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Thread: Aristotle's Good?

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    Senior Member Jack's Avatar
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    Post Aristotle's Good?

    Aristotle claimed that the purpose of political science is to engineer a polis towards the Good.

    What is this good? How should men live, how should society be structured, what should be aimed at, what fixed idea, as Stirner would describe it, should the Western world aim at? That is the purpose of this topic.

    First, it is necessary to know what man is, in order that we may know what he can become. Religious overtones aside, man has a 'soul'. His soul is his knowledge, his inner strength, his desires, his fears, his experiences, his intelligence, his thoughts, his absolute self-set desired objectives and his nightmares.

    The fact is that man acts. He recognises objects in this world and he evaluates them, he defines them by his use of language, he modifies them, and employs them as tools. Why he modifies his environment is to achieve an objective that he deems as justifying his existence. To some, this is virtue, from which he derives a sense of fulfillment. To others, it is wealth, to others, control, to yet more, sensual pleasure. The absolute objective, which the agent has set, is his purpose. He must fulfill this, he must acquire it, conquer it, assimilate it.

    Man enters the world without such a 'justifying' objective. It is only after he has recognised it that his will, his desire, is attached to that object. The difference between action and inaction, given an objective, is simple - does the objective outweigh the effort involved? Man is not born tabula rasa, otherwise he would have no innate will to achieve anything - there would be no purpose, no inclination, no standard against which to evaluate objects.

    He evaluates and acts because he is born with a will. It's kind and inclinations vary depending on the agent possessing it, but it's drive is simple: A will to self-expansion. He acts because he is driven to expand his sense of self. He derives sensual pleasure from objects because they promote his health and/or potency. He derives joy from acquiring knowledge because that is an edge he may or may not have over others, but in any case it adds to the ability to act which he has. He feels pleasure from increasing control over himself and others because it increases his ability to expand himself.

    To this end, he evaluates objects. He has six fields of evaluation: political, aesthetic, spiritual, logic, economic, ethic.

    It is important to note that a man, however well he may know another man, cannot see that man's soul. One cannot see into the mind of another. In effect, every man is an object to another man. The bridge between two men is language, but this can be just as deceptive as appearances. Language is an expression, but an expression that can be controlled - hence rhetoric, distortion and persuasion which acts in favour of the agent in order for that agent to expand himself at the expense of another. Because man's soul cannot be witnessed by another man unless there is a total absence of fear between the two - even then, it's expression, it's visibility, is limited to the abilities at the disposal of that agent- all that can be witnessed is behaviour. Because of this, the distinction between an android, were such a thing capable of pretending effectively to be a human, and a human, is pointless.

    Man, fundamentally, is an animal. His purpose is the same as that of other animals - to multiply the genes he carries. To this end he works to generate food and useful materials, competes for social admiration with others in order to acquire the best mate for the purpose, he acquires knowledge and he refines his self-power and the power at his disposal in relation to his environment, which, as we have pointed out, includes other men. He must define friends from enemies, beautiful from the ugly, useful from the useless, good from bad, true from false.

    The friend is he who the agent lives alongside, shares a common basic identity, is willing to fight, kill and die for. The friend is typically one of the society he lives in - and it must be recognised that there can be several societies under a single State, which shall be defined as an organisation with the ability and willingness to punish in order to enforce desired behaviour over a section of territory - and the enemy is the enemy of his society and his identity, one who may be killed and fought against. The distinction between the friend and the enemy is one that rests crucially on one's own self-recognised identity, who is apart of it, and who threatens it. The aim of the political is the annihilation of the enemy as a threat to the self identity. Two kinds of political opponents exist - the foe, who is to be repulsed, after which no further action is required so long as the produced status quo remains, and the enemy, whose identity must be pulverised.

