The Story of Philosophy, 8

Aristotle and Greek science

 

Under Plato he studied eight—or twenty—years; and indeed the pervasive Platonism of Aristotle’s speculations, even of those most anti-Platonic, suggests the longer period. One would like to imagine these as very happy years: a brilliant pupil guided by an incomparable teacher, walking like Greek lovers in the gardens of philosophy. But they were both geniuses; and it is notorious that geniuses accord with one another as harmoniously as dynamite with fire. Almost half a century separated them; it was difficult for understanding to bridge the gap of years and cancel the incompatibility of souls.

On the same page Durant adds that Aristotle

was the first, after Euripides, to gather together a library; and the foundation of the principles of library classification was among his many contributions to scholarship. Therefore Plato spoke of Aristotle’s home as “the house of the reader, ” and seems to have meant the sincerest compliment; but some ancient gossip will have it that the Master intended a sly but vigorous dig at a certain book-wormishness in Aristotle.

After an unquoted paragraph Durant writes:

The other incidents of this Athenian period are still more problematical. Some biographers tell us that Aristotle founded a school of oratory to rival Isocrates; and that he had among his pupils in this school the wealthy Hermias, who was soon to become aristocrat of the city-state of Atarneus. After reaching this elevation Hermias invited Aristotle to his court; and in the year 344 b.c. he rewarded his teacher for past favours by bestowing upon him a sister (or a niece) in marriage. One might suspect this as a Greek gift; but the historians hasten to assure us that Aristotle, despite his genius, lived happily enough with his wife, and spoke of her most affectionately in his will. It was just a year later that Philip, King of Macedon, called Aristotle to the court at Pella to undertake the education of Alexander. It bespeaks the rising repute of our philosopher that the greatest monarch of the time, looking about for the greatest teacher, should single out Aristotle to be the tutor of the future master of the world.

You can imagine treating white women like barter today? But it was healthier than Western feminism.

Philip had no sympathy with the individualism that had fostered the art and intellect of Greece but had at the same time disintegrated her social order; in all these little capitals he saw not the exhilarating culture and the unsurpassable art, but the commercial corruption and the political chaos; he saw insatiable merchants and bankers absorbing the vital resources of the nation, incompetent politicians and clever orators misleading a busy populace into disastrous plots and wars, factions cleaving classes and classes congealing into castes: this, said Philip, was not a nation but only a welter of individuals—geniuses and slaves; he would bring the hand of order down upon this turmoil, and make all Greece stand up united and strong as the political centre and basis of the world. In his youth in Thebes he had learned the arts of military strategy and civil organization under the noble Epaminondas; and now, with courage as boundless as his ambition, he bettered the instruction. In 338 b.c. he defeated the Athenians at Chaeronea, and saw at last a Greece united, though with chains. And then, as he stood upon this victory, and planned how he and his son should master and unify the world, he fell under an assassin’s hand.

Durant ignored what I know about psychoclasses: different levels of childrearing from the point of view of empathy toward the child. It is disturbing to read, for example, that according to Plutarch, Olympias, Philip’s wife and the mother of Alexander, was a devout member of the orgiastic snake-worshiping cult of Dionysus. Plutarch even suggests that she slept with snakes in her bed. Although Oliver Stone’s film of Alexander is Hollywood, not a real biography, the first part of the film up to the assassination of Philip is not that bad as to provide an idea of the unhealthy relationship between Olympias and her son.

“For a while,” says Plutarch, “Alexander loved and cherished Aristotle no less than as if he had been his own father; saying that though he had received life from the one, the other had taught him the art of living.” (“Life,” says a fine Greek adage, “is the gift of nature; but beautiful living is the gift of wisdom.”)

But was it wisdom? The real ‘wisdom of the West’ only started with a politician like Hitler and, on the other side of the Atlantic, a white supremacist like Pierce. Ancient philosophers ignored the dangers involved in conquering non-white nations without the policy extermination or expulsion.

