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mercredi, 21 février 2018

Greek Biopolitics and Its Unfortunate Demise in Western Thinking


Greek Biopolitics and Its Unfortunate Demise in Western Thinking

Guillaume Durocher

Ex: http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net

greek-origins-of-biopolitics.jpgMika Ojakangas, On the Origins of Greek Biopolitics: A Reinterpretation of the History of Biopower
London and New York: Routledge, 2016

Mika Ojakangas is a professor of political theory, teaching at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. He has written a succinct and fairly comprehensive overview of ancient Greek thought on population policies and eugenics, or what he terms “biopolitics.” Ojakangas says:

In their books on politics, Plato and Aristotle do not only deal with all the central topics of biopolitics (sexual intercourse, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, childcare, public health, education, birthrate, migration, immigration, economy, and so forth) from the political point of view, but for them these topics are the very keystone of politics and the art of government. At issue is not only a politics for which “the idea of governing people” is the leading idea but also a politics for which the question how “to organize life” (tou zên paraskeuên) (Plato, Statesman, 307e) is the most important question. (6)

The idea of regulating and cultivating human life, just as one would animal and plant life, is then not a Darwinian, eugenic, or Nazi modern innovation, but, as I have argued concerning Plato’s Republic, can be found in a highly developed form at the dawn of Western civilization. As Ojakangas says:

The idea of politics as control and regulation of the living in the name of the security, well-being and happiness of the state and its inhabitants is as old as Western political thought itself, originating in classical Greece. Greek political thought, as I will demonstrate in this book, is biopolitical to the bone. (1)

Greek thought had nothing to do with the modern obsessions with supposed “human rights” or “social contracts,” but took the good to mean the flourishing of the community, and of individuals as part of that community, as an actualization of the species’ potential: “In this biopolitical power-knowledge focusing on the living, to repeat, the point of departure is neither law, nor free will, nor a contract, or even a natural law, meaning an immutable moral rule. The point of departure is the natural life (phusis) of individuals and populations” (6). Okajangas notes: “for Plato and Aristotle politics was essentially biopolitics” (141).

In Ojakangas’ telling, Western biopolitical thought gradually declined in the ancient and medieval period. Whereas Aristotle and perhaps Plato had thought of natural law and the good as pertaining to a particular organism, the Stoics, Christians, and liberals posited a kind of a disembodied natural law:

This history is marked by several ruptures understood as obstacles preventing the adoption and diffusion of the Platonic-Aristotelian biopolitical model of politics – despite the influence these philosophers have otherwise had on Roman and Christian thought. Among these ruptures, we may include: the legalization of politics in the Roman Republic and the privatization of everyday life in the Roman Empire, but particularly the end of birth control, hostility towards the body, the sanctification of law, and the emergence of an entirely new kind of attitude to politics and earthly government in early Christianity. (7)

mika.ojakangas.jpgOjakangas’ book has served to confirm my impression that, from an evolutionary point of view, the most relevant Western thinkers are found among the ancient Greeks, with a long sleep during the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages, a slow revival during the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and a great climax heralded by Darwin, before being shut down again in 1945. The periods in which Western thought was eminently biopolitical — the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. and 1865 to 1945 — are perhaps surprisingly short in the grand scheme of things, having been swept away by pious Europeans’ recurring penchant for egalitarian and cosmopolitan ideologies. Okajangas also admirably puts ancient biopolitics in the wider context of Western thought, citing Spinoza, Nietzsche, Carl Schmitt, Heidegger, and others, as well as recent academic literature.

At the core of the work is a critique of Michel Foucault’s claim that biopolitics is a strictly modern phenomenon growing out of “Christian pastoral power.” Ojakangas, while sympathetic to Foucault, says the latter’s argument is “vague” (33) and unsubstantiated. Indeed, historically at least, Catholic countries with strong pastoral power tended precisely to be those in which eugenics was less popular, in contrast with Protestant ones.

It must be said that postmodernist pioneer Foucault is a strange starting point on the topic of biopolitics. As Ojakangas suggests, Foucault’s 1979 and 1980 lecture courses The Birth of Biopolitics and On the Government of the Living do not deal mainly with biopolitics at all, despite their titles (34–35). Indeed, Foucault actually lost rapidly lost interest in the topic.

