The disappointment of Plato

The genius Martin van Creveld considers how Plato would react to modern times:

First, he would have been disappointed (but hardly surprised) by our continuing inability to provide firm answers to some of the most basic questions of all. Such as whether the gods (or God) “really” exist, whether they have a mind, and whether they care for us humans; the contradiction between nature and nurture (physis versus nomos, in his own terminology); the best system of education; the origins of evil and the best way to cope with it; as well as where we came from (what happened before the Great Bang? Do parallel universes exist?), where we may be going, what happens after death, and the meaning and purpose of it all, if any.

Second, he would have questioned our ability to translate our various scientific and technological achievements into greater human happiness; also, he would have wondered whether enabling so many incurably sick and/or handicapped people to stay alive, sometimes even against their will, is really the right thing to do.

Third, he would have observed that, the vast number of mental health experts notwithstanding, we today are no more able to understand human psychology and motivation better than he and his contemporaries did. As the French philosopher/anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss once put it, there was (and still) an uninvited guest seated among us: the human mind.

Fourth, he would have noted that we moderns have not come up with works of art—poetry, literature, drama, rhetoric, sculpture, architecture—at all superior to those already available in his day. Not to Aeschylus. Not to Sophocles, not to Euripides, not to Aristophanes. Not to Demosthenes, not to Phidias and Polycleitus. Not to the Parthenon.

I’m not at all surprised that the great Israeli military historian inclines more toward Plato than Aristotle. But despite being an avowed Aristotelian myself, I would highly recommend reading the whole thing. After all, it is not often that we have access to the contemplations and meanderings of one of the greatest minds known to Man’s history.

Don’t spiral

Posting will be light today. We’ve got friends coming over for holiday drinks and whatnot, so I will leave you to contemplate where you’ve heard this before, more or less, prior to encountering Pascal’s PENSÉES.

Imagination—It is that deceitful part in man, that mistress of error and falsity, the more deceptive that she is not always so; for she would be an infallible rule of truth, if she were an infallible rule of falsehood. But being most generally false, she gives no sign of her nature, impressing the same character on the true and the false.

I do not speak of fools, I speak of the wisest men; and it is among them that the imagination has the great gift of persuasion. Reason protests in vain; it cannot set a true value on things.

This arrogant power, the enemy of reason, who likes to rule and dominate it, has established in man a second nature to show how all-powerful she is. She makes men happy and sad, healthy and sick, rich and poor; she compels reason to believe, doubt, and deny; she blunts the senses, or quickens them; she has her fools and sages; and nothing vexes us more than to see that she fills her devotees with a satisfaction far more full and entire than does reason. Those who have a lively imagination are a great deal more pleased with themselves than the wise can reasonably be. They look down upon men with haughtiness; they argue with boldness and confidence, others with fear and diffidence; and this gaiety of countenance often gives them the advantage in the opinion of the hearers, such favour have the imaginary wise in the eyes of judges of like nature. Imagination cannot make fools wise; but she can make them happy, to the envy of reason which can only make its friends miserable; the one covers them with glory, the other with shame.

NEVER believe the official story

The governments of the West are RELIABLY lying to you. Not occasionally. Not sometimes. Predictably. Dependably. RELIABLY.

A leaked email last night dramatically indicated that the UN’s poison gas watchdog had butchered and censored a critical report on an alleged chemical attack in Syria. If substantiated, the revelations will be severely embarrassing for Britain, France and America, which launched a massive military strike in retaliation without waiting for proof that chemical weapons had actually been used.

Unconfirmed reports and videos, showing the corpses of adults and children foaming at the mouth in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, shocked the world in April 2018 and led to a joint Western attack on the supposed culprit, Syria, in which more than 100 missiles, including nearly 70 Tomahawk cruise missiles, were fired.

Although the reports and films could not be independently verified, as the alleged events took place in a war zone then under the control of brutal Islamist militants, Western governments, and many Western media, took them at face value…. a dissenting scientist, employed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) says in a leaked email that investigations on the ground at Douma have produced no hard evidence that the alleged gas attack took place.

It appears that these facts were deliberately suppressed in published OPCW reports.

The email makes no attempt to suggest what did happen in Douma. It simply points out that hard evidence, gathered and examined by non-political scientists, does not support the officially endorsed version. And it claims that this resulted in the OPCW redacting the report to the extent that its conclusions were misrepresented.