Who We Are, 12

The following is my abridgement of chapter 12 of William Pierce’s history of the white race, Who We Are:

Macedonian and Roman Empires Were Built by Nordics
Latin Founders of Rome Came from Central Europe

 

The last five installments in this series have dealt with the migrations of Nordic, Indo-European-speaking tribes from their homeland in southern Russia, beginning more than 6,000 years ago and continuing into early historic times. In installment 11 we traced the fate of those Nordics who invaded Asia, conquering races which differed substantially from them and eventually being absorbed by those races, despite strong measures for self-preservation.

Only those Nordics who migrated westward, into Europe rather than into Asia, have left a significant genetic heritage. And only those who went northwestward predominated genetically in the long run. Along the shores of the Mediterranean the population density of non-Nordic natives was too high, and racial mixing eventually overwhelmed the invaders. We have already seen what happened to the Greeks.

Balkan Nordics. To the north and northeast of Greece, from the head of the Aegean Sea to the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, other Nordic peoples from beyond the Black Sea settled. Among these peoples were the Illyrians, the Dacians, the Thracians, and the Macedonians. Very roughly, the Illyrians occupied the territory comprising much of present-day Yugoslavia and Albania; the Dacians occupied the loop of the lower Danube, in what is now Romania; the Thracians occupied Bulgaria and European Turkey; and the Macedonians occupied the territory between Albania and Bulgaria, comprising the Macedonian provinces of Yugoslavia and Greece. This was a greatly varied territory, and consequently the Nordic inhabitants, though closely related in blood and culture, experienced varied fates.

As we noted in earlier installments, this territory was the site of the Mediterranean Neolithic culture known as Old Europe, which arose about 8,000 years ago and lasted until the first Nordic invasions, which came during the late fifth and early fourth millennia B.C. The early invasions were numerically thin, however, and resulted, in many parts of this Balkan area, in a situation with which we are already familiar: a Nordic warrior elite ruling masses of indigenous Mediterranean farmers and craftsmen.

Blending, Disunity. This situation led to a great deal of racial and cultural blending. The languages of the Nordics prevailed everywhere, but their blood and their religion became mixed with those of the Mediterraneans. For example, even as late as historic times, when further invasions had greatly reinforced the Nordic racial element in the area, the Thracian religion remained a strongly interwoven blend of Mediterranean Earth Mother elements and Nordic Sky Father elements. In the case of the Greeks the Nordic elements had prevailed, but in the case of the Thracians the Mediterranean elements, with their serpent-phallic symbolism and orgiastic rites, played a much larger role.

Both geography and the inhomogeneous racial pattern of the area worked against political unity, and the Balkan region, in ancient times just as in recent times, remained balkanized. Only in Macedonia did a strong enough central authority arise and maintain itself long enough to have a major impact on the world beyond this corner of Europe.

Rise of Macedonia. Ancient Macedonia consisted principally of an inland, mountain-and-plateau region (Upper Macedonia); and a grassy plain at the head of the Thermaic Gulf (Gulf of Salonika), spanning the valleys of the lower Haliacmon (Vistritsa) and Axius (Vardar) Rivers. The Macedonian plain provided ideal conditions for the Nordic horsemen from the steppe of southern Russia.

In the middle of the 12th century B.C. the Dorian invasion swept through Macedonia on its southward course, and a large contingent of Dorians remained in the Macedonian plain, pushing much of the earlier population of Greeks, Thracians, and Illyrians into Upper Macedonia.

After a half-millennium of consolidation, the Macedonian kingdom was born. The first Macedonian king, Perdiccas I, unified the Dorians and the other tribes of the plain and brought them under his control around 640 B.C. Three centuries later King Philip II brought Upper Macedonia into the kingdom as well.

The Macedonians in the fourth century B.C. still had the vigor which decadence had drained from the Greeks of the south, and Philip was able to establish Macedonian hegemony over the greater portion of the Balkan peninsula. In 338 B.C., in the battle of Chaeronea, he crushed the Greek armies, and Macedonia became a world power.

Alexander the Great. But it was Philip’s son. Alexander, who used this power base to launch a new and vastly greater wave of Nordic conquest. In 336, at the age of 20, he succeeded his father as king of Macedonia. Within a decade he had conquered most of the ancient world.