Okajangas also criticizes Hannah Arendt for claiming that Aristotle posited a separation between the familial/natural life of the household (oikos) and that of the polis. In fact: “The Greek city-state was, to use Carl Schmitt’s infamous formulation, a total state — a state that intervenes, if it so wishes, in all possible matters, in economy and in all the other spheres of human existence” (17). Okajangas goes into some detail citing, contra Arendt and Foucault, ancient Greek uses of household-management and shepherding as analogies for political rule.


Aristotle appears as a genuine forerunner of modern scientific biopolitics in Ojakangas’ account. Aristotle’s politics was at once highly conventional, really reflecting more widespread Greek assumptions, and his truly groundbreaking work as an empirical scientist, notably in the field of biology. For Aristotle “the aim of politics and state administration is to produce good life by developing the immanent potentialities of natural life and to bring these potentialities to fruition” (17, cf. 107). Ojakangas goes on:

Aristotle was not a legal positivist in the modern sense of the word but rather a representative of sociological naturalism, as for Aristotle there is no fundamental distinction between the natural and the social world: they are both governed by the same principles discovered by empirical research on the nature of things and living beings. (55–56)

And: “although justice is based on nature, at stake in this nature is not an immutable and eternal cosmic nature expressing itself in the law written on the hearts of men and women but nature as it unfolds in a being” (109).

This entailed a notion of justice as synonymous with natural hierarchy. Okajangas notes: “for Plato justice means inequality. Justice takes place when an individual fulfills that function or work (ergon) that is assigned to him by nature in the socio-political hierarchy of the state — and to the extent that everybody does so, the whole city-state is just” (111). Biopolitical justice is when each member of the community is fulfilling the particular role to which he is best suited to enable the species to flourish: “For Plato and Aristotle, in sum, natural justice entails hierarchy, not equality, subordination, not autonomy” (113). Both Plato and Aristotle adhered to a “geometrical” conception of equality between humans, namely, that human beings were not equal, but should be treated in accordance with their worth or merit.


Plato used the concepts of reason and nature not to comfort convention but to make radical proposals for the biological, cultural, and spiritual perfection of humanity. Okajangas rightly calls the Republic a “bio-meritocratic” utopia (19) and notes that “Platonic biopolitico-pastoral power” was highly innovative (134). I was personally also extremely struck in Plato by his unique and emphatic joining together of the biological and the spiritual. Okajangas says that National Socialist racial theoriar Hans F. K. Günther in his Plato as Protector of Life (1928) had argued  that “a dualistic reading of Plato goes astray: the soul and the body are not separate entities, let alone enemies, for the spiritual purification in the Platonic state takes place only when accompanied with biological selection” (13).[1]

Okajangas succinctly summarizes the decline of biopolitics in the ancient world. Politically this was related to the decline of the intimate and “total” city-state:

It indeed seems that the decline of the classical city-state also entailed a crisis of biopolitical vision of politics. . . . Just like modern biopolitics, which is closely linked to the rise of the modern nation-state, it is quite likely that the decline of biopolitics and biopolitical vision of politics in the classical era is related to the fall of the ethnically homogeneous political organization characteristic of the classical city-states. (118)

The rise of Hellenistic and Roman empires as universal, cultural states naturally entailed a withdrawal of citizens from politics and a decline in self-conscious ethnopolitics.

cicero1.jpgWhile Rome had also been founded as “a biopolitical regime” and had some policies to promote fertility and eugenics (120), this was far less central to Roman than to Greek thought, and gradually declined with the Empire. Political ideology seems to have followed political realities.  The Stoics and Cicero posited a “natural law” not deriving from a particular organism, but as a kind of cosmic, disembodied moral imperative, and tended to emphasize the basic commonality of human beings (e.g. Cicero, Laws, 1.30).

I believe that the apparently unchanging quality of the world and the apparent biological stability of the species led many ancient thinkers to posit an eternal and unchanging disembodied moral law. They did not have our insights on the evolutionary origins of our species and of its potential for upward change in the future. Furthermore, the relative commonality of human beings in the ancient Mediterranean — where the vast majority were Aryan or Semitic Caucasians, with some clinal variation — could lead one to think that biological differences between humans were minor (an impression which Europeans abandoned in the colonial era, when they encountered Sub-Saharan Africans, Amerindians, and East Asians). Missing, in those days before modern science and as White advocate William Pierce has observed, was a progressive vision of human history as an evolutionary process towards ever-greater consciousness and self-actualization.[2]