The revelation appears to be the worst instance of ‘sexing-up’ in support of war since the invasion of Iraq and Tony Blair’s doctored dossiers. A whistleblower has made public the astonishing email of protest which was sent to senior officials at the OPCW. It says that the independent scientists’ official report on the Douma incident had been slashed and censored so severely that it:

  • Misrepresented the facts – by leaving out key information;
  • Hid the fact that the traces of chlorine found on the site were merely tiny trace elements, in parts per billion, and in forms that could have been found in any household bleach;
  • Contained major deviations from the original report submitted by impartial experts, so that it had ‘morphed into something quite different’;
  • Suppressed a total mismatch between the symptoms allegedly displayed by victims at the scene, and the effects of the chemicals which were actually found. The symptoms seen on harrowing videos shown at the time of the incident simply did not match the symptoms which would have been caused by any material found at the site.

The Mail on Sunday has seen the email of protest which one scientist at the OPCW submitted to his superiors. It refers to the original expert report from Douma which the email says was savagely censored.

This original report, if it had been published as written, would not have supported widespread claims that poison gas was used at Douma on April 7, 2018. If any such gas was used, it was not a gas known to, or detected by the scientists who visited the scene, examined the buildings and soil and carefully checked the samples. The scientists accepted this. But even this promise was then broken, and a third version of the document was issued which left out the vital fact. The wording of this report was so vague that news organisations around the world concluded – incorrectly – that it said that chlorine gas had been used or might have been used. If the key material had been left in, they could not have done this.

When people ask me why I don’t believe any Official Narrative, from the Moon landing to the unemployment rate, my answer is always the same: because the U.S. government says it is true. In my experience, this is almost never the case. The Official Narrative and the elements of the truth that can be confirmed very rarely correspond.

I don’t know what the precise truth is in virtually any of the more famous controversial cases. But I know that whatever they say is true cannot possibly be true, because they have been repeatedly exposed as shameless liars again and again and again and again. Read the scientist’s actual email, which is posted at the link. Then contemplate what that level of intentional deception and misrepresentation applied to other Official Narratives suggests.

Frankly, it astonishes me that no matter how many times the U.S. government is proven beyond any shadow of a doubt to have lied, from the USS Maine to Pearl Harbor, most people will nevertheless unhesitatingly believe the very next lie they produce. You have to be extraordinarily forgetful to believe anything the U.S. government tells you is true, whether the claim concerns the food pyramid, global warming, or historical events.

“Freedom” is evil

That’s the inescapable conclusion to which I have come after seeing yet another commercial equating “choosing to be free” with “choosing Hell”.

Think about how every Disney movie since Walt Disney died preaches either a) rebellion, b) following your heart, or c) freedom. This promised “freedom” is akin to Jordan Peterson’s “individualism”, as both are designed to render you alone, helpless, and vulnerable to the spiritual vampires who wish to feed on you.

Only the truth can set you truly free. Anything else that promises or celebrates freedom as an end is just another form of slavery seeking to entrap you.

Rediscovering truth

John Cleese reflects on the history of Monty Python and other things in an interview with Daily Beast:

“As for the rise of social media in our lives, I think it’s a disaster,” he says as we wrap up. “All we have as human beings is our interpersonal skills. And I think that almost everything that social media has done has been making that worse. And trying to persuade young people that building up their egos is what they should be spending their time on is farcical. There’s a very fine book called Technopoly written by Neil Postman, in which he points out that, with every technological advance, there’s always gains and there’s losses. But that the people who come up with the technology have to be smart enough to realize that other people can use those advances against them for malign purposes. When I wrote my books with Robin Skinner, I came to the view that there was no system that humans couldn’t… destroy. It all depends on whether you’re talking about decent people or not. The system doesn’t matter so much as the fact that it relies on people behaving decently. There is a tendency in America toward predatory capitalism. And there’s nothing more destructive to society than the idea that the only thing that matters is money. Because that’s basically sociopathic. So I think that the greatest problem in the world at the moment is greed.”

I seem to recall a man once said that the love of all money is the root of all evil. And he said that nearly 2,000 years ago, so it’s probably not just a problem of the current moment.

It’s fascinating to observe how philosophers, scientists, and even comedians who reject Christianity keep coming back to its teachings despite themselves.