Alexander’s principal conquests lay in the Middle East, however, in the area treated in the previous installment: Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Aryan realm of northwest India. The greater portion of this territory had already been conquered by the Persians, under Cyrus the Great, two centuries earlier. By bringing it under common rule with Greece and Macedonia, Alexander created the greatest empire the world had yet seen.

Unfortunately, despite his military and organizational genius, Alexander did not understand the racial basis of civilization. He dreamed of a unified world-empire, with all its diverse races expressing a single culture and ordered by a single rule. At a great feast of reconciliation between Greeks and Persians at Opis, on the Tigris River some 40 miles above Baghdad, in 324, when his conquests were complete, he stated his dream explicitly.

Forced Racemixing. And throughout his brief but uniquely dynamic career of empire-building, Alexander acted consistently with this dream. He adopted Asiatic customs and dress, blending them with the Macedonian lifestyle and requiring many of his officers to do the same. He left in power many of the native satraps of the conquered regions, after receiving their oaths of loyalty. And it was not Macedonian Pella, but Semitic Babylon which he chose as the capital of his empire.

Alexander preached racemixing, and he practiced it. During the conquest of Sogdiana (comprising the modern Uzbek and Tadzhik Republics of the U.S.S.R.) he took to wife the daughter, Roxane, of a local baron. Four years later, at Susa, in 324, he also married the daughter of the defeated Persian king, Darius II. On that occasion he bade his officers and men to imitate him; nearly a hundred of the former and 10,000 of the latter took native brides in a mass marriage.

Alexander’s brides, and presumably those of his officers as well, were of noble Persian blood, which, even as late as the fourth century B.C., meant most of them were White—Nordic, in fact. But certainly most of the 10,000 brides of his soldiers were not; they were Asiatics: Semites and the bastard offspring of Semites and Aryans and a dozen other races.

Short-lived Empire. On June 13, 323 B.C., at Babylon, Alexander, not yet 33 years ears old, died of a fever—and with him died the unnatural dream of a mixed-race universal empire. Most of his Macedonian troops at once repudiated their Asiatic wives. His satraps began revolting. The various plans he had set in motion for homogenizing the culture and government of his vast realm became sidetracked.

Elements of Alexander’s empire survived long after his death. In Egypt, for example, the Macedonian Ptolemaic dynasty lasted three centuries; Queen Cleopatra was not an Egyptian by blood, but a Macedonian. And in the east, after the breakup of the empire, local rulers claimed descent from Alexander, even as late as modern times.

But the far-flung empire itself had no natural unity, no unity of blood or spirit; and even if Alexander had lived long enough to impose an artificial unity of coinage and dress and language and custom, it would still have required the strength of his unique personality to hold it together. And it is well that the empire died with him; otherwise it might have sucked the best blood out of Europe for centuries, in a vain effort to maintain it.

Lost Opportunity. The attractions of the vast and rich Orient for one Nordic conqueror after another are obvious. What is unfortunate is that none made racial considerations the basis of his program of conquest—and it could have been done.

Alexander, for example, could have laid the foundations for a Nordic empire which could have stood against the rest of the world—including Rome—forever. The Macedonians and the Greeks shared common blood and had similar languages (ancient Macedonian was an altogether different language from modern Macedonian, which has its roots in the sixth century A.D. conquest of Macedonia by Slavic tribes). If, before invading Asia and defeating the Asian armies, Alexander had devoted his energies to forging just these two peoples into a unified population base, casting out all the alien elements which had accumulated in Greece by the latter part of the fourth century B.C.; and if, while conquering Asia, he had carried out a policy of total extermination—then he could have colonized Asia with Nordic settlements from the Indus to the Nile, and they could have multiplied freely and expanded into the empty lands without danger of racial mixing.

But Alexander did not cleanse Greece of its Semitic merchants and moneylenders and its accumulated rabble of half-breeds, and he chose to base his Asiatic empire on the indigenous populations instead of on colonists. And so the Greco-Macedonian world, despite its uninterrupted prosperity and its maintenance of the appearance of might after Alexander’s death, continued its imperceptible downward slide toward oblivion.

The focus of history shifted to the west, to the Italian peninsula.

