The Antithesis of Combat: Shoulders of Giants

Shoulders of Giants
(by Maria Lindsey)

Whoever recognizes Plato’s “Republic” in the series of posts “The Antithesis of Combat“, even if it is only a small glimpse of it, with incomparably less philosophical and literary quality, is not in the face of mere coincidence. I have always admired the construction from scratch of Plato’s state in Book II of the “Republic”, and I think it came to my mind when I realized how inferior the adults are to children, and I decided to get rid of them (us) in “my state”.

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The Antithesis of Combat: “It’s Mine”

“It’s mine.”
(by elijah)

The “children” on the other side of the valley would have been very surprised, but welcoming. Decades would have passed without anyone to observe, talk or play. They would be happy to give chocolate to the prairie children and let them play with their toys. They would also have heard about the different types of toys the children from below would have, and would be more than happy to taste the meat they would have brought. Their valley would be too narrow to allow cattle to be raised, and all they would have would be goats and poultry. Only then would they realize how fed up they were with goat meat. They would propose to provide more chocolate if the prairie kids brought them more meat, and an agreement would be made cheerfully. But something strange would happen when the prairie kids asked for toys in exchange for even more meat. The kids on the mountain would not agree to trade their toys.

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The Antithesis of Combat: Lure of the Mountains

Lure of the Mountains.
(“Foothills Children”, by Doug Zwick / CC BY-NC 2.0 / Desaturated from original)

Let me now deepen my fantastic assumptions and establish that these kids would never grow old. Well, they would eventually reach sixty, seventy or even ninety years of age and then die like we do, but their bodies would remain the same throughout their lives. This means that women would never exist, only little girls that wouldn’t elicit nor feel any sexual appeal. Boys and girls would forever attend to their chores and play with their toys. This is not to say that they wouldn’t become mature — they would. But their relish would never move from that innocent playfulness of childhood towards the lustful shallowness of an alcohol-induced hunt for the pleasures of flesh. Their vices would be others.

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The Combatant – #1

When the alarm goes off at two in the morning, he is sure he is still dreaming. He just closed his eyes, so it can not be time to wake up. But it is. The problem is that after twenty hours working hard to protect the families of others, trying to earn in the private sector the money the police is supposed to provide, those three hours of sleep seem to pass like a glimpse, a brief interlude of life as deep as one’s own death.

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Remember It All

Remember it all.
(“Giordano Bruno”, one of the fathers of the Art of Memory, by Matteo Mignani / CC BY 2.0)

I once played with the idea that I would not only read the Great Books of the Western World, but memorize them all. Of course, I was indulging myself in impossible dreams, but that has led me to a whole universe of thought (literally) that I had never dreamed existed: the Art of Memory.

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The Story of Civilization: Political Elements – Law

“When to this natural basis of custom a supernatural sanction is added by religion, and the ways of one’s ancestors are also the will of the gods, then custom becomes stronger than law, and subtracts substantially from primitive freedom.”
Will Durant, “Our Oriental Heritage”, page 26.
(“Execution of a Moroccan Jewess”, paint by Alfred Dehodencq, 1860. Sol Hachuel, 17, was decapitated by the false accusation of apostasy, that is, the resignation of her previous religion. Thirteen countries, even today, apply the death penalty for such “crime”. Yes, it’s 2019.)

SUMMARY: In the beginning, laws were customs, and man did not have individual rights, but with property, marriage and government, laws evolved, and the individual emerged.

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History of Philosophy – Lesson 7: The Skepticism of the Sophists

“Gorgias, who was the perfect example of a 20th century skeptic transplanted into ancient Greece […] maintained three basic propositions: one, nothing exists; two, if anything existed, you couldn’t know it; three, if you could know it, you couldn’t communicate it. Now that is what you call skepticism.”
— Leonard Peikoff, “History of Philosophy” course, ARI, Lesson 7.
(I don’t like modern art. But if we look hard, there might be something to learn from it. The steel sculpture “Protagoras”, by Charles Ginnever, could well be considered the concretization of a philosophic idea. The sculpture changes shape as viewers move around it, the play of light and shadow on its triangular forms giving life to the massive structure. “The senses deceive” I’d say is the message. But, now, try to imagine someone jumping from this malformed idea (because it’s not the senses that are wrong, but the concepts we generate from them) to the conclusion that nothing exists. Perhaps some of the federal judges working at the Burger building, in St. Paul, Minnesota, where “Protagoras” is installed, would like it to vanish. But to assert it never existed would be a bit farfetched. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what sophists like Protagoras and Gorgias did.)

The sophists have been branded throughout history as greedy and imoral teachers, but that’s polemics for a history course, or one on Plato and his obsession with them. Leonard Peikoff focuses instead on the ideas they put forth — even if their main idea is the negation of all ideas.

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O.P.A.R. – Commentary: Voltaire’s Stance

“The agnostic treats arbitrary claims as matters properly open to consideration, discussion, evaluation. He allows that it is “possible” that these claims are “true,” thereby applying cognitive descriptions to verbiage that is at war with cognition. He demands proof of a negative: it’s up to you, he declares, to show that there are no demons, or that your sex life is not a result of your previous incarnation as a pharaoh of ancient Egypt.”
Leonard Peikoff, “O.P.A.R.”, page 170.
(There might be aliens on the dark side of the moon. Who knows? Claims devoid of any evidence should be disregarded. It doesn’t matter what you feel about it. Take your stance based on your assessment of reality and say what you know. You know there isn’t any alien civilization on the dark side of the moon, don’t you? Or are you going to tell me you are an agnostic with respect to that too?)

“Yo no creo en brujas, pero que las hay, las hay”. That summarizes the agnostic’s creed. This is no attitude at all. It is sitting on the fence. It is renouncing the responsibility of judging, of choosing your path, of building and then standing behind your own convictions. In a word, it is evasion. I used to say I was an agnostic. No. Let’s take a stance. Let’s have the guts to say it. Let’s be bold for once. I am not an agnostic anymore. I am an atheist.

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