Costin Alamariu – Selective Breeding and the Birth of Philosophy

Gutes Buch, meine Unterstreichungen:

in early Rome, for example, bachelorhood had to be forbidden by law.

S. 9

They often do not see the immense work that had to go into making men good husbands or fathers, nor the great privileges through which men had to be enticed to accept these duties; still less do they see or dare to mention the great work some would say oppression that had to be exerted to make women faithful wives and mothers.

S. 9

Social liberals and feminists make the same mistake. They assume the problem is that men desire patriarchy and ownership over the wife and family, that men desire dominion over wife and children. They do not see these are, in part, methods some civilizations resorted to in order to induce men to accept the responsibilities of father and husband.

S. 9

The problem, as social liberals and feminists are finding out, isn’t that men seek by nature or education to dominate wives or children, but that men simply don’t care.

S. 10

Men seek status above all because it is attractive to women and results in intercourse or breeding.

S. 10

In Cape Verde, one of the first colonial ventures, the Portuguese deliberately created a mixed-race population to manage the slave trade.

S. 12

Christianity in reshaping and perhaps rebreeding European man for there is strong evidence that many of the behaviors described, such as altruism toward strangers, are by now hereditary in certain populations.

S. 14

The best regime, the Republic, is a eugenic state, crafted exclusively with a view to eugenics, and its downfall is because of dysgenic unions. (nach Plato)

S. 15

A point of view like that implied in John Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance, or any idea of “accident of birth,” would have seemed absurd for the simple reason that neither marriages nor births are random or incidental.

S. 17 (für Griechen)

One great weakness of Marxism is that even if the End State of freedom from material necessity were achieved, scarcity in the sexual market would remain, and would be, like it always has been, the fundamental cause of social division and political upheaval.

S. 19

Abandoning conventional and traditional hierarchies that were no doubt oppressive has brought pain because modern man now comes face to face with a more primordial hierarchy, one that is inescapable and uncanny.

S. 19

Freedom from socially- and legally-enforced monogamy one boy for every girl, and vice versa has led not to equality and happiness, but laid bare the unadorned and brutal hierarchy of nature.

S. 20

the question of sex and breeding will continue to be at the center of social and political life, whether nations and lawmakers are aware of this fact or no.

S. 21

the Greek state or polis, which today we are likely to imagine as the origin of our democracy, was in fact nothing more or less than a breeding project for superior specimens.

S. 23

To speak of superior and inferior ways of life is necessarily to deny that every form of life has dignity or meaning. But, in particular, the net effect is to deny that mere life has any worth.

S. 24

most of these ideas were inherited by the Nazis from progressive and liberal Protestant Anglo-American thought.

S. 25

Philosophers and tyrants were both perceived by the cities of the time as kindred criminal spirits. So often philosophers were attacked as teachers of tyranny.

S. 27

The question of what was “by nature” or “by convention” animated much of Greek intellectual life, and had important political meaning, for example, with the aristocratic party generally favoring the side of nature, and the democratic generally favoring the side of convention.

S. 29

Socrates’ execution specifically for teaching anti-democratic and radical tyranny a mention in a court case decades later casually refers to “Socrates the sophist who you executed for being the teacher of Critias and Alcibiades who tried to put down the democracy”.

S. 34

In this environment where the elite of the time faced danger and dissolution from all sides, Plato invented the image of the philosopher as defender of moral virtue, in other words, invented the image of the philosopher as priest.

S. 35

The investigation of human nature is impossible without an investigation principally of heredity, and this has been true throughout the whole of Western philosophy, no matter how indirectly thinkers have often had to express themselves.

S. 37

the youth who are provoking journalists and pundits on social media with “alt-right” or “racist” ideas or facts are the youth who are reacting against this drastic change in education since the 1990’s and who have experienced education from primary school as authoritarian and oppressive.

S. 41

Here, the titanic work of Cavalli-Sforza above all definitively killed Lewontin’s Lie: the mendacious cliché that there is more genetic variation within races than between them. We now have a very minute understanding of the considerable genetic diversity between historical population groups. Black Africans, in particular, are so divergent from the rest of humanity that they exceed the threshold commonly used in other species to draw sub-species boundaries. A revelation as shocking as it is by now indisputable.

S. 42

No one will say that an average seventeen- or even twenty-year-old will have a deep understanding either of genetics, population genetics, or of human nature, but they have used some of the most striking findings or studies to step on the toes of both liberal and conservative journalists, who seem to know even less.

S. 44

the ancient prejudice was instead that philosophy was somehow associated with tyranny as such – perhaps in the sense that tyrants so often seemed to have received part of their education from philosophers.

