A Monster In A Toga

Note: Behind the green door is a post about Ukraine, a post about Biden and the Sunday podcast. Since there is interest in it, I will be doing a weekly post on the happenings in Ukraine. You can sign up at SubscribeStar or Substack.


If you were to ask people to name history’s greatest monster, most would pick their team’s favorite bogeyman from the last century. Recency bias is a real thing and as a culture we remained trapped in the last century, so most people would name Stalin or Mao or Hitler as history’s greatest monster. Some might offer up Genghis Khan or Torquemada as a more thoughtful option. No one, of course, would offer up Aristotle as history’s greatest monster, even though he is a good choice.

This may sound crazy, but there is a good argument in favor of Aristotle being the single most malevolent influence on humanity. As far as we know, he did not slaughter masses of people, but he did train one of history’s great slayers. According to our histories, he was tasked by Philip of Macedonia with the job of educating his son, Alexander, who would go on to conquer the world. It is possible that Alexander committed patricide, which is an extremely monstrous thing.

In fairness, you cannot blame the teacher for the sins of the student, unless the student is putting into practice the theory imparted by the teacher. We have nothing allegedly written by Aristotle which recommends conquering the world and subjugating the people in foreign lands. On the other hand, Western universalist claims begin with Aristotle, so maybe Alexander’s desire to impose his will on the world was the natural consequence of Aristotle’s teaching.

We can debate Aristotle’s role in Alexander’s crimes against humanity, but we do know that Aristotle got some important things wrong. For example, he dismissed the ideas of Democritus, who proposed that everything we see is composed of atoms that are the basic building blocks of matter. Democritus also argued that humans “evolved” from an earlier primitive state. Necessity is what drove large groups of humans into societies which offered protection from nature.

In other words, Democritus was an incredibly brilliant thinker, way ahead of his time, but Aristotle dismissed him out of hand. In fairness, Aristotle was a student of Plato, who hated Democritus. Allegedly, Plato hated Democritus so much that he wanted all of his books burned, which may be why none survived. It is possible that Aristotle was just an obsequious rumpswab who aped the feelings of Plato. Regardless, much was lost to us because of Aristotle’s dismissal of Democritus.

Aristotle’s scientific ignorance does not stop there. The Western world spent a thousand years believing the sun revolved around the earth, due entirely to Aristotle’s geocentric model of the universe. It was not as if everyone in his time believed that the sun revolved around the earth. Philolaus argued for heliocentrism. Aristarchus of Samos argued that the earth rotated around the sun, but Aristotle’s stature condemned the West to a thousand years of geocentric ignorance.

Now, one can dispute the damage done by the scientific ignorance spread by Aristotle and his followers. After all, how many people died because we had no idea why some things are heavier than others? Sure, thousands were probably killed for questioning geocentricism, but they were heretics and their astronomical apostacy was just one of many crimes they committed against the Church. You really cannot get a big number of bodies to blame on Aristotle from these errors.

What about medicine? For a thousand years Western medicine was closer to witchcraft because of the belief in the four humors. This is the claim that the body is composed of blood (warm and moist), phlegm (cold and moist), yellow bile (warm and dry), and black bile (cold and dry). These also correspond to the seasons. Illness was due to an imbalance of these humors, so medicine was concerned with rebalancing the humors, rather than producing an actual cure for what ailed the patient.

How many millions died due to this lunacy? The Aristotle defenders will claim that he did not invent this crackpot idea. It was Hippocrates. The counter here is that Hippocrates is the father of medicine because of Aristotle who promoted his ideas. Imagine if instead of this humor business, Aristotle had not dismissed Democritus and proposed that illness is due to small entities in the body. We may have deduced germ theory many centuries earlier. Millions would have been saved!

Again, we have no evidence that Aristotle killed anyone and we have no evidence that he was in favor of genocide. The perpetuation of his crackpot ideas about science and medicine was not his fault. After all, he did not force those monks and scribes to perpetuate his ignorance. It probably seems unfair to hang millions of dead on Aristotle, just because his nutty ideas about science and medicine came to dominate the Western world for a thousand years.

On the other hand, ideas have consequences. If you manage to convince the world of some bad idea, you do bear some responsibility for its application. Marx did not advocate the murder of millions, but he did lay the intellectual framework for those who would murder millions in his name. If we are going to blame Marx for the crimes of the Marxists, the same applies to the consequences of Aristotelianism. That puts Aristotle in the same club as Marx.

The thing is the influence of Marx has largely dissipated. There are some cranks kicking around calling themselves Marxist, but at this point no serious person believes in the surplus value of labor or historical materialism. On the other hand, lots of bad actors still rely on Aristotle. For example, the followers of Harry Jaffa are still causing trouble and Jaffa was a big fan of Aristotle. Here is an old essay of his arguing for one of his crackpot theories. He mentions Aristotle fourteen times.

How much damage has been done to America by the followers of Jaffa and his deranged ideas about the Framers? His universalist gobbledygook about the Declaration and the perfection of the founding has made opposition to lethal ideas like immigration and multiculturalism nearly unlawful. Even the mildest resistance to the ongoing invasion is treated as a crime, because after all, all men are created equal so the only reason to oppose open borders is racism and bigotry.

It is fun to imagine a monster like Harry Jaffa stepping in front of a bus before he had a chance to inject his venom into the neck of America but imagine if he was not able to sacralize his crackpottery with references to Aristotle. Not only would Jaffa have been denied an authority, so would Straus. Imagine a world free of this dangerous cult that has unleashed so much mayhem on American society. Take away Aristotle and a lot of modern horrors go away as well.

It is wrong to blame the son for the crimes of the father, so it is probably wrong to blame the father for the crimes of the son. The point here is that establishing any man as a moral or even an intellectual authority leads to trouble. When that man is beyond question, the trouble easily becomes horror. The establishment of Aristotle as the father of moral philosophy sent the West careening down a path toward the crisis we see unfolding today, a crisis from which it may not recover.


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167 thoughts on “A Monster In A Toga

  1. Concerning Alexander the Great, this is just bad historical analysis and flat-out wrong.
    Philip II of Macedon was killed by one of his bodyguards, Pausanius of Orestis. Pausanius had a grudge against Philip because of a quarrel with his general Attalus, who had gotten him drunk at a party, and then caused Pausanius to be sexually assaulted by the stable-boys. Philip did not want to punish Attalus, because by then he had married his niece, Cleopatra Eurydice, making her his seventh wife. So Philip tried to appease Pausanius by promoting him, which obviously did not work.

    As for Alexander, in his own time he was regarded as a noble and chivalric leader. The conquests of Alexander were the same as what every other king at that time was doing, except that Alexander did it larger, better, faster, and at a younger age than anyone else. In medieval times, Alexander was considered to be a virtuous pagan, and one of the Nine Worthies.

    There are lots of good resources out there on Alexander, especially Kenneth Harl’s work, from Tulane University. And it would be great to have a comprehensive TV show about Alexander’s life, although it would take multiple seasons. And as a last observation, Cleitus the Black really had it coming, especially after he continued to insult Alexander, even when his other drunken friends tried to drag him away.

    • Michael, if you’re reading this, allow me to be of assistance:

      “How much damage has been done to America by the followers of Jaffa and his deranged ideas about the Framers? His universalist gobbledygook about the Declaration and the perfection of the founding has made opposition to lethal ideas like immigration and multiculturalism nearly unlawful. Even the mildest resistance to the ongoing invasion is treated as a crime, because after all, all men are created equal so the only reason to oppose open borders is racism and bigotry.”

  2. Jaffa and people like him who promote open borders still lock their doors and windows this proving their insincerity.

  3. This is without question the worst article you’ve ever posted. You don’t understand Democritus’ conception of atoms bore little to no resemblance to modern chemistry? Evolution isn’t scientific. It’s a Swiss cheese fairytale even Darwin had misgivings about.

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  4. The claims that the Zman makes in this essay are so outrageous that I can safely say that the exact opposite is the truth.

