Unbearable Ambition

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Unbearable Ambition

Postby Fixed Cross » Thu Aug 25, 2011 7:37 pm

I suffer from an ambition that is superhuman. Nothing of what any human in history has accomplished would be enough to satisfy my will to imprint my will on the world. I wake up with my jaws clenched from the continually increasing pressure, as time passes, and the steps I am able to make are not nearly sufficient to give me the idea that my goal is within reach.

Ayn Rand said that no matter where he is, the man of will (or however she phrased it precisely) will make his fortune. But I do not want to make my fortune, I want to make the fortune of billions. So any steps I may make to increase my wealth and power are unattractive to me if they are only efficient in that. It is crucial that my philosophical basis is solid first - for if I want this influence, I must of course be very clear on the type of this influence.

It may seem strange that I am writing here, on a small internet forum, "wasting" time I could also use to accumulate power, but opportunistically applying my talents, which have often opened doors for me. But this is the problem - as soon as I entered through the gates of influence into a position of increased social power, I found the mindset there very shallow and petty, and mostly very ignorant on the subject of (im)morality. People in power are as hypocritical as others, but it is less tolerable in them. I could not stay long, I preferred to "fall back to Earth" and occupy myself with philosophy. That is the reason I am here.

I post this post now, because I feel that great chances are coming, and that it is appropriate to be more direct about motivations these days, than it was before. I know this is the case for me, and I sense and hear that others feel it as well. I don't know what responses I would expect here, perhaps people have similar "issues" or think that it is funny (no doubt to many it is), all responses are welcome. I feel the times that are coming permit for greater achievements than have ever been accomplished.

The greatest influence one can have is to shape the mind of mankind. So the most powerful human is the philosopher. The real one, the Plato, the Jesus (if he existed), the Nietzsche. Of these, Plato was probably the most powerful. He influenced two and a half thousand years of thought, but with what? Such influence is perhaps always questionable. This is probably why my teeth are clenched.

I have been diagnosed by quite a few analysts and therapists (I am not in principle above such things) with syndroms such as megalomania, but the same therapists then attributed to me on the basis of that diagnosis all sorts of ailments such as psychosis. Not because I had psychotic symptoms, but because my ambitions are so unrealistic. There must be something wrong with me and the standard solution is psychosis. No matter that I am able to function perfectly well in society whenever I want to. In this society, there simply is no place for such ambition.

Our ambition is supposed to end at some petty riches, a couple of billion dollars or euros and then some charity for poor people in the third world. This is supposed to be the summum. It is a very poor and cramped intellectual world we live in. I intend to break this mould. If this makes me crazy, that is absolutely no problem - where does it say that craziness is to be avoided? All strong art teaches us the opposite.
The strong do what they can, the weak accept what they must.
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Fixed Cross » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:36 pm

I was wondering what the value of this post could possibly be, in which context it should be placed to be treated as a philosophical subject. But I realize where the impulse came from to put in here. The central issue to me is not my ambition itself, but the social context which makes this ambition seem crazy. This context is a particular type of context, I would link it to Christianity and Socialism. It is the opposite of the Greek-Roman mentality, where such ambition was considered to be the most healthy of qualities, provided that it wasn't paired with intolerable arrogance towards the Gods. For a time, such ambition was also accepted and appreciated in America. I think that time has gone. But this attitude must exist again, be cultivated again.

Ambition is now restricted to entertainment and corporatism. There is no philosophy, there is not even science, there certainly is no great art, and there are no great politics. All is petty, hypocritical, stupid, small, afraid, anti-individualistic, moralistic and base. What is lacking is a healthy notion of power.
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Stoic Guardian » Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:18 pm

Have you ever read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius?
"Fascism combats, and must combat, without respite or pity, not intelligence, but intellectualism—which is, as I have indicated, a sickness of the intellect" - Giovanni Gentile

”After visiting these places, you can easily understand how that within a few years Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived. He had boundless ambition for his country which rendered him a menace to the peace of the world, but he had a mystery about him in the way that he lived and in the manner of his death that will live and grow after him. He had in him the stuff of which legends are made.”- John F. Kennedy
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Fixed Cross » Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:31 pm

Stoic Guardian wrote:Have you ever read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius?