Published in: on January 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm  Comments Off on Who We Are, 12  
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White suicide since Alexander (2)

A recent discussion in another thread moves me to reproduce the following quotation of Will Durant’s The Story of Philosophy. Although Durant was almost the opposite of a racialist historian, what he says at the beginning of the chapter “From Aristotle to the Renaissance” is germane to understand why the policies that Alexander promoted were poisonous for the still adolescent Greek psyche:

alex-map

Sparta blockaded and defeated Athens towards the close of the fifth century b. c, political supremacy passed from the mother of Greek philosophy and art, and the vigor and independence of the Athenian mind decayed.

When, in 399 b. c, Socrates was put to death, the soul of Athens died with him, lingering only in his proud pupil, Plato. And when Philip of Macedon defeated the Athenians at Chaeronea in 338 b. c, and Alexander burned the great city of Thebes to the ground three years later, even the ostentatious sparing of Pindar’s home could not cover up the fact that Athenian independence, in government and in thought, was irrevocably destroyed.

The domination of Greek philosophy by the Macedonian Aristotle mirrored the political subjection of Greece by the virile and younger peoples of the north. The death of Alexander (323 b. c.) quickened this process of decay. The boy-emperor, barbarian though he remained after all of Aristotle’s tutoring, had yet learned to revere the rich culture of Greece, and had dreamed of spreading that culture through the Orient in the wake of his victorious armies. The development of Greek commerce, and the multiplication of Greek trading posts throughout Asia Minor, had provided an economic basis for the unification of this region as part of an Hellenic empire; and Alexander hoped that from these busy stations Greek thought, as well as Greek goods, would radiate and conquer.

But he had underrated the inertia and resistance of the Oriental mind, and the mass and depth of Oriental culture. It was only a youthful fancy, after all, to suppose that so immature and unstable a civilization as that of Greece could be imposed upon a civilization immeasurably more widespread, and rooted in the most venerable traditions.

The quantity of Asia proved too much for the quality of Greece. Alexander himself, in the hour of his triumph, was conquered by the soul of the East; he married (among several ladies) the daughter of Darius; he adopted the Persian diadem and robe of state; he introduced into Europe the Oriental notion of the divine right of kings; and at last he astonished a sceptic Greece by announcing, in magnificent Eastern style, that he was a god. Greece laughed; and Alexander drank himself to death.

This subtle infusion of an Asiatic soul into the wearied body of the master Greek was followed rapidly by the pouring of Oriental cults and faiths into Greece along those very lines of communication which the young conqueror had opened up; the broken dykes let in the ocean of Eastern thought upon the lowlands of the still adolescent European mind. The mystic and superstitious faiths which had taken root among the poorer people of Hellas were reinforced and spread about; and the Oriental spirit of apathy and resignation found a ready soil in decadent and despondent Greece.

The introduction of the Stoic philosophy into Athens by the Phoenician merchant Zeno (about 310 b. c.) was but one of a multitude of Oriental infiltrations. Both Stoicism and Epicureanism—the apathetic acceptance of defeat, and the effort to forget defeat in the arms of pleasure—were theories as to how one might yet be happy though subjugated or enslaved; precisely as the pessimistic Oriental stoicism of Schopenhauer and the despondent epicureanism of Renan were in the nineteenth century the symbols of a shattered Revolution and a broken France. Not that these natural antitheses of ethical theory were quite new to Greece. One finds them in the gloomy Heraclitus and the “laughing philosopher” Democritus; and one sees the pupils of Socrates dividing into Cynics and Cyrenaics under the lead of Antisthenes and Aristippus, and extolling, the one school apathy, the other happiness.

Yet these were even then almost exotic modes of thought: imperial Athens did not take to them. But when Greece had seen Chaeronea in blood and Thebes in ashes, it listened to Diogenes; and when the glory had departed from Athens she was ripe for Zeno and Epicurus.