S. 53

one must not confuse the prephilosophic early chieftain or king for anything other than a servant or slave of the convention and of the needs of the collective.

S. 58

the first philosopher was the first man who discovered nature. (Strauss)

S. 61

Nomos is an all-encompassing primordial act of foundation.

S. 68

Nomos is the higher objective power, supreme over all individual existence or will, not satisfied merely to protect a citizen in return for taxes and military service, as in modern times, but aspiring to be the very soul of the whole polis.

S. 69

In certain states boys had to learn the laws by heart, set to a tune or cadence, not just to fix them in the memory but to ensure that they became unalterable. The Greek word nomos has the double meaning of law and melody.

S. 69

“Our” way is the right way because it is both old and “our own,” or because it is both “home-bred and […] Prephilosophic life is characterized by the primeval identification of the good with the ancestral. (Strauss)

S. 71

The old notion that the savage is the freest of mankind is the reverse of the truth. He is a slave, not indeed to a visible master, but to the past, to the spirits of his dead forefathers, who haunt his steps from birth to death, and rule him with a rod of iron. (Frazer)

S. 74

“For after all there is more liberty in the best sense liberty to think our own thoughts and to fashion our own destiniesunder the most absolute despotism, the most grinding tyranny, than under the apparent freedom of savage life, where the individual’s lot is cast from the cradle to the grave in the iron mould of hereditary custom.” (Frazer)

S. 75

“kingship” is originally in fact more of a ceremonial or sacrificial function. One could almost observe a general rule where the further the kingly office moves away from cultic and religious trappings, the more actual power he has and vice versa.

S. 82

To question tradition, or to show interest in the gods of neighboring tribes, is, as Rousseau states, criminal and it is treason to begin with.

S. 84

perhaps for good reason, only deals with the form the questioning takes. But it is not conceivable that Thales could have come upon the concept of nature, let alone publicly expounded it, in a society that was under the total and absolute rule of one ancestral custom and that lived in permanent terror of magic.

S. 85

Wherever we find in the real world a truly “aristocratic attitude” or morality, it seems to have been imposed from outside by a conquering tribe or elite.

S. 87

Nay, they actually think it tame and stupid to acquire by the sweat of toil what they might win by their blood… (Tacitus)

S. 89

“Work was never a pleasure for me, nor home-keeping thrift, which nourishes good children. But for me oared ships were always a pleasure, and wars, and well-polished spears and arrows.” (Odysseus)

S. 90

The famous motto of the Roman aristocracy was “Bellum et Otium”; in marked distinction, of course, to the later Christian “Ora et Labora.” Related to this disdain for farming and constitutive of the aristocratic morality in an important way is the often pastoral origin of a conquering elite. The examples just mentioned are few among many similar others that suggest aristocracy is imposed on a native, static farming population by a mobile pastoral tribe. Many reasons have been suggested to explain this phenomenon, and there is possibly some truth in all of them. In an argument that consists of simple biological determinism, it has been noted that a pastoral diet of milk, meat, cheese, and occasional wild fruit much like Tacitus ascribed to the then still semi-nomadic ancient Germanic tribes is far healthier than a diet of grains and will produce a taller, larger, more robust class of warriors.

S. 91

Consequently as a matter of physical anthropology, the skeletons of steppe, mountain, or hill-dwelling populations have been far more robust than those of farmers who live in valleys and fertile plains or river basins.

S. 91

Philosophy and tyranny both appear as the characteristic forms of decay of an aristocratic republic.

S. 115

aristocratic traditions are distinguished from the traditions of the commons or of a primitive egalitarian tribe by the fact that these traditions consist of a breeding and training regime, to be understood in both cases quite literally.

S. 118

Nature, phusis, phue, refers first of all, and always, and above all, to a concrete material reality, to a biological reality that means very plainly: “the body.” (Pindar)

S. 122

One has authority, one commands, one doesn’t need to give reasons; reasons, justifications, rationalizations these are for plebeians and the envious. (Pindar)

S. 133

most people do not have phusis. Phusis is not a reference then merely to inborn character, specific orientation in the abstract, inclination and so on though it is that as well: but crucially, because most alien to our understanding there is a question here of intensity. Some beings are more than others; they have more being, more nature. Phusis, the truth or the knowledge of a being, is not “discovered” by deduction, but only manifests itself in action if the being in question should have enough phusis.

S. 136

The primary function of nomos is “social control,” homogenization, taming, tribal survival, the continuation and preservation of mere life through a regime of commands, speech and teaching that covers up and suppresses nature. Excellence, virtue, on the other hand, is a matter of nature, of blood, and it cannot be taught.