I read part of it once, it felt vaguely Buddhist, strangely... but it was a long time ago. Would you recommend it? I might try it again, can you say something more about why this comes to your mind in this context?
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Stoic Guardian » Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:42 pm

Fixed Cross wrote:
Stoic Guardian wrote:Have you ever read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius?

I read part of it once, it felt vaguely Buddhist, strangely... but it was a long time ago. Would you recommend it? I might try it again, can you say something more about why this comes to your mind in this context?


He was an Emperor of Rome during times of great natural disasters and Wars and Ruled because he believed it was his duty not because he was ambitous.

Auctoritas: "Spiritual Authority" The sense of one's social standing, built up through experience, Pietas, and Industria.
Comitas: "Humor" Ease of manner, courtesy, openness, and friendliness.
Clementia: "Mercy" Mildness and gentleness.
Dignitas: "Dignity" A sense of self-worth, personal pride.
Firmitas: "Tenacity" Strength of mind, the ability to stick to one's purpose.
Frugalitas: "Frugalness" Economy and simplicity of style, without being miserly.
Gravitas: "Gravity" A sense of the importance of the matter at hand, responsibility and earnestness.
Honestas: "Respectibility" The image that one presents as a respectable member of society.
Humanitas: "Humanity" Refinement, civilization, learning, and being cultured.
Industria: "Industriousness" Hard work.
Pietas: "Dutifulness" More than religious piety; a respect for the natural order socially, politically, and religiously. Includes the ideas of patriotism and devotion to others.
Prudentia: "Prudence" Foresight, wisdom, and personal discretion.
Salubritas: "Wholesomeness" Health and cleanliness.
Severitas: "Sternness" Gravity, self-control.
Veritas: "Truthfulness" Honesty in dealing with others.
"Fascism combats, and must combat, without respite or pity, not intelligence, but intellectualism—which is, as I have indicated, a sickness of the intellect" - Giovanni Gentile

”After visiting these places, you can easily understand how that within a few years Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived. He had boundless ambition for his country which rendered him a menace to the peace of the world, but he had a mystery about him in the way that he lived and in the manner of his death that will live and grow after him. He had in him the stuff of which legends are made.”- John F. Kennedy
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Stoic Guardian » Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:45 pm

Im not sure what you wish too achieve with your ambition.
"Fascism combats, and must combat, without respite or pity, not intelligence, but intellectualism—which is, as I have indicated, a sickness of the intellect" - Giovanni Gentile

”After visiting these places, you can easily understand how that within a few years Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived. He had boundless ambition for his country which rendered him a menace to the peace of the world, but he had a mystery about him in the way that he lived and in the manner of his death that will live and grow after him. He had in him the stuff of which legends are made.”- John F. Kennedy
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Fixed Cross » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:04 pm

Stoic Guardian wrote:He was an Emperor of Rome during times of great natural disasters and Wars and Ruled because he believed it was his duty not because he was ambitous.

At least he liked to present that image.

In any case, he ruled over an empire that was founded by the most intese ambition in recorded history. So whether he liked to present himself as ambitious or not is not relevant to the nature of his power. It was all ambition.

Auctoritas: "Spiritual Authority" The sense of one's social standing, built up through experience, Pietas, and Industria.
Comitas: "Humor" Ease of manner, courtesy, openness, and friendliness.
Clementia: "Mercy" Mildness and gentleness.
Dignitas: "Dignity" A sense of self-worth, personal pride.
Firmitas: "Tenacity" Strength of mind, the ability to stick to one's purpose.
Frugalitas: "Frugalness" Economy and simplicity of style, without being miserly.
Gravitas: "Gravity" A sense of the importance of the matter at hand, responsibility and earnestness.
Honestas: "Respectibility" The image that one presents as a respectable member of society.
Humanitas: "Humanity" Refinement, civilization, learning, and being cultured.
Industria: "Industriousness" Hard work.
Pietas: "Dutifulness" More than religious piety; a respect for the natural order socially, politically, and religiously. Includes the ideas of patriotism and devotion to others.
Prudentia: "Prudence" Foresight, wisdom, and personal discretion.
Salubritas: "Wholesomeness" Health and cleanliness.
Severitas: "Sternness" Gravity, self-control.
Veritas: "Truthfulness" Honesty in dealing with others.