Many assumptions of late Hellenistic (notably Stoic) philosophy were reflected and sacralized in Christianity, which also posited a universal and timeless moral law deriving from God, rather than the state or the community. As it is said in the Book of Acts (5:29): “We must obey God rather than men.” With Christianity’s emphasis on the dignity of each soul and respect for the will of God, the idea of manipulating reproductive processes through contraception, abortion, or infanticide in order to promote the public good became “taboo” (121). Furthermore: “virginity and celibacy were as a rule regarded as more sacred states than marriage and family life . . . . The dying ascetic replaced the muscular athlete as a role model” (121). These attitudes gradually became reflected in imperial policies:

All the marriage laws of Augustus (including the system of legal rewards for married parents with children and penalties for the unwed and childless) passed from 18 BC onwards were replaced under Constantine and the later Christian emperors — and even those that were not fell into disuse. . . . To this effect, Christian emperors not only made permanent the removal of sanctions on celibates, but began to honor and reward those Christian priests who followed the rule of celibacy: instead of granting privileges to those who contracted a second marriage, Justinian granted privileges to those who did not  (125)

The notion of moral imperatives deriving from a disembodied natural law and the equality of souls gradually led to the modern obsession with natural rights, free will, and social contracts. Contrast Plato and Aristotle’s eudaimonic (i.e., focusing on self-actualization) politics of aristocracy and community to that of seventeenth-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes:

I know that in the first book of the Politics Aristotle asserts as a foundation of all political knowledge that some men have been made by nature worthy to rule, others to serve, as if Master and slave were distinguished not by agreement among men, but by natural aptitude, i.e. by their knowledge or ignorance. This basic postulate is not only against reason, but contrary to experience. For hardly anyone is so naturally stupid that he does not think it better to rule himself than to let others rule him. … If then men are equal by nature, we must recognize their equality; if they are unequal, since they will struggle for power, the pursuit of peace requires that they are regarded as equal. And therefore the eighth precept of natural law is: everyone should be considered equal to everyone. Contrary to this law is PRIDE. (De Cive, 3.13)

It does seem that, from an evolutionary point of view, the long era of medieval and early modern thought represents an enormous regression as compared with the Ancients, particularly the Greeks. As Ojakangas puts it: “there is an essential rupture in the history of Western political discourse since the decline of the Greek city-states” (134).


Western biopolitics gradually returned in the modern era and especially with Darwin, who himself had said in The Descent of Man: “The weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.”[3] And: “Man scans with scrupulous care the character and pedigree of his horses, cattle, and dogs before he matches them; but when he comes to his own marriage he rarely, or never, takes any such care.”[4] Okajangas argues that “the Platonic Aristotelian art of government [was] more biopolitical than the modern one,” as they did not have to compromise with other traditions, namely “Roman and Judeo-Christian concepts and assumptions” (137).

Okajangas’ book is useful in seeing the outline of the long tradition of Western biopolitical thinking, despite the relative eclipse of the Middle Ages. He says:

Baruch Spinoza was probably the first modern metaphysician of biopolitics. While Kant’s moral and political thought is still centered on concepts such as law, free will, duty, and obligation, in Spinoza we encounter an entirely different mode of thinking: there are no other laws but causal ones, the human will is absolutely determined by these laws, freedom and happiness consist of adjusting oneself to them, and what is perhaps most essential, the law of nature is the law of a self-expressing body striving to preserve itself (conatus) by affirming itself, this affirmation, this immanent power of life, being nothing less than justice. In the thought of Friedrich Nietzsche, this metaphysics of biopolitics is brought to its logical conclusion. The law of life is nothing but life’s will to power, but now this power, still identical with justice, is understood as a process in which the sick and the weak are eradicated by the vital forces of life.

I note in passing that William Pierce had a similar assessment of Spinoza’s pantheism as basically valid, despite the latter’s Jewishness.[5]

The 1930s witnessed the zenith of modern Western biopolitical thinking. The French Nobel Prize winner and biologist Alexis Carrel had argued in his best-selling Man the Unknown for the need for eugenics and the need for “philosophical systems and sentimental prejudices must give way before such a necessity.” Yet, as Okajangas points out, “if we take a look at the very root of all ‘philosophical systems,’ we find a philosophy (albeit perhaps not a system) perfectly in agreement with Carrel’s message: the political philosophy of Plato” (97).