    Aristotelian metaphysics towers unsurpassed and infinitely superior to anything adverted to by the Zman as reality. Aristotle blows away the shallow fallacies of Darwinism, the tortured dualism of Descartes, and the clumsy materialism of Locke. What’s more, Aristotelianism is the cure for the many ailments of the West, from transgenderism to Keynesianism, and from democracy to “equity,” Aristotle has already treated of the matter in his ethics or his metaphysics, has penetrated it, and has laid the groundwork for the perfect refutation of it all both in theory and in practice.

    To be unaware of this speaks of a very deranged and ignorant mind, and it will certainly diminish the credibility of anything else the Zman says, past and future.

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    • Your credibility has already been long diminished with your postings on Unz. Z-man will have to work long a hard to catch up with you ID. Pro-tip, stay over on Unz where you belong.

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  5. Great column, although I’d hesitate to blame the Big A for the doctrinaire attitude of the Medieval scholastics; nobody forced them to take A at his word. If anyone should be blamed for canonizing Aristoteles, it’s surely Thomas Aquinas.

    So it 1215, the university of Paris. The students are asked how many teeth a horse have. They all give the correct answer, 26, except for one student who grew up on a farm and suggests it’s 30.

    One word and the other, and soon they’re in the stables, counting teeth. The professor looks at his dissident student in awe: “Your argument is extremely compelling, young man, and if it weren’t for the fact that it says 26 in De Animales, I’d have to agree with you.”

    As an aside, Robert Pirzig made a much similar argument about Platon in Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – essentially that Platon elevated abstract phenomena to the level of observable fact, and that this category error has haunted Western philosophy and moral teaching since.

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    • The only thing I remember from that book is that he realized the sophists were right. I remember that because, a year or two into college, I was starting to get the same feeling 🤣

  6. Aristarchus theorized that the moon orbited the earth, the earth and planets orbited the sun and the sun orbited other heavenly bodies. He also backed it up with geometric proofs. His absolute numbers of the sizes and distances between the moon, earth and sun were way off, but the relative numbers were remarkably close for someone who only had the naked eye and pure mathematics. Aristarchus is a giant.

    Our problem is that we are stuck with mass democracy and mass media monopolized by an alien elite. I don’t think these people believe in egalitarianism. I think they feel stuck. If they tell the truth and organize the needed reforms they will be banished. Their party will be forever branded with the scarlet letter with no hope of electoral success – so they believe. If they don’t, they can stay elected, collect their bribes and avoid being banished for heresy.

    It is pure power, unprecedented corruption that is leading to genetic treason, and understandable cowardice masked as a delusion that someday there will be an opening. It is all a death spiral where the once lovely lady lay broken in a fancy globalist brothel, turns taken by the highest bidders.

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    • There’s a saying (not sure where I first saw or heard it): “simple models for simple minds.” There’s nothing wrong with a simple model of astronomical movements, it’s just more limited than the more complex method. There’s really not much wrong with the flat earth theory if your only mode of transportation is ground-based. The spherical model doesn’t become noticeably useful until you try to navigate across an ocean or through the sky. This isn’t to say that the masses ought not to be more educated or rely on more complex models, only that simple models of reality are often functional enough for most people, all things considered.

      • Relativity: big
        QM: small
        Newton: human scale

        All 3 work well enough as intended, afaik nobody has managed to unify them. Very interesting!

  7. In the interest of fairness, what can we praise Aristotle for?

    * Jack Boniface, earlier comment: Aristotle is the only person to create two sciences: biology and logic.

    In my own life of the mind, his explicit classification of logic was seminal. As far as I know, he was the first to try to formalize the logic that supports informal arguments.

    I’ve never had the time to study biology as much as I would like but I have often read that he created the most exhaustive taxonomy of biology up to that point.

    * David T., earlier: Aristotle’s teachings on ethics, what it means to be happy, and the central role the four cardinal virtues (temperance, courage, justice and wisdom) play in human life are far superior to anything modern philosophers have produced

    I would add to David that his ethics, based on the idea of human flourishing, is the best attempt at surmounting Hume’s is-ought problem, although it just fails less than other attempts.

    * we often quote his classification of political systems, for example, democracy inevitably leading to plutocracy.

    * his categorization of literature (again, I’m not an expert but I remember reading his stuff about tragedy in high school)

    What else?

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  8. Yesterday’s Ukraine Primer offers a corollary to the Seeds of Albion, the War of theThree Kingdoms view: that other genomes differentiate, every much as ours. This is a foundational idea.

    Today’s examines (with much help from the audience) the permutation of worlview, from such as Aristotle, Marx, and Jaffa.

    I tell you, Z, you are wrecking the joint.
    Totally shaking up the Stultified Science.

  9. “ On the other hand, ideas have consequences. If you manage to convince the world of some bad idea, you do bear some responsibility for its application.…”
    ————————

    Nonsense.

    What that does is concede too much moral high ground to the left… and justify the need for the gate keepers, fact checkers and censors. “I’m sorry Z, but you are just too hatey to be trusted with a Twitter or Facebook account!!!”

    Taken to ridiculous extremes, we get narratives like the one that says Hitler is personally responsible for the holocaust because he was such a great orator…he was magically able to make all the Germans hate Jews for no reason at all.

    Who’s the one single person responsible for clown world?

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      • (Okay, I admit he was a composite character, used to tell a story. Like Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan.)

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        • Oh, and to be fair to you and yours, G, in my view much of the book’s stories were borrowed and reworked, with the names being changed to either assign blame or take credit.

          I think they’re editors, more than authors, and I say some of the tribes were more White than Semitic.
          Much more than the editors were letting on.

          Thus the effort to mold their values.
          In their day, just as in ours.

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    • When a great mass of people adopt a clearly aberrant idea you can’t actually place too much of the blame on the guy who came up with it. Clearly there’s just something wrong with that whole generation of people. In some sense, they *needed* those ideas. Later generations may lack their ancestors’ weaknesses but still be poisoned by their ideas of course. This is probably what happened to Western science after Aristotle.

      Speaking of which, I think it’s pretty obvious that the current generation of dickless she-men and she-devils needed the Covid panic. It allowed them to fully express their terror and hatred of freedom and retract into a cocoon from which many will never emerge. They are the vanguard of the New Medicine leading Western medicine back to its roots in witchcraft.

  10. You cannot blame Aristotle for being a man of his time. He screwed it in science (although not completely), mostly because the right method in science was not well established until Galileo. However, his philosophy has been unfairly reviled.

    In fact, as Edward Feser explains in his books, the abandonment of Thomist philosophy (the philosophy that begins in Aristotle and follows with Aquinas) is the main cause of the decadence of Western civilization. Descartes dismissed Thomist philosophy and created modern philosophy upon insane bases. After Descartes, everybody followed Descartes in the basic rules and this has produced the alienation of modern philosophy and culture.

    Aristotle’s logic is also outstanding. Some people claim that it is superior to modern logic, but, in any case, it is the first logic system, which was the only system available for millennia and has never been falsified. Modern logic is an alternative to Aristotle’s logic, not a refutation of it.

    Universalism was not created by Aristotle. All the Hellenistic philosophy is universalistic because tribes and city-states were disappearing in the Hellenistic kingdoms and the Roman Empire, which were eras of globalizations. The last phases of a civilization are universalistic, because the tribes and nations disappear and a globalist culture spreads. You can see it then and you can see it now. If you know Spanish and want to know how the entire Hellenistic philosophy is universalist, you can watch here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caWbu0gJ-bM&t=5s

    Finally, Aristotle is not to blame that people followed his science blindly. This has to do with historic circumstances. When the Western Roman Empire felt, the knowledge of Greek disappeared in the West. Greek had been the language of culture of Hellenistic kingdoms and the Roman Empire. In fact, the Roman higher classes spoke Greek between then. When Brutus killed Caesar, Caesar didn’t say: “Tu quoque, fili?” (You too, son?) because they spoke in Greek (Suetonius tells us this).

