Sunday, September 23, 2012


Had Aristotle's dialogues survived, would we as a species be dealing with 1/10th the shit we're having to deal with?  Would the technological singularity and therefore indefinite bio-life-extension have been reached centuries ago?  Would Averroes be tons more famous and influential than Osama bin Laden?  Would modern scientists have figured out long ago that it's Aristotle's method and not his conclusions that are essential to understanding him, thereby cementing his status yet further as an Atlas of the Western world?  Would Sam Harris dare not incorporate Aristotelianism into his recent best-selling layperson-accessible treatise on ethics?  Would the young intellectual rebels not be so enchanted with Nietzsche to the exclusion of the Big A?  Would Nietzsche already have been Aristotelianized?  Would MacIntyre's After Virtue be necessary?  Would Rand's extant writings be necessary?  How might the Thomistic synthesis have otherwise proceeded, assuming it were necessary?  Would Jesus of Nazareth already have been Aristotelianized?  Would Marcus Aurelius merely represent the norm in political leadership?  Would "cognitive integration" be a commonsense lay-term describing the norm of human living?  Wouldn't Jefferson, Franklin, et al, obviously have been Aristotelianized, thereby saving America a ton of hurt in the long run?  Would every president be the intellectual caliber of a Jefferson?  Would John Cooper and Jonathan Lear, and not Snooki and Paris Hilton, be celebrities? Would Snooki be Aristotelianized?  Would Sarah Palin be Aristotelianized?  Who wouldn't be Aristotelianized, except for maybe a few stubborn asshole holdouts?  Would Jerry Falwell be a holdout?  Would Falwell be a celebrity by any stretch? Would Falwell as we knew him so much as exist, or would religious folk all be following the examples set by Aquinas, Averroes, and Maimonides, thereby saving the world a ton of hurt?  Would there be assholes?  Criminals?  Dictators?  Warmongers?  Would Mahlerian music be more or less the norm?  Kubrickian films more or less the norm?  Etc.

Would the surviving dialogues prove not all that effective at changing the human condition?  Are people incorrigibly corrupt or intellectually lazy?  Is free will an illusion?  What has kept philosophy from becoming the dominant force in humans' mental lives, anyway?  How do people manage to ignore the wisdom of the ages and keep on going as they've been going?  Does it have anything to do with "leading ethical philosophers" in the ivory tower leaving Aristotle pretty much completely out of their treatises?  (Did these ethicists not learn jackshit from MacIntyre?)  Have the philosophers themselves failed to connect with the layfolk (assuming Rand doesn't count as a philosopher, as many of the ivory-tower ethicists would have it)?  Is human history really just a byproduct of the material productive forces of each era, as many of the same ivory-tower folks have entertained?  How exactly is "dialectical materialism" supposed to be influenced by Aristotle, anyway?  Would Aristotle, were he around today, have spoken only to ivory-tower folks in only their terms, or would he have been a staunch popularizer?  Would he fall head-over-heels for socialism, or would he be more or less a hard-headed capitalist with a soft heart (h/t Alan Blinder) and a broader moral and intellectual message?  Would that still not prove effective at changing the human condition?  What if Plato and Kant, with the benefit of historical hindsight, got on board with that message all dialectical-like; would that still do any good?  What if the "stylistic river of gold" dialogues were all we had to work with instead?  Etc.