It is telling that the only strength he mentions is strength of mind.

I remember why I put down the book. He does no justice to the ones who came before him, who established the base of his power. He does no justice to the furious will of the Roman tribe.
The strong do what they can, the weak accept what they must.
- Thucydides

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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Fixed Cross » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:05 pm

Stoic Guardian wrote:Im not sure what you wish too achieve with your ambition.

A constant achieving, ascending, paired with a breaking of intellectual limitations. I do not have an end-goal. I do not want to rest, ever.
The strong do what they can, the weak accept what they must.
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Stoic Guardian » Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:44 pm

Fixed Cross wrote:
Stoic Guardian wrote:Im not sure what you wish too achieve with your ambition.

A constant achieving, ascending, paired with a breaking of intellectual limitations. I do not have an end-goal. I do not want to rest, ever.


Then you will be very dissapointed.
"Fascism combats, and must combat, without respite or pity, not intelligence, but intellectualism—which is, as I have indicated, a sickness of the intellect" - Giovanni Gentile

”After visiting these places, you can easily understand how that within a few years Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived. He had boundless ambition for his country which rendered him a menace to the peace of the world, but he had a mystery about him in the way that he lived and in the manner of his death that will live and grow after him. He had in him the stuff of which legends are made.”- John F. Kennedy
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Stoic Guardian » Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:04 am

Fixed Cross wrote:I remember why I put down the book. He does no justice to the ones who came before him, who established the base of his power. He does no justice to the furious will of the Roman tribe.


Philosophers have a quirk about not playing to the tune of the masses. He did Great justice to Rome and his ancestors by representing in one man the Virtues of the Empire.
"Fascism combats, and must combat, without respite or pity, not intelligence, but intellectualism—which is, as I have indicated, a sickness of the intellect" - Giovanni Gentile

”After visiting these places, you can easily understand how that within a few years Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived. He had boundless ambition for his country which rendered him a menace to the peace of the world, but he had a mystery about him in the way that he lived and in the manner of his death that will live and grow after him. He had in him the stuff of which legends are made.”- John F. Kennedy
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby MagsJ » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:49 am

I will reply to this later today, as I am in the same place a you it seems :)
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby lizbethrose » Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:35 am

In the meantime, and I'm not joking or trying in any way to turn your thoughts into any sort of frivolity--please believe me.

If you really do clench your teeth, especially at night, will you please go to your dentist and have him make you a mouth-guard. It equalizes the pressure you put on your molars and can keep you from ultimately losing them.

Other than that, I really don't think I can give you any more practical advice. If you feel that being some sort of world-wide mover and shaker is your destiny, go for it! If that means having all the attributes of an ancient Roman warrior-hero, go for it!

I realize I'm starting to sound snide. I don't really mean to be. You've declared yourself.

What's next?

I'm not being sarcastic--I really want to know. For goodness sake, we need to be lifted out of this morass of doubt and disbelief given where we are now.
"Be what you would seem to be - or, if you'd like it put more simply - never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise."
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Fixed Cross » Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:43 am

Stoic Guardian wrote:
Fixed Cross wrote:
Stoic Guardian wrote:Im not sure what you wish too achieve with your ambition.

A constant achieving, ascending, paired with a breaking of intellectual limitations. I do not have an end-goal. I do not want to rest, ever.


Then you will be very dissapointed.

How could you possibly know that? Please explain.

Stoic Guardian wrote:
Fixed Cross wrote:I remember why I put down the book. He does no justice to the ones who came before him, who established the base of his power. He does no justice to the furious will of the Roman tribe.


Philosophers have a quirk about not playing to the tune of the masses. He did Great justice to Rome and his ancestors by representing in one man the Virtues of the Empire.

tell me about it.
I dont think that Aurelius was a philosopher though. He was an intellectual with a sense of morality and duty, but no mind bringing forth ideas.