    For about 700 years, the only books that remained for Classical Antiquity were the ones written in Latin. This means Saint Augustine and a few Aristotle’s books translated from Greek to Latin by Boethius at the end of the Roman Empire (there were other books, like Etymologiae by Isidore of Seville but were derivative).

    So Aristotle was considered The Philosopher with capital letters, because there was nobody else, except Augustine. Then, from the 12th century to the 16th centuries, more Aristotle’s books came in translation from the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim world. Since Aristotle was considered a giant, it was followed almost as if it was the Bible. After the 16th century, Platonism and Neoplatonism come to the West and end Aristotle’s reign, to be followed by Descartes until today, as I have said.

    I don’t think he was a monster with a toga. Alfred North Whitehead famously said “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato”. I would agree with this, if the sentence ended “footnotes to Plato and to Aristotle”.

    Plato is the first totalitarian thinker. Plato’s The Republic describes a communist totalitarian state as the ideal society (read “The Socialist Phenomenon by Igor Shafarevich). Plato favors escaping the world to get an utopia based on abstract ideals, like the modern woke. Aristotle favors hierarchy, natural law and virtue. Starting from the reality and abstracting from it. This is an oversimplification but Plato is the first left-winger and Aristotle the first right-winger.

    Z, you are brilliant but I cannot agree with you in this topic. We need more Aristotle and no less. We learn from Aristotle even today.

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    • I have a suspicion Z was being deliberately provocative and over-the-top with this post, perhaps to stir the pot. I consider myself stirred.

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      • Maybe Z is trying to trigger Michael Anton ànd that crowd.
        He targets not just Jaffa and Strauss, but Aristotle himself.

        • Z’s post is a rather cheeky riposte to Anton’s latest Straussian apologia at American Greatness, in which he rebukes both Paul Gottfried (gently) and our esteemed host (somewhat less gently). Anton says something to the effect that nobody ever committed genocide because of Aristotle, and Z is apparently having a little fun with that.

          Anton deserves enormous credit for the Flight 93 Election essay, but his writing has become much more conventional since he gave up his anonymity. Charitably, I think he struggles with that.

          • I think I may have broken him. That last one should have been written in his own blood on the asylum walls. But yeah, I was just having some fun. That said, as soon as I seen someone reference Aristotle, I ball a fist.

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          • When I read today’s post, something just seemed to be off. The Aristotle stuff just sounded kind of odd, if I may say – it wasn’t the usual Z. Then I read the latest Anton article, mentioned above, over at AG. Ah Hah! Perhaps the gloves are off and the gauntlet has been thrown.

      • καὶ σύ τέκνον; lit. And/also you, O child. LOL. Never expected to see my hobby of Ancient Greek, let alone philosophy discussed in such fora. 🙂 Aren’t we all hillbillies?

  11. Aristotle didn’t have the influence you think he did for the simple reason that he was unknown to the West for most of the Middle Ages. Aristotle’s works had been lost in the West during the late Roman Empire, and only became known again in the 12th century through Arabic translations (they had not been lost in Islamic lands). The Middle Ages were Platonist, not Aristotelian. The reintroduction of Aristotle was met with a lot of resistance (he was seen as an atheist) and some of the works of Thomas Aquinas were initially forbidden as encouraging secularism due to Aristotle’s influence. It was only into the 14th century that Aristotle came to have widespread influence. In the centuries that followed the Renaissance and the scientific revolution occurred. The idea that Aristotle “held back” the West for thousands of years is ahistorical.

    Democritus’s theory was wrong then and it is wrong now. Modern science has decisively refuted the idea that the world is made up of small, indivisible atomic “nuts.” Instead, Aristotle’s hylomorphic theory has been vindicated. Matter and form are relative: A table is made of molecules (matter) organized as a table (form). The molecules themselves are made of elements (matter) organized into molecules (form). The elements are composed of protons and electrons (matter) organized in a particular way (form). And it keeps going, either up or down the chain. At no point is there just some brute, indivisible nut as Democritus thought.

    Thousands of people were not “probably” killed for believing in geocentrism, any more than thousands of blacks are “probably” shot by cops each year. It’s a belief generated by worldview rather than evidence.

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    • Agreed with two caveats.

      “Aristotle’s works had been lost in the West during the late Roman Empire, and only became known again in the 12th century through Arabic translations (they had not been lost in Islamic lands).”

      As I have explained above, there were a few books translated by Boethius about Aristotle’s logic that were known before the 12th century. This is why this period’s philosophy was focuses mostly on logic (see, for example, St. Anselm ontological argument), which changed after the12th century, when new Aristotle’s books were translated.

      “The Middle Ages were Platonist, not Aristotelian.”

      Before the 12th century, they were Augustinian. Augustine had Christianized Plato but Plato’s books were not available, only Augustine’s books (“Confessions” and “The City of God”), which were in Latin (this is the reason of the Great Schism: the Western Church followed Augustine in Latin while the Eastern Church followed the other Church Fathers, who wrote in Greek).

      So, before the 12th century, it was Platonism filtered through Augustine. The direct influence of Plato and Neoplatonism (which is not the same) was dominant during the Renaissance, much later. See, for example, Pico della Mirandola.

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    • I have a suspicion that what really inspired this particular essay we read today was how much Jaffa loved him some Aristotle

    • There must be some brute matter or forms scale down in infinite regress, which means there is nothing.

      • Maybe that’s the answer to the big question – why is there something rather than nothing? So the answer is that there isn’t. The universe is an infinite hall of funhouse mirrors. It’s not just Clown World, it’s the Clowniverse!

    • The Italian ruling class of Galileo’s day, church and secular, did not much question his heliocentric universe, but they feared losing authority over the masses if their teachings were too publicly demonstrated false. No different than today.

  12. Aristotle is the only person to create two sciences: biology and logic. Certainly he got many things wrong, especially on biology, now entirely superseded. But he was especially proud of his logic, which lasted almost unchanged until nearly 200 years ago. You have to start somewhere. His Politics also was a corrective to Plato’s utopianism. And his Metaphysics provided the basis, corrected by Catholic faith, especially the creation ex nihilo instead of a steady-state universe, for Aquinas’ theology.

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    • Aristotle’s teachings on ethics, what it means to be happy, and the central role the four cardinal virtues (temperance, courage, justice and wisdom) play in human life are far superior to anything modern philosophers have produced, which is largely unlivable drivel.

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  13. I don’t agree, I’d say that ideas being put into practice follow the genetic predisposition of the people and the rulers. And over, and over, and over again in Western Societies we find the same sorts of ideas popping up all over the place:

    1. The Material World is bad, evil, and the best course of action is to castrate oneself and commit suicide while the “Good God” or the Good Aliens behind the comet beam us up: the Gnostics, the Cathars, Jonestown (drink that Kool-Aide) and Heaven’s Gate (“Just do it!”).

    2. The utopia is just around the corner if we can just kill / maim etc. those who stick out and create one single society: Alexander, post WWII America, the Soviets, Mao, Pol Pot, the French Revolution, toothbrush mustache man. [See also, “start from zero”]

    There are others but these two stand out, and there must be some genetic component inside Western peoples that causes these ideas to pop out over and over again, often to great detriment of Western Peoples. Like a society wide Tay Sachs disease.

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    • As Dobson said (I repeat from below), its the nihilism inherent in the End of Days. We are infected by a foreign idea.

      Their End of Days worldview is itself born of ecological response. A response reflected in blood and bone, as all flesh is molded memory of its environment.

      Their genome was kicked off by the end of the world: when meteors smashed the Middle East with the power of nuclear bombs, destroying the Aryan civilizations in whose shadow they lived. Their overfat tail were the survivors.

      Their storm god had spoken.
      They saw His word in every every subsequent story. To prevent His wrath, the Aryans must be destroyed.

