Skip to comments.Christ vs. Plato, Nietzsche, Darwin and Marx
Posted on 12/26/2003 4:58:06 PM PST by Federalist 78
On the birthday of Christ, it is appropriate to compare Jesus with four Westerners who influenced the mental development of the world.
The Athenian philosopher Plato was admired at Western universities throughout the millennium of their existence. Plato ascribed his wisdom to Socrates, who was generally considered, among the educated in the West and Russia even in the 20th century, the wisest person who ever lived, the sage of sages.
Published in 1987 by Professor Allen Bloom was a study entitled "The Closing of the American Mind." What is the cause? American universities do not pay sufficient attention to Plato and Socrates.
The best-known book of Plato-Socrates, written by Plato, since Socrates did not write but expressed himself orally, describes the ideal State and hence is entitled "The State," mistranslated into English as "The Republic," though "republic" is a Latin, not Greek, word that appeared after Platos death.
The ideal State of Plato-Socrates resembles the tyrannical Sparta, a mortal enemy of Athenian democracy, but this ideal State of Plato-Socrates is far more Spartan than Sparta. It is a countrywide cattle-breeding farm on which pedigree human cattle are raised.
Men and women live separately, and a man and a woman, selected by the proper authorities to produce pedigree progeny, meet only for this "pairing" or "coupling," the resulting child being taken away from them for proper collective upbringing and education provided the child satisfies the pedigree standards; otherwise, the child is destroyed. If it is born without the due pairing or coupling authorization, it is destroyed ipso facto then and there.
If someone is so sick that he or she cannot work, he or she should not be treated, but should be allowed to die as not fit for survival. If alive, he or she will mar the pedigree purity of the human cattle as a whole. The weak, the sick, those unable to work must die off and thus make the pedigree human cattle as a whole stronger and healthier.
About 23 centuries after Plato, an English clergyman studying nature and named Darwin discovered that man had evolved from the monkey. All the more reason to breed human cattle on a countrywide cattle-breeding farm (or a zoo?). Darwins contemporary (and disciple!) Nietzsche contended, with triumph, that man is the most predatory animal, a super-beast, a "bestia."
The Romans used to say, "Man to man is a wolf." But wolves have not been especially noted for attacking one another. On the other hand, a Mongol army, a pack of Mongols, would attack a city and, unless it surrendered, the attackers not only killed its entire population but also smashed all the buildings into stones so small that it was impossible to find that the city ever existed.
If wolves could invent and write down proverbs, a wolf, wishing to put down wolves, would say: "Wolf to wolf is a man."
Marx invented not a ruthless war of nations or religions, but a ruthless war of classes. The rich are the enemy. The rich do not surrender. The rich should be destroyed. As sung in "The Internationale," the anthem of communism, "The entire old world of coercion we will raze to the ground." As the Mongols razed to the ground a city that would not surrender.
Christ was born to a Jewish woman, named in English "Mary"; grew up as a Jew; spoke, read and wrote no language except Hebrew; lived his life and died in a Jewish country and had only Jews as disciples.
According to Luke 2:47, when Jesus was 12, Mary and Joseph discovered the boy in the Temple (in Jerusalum), "sitting among the Teachers" the rabbis. Jesus was a prodigy, matching at 12 the Teachers of 40 or 80: "Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers."
Jesus did, indeed, become, when he was "about thirty years old" (Luke 3:23), a Teacher, teaching his disciples not within orthodox synagogues but in the streets and the bosom of nature. Jesus said that he was not to "abolish the Law and the Prophets [that is, Judaism], but to fulfill them." (Matthew 5:17).
To put this into modern lay language, it can be said that thus a scientist of genius does not abolish the science created before him, but "fulfills" it. Accordingly, the Christian Holy Bible consists of the Judaic (Hebrew) Old Testament Christ knew so well already at the age of 12, and the New Testament Christ created, to "fulfill" the Old Testament.
What was it that Christ created to "fulfill" Judaism?
Nietzsche applied to himself the name "anti-Christ." He used to say that Christianity is the worst evil in history. Had Jesus been an essayist, able to see his opponents for 20 centuries ahead and five centuries behind, he would have called himself anti-Plato, anti-Nietzsche, anti-Darwin and anti-Marx.