    The beautiful is that which promotes the health of the agent, and encourages him towards actions which may benefit his soul (as defined above). The beautiful, as Nietzsche observed, is that which incites man to procreation, towards the extension of the self at the most fundamental level. The beautiful may or may not coincide with the spiritual, and quite often can serve as the basis from defining friend from enemy.

    The distinction between useful and useless is the field of economics. It is always in service, it is a tool, a means towards self expansion. In production and trade, organisation and competition, the aim of economics is to multiply one's material capacity to act at the expense of competitors. The competitor, however, is not necessarily the enemy. The moment the competitor is defined as the enemy, production serves technique and trade turns to destruction.

    The spiritual is always the nexus of the political. The spiritual is that which is seen as valuable in itself, without questioning. Whether a God, the tribe, the race, the Idea, it is seen by the agent as valuable and it is what all other actions are subordinated to. It is to be pursued, it justifies the life of the agent in his own eyes, and if the spiritual is destroyed and the agent remains holding to it, though recognising it is gone, his life is rendered purposeless and the key to his self-identity and confidence is torn from him.

    The purpose of logic, man's ability to reason (which is by no means equal between all men, and no criterion of what a man is), is to serve, not lead. It works in service of the spiritual. It infers logical connections between objects and events and works in service of the agent to distinguish true from false, distortion from clear reality, as best as it is capable. Invariably it makes errors - 'truth' is not much more than a working hypothesis, and it is by practical action that man verifies these, and destroys misconceptions and recreates his understanding.

    The ethical is, simply put, how an agent acts, his means of pursuing ends. Morality, the subdivision of ethics, deals with what an agent ought to aim for, which we shall not cover, as various moral conceptions exist. Ethics distinguishes between good and bad, which equals what man has been taught this is, whether by his own mind, or by the minds of those who educated him in his formative years.

    Because we have defined man's fields of evaluation, and that which drives him towards making conclusion - his will to self-extension - we may be in a position to answer the above question: How should men live, how should society be structured, what should be aimed at, what should the Western world aim at?

    Man's self-extension is his mission - and it is towards these ends that his six fields of evaluation assist him. Because this drive towards self-extension is innate and cannot be modified, except by introducing misconceptions and false objectives, by which he can, and often does (suicide) destroy himself. Presumably life is preferred over death, else there would be no eating of food nor pursuit of knowledge nor gathering of wealth and acquisition of power.

    How, then, ought man condition himself so that he may be in form for action towards his self extension?

    The answer lies simply in the question itself. He must crush all ethical barriers to his own self extension and pursue it relentlessly. The distinction between friend and enemy must be made on this basis, and the cultivation of inner strength must be carried out. The aim is simple: maximum self extension. Maximum knowledge, maximum power, maximum wealth, maximum self extension of the self's identity via procreation and aiding one's friends and the deprivation of the power of the enemy. He must put his own soul in form for action, with minimal internal conflict.

    From this answer, his virtues can be recognised. Fortitude, endurance, rationality in service of his maximum self-extension, purity of mind, strength of soul and will, honesty to friends, deception when required to enemies and foes, dedication to friends and the shared basis of one's own identity, self-discipline, competence and technique, recognition and promotion of the beautiful above universal 'oughts', determination to crush resistance to one's own strength, the maximisation of one's own power to the point of being able to turn foes into friends for one's own self-extension, courteousness towards friends and allies, integrity towards one's highest justification, awareness of one's own identity, the pursuit of knowledge and ability to identify what is practical and impractical to maximise one's own sense of self.

    These same virtues which ought to be achieved by man are those which should be cultivated if the West is to be restored to its previous health.

    Discussion is more than welcome
    All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream at night, in the dusky recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams, with open eyes, to make it possible.

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    Post Re: What ought we aim at?

    Great essay Jack, an interesting read. I do not think I have no qualms over it but right now I have to do something else and cannot comment much. Keep on writing such material.