Magsj wrote:I will reply to this later today, as I am in the same place a you it seems :)

That sounds promising. I am sure there are more who feel like me, because it is a natural tendency that is being oppressed. Once upon a time such ambition was the standard of civilization.

lizbethrose wrote:In the meantime, and I'm not joking or trying in any way to turn your thoughts into any sort of frivolity--please believe me.

If you really do clench your teeth, especially at night, will you please go to your dentist and have him make you a mouth-guard. It equalizes the pressure you put on your molars and can keep you from ultimately losing them.

Other than that, I really don't think I can give you any more practical advice. If you feel that being some sort of world-wide mover and shaker is your destiny, go for it! If that means having all the attributes of an ancient Roman warrior-hero, go for it!

I realize I'm starting to sound snide. I don't really mean to be. You've declared yourself.

I didn't think you were. Thanks for your advice.

What's next?

Well, first I am going to spend some time to rid myself of the last shreds of stay-small morality, and attack it wherever I see that it is obstructing the way. What comes after I have rid myself of it, is that I will begin another rise to power on different terrains, with the knowledge that in the monetary field at least I will have to endure hypocricy around me for a while at least. I am now getting too old to leep postponing the ascent, to keep falling back. I am also in the process of setting up a philosophical group, starting with a couple of members of this board. This is going to be a slow process, because that is what philosophy is, a slow, patient process. It will accompany and hopefully contribute to the backbone of other, more hectic, more worldly porcesses.

I'm not being sarcastic--I really want to know. For goodness sake, we need to be lifted out of this morass of doubt and disbelief given where we are now.

Yes indeed we very much need that. This is why I am being so explicit recently. I have been compromising my will to the dominant masses of people who insist that strong and self determined values are immoral for too long. I feel a great hate rising up against this swamp-attitude. In this case, hate is love. Just not for the same thing.
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby septimus » Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:23 am

Seems problematic. Sir Richard Branson, for example, is a multimillion dollar successful icon, started with nothing and built a huge, dominating empire.If you asked him, when he was selling records from the back seat of his car: "Do you have an unbearable ambition to dominate the world, Richard?" He most definitely would say no. I am a business owner, I know what it's like to have ambition, to have these longings for being, rich, famous and successful. But I didn't open my business, work 15 hours a day and sell off almost all of my belongings for rent and advertising because I had that ambition. What I understand now is that ambition is like sugar, it's nothing but calories and fat. It's sweet, but pointless and even bad for you. If you really want to be that man, you need to love yourself and be as fucking confident as posible, ambition is a goal, not a tool.
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Sauwelios » Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:17 am

Interesting read. I was struck by the phrase, "my will to imprint my will on the world". These two wills cannot be one and the same, for then the self-reference would create an infinite regress: "my will to imprint my will [to imprint my will [to imprint my will [...]]] on the world". So what is it you seek to imprint on the world?
"Someone may object that the successful revolt against the universal and homogeneous state could have no other effect than that the identical historical process which has led from the primitive horde to the final state will be repeated. But would such a repetition of the process--a new lease of life for man's humanity--not be preferable to the indefinite continuation of the inhuman end? Do we not enjoy every spring although we know the cycle of the seasons, although we know that winter will come again?" (Leo Strauss, "Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero".)
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Fixed Cross » Mon Aug 29, 2011 11:36 am

Sauwelios wrote:Interesting read. I was struck by the phrase, "my will to imprint my will on the world". These two wills cannot be one and the same, for then the self-reference would create an infinite regress: "my will to imprint my will [to imprint my will [to imprint my will [...]]] on the world". So what is it you seek to imprint on the world?

Ah, Sauwelios - it seems one can count on you to make pertinent remarks, if there are such to be made. Indeed, this poses a question that may very well be of the same 'family' as my teeth-clenching. It seems I have thought/driven myself into a corner here.

What do I will to imprint on the world, if not my will?

Upon some reflection and some tea, I have come to the thought that it is my aesthetics.
The strong do what they can, the weak accept what they must.
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Fixed Cross » Mon Aug 29, 2011 11:54 am

septimus wrote:Seems problematic. Sir Richard Branson, for example, is a multimillion dollar successful icon, started with nothing and built a huge, dominating empire.

