle became widely spread very rapidly. The Renaissance bloomed, followed by the Age of Enlightenment.

And that brings you up to the time in which the United States was born.

As you already know, the ideas of Plato and his scheme of a ruling elite held by people like Kant, Hegel and Marx, and loved by governments everywhere, were still going pretty strong in Europe, especially Germany.

And that catches us up with the Great Philosophical Flip-Flop that has put us in danger of extinction today. I mean, it wouldn't be NICE to tell Dubai Ports World to go sit on it, would it?

Anybody around here speak P.C?

Who says ideas aren't important? Only the people who want to control you, that's who.


  • At Thu Feb 23, 06:26:00 PM PST, Blogger Always On Watch said…

    Outstanding post!

    The best tool they had was the school system. They worked very hard, and a mere 100 years after the establishment of the government-run school system - that would be about 1950 - they had pretty much taken over what our kids were learning.

    I escaped that brainwashing. My parents had me in private school, K-12. By the time I was exposed to post-modernism in college, my values system was already in place, so I could see through the lies and the omissions.

    I'm convinced that one reason I often can't reach my peers (about the dangers of Islam) is that their minds were, in effect, destroyed by the public-school system. This is a big obstacle to the waking up, IMO.

    Another obstacle: what the churches have become today. Many are interfaith establishments, busy practicing dhimmitude and moral relativism.

    And, sad to say, GWB is affected by his Yale degree and his churches.

  • At Thu Feb 23, 10:41:00 PM PST, Blogger John Sobieski said…

    Today Costello, the future Prime Minister of Australia, critisized multiculturalism and political correctness in a remarkable speech about the loyalty and beliefs required of Australian citizenship. Quite remarkable. And he nailed Islam and bluntly stated that those who cannot have loyalty to Australian secular laws and principles, don't come, and get out if you don't like it.

  • At Fri Feb 24, 02:28:00 AM PST, Blogger Eleanor © said…

    Coooool post! I dig it. Now, give titles and authors that explain how concepts are formed.

  • At Fri Feb 24, 10:00:00 AM PST, Blogger Cubed © said…

    I'm so glad you all enjoyed it!


    You are lucky; you escaped, thanks not only to your parents, but probably due to a lot of intellectual integrity of your own. While the overwhelming majority of people's "mindsets" are pretty much frozen in stone by the time they reach their late teens to early twenties, there are a few remarkable individuals who continue to look around and ask questions.

    That, of course, is why one of Islam's worst fears is for people to ask questions, and why the penalties for doing so is so severe.


    I hadn't heard about that! I've been so bummed out by this Port thing that I am terribly happy to hear about it. I'm going to try to find it. I need a psy-jolt right now (although it helps to hear that Dubai has requested a delay - probably at the request of Bush, who must be feeling the pressure).

    Thanks again; Costello is a candidate for "hero" status!


    George Mason says he will get in touch with a recommendation, but basically, while other philosophers had been biting around the edges, it was Ayn Rand who made the breakthrough. It has all the precision of mathematics, and is one of those things that, when you read it, you slap yourself on the forehead and say, "OF COURSE! Why didn't I think of that?"

    She has something she wrote before her death in '82 called "Introduction to Epistemology." It dealt primarily with concept-formation. More was written later.

    It is written very cleary (unlike the Three Stooges etc.), but it still requires a reasonably high level of interest.

    The history of how all this connects came from many sources, and for people interested in philosophy, it's good clean fun. Maybe I'll list my favorites one day!

    Anyway, I passionately believe that kids should be taught the basics - they could never be fooled again.


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