      • No, Gnosticism was a thing in places all over Christendom, and the Cathars aka the Albigensian Heresy were pretty much like Heaven’s Gate even castrating their animals as they felt reproduction was bad/sinful. Concentrated in Southern France and attracting notable support from the Occitane Aristocracy, they were not anything but a Christian Heresy with IMHO deeper genetic roots.

        If you look at Western European peoples, we came to “civilization” late. The Pagans were all illiterate, for the most part. There were runic and Ogham inscriptions but no one can read them now. Prior to the Romans, the British Celts and the Germans lived fairly primitive lives, with few towns and no great cities to speak of, trade was primitive. And after the Romans both reverted to that level; for example coins were not minted in Britain after 411 until Christian Missionaries converted Alfred the Great and convinced him to mint his own. [Even Roman break-away rulers minted their own coins — we have them now]. Then the great Wool Explosion made Europe impossibly rich and organized in the 1200s, as everyone wanted the wonder-fabric. [Which really is wonderful].

        There is a genetic longing in our people and our rulers for a simplicity, a universality, a social flatness, a lack of hierarchy, a brotherhood that reflects our genetic heritage of living in small numbers in relatively flat social groups. Its as much of White people as our love of staring into fireplaces in the Winter, Yuletide, and the scent of pines.

        In other words, the path dependency is genetic, not intellectual, and grew out of living in simple groups where we are most comfortable.

  14. One more similarity between Jaffa and Aristotle. Both were born at the height of their respective empires, and their entire adult lives and beyond were the slow dissolution of those empires. Aristotle born in 384BC and Jaffa born in 1918. All the heavy lifting of creating these societies in the first place was done. All the wars and treaties of unification, the culture having been founded and going. So they created nothing. They picked up tools that were already lathed and laid out for them by previous, far greater generations.

    That’s the interesting thing about empires. The people in the history books generally occur at their shimmering height. The people who plodded away and built the place only have short paragraphs written. Before there was a profligate Caesar to squander the Roman treasury, there were leaders who carefully and painstakingly built that nest egg to be squandered. The “glory” of Empire is generally a final looting spree. The current chapter of American history is that looting spree.

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    • I can’t believe you drew a comparison between Jaffa and Aristotle, and you meant that not as satire.

  15. The flipside to the liberal democratic universalism espoused by the neocons is the cultural relativism promulgated by the postmodernists. And ironically, they produce identical outcomes, all of them lethal to the West.

    The universalists argue that western principles apply equally to all peoples across time and space, and therefore that people unfortunate enough to live in places where western (human) principles are suppressed should be allowed to immigrate to the West and live liberated lives to the full.

    The postmodernists, operating from postulates about the nature of language, contend that all cultures (linguistic groups) have entirely distinct modes of behavior and systems of belief, that they’re all incommensurable with one another, and that therefore, there can be no common standard for evaluating their comparative merits. Hence, westerners are not justified in claiming that their culture is superior to any other. This being the case, westerners have no basis for denying other cultures access to western society. If other cultural groups choose to migrate to the West and practice their culture as they see fit, westerners cannot morally resist them.

    The fact that neoconservative universalism and postmodern relativism both function to destroy the West suggests to me that the exponents of these positions actually have a common arriere pensee–they hate the West and its people. Anti-white racism is really the key to it all.

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    • Excellent point. To take it a bit further, both PoMo and NeoCo have roots in Cultural Marxism and the commonalities sometimes are jarring. As you point out, where they diverge leads to the same endpoint, and that’s the destruction of the West.

    • One raises the universal, the other lowers the particular. Two sides of the same coin. Big vs small, and the future is small. So the question is how to raise the particular. I’m sure some intellects out there see how things are going and are working on it, but it’s crazy how little you hear about it. Maybe that makes sense, though. Maybe a small world will look very different. Maybe it’s already there under the noise, idk.

      • Indeed, as Swift might have said: Big Ender or Little Ender, the egg tastes the same. But man is always looking for a casus belli, which is why Schmitt proposed the friend-enemy distinction as the basis for all political theory.
        It’s ironic that Aristotle, who’s drawing so much flack in today’s comments, provided a system of logic that is even today ideal for diagnosing the sorts of fallacious arguments that PoMo and NeoCon language gamers delight in constructing.

  16. We haven’t even considered Fauci? His name might come up frequently in a few years.

    Another monster would certainly be a certain preacher from Atlanta.

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  17. “In fairness, you cannot blame the teacher for the sins of the student,…”

    Ideas have consequences, so I’m not sure you can hold their creator and promoters guilt free. Especially if these “ideas” are held or spread in the face of contradictory evidence at the time. We are seeing this concern writ large with the current Covid pandemic revelations.

    Interesting you bring that concept up of teacher responsibility. There’s a Netflix series called “Qin Empire”. It was amazingly popular in China as a “foundation” tale of how a unified China came into being from the period of “Waring States”. Of course, the CCP supports this “tale” since they are the inheritors of the empire’s “Mandate of Heaven” to rule over the current empire.

    One thread tells of the young crown prince becoming angered over a report of tax fraud in his province and riding out among the village peasants whom he accused and then slayed without trial! The people rebelled and the suppression of the rebellion fell to the Prime Minister in the absence of the King.

    The penalty for murder was death and after law reforms, the royal family—as all citizens—was now subject to the law. However, there was a loophole in the law. The Crown Prince was under the tutorage of the King’s brother for his education and instruction. The Prime Minister therefore held the Crown Prince only partially responsible for his actions and so too the King’s brother because of his failure to “properly educate” his charge—the crown Prince.

    The King’s brother had his nose cut off in public. The Crown Prince had his title removed and was banished from the country. This avoided the King having to execute his only son. The people were impressed, as to that time nobility had never to account for their actions under common law.

    Before you scoff at this Chinese “fable”, I’m still waiting for Fauci’s nose to be cut off. Think we’ll even see that small bit of “justice” in our lifetime?

  18. I have been following the Zman for only two weeks, and I have concluded that he and Jaffe are both guilty of misinterpretion of others ideas. But what dissapointed me most was to read “the crimes of Aristotle”. Sorry Zman, but you have no idea how great a thinker Aristotle was and his contribution to the understanding of life.

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      • “thousands were probably killed for questioning geocentricism“

        Uh, sure Z.

        Musta been a great weekend!

        I guess you’re not a Bills Fan ? Or your a Dolphins fan?

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        • Google has entered the chat

          I found this, in English:

          Cromwell’s rule:
          Cromwell, who stated: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.”

          events thought to be highly implausible should be assigned an extremely low probability rather than zero probability. 

          So, rather than Bayesian probability equations, we could just say, “not impossible, but pretty unlikely”.

          Or, as they say at the pub, “yeah, pulled another on out of your ***, didya?”

          You’re reaching, dude.
          Quite a stretch.
          Doubtful.
          You sweating my ***, punk?

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      • Re: Cromwell’s Rule. Again, another irony because Aquinas, the great explicator of Aristotle, taught the Dominican friars according to the maxim: Never deny; seldom affirm; always distinguish. Which is just an informal, non-statistical way of saying neither absolute 0 nor absolute 1. And, again, Aristotle’s Rhetoric is about persuasion by appeal to probability rather than certainty. He’d have felt no discomfort with Cromwell’s Rule.
        Piss on Jaffa and the Straussians all you like, but leave Aristotle out of it.

    • Keep reading. You take Z-man’s commentary waay too literally. Jump up to a 30,000 foot view, rather than concentrate on the particular example. The concept of holding “teachers” accountable for their teachings is one not spoken of enough these days.

      I make this comment as one who spent a lifetime in modern academia—where the most pernicious and poisonous ideas are openly expressed to “minds of mush” without concern for truth or consequences.

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    • As a physicist, I always found Aristotle to be offensively non-empirical. Even as he pronounced opinions on the natural world, he shunned any direct investigation of it, relying instead on his own musings: solipsism. As a student, the veneration of Aristotle by philosophers and others perplexed me.