Are you certain that Branson's empire is in fact dominating? It seems to me that it is rather dominated, by the demands of the masses. The notion of Branson's empire as a product of ambition to dominate fits this profile neatly:

"Our ambition is supposed to end at some petty riches, a couple of billion dollars or euros and then some charity for poor people in the third world. This is supposed to be the summum." [from the OP]

If you asked him, when he was selling records from the back seat of his car: "Do you have an unbearable ambition to dominate the world, Richard?" He most definitely would say no.

I am interested in how you think he would have responded. What was his aim, you think?

I am a business owner, I know what it's like to have ambition, to have these longings for being, rich, famous and successful. But I didn't open my business, work 15 hours a day and sell off almost all of my belongings for rent and advertising because I had that ambition.

Neither do the words rich, famous and successful describe the aim of my ambition. What I mean to establish is not my own wealth and fortune, but a lasting influence on the proceedings on the surface of this planet.

If this sounds megalomanic, then I think that is because it is heard from the pits of the deeply powerless nihilism in which our cultural mind is now entrenched.

What I understand now is that ambition is like sugar, it's nothing but calories and fat. It's sweet, but pointless and even bad for you. If you really want to be that man, you need to love yourself and be as fucking confident as posible, ambition is a goal, not a tool.

I think that this depends on how we interpret the word ambition. If it is the quest for money and fame, then yes, this is like sugar. But I would define these two drives rather as greed and vanity.
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby septimus » Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:51 pm

Then Hitler is your man. He definitely imprinted his will on the world. All the moral/ethical questions aside, he was one of the most powerful/influential figures in the 20th century. Psychologically speaking, this will to dominate and be omnisciently powerful is simply your reaction to those who ignored you and did not take you seriously, this reaction then filters through dozens of your "personality filters" which results in such reaction. I do think it's healthy though, ambition is confidence, and confidence is the king.
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby without-music » Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:14 pm

Fixed Cross wrote:What do I will to imprint on the world, if not my will?

Upon some reflection and some tea, I have come to the thought that it is my aesthetics.

Ah, the will to power as art.
What, today, is worth imprinting upon the world, if not one's art? Humanity needs a moulder, a sculptor -- in a word, an artist -- and I do place great faith in your declaration that the time is coming. While Plato has certainly been one of the most influential thinkers of history, it is indeed necessary to question his influence -- and one need not delve deeply to uncover just how regrettable it was. And I do mean was, for we need to rid ourselves of our Christian roots; we need to destroy, after all, before we can create anew. I, too, find myself wrestling with this monumental issue -- one must have such ambition for influence, of course, but for what kind of influence, that is certainly the question that keeps me up more nights than most. Currently, I intend to pursue my thought academically, as you know, to see how far I can get within that specific realm -- always, however, with the intention to transcend it. Such a transcendence must, for we philosophers of tomorrow (and I do hope to be able to count myself among such a type; if not now, soon), remain open-ended, ceaseless, anti-teleological.

septimus wrote:Then Hitler is your man. He definitely imprinted his will on the world. All the moral/ethical questions aside, he was one of the most powerful/influential figures in the 20th century.

But Septimus, can't you see that the kind of influence one has is precisely the issue at stake! This is the reason for philosophy, after all -- is it not? This is the reason for FC's clenched teeth, for my sleepless nights. Without an ethic, one need only to wake up tomorrow and start to impose his will on anything he can, without thought, without consideration, with intention only to dominate. But that is not the way of the artist, for how could it be? The barbarian, perhaps. It is true that the philosopher must too be a warrior, but a spiritual one.

FC: I hope that you will keep me/us posted on the panning out of your ambition. As an aside, I'm surprised this thread hasn't been met with more ridicule -- interesting...
...how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature.
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Sauwelios » Mon Aug 29, 2011 3:29 pm

It is my current view that the only right kind of influence is an influence beneficial to philosophy---"the world" be damned, if it weren't for the fact that philosophy needs "the world" (I'm alluding to the last sentence of Nietzsche's Genealogy, third treatise, section 7 here).

And his influence on philosophy is Plato's true apology: for for the longest time, Platonism, Plato's exoteric doctrine, was beneficial to philosophy... Nietzsche even says somewhere that the Church is a nobler institution than the State because it's a hierarchy based on spirituality.

