Adonis Diaries

“The catalytic manuscripts that cleaved the ancient off the modern times”

Posted on: October 14, 2008

“The catalytic manuscripts that cleaved the ancient off the modern times” (August 31, 2008)

Manuscripts in themselves do not necessarily generate revolutions or change habits and thinking in societies, but they are used as sources and the foundation for drastic changes at the appropriate conditions and moments in social upheavals.

This article will focus on the main published manuscripts since the 16th century that had the potential to cleave the ancient perspectives on the world off the modern times.

Who were the catalyst thinkers that changed the perceptions and beliefs in values, politics, economy, sciences, and theology (paradigm shifts)?

This article is to encourage free thinkers who can read to go to the original manuscripts with a renewed critical approach of modern development, instead of relying on the interpretations of “representatives” of knowledge.  Delegating truth and meaning of the authors by others is pure laziness of the mind, camouflaged by countless excuses that permit ignorance and ideological positions to distort opinions and well founded mental development.

Erasmus (1469-1536) translated the Bibles from Latin into the German language which aided greatly Martin Luther to spread his brand of Protestantism like wild fire in the Germanophone countries. The Catholic clergies were thus denied the privilege of being the sole interpreters of the Bibles;. And the power shifted to the people who could not before read or write in the Latin language of the elites.  This period is considered the beginning of the Renaissance.

In the 16th century Martin Luther regained the free will for the new Protestants who challenged the Popes in Rome.

Luther activity was of very limited theological objective which meant to remind the Popes and the archbishops that whatever decrees for the individual absolution of sins they have been selling concerns the sins towards them or their Catholic Church, but not what are done to others: only God is the main absolver of sins and it is man’s consciousness and true remorse that count to God.

It happened that the Princes and feudal lords in Northern Europe and Germany were frustrated with the Popes and clergies’ businesses at their expense for taxing the added values in the economy by selling absolution at a large scale.

For example, bishops purchased their ranks and thus borrowed heavily and had to repay their dues at the expense of the population, a business that transferred lot of money that the Princes and Barons treasuries relied on.

Consequently, it was the political personalities that carried the schism to Catholicism to its extreme breakage point under the banner of Martin Luther.           

Montesquieu published in 1748 “De l’esprit des lois”.

He relied heavily on the writings of the English philosopher Locke and the constitution in effect in Great Britain. Political liberty cannot be secured without the separation of the three authorities legislative, executive and legal.

Political liberty is this peace of mind in the general opinion that security is maintained of not being forced to do what the laws prohibit and to be able to do what we want within the limits of the laws. During the American Revolution (1789) the article 16 in the US Declaration stated “No separation of authority (power) no Constitution“.

The executive should have the right to block or veto a written law if it could not execute the law and many executive branches in democracies have this privilege.  (My personal opinion is that the missing link in democracies is for not permitting the legal body of judges to blocking any legislative law that is too mechanical in nature and denies the judges their common sense and experience in judging cases or might over burden the legal body if the executive branch decides to be zealot in exercising certain laws for party political interests and at election times, laws that limit or hinder the judges’ prerogatives for judging cases on their own merit and proper duration)

Rousseau published in 1762 “Du contrat social” which set fire to most social and political movements fed up of monarchies and oligarchies up to the 19th century. As in any association, each citizen put in common his individual person and his power under the supreme guidance of the general will and this act of association form a collective moral body which translates into every associate receiving his unity, his will and his life. Under this social pact anyone who refuses to obey the general will should be set free from the agreements binding the members of association.

This new generated public person who used to take his City name is now called citizen in a Republic and subject under the State laws. The general will of the citizens that share common interests tends always to benefit the public good and it is under these common interests that the citizens should be governed although the general public can be cheated out of its will by renegade governments.  The extreme opinions in the two tails in the will of all the citizens cancel each other and what remains is the general will of the population. (Any citizen who refuses to join the general will, in election results for example, should not benefit in the various interests as those who are bonded by the pact).

Emmanuel Kant (1724-1804), the German philosopher, published his philosophical work “The foundations of the metaphysical morals” which made it impossible to consider the natural gifts as having real impact on moral values. 

Only the good will (I prefer to define it as compassionate enthusiasm) of an individual can be considered absolutely “good” on the moral level. What makes us worthy of happiness is solely our good will to change and act according to our limited natural gifts.  The natural gifts of intelligence, talents, capacity to decide, stubbornness in our tasks, inherited money, excellent health and so forth can be catalysts to enhancing our good will but no one should be considered as having good morals or a god moral person simply because he inherited natural gifts.  The ancient moral structure or ethics endowed the aristocratic class natural privileges because by nature people are unequal in gifts and thus virtues reside in the upper classes.

Adam Smith published in 1776 “Investigation on the nature and causes of the wealth of Nations”.  He stated that individuals have the tendencies to invest whatever capital they own within the areas of their residence so that they could have better control over their business because they are aware of the people they can trust and the environment that can use their skills and products and the functioning of the legal system.