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      • A perfect observation, Gauss. You’re right, he wasn’t mucking about in any pursuits of the lower orders, he was telling the college kids how advanced they were.

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  19. It seems unfair to say that Marx’s influence is dead because no one believes in surplus value, while saying Aristotle’s is alive because of men like Jaffa.

    You don’t have to directly cite your predecessor’s beliefs to be influenced by them. The radicals wrecking European civilization derive their beliefs about race, nation, family and religion directly from Marx. Communism was never purely an economic system. It always included blaming Whites for the world’s problems, putting men in dresses in little girls’ bathrooms, and abolishing Christianity. That’s why we call modern wokeness “cultural Marxism.”

    Both Marx and Aristotle are alive and well in modern society. While I don’t know enough about the latter to quibble with your characterization of his philosophy, I would argue that Marx is more influential to modern politics.

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    • In clown world, where rich people are thin and poor people are fat, it’s rich people who push marxism and poor people who resist it. Although one could argue that the west doesn’t really have “poor” people. Which makes marxism’s staying power there all the more perplexing. You can understand it better in, say, South America, where half the people live in shacks.

      This leads me to believe that marxism is more about the timeless human qualities of envy and jealousy, which it sought to harness, than it is about the philosophy itself.

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    • I think the worst of Marx, but I think if you told him that his ideology would be coopted by people teaming up with economic oligarchs to have the sex organs of kids cut off he would probably wonder himself how that got squeezed out of what he espoused, even if he agreed with it, which I myself would doubt (“Wait a minute, that’s too far” being the failed rallying cry of normies throughout time”).

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      • Indeed. “How will cutting off kids’ private parts eliminate the coal smog of London’s East End?”

      • I agree with you about Marx: even as vile a man as he couldn’t envision what people would do with his nonsense. It kind of vindicates Socrate’s skepticism about writings and the written word, one component of which was that such writings and teachings seem to take on a sort of life of their own. As he put it,
        “And every word, when [275e] once it is written, is bandied about, alike among those who understand and those who have no interest in it, and it knows not to whom to speak or not to speak; when ill-treated or unjustly reviled it always needs its father to help it; for it has no power to protect or help itself.” [ref: https://tinyurl.com/rka8rjsw%5D

    • “It always included blaming Whites for the world’s problems, putting men in dresses in little girls’ bathrooms, and abolishing Christianity.”

      Wait, what?
      Ah yes. The Communist Manifesto.
      From the acorn comes the oak.

    • That’s not true. The forbearers of American wokeness are the abolitionists. A group whose beliefs coincide with modern liberals upteetnth times over more than any 19th century marxist. And they were a potent force before Marx had published anything of note. Even if Marx had never existed, the ideological chain from Puritan>abolitionist> radical republican>civil rights supporter> modern liberal would never have been severed. It’s this mutated offshoot of New England Protestantism that engulfed marxism not the other way around. Reading some ideas from 19th century abolitionist, you’d swear it was copied from a modern academic.

  20. Before condemning anyone for getting it wrong, it’s important to remember that a lot of what we think of as corrections and progress will, in time not only be proven wrong, but be proven wrong in a way that consecrates previous wrong thinkers. Take abiogenesis as an example. For those who don’t know, abiogenesis is the idea of living matter springing to life from the inanimate. Some ancients thought that when you sealed grain off in a cistern and rats appeared, or you put meat in a jar and flies appeared, it was proof that rats or flies grew from the inorganic matter. Ridiculous to us, and to those who know that the rule of nature is “something always from something,” never “something from nothing,” which is alchemy rather than science.

    There’s a problem with that theory, though: you must admit life eventually did start somewhere, from nothing, whether you believe in the Bible or the Big Bang (and yes, the man who advocated for the Big Bang against the solid state universe was a Catholic priest). Which means that in a fundamental sense those old witchdoctors were right and those scientists sneering at them were wrong. We don’t quite understand how lightening and gasses and primordial bubbling went from inorganic to the organic (though we’ve recreated some very lifelike mimicries of this process in labs) but we know it happened, because we’re here.

    You can naturally apply this to all sorts of cultural currents. Every good rational person “knows” racism is bad, that men and women are equal, that homosexuality is healthy and fine (and in many ways superior to heterosexuality). But there are cultures, like Russia and China, not quite ready to bask in the “end of history” and the worship of the postmodern and the turning of one’s back on ancient history or “primitive” older modes of thinking. What a coincidence, then, that those just happen to be the countries our foreign policy establishment is obsessed with destroying. Their mere existence is a living rebuke to our untenable thesis. Some of the desire to conquer them and plunder them is just greed and a runaway military industrial complex, but the intellectual justification—the speeches and policy—come from fanatics, not greed heads. America’s great monsters make a few hundred thousand dollars a year working for establishment publications and think tanks, not billions as war profiteers.

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    • “We know it happened because we’re here!”
      Pick a theory, any theory you like about how we came to be, then simple add the above proof and bingo! Flying spaghetti monster’s noodly appendages? We know it happened because we’re here. 🙂

      • It’s understandable if even the most learned person on the planet is ignorant of the prehistoric past, since so much of it cannot be known in any meaningful sense. It’s insensible, though, if even dullards can’t comprehend any part of the present, since all who are currently alive are experiencing it.

      • Look dude change your handle. If you were contributing rather than trolling I wouldn’t mind. I was here first.

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    • the origins of life, like the origins of the universe, are hidden from our view. it’s a pretty safe bet that life did not originate on Earth.

    • The problem with Big Bang is it posits a single beginning and a single end (heat death), rather than the continuing expand-contract cycle it is.
      A hundred billion year heartbeat.

      Jack Dobson nailed the error of such thought.

      He said that the End of Days, eschatolgy, millenialism, is inherently nihilistic.

      It is a death wish; the end of one’s enemies for some, of all suffering for others.

      In the reincarnating East, continuing the cycle of the traditions enables one to endure its animal pains;

      In the Abrahamic West, we are taught that one might gain a final Victory over the pains of the world.
      Some would like the quick cheat of burning it all down, first.

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      • Heat death of our universe doesn’t even begin to suggest it as permanent for all life everywhere, as cosmology admits that every calculation predicting heat death produces an incorrect ultimate result. This means some piece of information is missing and some kind of X needs to be plotted in there until we find what that factor is. This has happened throughout scientific history, for instance, before we understood gravity (especially its relativistic warping effects) astronomers talked about aether or the fifth element, and said planets were enclosed in crystals that made them negatively attract when they got too close. They understood this as a placeholder until they figured out what the hell was really going on. Astrophysicists are doing the same thing and discovering that there is “bleed” ruining their calculations, like water soaking through a paper towel, which seems to suggest the idea of multiverses is real, and that even if our universe collapses, there could be a limitless number of other, inhabitable universes. This is a definite “maybe” but it definitely precludes the kind of nihilism you’re postulating. If there’s a chance to punch a hole out of our prison (and there is, in terms of exotic matter) then we have a chance to survive. Astrophysicists do a hell of a lot less damage to religious faith than your average mainline preacher, especially if she’s some Episcopalian lesbian telling you God wants you to invite members of MS-13 into your homes, because God said love thy neighbor.

  21. Like Ferris Bueller I do not believe in isms. Isms are what people use to justify things they were going to do anyway.

    Marxists were not mass murderers because they were Marxists. They were mass murderers because that was the path to power, and Marxism invested them with more power than other systems would have, which is why they chose it to follow. The scale and efficiency of the murder, a result of the industrial age in which they arrived, not of the philosophy.

    Harry Jaffa probably did care about Aristotle. The English language seems to lack a one word definition for the kind of slavish devotion to ancient texts that he demonstrated. Madness seems a fitting word, yet insufficient.

  22. Can’t say I know too much about Aristotle, except that he influenced Aquinas. Re: clown world, I had to read a good amount of Plato in college, but never Aristotle, so I wonder about the significance of that.