Only with the victory of Baconianism---i.e., of science over religion and its ostensible handmaid, philosophy---has Platonism truly become a threat to philosophy. And just as Plato rightly saw, back in his day, that his "noble lies" had become necessary for the sake of philosophy, so Nietzsche rightly saw that they had become detrimental to it.

But why would the only right kind of influence be an influence beneficial to philosophy?---Because only in philosophy does the object of human eros, i.e., of the human will to power, coincide with its true aim:

"We have been observing that, on Socrates' account in the Republic, eros has a single aim but many objects. The case of the philosopher, though, reveals that we must amend that formula: however numerous its objects, eros as Socrates depicts it in the Republic has a limited number of proper or true objects, indeed, in the deepest sense just one true object. That object is the Good[.]" (Cooper, Eros in Plato, Rousseau, and Nietzsche, page 32.)

EDIT: This quote now reminds me of the following:

"The real community of man, in the midst of all the self-contradictory simulacra of community, is the community of those who seek the truth, of the potential knowers, that is, in principle of all men to the extent they desire to know. But in fact this includes only a few, the true friends, as Plato was to Aristotle at the very moment they were disagreeing about the nature of the good. Their common concern for the good linked them; their disagreement about it proved that they needed one another to understand it. They were absolutely one soul as they looked at the problem. This, according to Plato, is the only real friendship, the only real common good. It is here that the contact people so desperately seek is to be found. The other kinds of relatedness are only imperfect reflections of this one trying to be self-subsisting, gaining their only justification from their ultimate relation to this one. This is the meaning of the riddle of the improbable philosopher-kings. They have a real community that is exemplary for all other communities." (Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, Conclusion.)

And cannot Plato and Aristotle be understood as a (spiritual) erastes and eromenos? Aristotle started out as a pupil of Plato's, after all... Not to mention Socrates and Plato!
"Someone may object that the successful revolt against the universal and homogeneous state could have no other effect than that the identical historical process which has led from the primitive horde to the final state will be repeated. But would such a repetition of the process--a new lease of life for man's humanity--not be preferable to the indefinite continuation of the inhuman end? Do we not enjoy every spring although we know the cycle of the seasons, although we know that winter will come again?" (Leo Strauss, "Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero".)
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Fixed Cross » Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:29 pm

septimus wrote:Then Hitler is your man He definitely imprinted his will on the world.

But then, he failed dramatically. When Germany was on the losing hand, he wanted Germany to be laid utterly in waste, because the German people was apparently not worthy.
So even if we take the content away from power, which is what without-music objects to, he can not be an example.

Also, I have already given three examples of people in the category of power I am interested in: Plato, Jesus and Nietzsche.

All the moral/ethical questions aside, he was one of the most powerful/influential figures in the 20th century. Psychologically speaking, this will to dominate and be omnisciently powerful is simply your reaction to those who ignored you and did not take you seriously,

Now you begin to reveal some assumptions I had not sought behind your words at first. To set you straight, I have never suffered from people not taking me seriously, and have never been ignored when I demanded attention. To the contrary; my problem, if this is a problem, is that rooms take on a different charge when I enter and I am almost always immediately the center of attention, the object of expectation. Since I have had no use for this, I have withdrawn into relative solitude. This automatic attention has been difficult on me because it is combined with a great sensitivity to others' doubt and suffering.

It is unpleasant to become aware of how feeble people are at heart, because I feel that I have to comfort them, set them at ease, which means to refrain from asserting myself, which feels like holding my breath. If I would be less sensitive to other peoples doubts and sufferings I would probably be in military or politics, because I enjoy setting out strategies and am good at that. But I feel too much pity, which makes it a horror to be amongst groups of people (without exception group behavior reveals weaknesses as it desperately tries to hide them) for too long, as well as unacceptable to inflict suffering if there is not a very good reason.

I can only truly bear people who are strong at heart, and you seldom find more than one or two of them in one room. So this is how I have responded so far:

Under conditions of peace the warlike man attacks himself. - Nietzsche, BGE 76.