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    Post Re: What ought we aim at?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack
    Aristotle claimed that the purpose of political science is to engineer a polis towards the Good.
    But then Aristotle viewed all things in terms of their purpose [teleogy]. We are far more cynical, and recognise the prevalence of the irrational in human affairs.
    We also notice that the 'best laid plans' often go 'awry'.

    What is this good? How should men live, how should society be structured, what should be aimed at, what fixed idea, as Stirner would describe it, should the Western world aim at? That is the purpose of this topic.
    If there is a "fixed idea" then it would have to be an eternal one; therefore we would presume that such an ideal would be based on the conception of Tradition.
    Even if do not view life as being in any way 'fixed', we could at least say that man's attempt to make such fixity is an heroic effort of tremendous worth in a world which is treacherous in the extreme.
    We need the Hammer.

    First, it is necessary to know what man is, in order that we may know what he can become. Religious overtones aside, man has a 'soul'. His soul is his knowledge, his inner strength, his desires, his fears, his experiences, his intelligence, his thoughts, his absolute self-set desired objectives and his nightmares.
    These supra-animal qualities described - the soul in short - is what makes man 'man'. Aristotle talked of the exceptional man as being 'great-souled' [megalopsuchos]. Man must then always work towards increasing the dominion of this Soul - this is the project of the super-human.

    The fact is that man acts. He recognises objects in this world and he evaluates them, he defines them by his use of language, he modifies them, and employs them as tools. Why he modifies his environment is to achieve an objective that he deems as justifying his existence. To some, this is virtue, from which he derives a sense of fulfillment. To others, it is wealth, to others, control, to yet more, sensual pleasure. The absolute objective, which the agent has set, is his purpose. He must fulfill this, he must acquire it, conquer it, assimilate it.
    This is man's Destiny - it is also his Doom. It is the result of his having a Soul.
    It is his NECESSITY.

    Man enters the world without such a 'justifying' objective. It is only after he has recognised it that his will, his desire, is attached to that object. The difference between action and inaction, given an objective, is simple - does the objective outweigh the effort involved? Man is not born tabula rasa, otherwise he would have no innate will to achieve anything - there would be no purpose, no inclination, no standard against which to evaluate objects.
    So if it is innate [as I believe it is] then he does "enter the world" with it.

    He evaluates and acts because he is born with a will. It's kind and inclinations vary depending on the agent possessing it, but it's drive is simple: A will to self-expansion. He acts because he is driven to expand his sense of self. He derives sensual pleasure from objects because they promote his health and/or potency. He derives joy from acquiring knowledge because that is an edge he may or may not have over others, but in any case it adds to the ability to act which he has. He feels pleasure from increasing control over himself and others because it increases his ability to expand himself.
    This is his will to power; here he obeys the only possible 'commandment';
    'Be as Nature is!'

    To this end, he evaluates objects. He has six fields of evaluation: political, aesthetic, spiritual, logic, economic, ethic.
    What of sexual?

    It is important to note that a man, however well he may know another man, cannot see that man's soul. One cannot see into the mind of another. In effect, every man is an object to another man. The bridge between two men is language, but this can be just as deceptive as appearances. Language is an expression, but an expression that can be controlled - hence rhetoric, distortion and persuasion which acts in favour of the agent in order for that agent to expand himself at the expense of another. Because man's soul cannot be witnessed by another man unless there is a total absence of fear between the two - even then, it's expression, it's visibility, is limited to the abilities at the disposal of that agent- all that can be witnessed is behaviour. Because of this, the distinction between an android, were such a thing capable of pretending effectively to be a human, and a human, is pointless.
    Love and sex overcome that alienation, if only temporarily.
    Meditation, intoxication are all means to achieve such a connection between the Self and the Other.

    Man, fundamentally, is an animal. His purpose is the same as that of other animals - to multiply the genes he carries. To this end he works to generate food and useful materials, competes for social admiration with others in order to acquire the best mate for the purpose, he acquires knowledge and he refines his self-power and the power at his disposal in relation to his environment, which, as we have pointed out, includes other men. He must define friends from enemies, beautiful from the ugly, useful from the useless, good from bad, true from false.
    But man has a Soul which differentiates him; this is important because the Soul is definitively human, as we have said.

