Babylonian Philosophy? Part 2

back to part 1, on to part 3

Cultural Relativism

Mieroop suffers from cultural relativism, like much of academia. Cultural relativism (or just “relativism”) stems from the assumption that we cannot value any of the achievements of Western culture’s over the achievements of another culture. To do so would mean we have acted out of pro-Western bias. But what if the Western culture did achieve something of objectively higher value? Would acknowledging western culture’s qualitative superiority in that particular matter mean we are biased?

To the preceding questions, a relativist would answer that no such valuation is possible, that we cannot value cultural achievements objectively. And he would be right, at least regarding certain realms of cultural achievement, such as literature.  It is nearly impossible to compare one literary tradition to another. The scholar of literature faces all sorts of impediments: differences of tastes, language, historical and cultural references. Literary taste depends on culture and education, it is subjective.

But relativism is unhelpful in objective matters. It causes scholars to abjure making qualitative distinctions between the achievements of one culture and another, even in realms like mathematics and science that can be compared objectively. No one would assert that the ancient Egyptians attained a higher level of mathematics than the medieval Muslims. That is not to denigrate the Egyptians, of course their Muslim successors attained greater heights because “they stood on the shoulders of giants.” But claiming that the Egyptians invented trigonometry would be ridiculous. Like mathematics, epistemology belongs to the objective realm. Certain methods of discerning truth are better than others–they can be more or less systematic, and lead to more accurate results. So while it is difficult to weigh the relative merits of, say, Greek and Chinese literature (a subjective assessment), it is not difficult to judge the Greek philosophical achievement as superior to the Somali.

Continue reading Babylonian Philosophy? Part 2

Babylonian Philosophy? Part 1

A Review of Philosophy before the Greeks: The Pursuit of Truth in Ancient Babylonia by Columbia Professor Marc van de Mieroop. (Note: This review originally ran in November 2015 at The Ritter Review, a blog set up by Greg Ritter before the founding of AI. We have reason to believe that the author has read it and reached trigger-factor 5. This is what happens when you exclude all the smart people from academia. heh).

by Gregory Ritter

Introduction

Like many in academia, Columbia professor Marc van de Mieroop brings up a fascinating question, then manages to bungle his answer. In Philosophy before the Greeks: The Pursuit of Truth in Ancient Babylonia he asks whether the ancient Babylonians developed epistemology. Epistemology, or “theory of knowledge,” is the study of knowledge, or as Plato defined it, true, justified belief. It has been regarded as central to all philosophy since ancient Greece. Because they developed epistemology, the Greek philosophers have held a unique place in intellectual history—indeed, for centuries, Western scholars have considered the Greek contribution to be fundamental. If the Babylonians got to epistemology before the Greeks, intellectual history will have to be entirely rewritten. Mieroop argues that they did, that the Babylonians had a developed theory of knowledge. But no one has discovered evidence of such, despite the hundreds of thousands of cuneiform tablets discovered since the mid-nineteenth century. So Mieroop’s thesis is quite ambitious. He offers several arguments in its support. The attempt is noble, but the conclusions are outrageous. This failure can only be attributed to an unimaginative method and an inexplicable ignorance of basic philosophical concepts. In these shortcomings, his work is an example of academia’s over-specialization and relativist groupthink.

Mieroop’s thesis has three major defects. First, he does not understand what epistemology is. Second, he overstates his case by failing to make a qualitative distinction between the rigorous Greek search for truth and Mesopotamian pre-philosophic learning. Third, he claims to disagree with earlier scholars’ assessments, but manages to reach to the same conclusions, albeit dressed up in cultural-relativist garb. This last defect, his cultural relativism, is the cause of the first two. Relativism prevents him from recognizing that the Greeks’ philosophical achievements were of higher quality. He magnifies the Babylonian intellectual achievement by a herculean effort at blurring categories, leading to his argument’s internal contradictions. Continue reading Babylonian Philosophy? Part 1

Strike up the Pipes and Bang the Drums of War!

I have an Idea. Like all great ideas it’s been done before. For millennia the pipes and drums have summoned men to war. Long ago in more tribal, more uncertain times when a Western man heard a horn, bagpipes or most importantly drums it was a call to arms. It meant that soon men from another tribe would come and try to conquer their own. In other cases it meant that they would be called on by a chieftain to conquer another tribe. Either way there is good reason to think that ominous battle hymns are capable of evoking a long since dormant nature in our collective consciousness.
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What I propose is for members of the Alt Right or simply just those who consider themselves Trump’s Pretorian guard, begin using pipes and drums at Trump rallies and events. If anyone has ever been to a St Patrick’s Day parade one understands how the pipe and drum column from the Ancient Order of Hibernians is capable of silencing a crowd or bringing them to raucous attention. Rhythmic music has been shown by studies to sync the heartbeats of those listening. Certainly the marching drums of long ago European armies were capable of bringing men to act as a single obedient organism and march off to war.
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What I value most about bagpipes and drums though is the fear they can instill in our enemies. Organized militaristic music is a fairly unique Western phenomenon. Yes Bantu tribes had war drums and Ottoman Kebabs had pipes. Even the Jews had the horns that brought down the walls of Jericho. But these were nothing more than loud noise to scare other tribes. The battle hymns of our people were different they were organized, they were disciplined. European men marching off in unison to an organized toon of pipes and drums use to instill terror in the hearts of less organized people the world over. I feel it’s time we bring back this great and terrifying tradition. For that is what Western men are. We are order, we are cooperation, we are loyalty. The rest of the world is chaos and nothing terrifies chaotic people like an organized army of men acting as one and marching their way. Just imagine those rent seeking Mexican orcs losing their nerve as the pipes and drums started up.

RED DAWN 14.88: Sportsball is for Cucks

RED DAWN 14.88: Sportsball is for Cucks

Stop watching sportsball, and start engaging in Sport. Professional and collegiate athletics is nothing more than the Cult of the Dindu. It undermines community, fosters weakness, and poisons your mind and body. Ritter and Singh talk about the ideal of sport: amateur, communal, educational.

As Hitler says in Mein Kampf part 2, chapter 2: “The People’s State ought to allow much more time for physical training in the school….Not a single day should be allowed to pass in which the young pupil does not have one hour of physical training in the morning and one in the evening; and every kind of sport and gymnastics should be included….It is not the purpose of the People’s State to educate a colony of æsthetic pacifists and physical degenerates.”

“This State does not consider that the human ideal is to be found in the honourable philistine or the maidenly spinster, but in a dareful personification of manly force and in women capable of bringing men into the world.”

And yeah, Episode 14.88. We’re that amateur.