But now I do indeed feel that the times are changing, and a time of war - philosophical war - is at hand. For this reason I have dared to compare myself with Nietzsche, Jesus and Plato - even to suggest that I place the rank of my will above theirs - which only a few months ago would have been unthinkable. Now, I feel that it is in fact necessary. We must forge ahead, think beyond all of them, aspire beyond everything that has been revered so far.
The strong do what they can, the weak accept what they must.
- Thucydides

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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Fixed Cross » Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:04 pm

Sauwelios wrote:It is my current view that the only right kind of influence is an influence beneficial to philosophy---"the world" be damned, if it weren't for the fact that philosophy needs "the world" (I'm alluding to the last sentence of Nietzsche's Genealogy, third treatise, section 7 here).

Let me say directly that I do not share this view and am fairly certain that I never will. It is therefore very useful that you bring it up. If I may ask, how did you come to this view?

I see the value of philosophy as I see the value of art - philosophy is the highest artform, the art of shaping the world. So, indeed philosophy has need of the world, but not only that - it would be inconceivable without the world.

And his influence on philosophy is Plato's true apology: for for the longest time, Platonism, Plato's exoteric doctrine, was beneficial to philosophy... Nietzsche even says somewhere that the Church is a nobler institution than the State because it's a hierarchy based on spirituality.

It is hard to imagine this, but I do not believe that you would - imagine this. I would very much like to read this in context. If, whenever this is convenient, you might locate the source, I'd be much obliged.

Can you explain the reason that Plato's exoteric doctrine was beneficial to philosophy? Which philosophies that can be seen as valuable by us were born out of it?

Only with the victory of Baconianism---i.e., of science over religion and its ostensible handmaid, philosophy---has Platonism truly become a threat to philosophy. And just as Plato rightly saw, back in his day, that his "noble lies" had become necessary for the sake of philosophy, so Nietzsche rightly saw that they had become detrimental to it.

I cannot imagine that any exoteric interpretation of Plato has use to philosophy, not if there is also an esoteric interpretation to be made. I cannot follow you here, because I have very little understanding of (what you understand as) Plato's esoteric philosophy.

But why would the only right kind of influence be an influence beneficial to philosophy?---Because only in philosophy does the object of human eros, i.e., of the human will to power, coincide with its true aim:

"We have been observing that, on Socrates' account in the Republic, eros has a single aim but many objects. The case of the philosopher, though, reveals that we must amend that formula: however numerous its objects, eros as Socrates depicts it in the Republic has a limited number of proper or true objects, indeed, in the deepest sense just one true object. That object is the Good[.]" (Cooper, Eros in Plato, Rousseau, and Nietzsche, page 32.)

What do you mean by the Good? Are we not aiming at, if not already departing from, a valuation beyond good and evil? I must be misunderstanding you, because what I read is suggestive of the adoration of the objective (God), and not the aim to enrich (the subjective experience of) man by creating (the conditions for) a higher type.

EDIT: This quote now reminds me of the following:

"The real community of man, in the midst of all the self-contradictory simulacra of community, is the community of those who seek the truth, of the potential knowers, that is, in principle of all men to the extent they desire to know. But in fact this includes only a few, the true friends, as Plato was to Aristotle at the very moment they were disagreeing about the nature of the good. Their common concern for the good linked them; their disagreement about it proved that they needed one another to understand it. They were absolutely one soul as they looked at the problem. This, according to Plato, is the only real friendship, the only real common good. It is here that the contact people so desperately seek is to be found. The other kinds of relatedness are only imperfect reflections of this one trying to be self-subsisting, gaining their only justification from their ultimate relation to this one. This is the meaning of the riddle of the improbable philosopher-kings. They have a real community that is exemplary for all other communities." (Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, Conclusion.)

I interpret this Good then as conflict, war.

And cannot Plato and Aristotle be understood as a (spiritual) erastes and eromenos? Aristotle started out as a pupil of Plato's, after all... Not to mention Socrates and Plato!

But you cannot possibly be praising Socrates here!