This process of increasing the added value of their businesses in the local commerce or inner commerce in general is like “an invisible hand” at work for increasing the wealth of the whole economy.  When the State risks to orient or guide a individual in the manner of investing his capital it is meddling in pointless exercises since the investor is better positioned to know the kinds of activities he is fit to undertake.  Smith relied heavily on the liberal scientific economic principles of the School of Physiocrates but three economic revolutions carried his manuscript as their Bible; mainly, the French Revolution in the political debates, the industrial revolution seeking justifications for their capitalist system and the scientific revolution.

Smith warned against freight commerce where the capital of an investor is divided among foreign countries and never under his control. Thus, a businessman prefers to deal within the inner commerce over external commerce and by far over freight commerce.  Many contradictory economics schools of sciences that earned Nobel Prices such as the School of Chicago, the School of Vienna and even Amartya Sen tried to interpret a few of Smith’s economic principles and his metaphor of the invisible hand.

Charles Darwin performed two revolutions in 1859 by publishing “The origin of species” and in 1871 by publishing “La filiation de l’homme” or “The lineage of man”.  In the first manuscript Darwin wondered how come the natural organisms manage to keep a stable balance with this abundance of procreation. 

Thomas Malthus published in 1798 his “Essay on the principle of population” declaring that resources were not increasing at the same rate of population and that if procreation is not restrained then earth would become the theater of mortal struggles.  In nature, many species procreate considerably in the eventual process that many would die or be eaten before they reach adulthood. Darwin reached a resolution that this stable equilibrium is the mechanism of selection among species that endow the capable with additional minor advantages that permit them to overcome the rigor of an environment, individual, social and atmospheric, a natural process of adaptation for survival of a species. 

Darwin never mentioned in this manuscript that man is descendant of chimpanzees or other species. The second manuscript claimed that incremental progress in civilized associations among humans have instituted a mechanism that offer privileges to the sick and less gifted at the expense of individual rivalries so that to preserve the social instincts of altruism and solidarity among the communities.  Darwin foresaw that as the number of men start sympathizing with animals in extension to their social instincts then this sensibility would expand through imitation and education and end up being incorporated in the general public.

Sigmund Freud in his “The subconscious and its interpretation” announces that man is not a free willing person and master of his ideas but all his actions and thoughts are guided by fantasies generated in his subconscious; hazard is thus non existent because everything can be explained by the workings of the subconscious and discovered through the technique of free association of ideas and whatever you utter during your waking hours.  Slave of the automaton of the senses and of desires, everyone secretes a world of his own, woven by his phantasms and thus “everyone is basically crazy”.  The conscious world is a precarious common denominator of compromises that people opt to live within treachery, misunderstandings, routine and identification.

Albert Einstein published in 1905 a short and succinct article, labeled later as the theory of restrained relativity, which changed for ever the perception of time and space and established a new modern physics.  Einstein had stated that time is intrinsically related to the observer in movement and that only the constant speed of light is independent of movement and its directions.  Classical physics conceived time and space as independent of matters and observers; past was past and the future was to be realized everywhere in the world.

Einstein stated that an observer in a train who is totally in the dark has no means of knowing whether the train is at rest or in uniform movement (a movement that excludes acceleration or deceleration).  Scientists thus had to exclude the notion that two events can possibly happen simultaneously and depends on an arbitrary reference. (I read that gravity is fundamentally a distortion in the time-space canvass and not related to the mass of a particle/planet in the cosmic universe). The concepts of “passage of time” as the flow of a river and our separation of past, present and future are plainly illusions. Einstein’s general relativity theory modified modern physics in many areas such as particle accelerators, black holes, Big Bang, and the GPS positioning system.  (If these new concepts are true then I may hypothesize that the metrics of time based on an atomic clock may not be valid on another galaxy because the speeds of the other galaxies are different from ours).

Werner Heisenberg was 23 year-old when he published in 1925 “On quantum mechanics”.  Heisenberg realized that classical mechanics used by Max Planck, Niels Bohr and Louis de Broglie that relied on the values of exact position, the orbital period of an electron and speed of a matter were not observable quantities in atomic and sub-atomic particles and thus not suitable to be applied.  Heisenberg then endeavored to formulate abstract equations using observable quantities such as the frequencies of light emitted when an electron jumps from an orbit to the next and the energy required to shifting orbits which is the square of amplitudes of the wave and represented by the probabilities of jumping orbits. 

This mathematical concept of a new mechanics has lead to many interpretations such as it impossible to simultaneously measure the location of an atomic particle and its speed or moment and that the physical world is not realized in one deterministic copy but the superposition of innumerable worlds. (I once read that the new quantum mechanics theory was the consequence of chaos in philosophy: deterministic views, in the aftermath of the First World War, were suspect in the perception of people of the new calamitous world)


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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2008
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