S. 140

That which is inborn/by nature (phuar] is always the best; but many men strive to win glory with excellence that comes from training. Anything in which a god has no part is none the worse for being quelled in silence. (Pindar)

S. 141

“Under all laws the straight-spoken?24 man excels, whether by the side of a tyranny, or whenever the furious mob, or when the wise watch over the city.”

S. 149

The wise man knows many things by nature, while those who have only learned chatter with violent and indiscriminate tongues in vain like crows against the divine bird of Zeus. (Pindar)

S. 151

The wise man possesses a great eye an “inborn eye.” He is on the hunt for prey, for truth or insight about the world, which is snatched up in one bold move from afar, from high up, or hit from afar as an archer hits his target.

S. 151

Wisdom is a matter of silent insight from afar, an inborn skill; it is not a matter of discussion, endless words, the boisterous chatter of the envious. This latter is the province of the undifferentiated and ignorant many and their flatterers, this is the darkness of nomos that seeks to drown out with its violence and sound the radiance of wisdom, to suppress the wise man, to suppress phua.

S. 152

a divine gift; Pindar is quite explicit on this in other places as well: “All the resources for the achievements of mortal excellence come [ephun] from the gods; for wisdom, or having powerful arms, or an eloquent tongue.” (Pindar)

S. 153

Wisdom, like the other true virtues or areta, can’t be taught, but is a matter of the blood. The wise man and later, by extension, the philosopher is not taught or nurtured so much as he must be bred; at most he is a lucky accident. His education, insofar as it is at all possible, takes place “outside the city,”

S. 153

So philosophy is said to be dangerous because by considering the things in the heavens and under the earth according to the standard of nature, it lessens belief in the divinities that are understood, according to the particular tradition in question, to be the sources of the political community and of the right way of life.

S. 163

A community cannot abide for long, at least not in a healthy way, if its founding principles are always publicly in question, and it is the character of philosophy to throw all fundamental principles in question.

S. 164

“philosophy” and “philosopher” became terms of abuse in the world of medieval Islam, of Judaism, and of Orthodox Christianity, as is well known.

S. 164

We mold the best and strongest amongst us, taking them from their infancy like young lions, and utterly enthrall them by our spells and witchcraft, telling them the while that they must have but their equal share, and that this is what is fair and just. But, I fancy, when some man [aner] arises with enough nature [hikanen phusin], he shakes off all that we have taught him, bursts his bonds, and breaks free; he tramples underfoot our codes and juggleries, our charms and “laws,” which are all against nature; our slave rises in revolt and shows himself [epanastas anephane] our master, and there shines [exelampse] out the full light of the right by nature [tes phuseos dikaion]. (Callicles)

S. 169

the moral argument that starts with Polus, for which this dialogue is most famous that doing wrong is worse that suffering it is not only secondary to understanding the meaning of this text, but completely misleading.

S. 172

In his argument with Socrates, Gorgias failed because he was ashamed to admit that he cannot teach justice. Polus then failed because he was ashamed to say that suffering wrong is more shameful than doing it. In other words, Socrates’ opponents keep failing because of their shame [aiskhune], a judgment in which Socrates and Callicles agree, and to which Gorgias and Polus, who are present, do not object. Shame, indeed, will turn out to be crucial to understanding the rhetorical structure of the Gorgias.

S. 172f

Gorgias and Polus failed because Socrates shamed them, that is, he mired them in the conventional notions that are somehow allied with shame.

S. 174

What then does the superior man escape? He escapes our “enslaving speaking” [katadoulometha legontes]

S. 175

This is Callicles’ surprising and radical conclusion: nomos controls not by physical power, but by a kind of speaking or “education.”

S. 176

The laws, hoi nomoi, are only mere tools of convention, nomos, as such.

S. 176

Nomos depends on lies and fantasies, “all against nature” and therefore against truth.

S. 176

the nomos works through formative myths, through “witchcraft in speech”

S. 176

It is the superior human specimens or the erromenesteroi who have the unique access to the distinction between nature and convention, and they only have this access in the best circumstances; they are ever in danger of being corrupted, enslaved, smothered by nomos.

S. 182

study. A man who practices philosophy late into life will be kept in a state of permanent childhood at least this is the main point of Callicles’ discussion at 485a-c; in other words, the lion will not be able to break free.

S. 183

Truth, nature, and nobility or physical-mighty beauty, all one and the same, are manifest for Callicles. By contrast speech is used for deception, speech belongs to convention, and truth is hidden only by the false and deceptive speech of convention.

S. 183

Paradoxically, it is not philosophy that is the liberation for the superior human natures even though philosophy is in some sense the “original” activity of such natures.