Please to commence to spiral

It was interesting to observe the reactions by many commenters yesterday to information that happened to challeng some of their assumptions about the world. Now, rather than resorting to simple Boomer “how dare you” rhetoric, let’s simply look at this pair of photographs logically. I don’t know about you, but I can think of at least seven obvious possible explanations for this apparent anomaly:

  1. There were other boots used by the Apollo astronauts with different treads.
  2. There were other humans on the Moon who were not Apollo astronauts.
  3. There were aliens on the Moon! Aliens that wear boots and have feet roughly the size of a man’s foot.
  4. Photoshop!
  5. The second photograph was not taken on the Moon and the bootprint was left by a studio technician wearing boots with different treads than those worn by the fake astronauts.
  6. One of the astronauts drew the alternate bootprint with his finger.
  7. A studio technician drew the alternate bootprint with his finger.
Now, how do you rank the probabilities of these seven alternative scenarios? And what do you think this pair of photos proves?

UPDATE: I think it looks a bit like someone with a moon boot stepped on top of a track left by the herringbone-tread wheel of the lunar rover, except the track ends and, at least in this photo, only half of the track appears to be present.

Aquinas on nation vs state

Yet another proof, if another one was required, to prove that the nation is not and can never be the state. Contemplate Summa Theologica Question 95. Human Law Article 4.

Article 4. Whether Isidore’s division of human laws is appropriate?

Objection 1. It would seem that Isidore wrongly divided human statutes or human law (Etym. v, 4, seqq.). For under this law he includes the “law of nations,” so called, because, as he says, “nearly all nations use it.” But as he says, “natural law is that which is common to all nations.” Therefore the law of nations is not contained under positive human law, but rather under natural law.
Objection 2. Further, those laws which have the same force, seem to differ not formally but only materially. But “statutes, decrees of the commonalty, senatorial decrees,” and the like which he mentions (Etym. v, 9), all have the same force. Therefore they do not differ, except materially. But art takes no notice of such a distinction: since it may go on to infinity. Therefore this division of human laws is not appropriate.
Objection 3. Further, just as, in the state, there are princes, priests and soldiers, so are there other human offices. Therefore it seems that, as this division includes “military law,” and “public law,” referring to priests and magistrates; so also it should include other laws pertaining to other offices of the state.
Objection 4. Further, those things that are accidental should be passed over. But it is accidental to law that it be framed by this or that man. Therefore it is unreasonable to divide laws according to the names of lawgivers, so that one be called the “Cornelian” law, another the “Falcidian” law, etc.
On the contrary, The authority of Isidore (Objection 1) suffices.
I answer that, A thing can of itself be divided in respect of something contained in the notion of that thing. Thus a soul either rational or irrational is contained in the notion of animal: and therefore animal is divided properly and of itself in respect of its being rational or irrational; but not in the point of its being white or black, which are entirely beside the notion of animal. Now, in the notion of human law, many things are contained, in respect of any of which human law can be divided properly and of itself. For in the first place it belongs to the notion of human law, to be derived from the law of nature, as explained above (Article 2). In this respect positive law is divided into the “law of nations” and “civil law”, according to the two ways in which something may be derived from the law of nature, as stated above (Article 2). Because, to the law of nations belong those things which are derived from the law of nature, as conclusions from premises, e.g. just buyings and sellings, and the like, without which men cannot live together, which is a point of the law of nature, since man is by nature a social animal, as is proved in Polit. i, 2. But those things which are derived from the law of nature by way of particular determination, belong to the civil law, according as each state decides on what is best for itself.
Secondly, it belongs to the notion of human law, to be ordained to the common good of the state. In this respect human law may be divided according to the different kinds of men who work in a special way for the common good: e.g. priests, by praying to God for the people; princes, by governing the people; soldiers, by fighting for the safety of the people. Wherefore certain special kinds of law are adapted to these men.
Thirdly, it belongs to the notion of human law, to be framed by that one who governs the community of the state, as shown above (I-II:90:3). In this respect, there are various humanlaws according to the various forms of government. Of these, according to the Philosopher (Polit. iii, 10) one is “monarchy,” i.e. when the state is governed by one; and then we have “Royal Ordinances.” Another form is “aristocracy,” i.e. government by the best men or men of highest rank; and then we have the “Authoritative legal opinions” [Responsa Prudentum] and “Decrees of the Senate” [Senatus consulta]. Another form is “oligarchy,” i.e. government by a few rich and powerful men; and then we have “Praetorian,” also called “Honorary,” law. Another form of government is that of the people, which is called “democracy,” and there we have “Decrees of the commonalty” [Plebiscita]. There is also tyrannical government, which is altogether corrupt, which, therefore, has no corresponding law. Finally, there is a form of government made up of all these, and which is the best: and in this respect we have lawsanctioned by the “Lords and Commons,” as stated by Isidore (Etym. v, 4, seqq.).
Fourthly, it belongs to the notion of human law to direct human actions. In this respect, according to the various matters of which the law treats, there are various kinds of laws, which are sometimes named after their authors: thus we have the “Lex Julia” about adultery, the “Lex Cornelia” concerning assassins, and so on, differentiated in this way, not on account of the authors, but on account of the matters to which they refer.
Reply to Objection 1. The law of nations is indeed, in some way, natural to man, in so far as he is a reasonable being, because it is derived from the natural law by way of a conclusion that is not very remote from its premises. Wherefore men easily agreed thereto. Nevertheless it is distinct from the natural law, especially it is distinct from the natural law which is common to all animals.
The Replies to the other Objections are evident from what has been said.