    The friend is he who the agent lives alongside, shares a common basic identity, is willing to fight, kill and die for. The friend is typically one of the society he lives in - and it must be recognised that there can be several societies under a single State, which shall be defined as an organisation with the ability and willingness to punish in order to enforce desired behaviour over a section of territory - and the enemy is the enemy of his society and his identity, one who may be killed and fought against. The distinction between the friend and the enemy is one that rests crucially on one's own self-recognised identity, who is apart of it, and who threatens it. The aim of the political is the annihilation of the enemy as a threat to the self identity. Two kinds of political opponents exist - the foe, who is to be repulsed, after which no further action is required so long as the produced status quo remains, and the enemy, whose identity must be pulverised.
    But if the enemy is anihilated the Self loses the counterbalance of the Other.
    So the enemy is necessary and must be cultivated.
    Also there is the enemy within.

    The beautiful is that which promotes the health of the agent, and encourages him towards actions which may benefit his soul (as defined above). The beautiful, as Nietzsche observed, is that which incites man to procreation, towards the extension of the self at the most fundamental level. The beautiful may or may not coincide with the spiritual, and quite often can serve as the basis from defining friend from enemy.
    The enemy attracts and repulses; the enemy has a strange beauty which must be denied. The Other creates a war within the Self and blurs the distinction between love and hate, repulsion and desire.

    The distinction between useful and useless is the field of economics. It is always in service, it is a tool, a means towards self expansion. In production and trade, organisation and competition, the aim of economics is to multiply one's material capacity to act at the expense of competitors. The competitor, however, is not necessarily the enemy. The moment the competitor is defined as the enemy, production serves technique and trade turns to destruction.
    And the material must never be allowed to overshadow the spiritual; that is the Good.

    The spiritual is always the nexus of the political. The spiritual is that which is seen as valuable in itself, without questioning. Whether a God, the tribe, the race, the Idea, it is seen by the agent as valuable and it is what all other actions are subordinated to. It is to be pursued, it justifies the life of the agent in his own eyes, and if the spiritual is destroyed and the agent remains holding to it, though recognising it is gone, his life is rendered purposeless and the key to his self-identity and confidence is torn from him.
    The spiritual equips the man of the Present with the treasures of the Past and the fruits of the Future.
    The materialist exists only in the Present.

    The purpose of logic, man's ability to reason (which is by no means equal between all men, and no criterion of what a man is), is to serve, not lead. It works in service of the spiritual. It infers logical connections between objects and events and works in service of the agent to distinguish true from false, distortion from clear reality, as best as it is capable. Invariably it makes errors - 'truth' is not much more than a working hypothesis, and it is by practical action that man verifies these, and destroys misconceptions and recreates his understanding.
    Logic is also a slave that must be whipped.

    The ethical is, simply put, how an agent acts, his means of pursuing ends. Morality, the subdivision of ethics, deals with what an agent ought to aim for, which we shall not cover, as various moral conceptions exist. Ethics distinguishes between good and bad, which equals what man has been taught this is, whether by his own mind, or by the minds of those who educated him in his formative years.
    Ethics and morality are merely interpretations; man is a piece of fate.

    Because we have defined man's fields of evaluation, and that which drives him towards making conclusion - his will to self-extension - we may be in a position to answer the above question: How should men live, how should society be structured, what should be aimed at, what should the Western world aim at?
    He should have his eyes fixed both on the Past and on the Future and not allow the immediate and the expedient to distract him.

    Man's self-extension is his mission - and it is towards these ends that his six fields of evaluation assist him. Because this drive towards self-extension is innate and cannot be modified, except by introducing misconceptions and false objectives, by which he can, and often does (suicide) destroy himself. Presumably life is preferred over death, else there would be no eating of food nor pursuit of knowledge nor gathering of wealth and acquisition of power.
    But a shameful clinging to life is too much of the Present; a man must be prepared to die if that is his Fate.