The first and the last (in the social hierarchy or in Platos opinion) may be the last and the first (in human value). If you are rich, give away your wealth to the poor. Do not resist evil with equally evil or more evil evil. Blessed are not the strongest fighting men, but the weak (such as women and children), the meek, the suffering, the poor, the unfit for survival, and they need thy compassion, pity and help.
Of course, for example, the notion of charity looms large in Judaism. But Christ made it a critical spiritual need, as did Nietzsche when he protected a horse against blows with his own body (see below).
To the four opponents, Christ would have said:
What happened in the fourth century is as strange as Nietzsches attempt to protect a horse with his own body. The Roman Empire, obsessed with power, including wars of expansion, and with wealth, including wars of acquisition of wealth, adopted the teaching of Christ after three centuries of Christian persecution, beginning with the crucifixion of Christ.
How did Christianity change Christendom? Wars continued, but there appeared a Christian-aristocratic knighthood, chivalry, rules of war while two Chinese colonels published at the close of the 20th century the book "Unrestricted Warfare," denying any rules. Infectious microbes were discovered in 19th century Europe, which has not, however, waged bacteriological war.
Christendom never practiced Mongolic, Chinese, Nazi or Soviet mass exterminations, though the British Empire came close in its imperial zeal, helped by Herbert Spencer, who coined the phrase "the struggle for the survival of the fittest," used by Darwin as basic to his theory of evolution. Spencer argued that the British were the fittest for survival, and a high death rate among colonial nations merely contributed to the pedigree health of the human race.
Charity became a common notion, as it was in Judaism. Many Americans do not understand that "democratic socialism" and Christian Socialists in Europe had nothing to do with Marx. The word "socialism" came into use in France and England soon after 1825 and had been probably coined by Auguste Comte, a mathematician and the founder of sociology (also his word).
What has been called in the United States "social benefits," "social security," "welfare," etc., can also be called socialism, which sprang from the same Judaic-Christian notion of charity. The manifesto that Marx and Engels published in 1848 was entitled "The Communist [not Socialist!] Manifesto" and proclaimed a world proletarian revolution that is, a world class war to seize power all over the world. They condemned peaceful socialism, stemming from the Christian notion of charity, and Christianity itself as enemy devices to delay a world proletarian revolution.
Lenin and his Bolsheviks, or Communists, persecuted the Russian democratic socialists as their worst foes, traitors and criminals.
As for sociology, even after the death of Marx and Engels, the orthodox Marxists (in Soviet Russia and post-1949 China, for example) considered it a "bourgeois pseudo-science" up to the 1960s!
The suspension of Christianity in Lenins Russia and Hitlers Germany, as well as the advent of Marxism in Maos China, led to class or ethnic mass exterminations, with the implication that human beings can be exterminated the way animals are, for human beings are animals that should be bred like cattle, and the war for survival must be as ruthless as unrestricted warfare in the two Chinese colonels recent book.
It is fortunate for us that Platonic republicanism has not obtained the same favor as Platonic Christianity; or we should now have been all living, men, women and children, pell mell together, like beasts of the field or forest. Yet `Plato is a great Philosopher,' said La Fontaine. But says Fontenelle `do you find his ideas very clear'? `Oh no! he is of an obscurity impenetrable.' `Do you not find him full of contradictions?' `Certainly,' replied La Fontaine, `he is but a Sophist.' Yet immediately after, he exclaims again, `Oh Plato was a great Philosopher.' Socrates had reason indeed to complain of the misrepresentations of Plato; for in truth his dialogues are libels on Socrates.
In reciprocal letters to Jefferson, John Adams was equally critical. He said the "philosophy" of Plato was "absurd," Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (June 28, 1812), in Letters, at 308, berated Plato's concept of "a Community of Wives, a confusion of Families, a total extinction of all Relations of Father, Son and Brother," Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (September 15, 1813), in Letters, at 377, and observed that "Plato calls ['Love'] a demon," Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (October 10, 1817), in Letters, at 522.
In his most telling observations, Adams described his meticulous study of Plato's writings, expressed delight at knowing that Jefferson shared the same "Astonishment," "disappointment," and "disgust" with Plato, and then concluded as follows:
Some Parts of [his writings] . . . are entertaining . . . but his Laws and his Republick from which I expected the most, disappointed me most. I could scarcely exclude the suspicion that he intended the latter as a bitter Satyr upon all Republican Government . . . . Nothing can be conceived more destructive of human happiness; more infallibly contrived to transform Men and Women into Brutes, Yahoos, or Daemons than a Community of Wives and Property . . .