S. 184

The one is stronger than the many who are not yet united. They unite and form conventions precisely because they are weaker and less manly than the few stronger, and because they wish to curb the advantage of these.

S. 187

Callicles’ interchangeable use of demos and nomos is key, because it shows radically that his horizon and therefore his critique of convention is limited to the democratic regime. He is not able to consider or attack “convention” in all its aspects, because he has only been able to attack Athenian convention.

S. 198

A philosopher must free himself from convention.

S. 198

The makers of the laws are the weaker sort of men, and the more numerous. So it is a view to themselves and their own interest that they make their laws and distribute their praises and blames; and to terrorize the stronger sort of folk… they tell them that…having more is shameful and unjust…. (Callicles)

S. 198

The lack of awareness of the power and primacy of the regime is characteristic of the orators, who imagine that they rule when in fact they must accommodate themselves to the beast and serve it.

S. 199

In both cases a rare or superior natural specimen is corrupted by human convention or by the conventions of the regime. The corruption takes place in the soul, whether by means of imitation of the regime and its conventions, or as a result of bewitchment by these conventions; in both cases the corruption enslaves the superior, and finally obscures from them their proper liberation and hence the just by nature.

S. 201

Philosophy faced the danger of being extinguished at its very birth, by political states based on divine law. Later, after a brief revival in the Islamic and Jewish world it was in fact extinguished by such types of states. The charge against Socrates in particular was motivated by the perception that he taught young men to be tyrannical.

S. 203

It was understood that his very philosophical activity, or philosophical activity in general, somehow encouraged tyranny.

S. 203

Philosophers must defend the virtues of the many – chiefly, self-restraint, sophrosune, and justice if they are to rule, and if they are to have anything to rule at all.

S. 210

After the theoretical discussion on the nature of the kalon has ended, is that Socrates questions all amount to “mere shavings and scrapings of discourse,” and that what is truly beautiful is the ability to make beautiful speeches in public for one’s own interest or advancement: in other words that Socrates’ speeches are ugly, but that traditional political rhetoric is what is truly beautiful.

S. 213

Hippias’ rhetoric only aims to please and therefore has to cater to the pleasures of others. […] He thinks he rules, but he is really being used as a clown. (nach Socrates)

S. 214f

For in political affairs and in one’s own state to be powerful is the most beautiful of all things, but to be powerless is the most disgraceful of all. (Hippias)

S. 217

[Astrippus] was asked once in what educated men are superior to uneducated men; and answered, “Just as broken horses are superior to those that are unbroken.”

S. 221

Philosophy is liberation from nomos and return to nature and therefore to the “teaching of force,” the teaching of the beast the lion and the fox which is “regime-independent.”

S. 221

Nature – the fundamental ground on which both tyranny and philosophy meet – is concealed, not from the philosophers themselves, but beneath the public mask of philosophy, which henceforth becomes a pose of piety, of righteousness, which henceforth becomes moralistic.

S. 225

Heinrich von Kleist committed suicide because of what he learned from Kant’s philosophy; and that while this self-destruction of a great mind is to be lamented, it nevertheless indicates an intensity and seriousness regarding philosophy that doesn’t exist in Nietzsche’s own time: Kleist made Kant’s philosophy his own and lived it. His greatness as an artist is arguably inseparable from this seriousness.

S. 232

Sufism has never in practice opposed jihad as physical war on unbelievers, but embraced it, even within our own time. This is because the image from Sufism as to how this distinction should be interpreted especially important for our purposes here is not of inner truth and outward “metaphor” or of inner truth and outward lies; rather, the image invoked by the Sufi mystic is between the inner garden tended by the initiate on one hand, and the outer walls manned by the defenders of the faith on the other.

S. 236

the virtues are much more matter of fact and physical than we like to think and than one gathers from the body of work left behind by the Socratic schools-which are a late phenomenon, which “spiritualized,” intellectualized, or moralized the virtues, and, according to Nietzsche and others, which were in any case the minority position for most of antiquity.

S. 238

In Xenophon’s example the Persians are stand-ins for the oligarchic man, and the contrast between tan (Spartan-Greek) aristocracy and pale, untanned (Persian-Oriental oligarchy therefore made apparent in a very direct way. Aristocracy is not aristocracy without its members possessing and exhibiting virtue, of which, for example, a strong body and tan skin is a marker. And so let us emphasize again that virtue here is to be interpreted in a very concrete and “primitive” way: qualities, both physical and spiritual, necessary for or indicative of action, war, adventure, and nothing more.