    • Huh. In the Islamic world, they had the writings of Plato, extolled by philosopher Avicenna, but not Aristotle. Avicenna (Ibn Hasid) promoted judgment by gut feeling, by emotion, by what felt right.

      In the Christian West, they had the writings of Aristotle, but not Plato. At its edge, Islamic philosopher Averroes extolled judgement by reason, observation, and experiment for good governance.

      This was the basis of the Islamic version of the Catholic-Protestant wars, wherein iftjahad was closed; “questioning”, by the Mutajahid muslims , and their open version of Q’uran, was banned, their versions burned, in favor of the more zealous version. Also note that two schools were based in different cities.

      I probably got the spellings wrong; your observation recalled an example wherein philosophy had a big civilizational impact.

      • Correction: Ibn Sina(Avicenna) was an Aristotelian, as well as Ibn Rushd (Averooes). But you’re right that their questioning and approach were shut down by the Opposing faction. Most of their influence was felt in the West, as precursors to the Renaissance.

  23. For fuck’s sake, Z. You are obviously very well-read in philosophy, and then you go off write this kind of dreck full of ad hominem arguments, non-sequiturs and sophisms. Aristotle was one of the most evil men in history because he tutored Alexander? (Well, he got exiled for that as an old man after Alexander’s death). Are the British the most evil people in history because they tutored Idi Amin? Is the Russian Orthodox Church evil because Stalin went to seminary and studied to be a priest?

    Come on, man. Ever hear of free will?

    Sure, Aristotle was wrong about a number of things, like the “four elements.” But he was engaged in speculative philosophy, which is an ongoing task. In Socratic fashion, the point of Aristotle’s philosophy was to keep questioning people who thought they were cocksure of what absolute truth is. His chief contribution was as a critic of Plato; he regarded the description of the guardian class in the Republic as too idealistic and unobtainable because it contradicted human nature. Aristotle understood that politics had to be consistent with actual human nature in order for people to live the “good life.” When you see fanatical leftist nutjobs promoting radical ideologies like communism, faggotry, transgenderism, gender and racial equality and feminism, they always create disharmony, strife, and they restrict freedom, because these ideas are completely at odds with human nature. For Aristotle, the “good life” could only be achieved when politics was animated by a practical understanding of human nature, not when it was devoted to fanaticism and idealism and utopian unreality.

    Jaffa was wrong in imputing hidden esoteric meanings in the Founding documents that Lincoln later divined, but he was not wrong in asserting (in the link you provided) that the Founders were engaged in a fundamentally Aristotelian project, namely to construct a government based not on idealism but on an understanding of the limits of human nature, and to use that government to “promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to OURSELVES and OUR Posterity.”

    Jaffa misread both the Founders and Aristotle by claiming that the true purpose of the American Founding was to free Negroes and then free the rest of the fucking world. Actually, a cursory reading of Book I of Aristotle’s Politics tells us that human NATUTRE was hierarchical, and at the top of the hierarchy is a group of free male citizens able to “govern and to govern themselves in turn.” That’s who the Founders were. These free male citizens are followed by women, children, slaves and animals, in that order, based upon their relative ability (and inability) to use reason. Five year-olds are not “free” to take a loaded shotgun to show-and-tell, and animals are not free to shit in your living room. In Aristotle’s schema, “freedom” is not for everyone, by NATURE. Those who DO have freedom also have the responsibility to refrain from excess and follow the Golden Mean. They also have a paternalistic duty toward their inferiors rather than trying to force them to become something they cannot.

    A truly Aristotelian understanding of the Negro problem at the time of the Founding was that it would be unfair to expect slaves to fully partake in a free white society, just as it would be unfair to expect my dog to read a thesis on particle physics. Therefore they should be repatriated to their own polity in Africa that suited their own nature.

    The fact that Jaffa perverted Aristotle’s teaching cannot be held against Aristotle himself. What you are doing here, Z, is posthumously slandering him the same way that the Red Guards slandered intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution.

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    • I think the Z is just seeking out understanding as to just how we got to this precipice.
      In my business when we have a system failure we go back and try to look at everything from the very beginning. I do not think the Z ‘s intent is to slander Aristotle, I read today’s essay as a reminder to look at everything before we rebuild after the failure.
      And we will have to rebuild after the failure.

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      • Sometimes I wonder if Z isn’t engaged in Straussian deception and mindfuck when he writes stuff that is completely outrageous about specialized topics like Aristotelianism, which 99.5% of the public knows nothing about. The masses are going to nod along with exoteric bullshit like “Aristotle is as evil as Marx” but maybe his purpose is actually to get the .5% with specialized esoteric knowledge to start talking about it.

        On the other hand, it is also possible that he never really read or understood Aristotle and is simply accepting at face value what people like Jaffa incorrectly claim about Aristotle.

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        • Yet somehow, Jaffa promotes Aristotle as a co-Founder.

          As I said, they get Aryan thought all wrong, because they only get the half of it. They didn’t learn any lessons from his mistakes.

          (ps- that must’ve left the Zman grinning from ear to ear. At last, a worthy challenger! Shields high!)

        • If simple, basic knowledge of Aristotele’s philosophy and its footprint on the history of the West is esoteric 0.5% knowledge to the average commenter of a blog like this, that’s the first thing I would worry about.

    • Mao, Hitler, Mao & Aristotle?

      Who is this imposter, posing as our esteemed mentor, this fellow of infinite jest?

      Aristotle, one of human kinds earliest thinkers, a man of prodigious intellect, who practically invented logical thinking, who dared to take a stab at things very early on, while his contemporaries looked to the Delphic Oracle for answers, got some things wrong, some right. Surprise! Surprise!

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      • Mr. Z somehow chose to troll his readers here, or more likely an Anton writing somewhere else, at this time.
        Seen thusly, I would not say it wasn’t amusing, in its way.

    • I might add that:
      1. The Greeks did not wear togas.
      2. Z Man uses the phrase “crimes against humanity” in describing the actions of Alexander. He might as well referred to Alexander as a “racist”. Such a phrase and such a word make no historical sense. There is nothing Alexander did that was not the common practice of rulers of his time. In fact Alexander was noted by the ancient sources for his unusual kindness, mercy and benevolence, which brought many of the Persian satraps to his side.
      3. Perhaps Jaffa was a “universalist” but Aristotle certainly was not. He thought the Greeks superior to every other peoples and that most of these were “natural slaves”.
      4. Alexander was tutored by Aristotle from the age of 13 until the age of 16. Alexander became king of Macedon at 20. How much of what Alexander learned from the old Greek would have been put to use therefore? In fact Alexander noticed that much of what he had been taught was pure nonsense. And he did not hesitate to put Aristotle’s nephew Cleisthenes to death while on campaign.
      5. Blaming a teacher for the actions of his pupil is indeed and odd thing. Socrates was blamed for the actions of his pupil Alcibiades, and was put to death because of them.

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  24. There are some in the d-right who would agree with old Aristotle about evolution and the sphericity of the Earth. There are others that think Science is Chewish and therefore stuff like neutron stars and photosynthesis are in question.

    Eye on the ball, people! Read Bill Bryson’s book “A Short History of Nearly Everything” (Bill Bryson should be called the “Marx of the White Identitarians” and I encourage everyone to promote Bryson in this way; I’m sure he’d love it) which is a catalogue of the white man’s enormous impact on understanding His creation.

    Hail Democritus!

    • Not too sure that Science is Chewish, since the German rabbis in 1900 forbade their students from studying German science, since it was errant and worthless.

      Predictably, they later turned that on its head; also predictably, as they have since 3000 BC, they got Aryan science wrong anyways. They get just enough of it to make it dangerous.

      (ps- I know, I know, the JQ is tedious; but it’s like complaining about blacks. They aren’t going to change much either.)