After all; as long as marriage exists, Knowledge, Property and Influence will accumulate in Families.
Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (July 16, 1814), in Letters, at 437.
A good government, Adams insists, must be an "empire of laws" and not of men so that justice and not passion is the basis of orderas Aristotle taught in Politics, Book III.
.This time we hear John Adams the elder-statesman writing to his old comrade and (as he said) fellow "Argonaut" of the Founding Thomas Jefferson in 1813, one in Quincy and the other in Monticello, retired ex-presidents with their political differences finally put aside. The heart of the revolutionary American community lay, Adams wrote and Jefferson did not disagree, in the universally accepted "general principles of Christianity" shared by everyone, by which he chiefly meant the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, and in the "general principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young men united [who fought the Revolution], and which had united all parties in America, in majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence. Now I will avow [Adams continued], that I then believed, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the Existence and attributes of God; and those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature and our terrestrial, mundane system."
In morality, Nietzsche starts out by adopting the position of the relativist. He says there are no absolute values "good" and "evil"; these are mere means adopted by all in order to acquire power to maintain their place in the world, or to become supreme.
"Zarathustra" is my brother's most personal work; it is the history of his most individual experiences, of his friendships, ideals, raptures, bitterest disappointments and sorrows.
Am I understood?...The overcoming of morality through itself-through truthfulness, the overcoming of the moralist through his opposite-THROUGH ME-: that is what the name Zarathustra means in my mouth."
Plato's understanding of Socrates is really quite profound. The pedagogical value of Platonic writings in schools is indispensable. Plato never fails to engage critical thinking because it asks the important questions. Of course, if your teacher is Jefferson, no such luck. But for one who understands what's at stake in education, Plato is a treasure.
He points out the can-should argument. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. That is important for the expansive ego today. When the conversation turns to suicide, Socrates reminds us that just because you can, doens't mean you should. You shouldn't, because one's life doesn't belong to one's self.
When his students get tired of his questioning, he warns them against the hatred of words and arguments. Not good--such hatred is a symptom of misanthropy.
When at the beginning of the Republic he encounters some friends, they compel him to join up with them. He asks, "why should I." They answer, because we are more than you.
In the end, at the close of the Apology, he recognizes his fate: "I go to die, you to live, and who of us goes to the better lot is known only to God."
Nietzsche didn't like Socrates, and probably for the same reason he preferred to see himself as anti-christian.
A brilliant work and all men were highly influential.
I personally understand FN to have been the Steven Hawking of the Psyche and the worlds first Psychologist. Actually in my readings FN has great respect for Plato and goes back and forth in a love hate relationship.
FN was a peer to Plato and was in a position to criticize. Philosophers are notorious for their sometimes petty and sometimes profound differences.
I find that Nietzsche's profundity and confounding writings mirror the enigma of reality itself or gordian World Knot.
Doubt it. Christian charity is CHARITY. Government "charity" (socialism) is not charity...it is enforced giving.
True christianity is allowing people to give out of a true sense of compassion, not compulsion.
By the way...the more I read of Plato, the fruitier I think him.
Plato begins his last work, the Laws, with a most profound question. The Athenian walks with two friends from Knossos and the question is raised, where do the laws come from, a god or a man. If you think that is fruity business, I'll just have to pray for you.
Back when ex-presidents really RETIRED!
Wouldn't it be great if ex-presidents Carter and Clinton retired to their respective Quincy and Montecello and wrote letters to each other. They could pen-pal with Dukakis and Mondale.
Christian Socialists in Europe had nothing to do with Marx. The word "socialism" came into use in France and England soon after 1825 and had been probably coined by Auguste Comte, a mathematician and the founder of sociology
I'm puzzled how Navrozov gives Comte a free pass. The guy was a Secular Humainst.
Why? Because you agree with the madman?
Nietzche gloried in the sewer of self-worship and died there, a blithering, braying jackass.
The great enabler of Hitler prophesied his own cruel, surpassingly evil impact on the world through his vicious ideas. Though the boil is lanced, the poison is not drained yet.
A few more "thinkers" such as Nieztsche and the world will be left an inheritance to the cockroaches and blowflies.
Nitezsche was a punk, a well-written punk.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.