S. 239

The argument is roughly that the athlete’s method of training and lived practice is a lot more akin to the philosopher’s way than the learning of the striving intellectual, which is superficial, incidental or arbitrary, accumulated for no clear reason except perhaps the pursuit of status or recognition, and serves to make its carrier weak and hobbled rather than strong.

S. 240

He fascinated by appealing to the competitive impulse of the Greeks — he introduced a variation into the wrestling match between young men and youths. Socrates was a great erotic. (Nietzsche)

S. 241

Platonic philosophy requires that there be beautiful youths in Athens. It doesn’t just require a specific institution or practice, let alone words or beliefs: it requires that there be beautiful physical specimens.

S. 242

Intolerance is absolutely necessary: it is a certain severity against others and against oneself; indeed Nietzsche goes so far as to point out that intolerance itself is considered a virtue by many historical aristocracies.

S. 246

Every aristocratic morality is intolerant in its education of the young, its provisions for women, its marriage customs, its relationships between young and old, its penal laws (which fix their eyes only on those who are deviants) – it reckons intolerance itself among the virtues, under the name “justice.” (Nietzsche)

S. 250

First principle: one must need to be strong otherwise one will never become strong. (Nietzsche)

S. 251

Aristocracy and aristocratic freedom is thus always coexistent with the danger of tyranny, which such a regime must take every precaution to prevent, yet always must keep as a necessary risk. The drive or desire to tyranny is a necessary consequence of aristocratic education, on account of its cultivation of politically dangerous abilities and ambitions. The dream of every Greek, as Plato knew, was to become tyrant.

S. 251

“all great ages of culture are ages of political decline: what is great culturally has always been unpolitical, even anti-political. (Nietzsche)

S. 252

An Alcibiades or Plato is a rare “monster” of such an age; the rule, the general case, the interesting case, is different and opposite: weakness, exhaustion, desire for rest and peace, and ultimately, mediocrity.

S. 261

Only the mediocre have the prospect of succeeding, of reproducing themselves-they are the people of the future, the only survivors, “Be like them! Become mediocre!” from now on that’s the only morality that still makes sense, that people still hear. But it is difficult to preach, this morality of mediocrity! it may never admit what it is and what it wants! It must speak about restraint and worth and duty and love of one’s neighbour it will have difficulty concealing its irony! (Nietzsche)

S. 262

Christianity was “Platonism for the people,” or, which is the same thing, an entirely exoteric Platonism. A Platonism with a priesthood that no longer understood nor cared for the fact that the outward moral and political orientation was meant as a protective outer wall for an inner garden where nature itself was nurtured and preserved. The quasi-Platonic priesthood of medieval Christianity, for all its spiritual profundity, was incompetent when it came to the needful task of caring for the “overall development” of man or the cultivation of human nature a nature they denied.

S. 264

In times of decadence there is an “anarchy” of instincts, a tyranny of destructive and self-destructive impulses. Trusting one’s own instincts, one’s body, in such a situation Is a grave mistake.388 Restraint of the impulses is a necessity and a “cure,” and Platonism was supremely crafty in its attempt to base this cure on “reason” and therefore to make the philosopher the spiritual patron or doctor of the ancient gentlemen- he repeatedly refers to Socrates as a “physician?”

S. 266

The inner purpose of the Platonic politics is “the Olympian existence and ever-renewed procreation and preparation of the genius compared with which all other things are only tools, expedients and factors towards realization.”

S. 268

What has value is nobility, higher life, which requires the subsuming and exploitation of mere life, in the same way the Greek state and higher Greek culture required slavery,393 and in the same way the polis required the absolute subsuming of all pre-political or subpolitical forms.

S. 269

“Its fundamental belief must, in fact, be that the society should exist, not for the sake of the society, but only as a base and framework on which an exceptional kind of nature can raise itself to its higher function and, in general, to a higher form of being, comparable to those heliotropic climbing plants on Java – people call them sipo matador – whose tendrils clutch an oak tree so much and for so long until finally, high over the tree but supported by it, they can unfold their crowns in the open light and make a display of their happiness.”

S. 269f

The martial state, the Spartan state, is the prototype of the state: in its being dedicated to the production of military genius it lays the precondition, or presents the model, for the state as dedicated to the production of genius more generally, for the state as the cultivation of human nature or as the staging ground of higher culture.

S. 271

The founders are necessarily not determined by their time, but determine the horizon of a people; they stand outside this horizon and have nature as a guide much in the same way a horse breeder does.

S. 279

The wise man, [Xenophon] says, “is satisfied with the approval of a small minority.” He seeks only the approval of those who are “worthy” and this can only be a very small number. (Kojeve)

S. 283