[edit - I reacted impulsively, startled that his name comes up, in relation to the highest value. You will perhaps understand that I am surprised. I still consider Socrates a ruiner of the Greeks, even if decay was already set in motion and ruin inevitable. ]
Last edited by Fixed Cross on Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:37 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Fixed Cross » Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:32 pm

without-music wrote:
Fixed Cross wrote:What do I will to imprint on the world, if not my will?

Upon some reflection and some tea, I have come to the thought that it is my aesthetics.

Ah, the will to power as art.
What, today, is worth imprinting upon the world, if not one's art? Humanity needs a moulder, a sculptor -- in a word, an artist -- and I do place great faith in your declaration that the time is coming. While Plato has certainly been one of the most influential thinkers of history, it is indeed necessary to question his influence -- and one need not delve deeply to uncover just how regrettable it was. And I do mean was, for we need to rid ourselves of our Christian roots; we need to destroy, after all, before we can create anew.

The difficult aspect of this destroying is that we cannot entirely eradicate Platos thinking, because it was based in part on things that are still useful and necessary to us. Before we can be free of Plato, we must understand him, and cut off what is bad, and keep what may be good/evil or beyond.

It has always been my impression that Plato has simply misunderstood Pythagoras / the Pythagoreans, who as their greatest accomplishment invented our musical system. They did so by applying the 'Ideals' or 'True Forms' of geometry to the physical world, in the mathematically guided combining of strings of different lengths. Plato then went on to transpose the notion of 'Ideal' and 'True Forms' to physical objects for which the Greeks happened to have names, where Pythagoras had conceived of them as a very limited set of geometrical axioms.

The silliness of Platos (exoteric) error / lie is almost incomprehensible. I have at least some hope that it was indeed a lie (or a joke), because he allegedly had written above his door "let no one who is not a mathematician enter here", which can either mean that he understood what he was interpreting very well, and deliberately distorted it, or that he was simply very impressed with mathematicians as agents of the Truth, and wanted to be among them.

Reading Sauwelios' post, I find myself asking if there was more to Plato than his error. It is true that the Greeks, also the Pythagoreans, had a tradition of layering their philosophy. The student had to learn the exoteric meaning (from outside the curtain) for years, before he would be allowed to see.

I, too, find myself wrestling with this monumental issue -- one must have such ambition for influence, of course, but for what kind of influence, that is certainly the question that keeps me up more nights than most. Currently, I intend to pursue my thought academically, as you know, to see how far I can get within that specific realm -- always, however, with the intention to transcend it. Such a transcendence must, for we philosophers of tomorrow (and I do hope to be able to count myself among such a type; if not now, soon), remain open-ended, ceaseless, anti-teleological.

I believe that the intention to transcend is already a transcending. An academic career pursued with the aim to transcend academic confines/ethics allows one to become familiar with what needs to be transcended. One might be able to transgress ethics one is not aware of, but not to transcend them.
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby septimus » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:27 am

Also, I have already given three examples of people in the category of power I am interested in: Plato, Jesus and Nietzsche.

Those times are long gone, Cross. All ideas have been spoken, all strategies implemented. You either take something by force, invent a time machine or be a CEO. Also, for a man of your personality and ambition, at least as you describe it, I find it very odd to find someone like you on the internet. Just the fact that you are interested in philosophy, tells me you are a man of thought, not action, and the fact that you are discussing philosophy on an internet forum and not at Cambridge or Oxford , doubles down on that.
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Re: Unbearable Ambition

Postby Fixed Cross » Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:24 am

septimus wrote:
Also, I have already given three examples of people in the category of power I am interested in: Plato, Jesus and Nietzsche.

Those times are long gone, Cross. All ideas have been spoken, all strategies implemented. You either take something by force, invent a time machine or be a CEO. Also, for a man of your personality and ambition, at least as you describe it, I find it very odd to find someone like you on the internet.

Instead of in an army camp in northern Germania, in a tent filled with books, you mean?
I am afraid this war has not yet come to that stage. And by the time it has, I will be long gone.

Just the fact that you are interested in philosophy, tells me you are a man of thought, not action, and the fact that you are discussing philosophy on an internet forum and not at Cambridge or Oxford , doubles down on that.

If you classify thought and action as mutually exclusive, you would never had a thought with a consequence. Is this true?
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