Zeno built his philosophy of apatheia on a determinism which a later Stoic, Chrysippus, found it hard to distinguish from Oriental fatalism. As Schopenhauer deemed it useless for the individual will to fight the universal will, so the Stoic argued that philosophic indifference was the only reasonable attitude to a life in which the struggle for existence is so unfairly doomed to inevitable defeat. If victory is quite impossible it should be scorned. The secret of peace is not to make our achievements equal to our desires, but to lower our desires to the level of our achievements. “If what you have seems insufficient to you,” said the Roman Stoic Seneca (d. 65 a. d.), “then, though you possess the world, you will yet be miserable.” Such a principle cried out to heaven for its opposite, and Epicurus, though himself as Stoic in life as Zeno, supplied it. Epicurus, says Fenelon, “bought a fair garden, which he tilled himself. There it was he set up his school, and there he lived a gentle and agreeable life with his disciples, whom he taught as he walked and worked. He was gentle and affable to all men. He held there was nothing nobler than to apply one’s self to philosophy.” His starting point of conviction that apathy is impossible, and that pleasure—though not necessarily sensual pleasure—is the only conceivable, and quite legitimate, end of life and action.

Epicurus, then, is no epicurean; he exalts the joys of intellect rather than those of sense; he warns against pleasures that excite and disturb the soul which they should rather quiet and appease. In the end he proposes to seek not pleasure in its usual sense, but ataraxia—tranquillity, equanimity, repose of mind; all of which trembles on the verge of Zeno’s “apathy.”

The Romans, coming to despoil Hellas in 146 b. c, found these rival schools dividing the philosophic field; and having neither leisure nor subtlety for speculation themselves, brought back these philosophies with their other spoils to Rome. Great organizers, as much as inevitable slaves, tend to stoic moods: it is difficult to be either master or servant if one is sensitive. So such philosophy as Rome had was mostly of Zeno’s school, whether in Marcus Aurelius the emperor or in Epictetus the slave; and even Lucretius talked epicureanism stoically (like Heine’s Englishman taking his pleasures sadly), and concluded his stern gospel of pleasure by committing suicide. His noble epic “On the Nature of Things,” follows Epicurus in damning pleasure with faint praise.

Nations, too, like individuals, slowly grow and surely die. In the face of warfare and inevitable death, there is no wisdom but in ataraxia, —“to look on all things with a mind at peace.” Here, clearly, the old pagan joy of life is gone, and an almost exotic spirit touches a broken lyre.

Imagine the exhilarating optimism of explicit Stoics like Aurelius or Epictetus. Nothing in all literature is so depressing as the Dissertations of the Slave, unless it be the Meditations of the emperor. “Seek not to have things happen as you choose them, but rather choose that they should happen as they do; and you shall live prosperously.” No doubt one can in this manner dictate the future, and play royal highness to the universe.

Story has it that Epictetus’ master, who treated him with consistent cruelty, one day took to twisting Epictetus’ leg to pass the time away. “If you go on,” said Epictetus calmly, “you will break my leg.” The master went on, and the leg was broken. “Did I not tell you,” Epictetus observed mildly, “that you would break my leg?” Yet there is a certain mystic nobility in this philosophy, as in the quiet courage of some Dostoievskian pacifist. “Never in any case say, I have lost such a thing; but, I have returned it. Is thy child dead?—it is returned. Is thy wife dead?—she is returned. Art thou deprived of thy estate?— is not this also returned?”

In such passages we feel the proximity of Christianity and its dauntless martyrs. In Epictetus the Greco-Roman soul has lost its paganism, and is ready for a new faith. His book had the distinction of being adopted as a religious manual by the early Christian Church. From these Dissertations and Aurelius’ Meditations there is but a step to The Imitation of Christ.

Meanwhile the historical background was melting into newer scenes. There is a remarkable passage in Lucretius which describes the decay of agriculture in the Roman state, and attributes it to the exhaustion of the soil. Whatever the cause, the wealth of Rome passed into poverty, the organization into disintegration, the power and pride into decadence and apathy. Cities faded back into the undistinguished hinterland; the roads fell into disrepair and no longer hummed with trade; the small families of the educated Romans were outbred by the vigorous and untutored German stocks that crept, year after year, across the frontier; pagan culture yielded to Oriental cults; and almost imperceptibly the Empire passed into the Papacy.