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  25. No one is perfect. Everyone is mistaken at some time. The past cannot be changed. At the root, education is about making mistakes and learning from them (don’t do that again). Appeal to authority can be a shortcut to wisdom or misguided foolhardiness depending on the circumstances. And all of this consternation is a byproduct of affluence and too much leisure time. If you wake up in the morning wondering where your next meal is going to come from, you likely won’t have much interest in pondering Aristotle’s shortcomings.

    It matters not to me what Jaffa and Strauss did, or who they influenced. But I do see some value in an afternoon at the range practicing hitting a 6 inch balloon at 400 meters in a strong crosswind. Or tending a vegetable garden where weeding is tedious but cheaper and more effective than psychiatry. Or riding 20 miles of singletrack, half of which is into a 15 mph headwind. Life is meant to be lived, not contemplated.

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    • I’m not at all certain about this, but didn’t Aristotle say something to the effect that slavery allows people the leisure to pursue higher things? Philosophy for instance, lol.

      Not much ever changes.

  26. Jaffa gets right away to explaining that, in order to defend the inherent goodiness of our democracyy, we need to overthrow governments…other peoples’ governments.

  27. My own suspicion is that the march of technology and the achievement of widespread comfort have played much larger roles in our conditions today than have any particular philosophies or philosophers. Man is governed far more by his instincts and psychic drives than by rational thought. The only reason that certain philosophies or ideas can take popular hold is because scenarios have become ripe for them. If it wasn’t for Karl Marx and communism, some other disastrous worldview would have cursed Russia and various other places and peoples. Those hellbent on destroying themselves will have little trouble contriving justifications for it.

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    • It’s not like Marx arrived on the scene with new ideas and formulations that no one else had ever thought about. Jealousy and class envy had been around for eons before Marx tried to turn them into a philosophy/economic analysis.

      • And, umm, he did say that after we wipe out 80% of the slumdwellers, the remaining 20% will happily prune our orchards, through which we shall stroll discussing philosophy.

  28. It is a fascinating parlor game to ruminate on how far the zone of responsibility extends. Culpability and liability determine verdicts, for example, but ultimately are in the eye of the beholder. So if we go down this road with Aristotle and Marx, a prime candidate for blame has to be Thomas Jefferson, right? Then we have Freud, who shoulders tremendous blame and was quick himself to assign it to others. Rosseau surely has more blood on his hands than anyone else who springs to mind. And on and on.

    Ideas indeed are dangerous things in the wrong hands. We see this all around us as the West implodes because people either believed or could not apprehend concepts that may have been originally little more than ridiculous ideas advanced at the equivalent of ancient drinking bouts or pot parties. Consider “content of their character rather than color of their skin,” and how wasted someone had to be not to realize the two observably are closely related. Yet here we are.

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  29. When it comes to the hard sciences, Aristotle was more or less a well meaning failure. Where he did excel was creating a mental framework that attempted to synthesize how our minds process the world with what actual physical reality is. Plato’s idea of forms was strongly lacking, and Aristotle worked on bridging this gap.

    For example, if one is looking at a pencil, one does not come up with a full framework of atoms that equals what we see as a pencil, but are taking visual stimuli with regars to shape, exture etc. to say that is a pencil. One could argue a pencil does not really exist, and is just an abstraction of the mind, but at that point there’s no framework for knowing what the real is. Even Democritus’ idea of the Atom becomes a human mental abstraction with no objective truth value. Then there’s the thorny question of how we know what we perceive is the same as what others perceive. If there is nothing common among states of mind, then talking on this comment board is a total waste of time.

    Whether or not one agrees his ideas of forms, substances, etc. were a useful way of tackling this issue is up to the reader, but it was an interesting effort and far superior to some modern philosophical frameworks. Without having a mindset that allows for some sort of universal objectivity, any talk of scientific knowledge is dead in the water.

    This is a little in the weeds, as Z’s main point is we can’t look at dead people’s authority, no matter how renowned in the culture, as above criticism, and moving forward is going to require mauling some sacred cows.

    • The pencil exist only in our mind as a concept, but the materiality of the pencil exists outside our conception of it. Proof of this is that your pet also perceives the pencil, not as a pencil, but as a chew toy. Now, there is an argument that the pencil is part of an interface we conceive of as reality. What lies behind the conception of the pencil is either something much more complex or far more simple than our perception of space-time.

      I should do a post on this and maybe zing the natural right crowd a little. That would be fun.

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      • Not so sure about that. The pencil does exist in our mind as a concept, but not only a concept. It also exists in its own right as a pencil, as that is what it was created to be by its creator.

        That our pet uses it as a chew toy does not negate this, but only shows that the pet does not comprehend the full existence of the pencil.

        • Just because we imagine the pencil exists in space-time, which may very well be the product of our imagination, does not mean that it exists outside our mind. At the minimum, it does not exist as a pencil.

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        • What if your entire existence is merely a dream in a boltzman brain?

          In that case the pencil does not exist.

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      • Oh gosh, not the Primal Source crowd again. They’re just looking for a Mind, a Sim Designer outside the bubble.

        In other words, “proving” that Moses had it right- there’s only One- and so you should bow to their authority, since they have a ticket.

        Look, fellas, some of us aren’t asking who’s right or who’s the highest.

        What we’re asking is, how does it work? That’s all. No judgements yet, until we can get a decent handle on that much simpler question.

      • Nonsense. It’s a stick which stimulates sensory perceptions a certain way in different creatures. It exists regardless of its origin or intended use by a creature; the common trait between the two entities’ interaction with it being there is a physical object they both perceive.

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        • Perhaps physical reality is a simplified interface for a much more complex reality. Our genes evolved this simple interface for reality called space-time, as that increased our fitness. The dog’s conception of space-time is different, as his genes require an even simpler conception of reality in order to maximize his fitness.

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          • one interesting phenomena – demonstrating this – is that what we see is not the absolute present, but slightly in the past (as it takes time to process visual input into a coherent image). it is also a well known phenomena that the brain starts synthesizing visual information when it thinks it *knows* what it is looking at. hence mis-identifying words on a printed page, etc.

          • It sounds like you are talking about the way our “simple interface” really is, the way genes really work, and how our conception of space-time really compares to a dogs. But if we are not justified in thinking of a pencil as anything outside of the mind, how are we justified in thinking of genes as something outside the mind? Why are we allowed to talk about the real nature and effect of genes but not pencils?

          • No. Reality exists. It is just that our perception of it is not accurate. Therefore, our genes could exist, just not exactly as we perceive them.

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          • I have got to say, Mr. Z, that I didn’t expect someone spending considerable effort on talking politics, and stuff of the order of American Conservative, National Review,… to have a philosopher in him.

            It’s a shame Severino, one of the 2-3 highest thinkers of the 20th century, hasn’t been translated from Italian (except for one or two books far from his best) into English, so I can’t recommed you read those.

          • In the early pages of his main work (title escapes my memory right now) Schopenhauer says: “matter” is the effect of reality upon our sensory perception.

        • That line of thought is basically as useful as the baked stoner’s musings about where the atoms of the sofa end and those of his ass begin. Atoms in the void is ultimately just another nihilistic shrug. Pencils, particularly since they are constructed artifacts, have a discrete, objective reality. In Aristotle’s terms, pencils have a final or teleological cause. The fact that a dog or a retard cannot apprehend them as writing implements but merely as existing generic objects conveys almost no meaning. Definition requires specification.

    • I agree with Chet. Geniuses do all kinds of stupid stuff outside their main field. Isaac Newton plunged deeply into Alchemy and day-trading. I still think there is plenty of good stuff in Nicomachean Ethics and other Aristotle works.

      Meanwhile the “thorny question” of common perception is why language was invented. Wittgenstein talks a lot about this. He was a nutjob too with a certifiable family.

      On some level, the authors of these more abstract theories aren’t responsible for how they get used “downstream”. Symmetrically, we get to criticize them to make progress.

      Poor King Philip was the first notable father to send his kid to the Ivy League and then be screwed by the resulting indoctrination haha.