Since the law of nations cannot be contained under human civil law, the national should never be confused with the citizen. There can be overlap, but the two identities are clearly distinct. The false conflation of national with citizen is profoundly dishonest and philosophically false, indeed, it is a prime example of the sophistic technique that Aristotle calls “amphiboly”, which is “a fallacy of relevance that relies on an ambiguous word or grammatical structure to confuse or mislead an audience.”

Consider this: if the nation was the state, there would be no need for the construction “nation-state” to ever have been created. Furthermore, there would have been no need for economists to make the change from “Gross National Product”, which sums the economic activity of an entire nation regardless of the geographic location of the nationals, to “Gross Domestic Product”, which sums the economic activity of all the people within a specified geographic location.

The illogic of atheism

Miles Mathis explains why he finds atheism to be illogical:

A modern skeptic is like an agnostic, and he or she is likely to lean to a “no” answer every time. Are there gods? Probably not. Are there unicorns? Probably not. Is there a Bigfoot? Probably not. And so on. I resist this “skeptic” tag because leaning toward a “no” answer is a prejudice itself. It is unscientific. Beyond that, the so-called skeptic societies are stiff with atheists and agnostics and cynics and other faux-scientists, and I prefer to remain as far away from all that as possible.

Of course, with the existence of Bigfoot and unicorns and so on we do have a great deal of information. We have made searches. The Earth is a limited environment and we have populated it widely and heavily and long. Even so, the mountain gorilla was not discovered until 1902, and huge populations of lowland gorillas were only recently discovered in the Congo (this very decade). Which is to say that we may lean a bit to a “no” answer for existence of larger beings in smaller areas we have scoured quite thoroughly, but even then we may be wrong.

But in looking for proof of gods, our search is pathetically limited. By definition, a god is a being whose powers are far greater than ours, who we cannot comprehend, and whose form we cannot predict. This would make our failure to locate a god quite understandable. A very large or small god would be above or below our notice, and a distant god would also evade our sensors. Not to mention we only have five senses. If we are manipulated by gods, as the hypothesis goes, then it would be quite easy for them to deny us the eyes to see them. Only a god of near-human size in the near environs would be possible to detect.

Again, this does not mean I believe in gods, any more than I believe in aliens or unicorns. I only point out that, as a matter of logic and science, a hypothesis that has not been proved is not the same as a hypothesis that has been disproved. I agree with the atheists and agnostics that the existence of gods has not been proved, but I do not agree that the existence of gods has been disproved. It would require a much more thorough search of the universe than has so far been completed to even begin to lean. As it is, our data is near-zero.

For this reason, I find atheists to be just as sanctimonious, illogical, and tiresome as the deists and theists, if not moreso. Because the atheists are often more highly educated and often better able to argue (in limited ways), they use this education and argument to prop themselves up in the ugliest ways. They blow apart the beliefs of religious people and imagine this solidifies their own beliefs in some way. But it never does. People of faith are actually more consistent in their views, since they never claim to believe in science anyway. They are not immediately hypocritical, at least, since it is possible for them create a closed system of illogic that circles back in a self-affirming way. The search for truth is no part of their system, so it is no failure when they find none. But atheists cannot say the same. They base their system on science, so that the very first instant they fail to act scientifically, they are back to zero. Yes, it is the same zero as the theists’ zero, but the theists aren’t measuring and the atheists are. A theist at zero is just a theist, and no harm done. But an atheist at zero has had a fall, and must be damaged.

I would go farther, of course, as I observe most atheists to be not only illogical, but irrational. And thank God for that! It’s the rational atheists who are by far the most problematic.