    How, then, ought man condition himself so that he may be in form for action towards his self extension?
    The answer lies simply in the question itself. He must crush all ethical barriers to his own self extension and pursue it relentlessly. The distinction between friend and enemy must be made on this basis, and the cultivation of inner strength must be carried out. The aim is simple: maximum self extension. Maximum knowledge, maximum power, maximum wealth, maximum self extension of the self's identity via procreation and aiding one's friends and the deprivation of the power of the enemy. He must put his own soul in form for action, with minimal internal conflict.
    He must re-evaluate his ethical interpretation of the world, as it is impossible for man - an evaluating animal - not to have an ethics.
    He must see his extension as going in ALL directions; not just into the future, but also into the past.

    From this answer, his virtues can be recognised. Fortitude, endurance, rationality in service of his maximum self-extension, purity of mind, strength of soul and will, honesty to friends, deception when required to enemies and foes, dedication to friends and the shared basis of one's own identity, self-discipline, competence and technique, recognition and promotion of the beautiful above universal 'oughts', determination to crush resistance to one's own strength, the maximisation of one's own power to the point of being able to turn foes into friends for one's own self-extension, courteousness towards friends and allies, integrity towards one's highest justification, awareness of one's own identity, the pursuit of knowledge and ability to identify what is practical and impractical to maximise one's own sense of self.
    These same virtues which ought to be achieved by man are those which should be cultivated if the West is to be restored to its previous health.
    And what of ... Sacrifice?
    Why are there beings at all, & why not rather nothing?
    [Leibniz/Heidegger]

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    Senior Member Jack's Avatar
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    Post Re: What ought we aim at?

    Quote Originally Posted by Moody Lawless
    But then Aristotle viewed all things in terms of their purpose [teleogy]. We are far more cynical, and recognise the prevalence of the irrational in human affairs.
    We also notice that the 'best laid plans' often go 'awry'.
    Of course. The irrational is what provides and drives man towards his underlying purpose.

    If there is a "fixed idea" then it would have to be an eternal one; therefore we would presume that such an ideal would be based on the conception of Tradition.
    Even if do not view life as being in any way 'fixed', we could at least say that man's attempt to make such fixity is an heroic effort of tremendous worth in a world which is treacherous in the extreme.
    We need the Hammer.
    The style may be of eternal validity. That is what I'm aiming at.

    These supra-animal qualities described - the soul in short - is what makes man 'man'. Aristotle talked of the exceptional man as being 'great-souled' [megalopsuchos]. Man must then always work towards increasing the dominion of this Soul - this is the project of the super-human.
    I agree. Anything else is a waste of human life.

    This is man's Destiny - it is also his Doom. It is the result of his having a Soul.
    It is his NECESSITY.
    It is unstoppable. If man does not drive himself he will be driven. The will to remain independent is either strong or weak. If weak, it fails. 'To lead, or to go alone' - the mark of the great soul.

    So if it is innate [as I believe it is] then he does "enter the world" with it.
    Of course. I don't follow tabula rasa.

    This is his will to power; here he obeys the only possible 'commandment';
    'Be as Nature is!'
    Man can screw around and belittle himself and become a degenerate, as man is now, or he can take on the grand style as his own and make himself into his own justification.

    What of sexual?
    That fits in with aesthetic.

    Love and sex overcome that alienation, if only temporarily.
    Meditation, intoxication are all means to achieve such a connection between the Self and the Other.
    Even then, the degree to which the connection is possible is limited by man's language. Sex, love, intoxication, meditation serve to destroy one's self-imposed self-limitations, which makes a greater possibile link between agent and agent. Whether two souls can become one is another matter altogether.