      • I would have used the correct name. Your readers are intelligent enough to either know the difference or to look up what a chlamys is…

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      • I try to be moderately well read.
        That being said, Nicomachean Ethics (in English) still gives me trouble.
        I can follow along with the arguments of Mr. Z-Man and the commentariat.
        Sort of.
        But I DID learn today that the ancient Greeks wore a type of toga/ poncho-like clothing called a “chlamys”.

        Lesson: always read your Z-Man and never forget to read the comments section.

  30. You’re getting it all wrong. Jaffa was not an evil crackpot because he relied on Aristotle (which he really didn’t, it was just more crypsis); Jaffa was evil because he was a Jew, and he was part and parcel of the endless non-stop 24/7/365 long-standing Jewish plan to subvert, undermine and destroy white European Christendom by any means possible.

    Jaffa (JEW): “all men are equal! Therefore it follows that we must destroy white civilization, in the name of equality!”
    Zwangwill (JEW): “We are a melting pot! Whereby unavoidable logic, white people must therefore be erased!”
    Emma Lazarus (JEW): “Give us [or really, them] the dregs of all humanity, to dilute the white race! And also throw open wide the gates to Eastern Jewry, so that they may recklessly plunder and loot this prosperous land, as we Jews have always done!!”

    Many such cases. Enough cases, in fact, to destroy a civilization, as we are now watching.

    Quod erat demonstrandum.

    • Not Plato, nor Cicero, nor Maciavelli, though all these are found in abundance in the writings.

      Thucydices.
      “Ukraine Primer,” is his Thucydices moment. He has entered the hall of the immortals.

      But harken!
      There shall no peace in the kingdom-
      The cries of his his subjects
      Shall not cease-

      Until he gives to us a name…
      The name of that song!

  31. The writings of Aristotle survived as much because of the vagaries of document survival during a time of hand written manuscripts than with the objective value of the ideas. The Greeks of the Age of Aristotle we’re experimenting with all sorts of ideas but once the culture changed only the “right” books were copied and the politically incorrect ones simply neglected till the originals decayed into dust.

    We face a similar problem, much knowledge in our society is poorly preserved, either in books using acid based paper or by electronic means. To make matters worse, when the people who are expert in their fields die, there may be no one competent to interpret the technical knowledge that is preserved if the culture discourages the development of such expertise.

    Aristotle may have a lot to answer for, but he had, and continues to have, lots of help.

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    • Selection pressure exists in all systems. Aquinas was selecting that which served the interests of the system he served, so he bears some blame for Aristotle’s crimes. On the other hand, he was in a system and assumed those rules to be as true as anything a man can perceive. His intentions were, as far as he could know, good.

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      • what would be an example of Aristotle’s harmful ideas? Beyond heliocentrism and humours (which seem pretty widespread and generalized, rather than particular to one person).

        • My take from the essay is not so much that the man himself was dangerous, but rather him being held up as THE authority on the nature of existence.

          Being the tutor to Alexander probably helped with that, though.

        • I am just going to take it as a giant troll by Zman. Aquinas helped revive Aristotle’s thought; so he gets ex post facto condemned for Galileo’s house arrest over heliocentrism? That’s pushing the “sins of the father” bullshit way further than even those (((desert tribe dwellers))) ever did.
          Given the new reality, the proper ethos is that I’d rather be ruled by 535 Aristotelians or Thomists than the first 535 names in the Baltimore phone book (pace the traitorous Buckley and the anachronistic Yellow Pages).

          • Neither Aristotle nor Plato were ever able to devise a working constitution for any Greek city. Plato spent time in his imaginary Republic; Aristotle contented himself with merely recording the constitutions of hundreds of Greek states. No philosopher outside of Marcus Aurelius lived in the real world and could govern it.

            I would rather be governed by a Sulla or a Caesar than any philosopher.

            As for Galileo: He said that the sun was the center of the universe. The Church said it was not. Who was right?

  32. I’m inclined to say something biblical here regarding vain philosophies, but once again I find myself drawn to your touting the correctness of evolutionary theory. It seems to undermine your moral claims. If the universe is silent concerning man and man himself a descendant of bacteria or fish, a total accident of material processes, what is the meaning of anything, your writing included?

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    • There’s no meaning without the Christ. But until you have received the grace of meeting Christ, that realisation alone doesn’t, can’t, force you to know Christ is there.

      You knock any and every of the world’s doors, hoping meaning will, in the end, be behind one of them and, in the end, greet and welcome you the tireless searcher.

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      • I’ve spent significant time pondering the claims of Christianity, including the consequences of me finding it lacking if it turns out to be true.

        I wonder if people like you have given similar consideration to the possibility of your being wrong. How would you live in a world where there is no unquestionable lawgiver and no inherent meaning? I wonder if you would have the strength to face it.

        • I can see you feel that it takes a certain strength to be an atheist. I suspect this is pride talking, but if you think about it, why would one’s strength to live in a meaningless existence be laudable? It would be meaningless whether one lived or died, or how strong one was or wasn’t. You’re imbuing meaninglessness with all sorts of meaning laden terms. It doesn’t work, it’s like trying to lift yourself up into the air.

          • “You’re imbuing meaninglessness with all sorts of meaning laden terms.”

            Yes. That is the task at hand and your reply that, “It doesn’t work, it’s like trying to lift yourself up into the air,” shows that you haven’t grasped what it means to live in the world as you honestly find it.

            For what it’s worth, I don’t call myself an atheist. I did attend an Easter service about 10 years ago to see if the spirit moved me.

            I’m open to evidence, either spiritual or emotional. To be honest, if I wasn’t such a bad liar, I would be tempted to pretend to be a Christian to marry a woman who is slightly more likely to remain loyal.

        • That I wrote you can’t know Christ is real as long as you haven’t met Him should have told you I experienced life without knowing Him and His reality.

          I experienced that for 39 years and a couple months.
          I spent that time in angst, striving to find what one cannot find until It decides to be found.
          I was a Buddhist and had given up finding a worthy purpose and meaning to life when the Event came to happen.

      • Without a love of Christ no man can really understand who he is and what surrounds him. He makes guesses, flops around like a fish out of water, and says and does very foolish things.

    • lol I just realized that yes darwinism is a vain philosophy, so I guess I couldn’t help myself.

    • “The Conservative Case for Defending Yesterday’s Progressive Victories … Forever.”

      Typical National Review.

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    • I am surprised they only have a couple pieces like this today. This is like their Christmas, in that they get to show off their latest DR3 action figures.

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      • Not only that, but the heavy hitters have dropped mentioning MLK day entirely. They farm it out to this intern and Baseball Head. According to the headline, his column compares MLK and Bismarck. I am out of free articles, so I have to continue in my celebrations without reading that gem.

        • > They farm it out to this intern and Baseball Head.

          One guy wrote that he thought that the CIA made an experiment to see whether they could make people get viscerally angry at the sight anthropomorphic baseball, and it worked.

    • It’s not AI. It’s status-seeking, status-bolstering, extroverted aping social skills.
      Granted, those pursuits and practice render a human not much unlike a machine.

    • In five years National Review, if it manages to hang on that long, will laud George Floyd on the national holiday that celebrates his martyrdom. NR and the conservativism it touts are every bit as ludicrous as transgenderism.

      Also, for laughs, looks at what the National Review objectively wrote about MLK in his day if those editions have not been memoryholed. Hint: the writers could not work there today.

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      • National Review editorial, March 1960:

        ““In the Deep South the Negroes are, by comparison with the Whites, retarded”

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      • Which is why they don’t have their archive posted online. I have read comments from people who have tried to order back issues from the 50s and 60s from them. They have said National Review won’t even sell copies of them. That they have completely disavowed most of what they stood for, except anti-Communism is well known, but they still don’t want anyone to be able to read it. Maybe it is because the decline in quality and seriousness would be too obvious for anyone to ignore.

      • They aren’t laughable. Inasmuch as you don’t find ill-faith cultural and political saboteurs amusing, that is.

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