    But man has a Soul which differentiates him; this is important because the Soul is definitively human, as we have said.
    Everything, soul or no soul, outside of man, is the environment. It is something he must overpower, subordinate, in order to expand his Self.

    But if the enemy is anihilated the Self loses the counterbalance of the Other.
    So the enemy is necessary and must be cultivated.
    Also there is the enemy within.
    The Muslims call the struggle against the inner enemy the Greater Holy War, and with good reason - to lack self-discipline is to lose control of the external power at one's disposal through stupidity.

    The enemy attracts and repulses; the enemy has a strange beauty which must be denied. The Other creates a war within the Self and blurs the distinction between love and hate, repulsion and desire.
    Elaborate.

    And the material must never be allowed to overshadow the spiritual; that is the Good.
    The spiritual is one's highest justification. It does not need to be an idea. Mine is not.

    The spiritual equips the man of the Present with the treasures of the Past and the fruits of the Future.
    The materialist exists only in the Present.
    Every man exists only in the present - the question is whether he looks backward (a Romantic, as Nietzsche put it) or looks foward (one with an overabundance of energy), or one who is akin to a miser (the vast majority).

    Logic is also a slave that must be whipped.
    The point is that logic cannot provide the spiritual - logic is a servant and nothing more, and cannot be more. The second it takes the reigns as its own, it is faced with the ultimate reality of the void.

    Ethics and morality are merely interpretations; man is a piece of fate.
    Morality is arbitrary - 'Thou shalt not steal', etc., is a command, an imperative produced by one with power. Ethics is style.

    He should have his eyes fixed both on the Past and on the Future and not allow the immediate and the expedient to distract him.
    He ought to use the present as fuel for his self expansion, his past as a guideline for what's possible, and the future as a haze he can form into his own image.

    But a shameful clinging to life is too much of the Present; a man must be prepared to die if that is his Fate.
    Man's self extends far beyond his physical limitations. Dying for who he is can protect and nurture his self. When this is far more beneficial than survival man ought not be a coward.

    He must re-evaluate his ethical interpretation of the world, as it is impossible for man - an evaluating animal - not to have an ethics.
    He must see his extension as going in ALL directions; not just into the future, but also into the past.
    In all directions, yes. But into the past - how so?

    And what of ... Sacrifice?
    An equation based on man's self-extension that favours his physical death over his physical life and yet results in a benefit for his self.
    All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream at night, in the dusky recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams, with open eyes, to make it possible.

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    Senior Member Moody's Avatar
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    Post Re: What ought we aim at?

    The 'irrational' tells us that we can not always "engineer" a purpose.
    We need rather to fulfil the whims of Providence.

    If that goes for great things, then it also goes for base things.
    In other words, man does not necessarily engineer his degeneration [even though it may look as if he does to the teleologist], rather his degeneration is a symptom of his impossibly botched nature.

    So help me, I can do no other.

    Man necessarily creates his enviroment - and thus there is a feed-back loop.

    Therefore man must create his world in the most monumental and awe-spiring fashion; in the Grand Style.

    The great must live in an enviroment of unrelenting grandeur.

    All squalor must be abolished if man is ever to become godlike.

    Asgaard on earth.

    National Socialism recognised that the negative qualities which eroded Aryan civilisation were not only external; they were also within the soul of every Aryan.

    Therefore the war must always be fought on 'two fronts' - the esoteric and the exoteric.

    Imitate Janus; while one is planted firmly in the river of the present, let one face look back and devour tradition, while the other face looks forward with prophetic visage to caress the future.

    Janus can make the Past live with the Present; and in that golden copulation he makes the Present pregnant with Future.

    To me ethics is not a 'style' but a NECESSITY.

    One cannot avoid acting, and action is the ground of ethics.
    Last edited by Moody; Monday, July 5th, 2004 at 05:07 PM. Reason: spelling
    Why are there beings at all, & why not rather nothing?
    [Leibniz/Heidegger]

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