Okajangas furthermore argues that Aristotle’s biocentric naturalist ethics were taken up in 1930s Germany:

Instead of ius naturale, at stake was rather what the modern human sciences since the nineteenth century have called biological, economical, and sociological laws of life and society — or what the early twentieth-century völkisch German philosophers, theologians, jurists, and Hellenists called Lebensgesetz, the law of life expressing the unity of spirit and race immanent to life itself. From this perspective, it is not surprising that the “crown jurist” of the Third Reich, Carl Schmitt, attacked the Roman lex [law] in the name of the Greek nomos [custom/law] — whose “original” meaning, although it had started to deteriorate already in the post-Solonian democracy, can in Schmitt’s view still be detected in Aristotle’s Politics. Cicero had translated nomos as lex, but on Schmitt’s account he did not recognize that unlike the Roman lex, nomos does not denote an enacted statute (positive law) but a “concrete order of life” (eine konkrete Lebensordnung) of the Greek polis — not something that ‘ought to be’ but something that “is”. (56)

Western biopolitical thought was devastated by the outcome of the World War II and has yet to recover, although perhaps we can begin to see glimmers of renewal.


Okajangas reserves some critical comments for Foucault in his conclusion, arguing that with his erudition he could not have been ignorant of classical philosophy’s biopolitical character. He speculates on Foucault’s motivations for lying: “Was it a tactical move related to certain political ends? Was it even an attempt to blame Christianity and traditional Christian anti-Semitism for the Holocaust?” (142). I am in no position to pronounce on this, other than to point out that Foucault, apparently a gentile, was a life-long leftist, a Communist Party member in the 1950s, a homosexual who eventually died of AIDS, and a man who — from what I can make of his oeuvre — dedicated his life to “problematizing” the state’s policing and regulation of abnormality.

Okajangas’ work is scrupulously neutral in his presentation of ancient biopolitics. He keeps his cards close to his chest. I identified only two rather telling comments:

  1. His claim that “we know today that human races do not exist” (11).
  2. His assertion that “it would be childish to denounce biopolitics as a multi-headed monster to be wiped off the map of politics by every possible means (capitalism without biopolitics would be an unparalleled nightmare)” (143).

The latter’s odd phrasing strikes me as presenting an ostensibly left-wing point to actually make a taboo right-wing point (a technique Slavoj Žižek seems to specialize in).

In any event, I take Ojakangas’ work as a confirmation of the utmost relevance of ancient political philosophy for refounding European civilization on a sound biopolitical basis. The Greek philosophers, I believe, produced the highest biopolitical thought because they could combine the “barbaric” pagan-Aryan values which Greek society took for granted with the logical rigor of Socratic rationalism. The old pagan-Aryan culture, expressed above all in the Homeric poems, extolled the values of kinship, aristocracy, competitiveness, community, and manliness, this having been a culture which was produced by a long, evolutionary struggle for survival among wandering and conquering tribes in the Eurasian steppe. This highly adaptive traditional culture was then, by a uniquely Western contact with rationalist philosophy, rationalized and radicalized by the philosophers, untainted by the sentimentality of later times. Plato and Aristotle are remarkably un-contrived and straightforward in their political methods and goals: the human community must be perfected biologically and culturally; individual and sectoral interests must give way to those of the common good; and these ought to be enforced through pragmatic means, in accord with wisdom, with law where possible, and with ruthlessness when necessary.

[1]Furthermore, on a decidedly spiritual note: “ rather than being a Darwinist of sorts, in Günther’s view it is Plato’s idealism that renders him a predecessor of Nazi ideology, because race is not merely about the body but, as Plato taught, a combination of the mortal body and the immortal soul.” (13)

[2] William Pierce:

The medieval view of the world was that it is a finished creation. Since Darwin, we have come to see the world as undergoing a continuous and unfinished process of creation, of evolution. This evolutionary view of the world is only about 100 years old in terms of being generally accepted. . . . The pantheists, at least most of them, lacked an understanding of the universe as an evolving entity and so their understanding was incomplete. Their static view of the world made it much more difficult for them to arrive at the Cosmotheist truth.

William Pierce, “Cosmotheism: Wave of the Future,” speech delivered in Arlington, Virginia 1977.

[3] Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (New York: Appleton and Company, 1882), 134.

[4]Ibid., 617. Interestingly, Okajangas points out that Benjamin Isaac, a Jewish scholar writing on Greco-Roman “racism,” believed Plato (Republic 459a-b) had inspired Darwin on this point. Benjamin Isaac, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2004), 128.

[5]Pierce, “Cosmotheism.”

mercredi, 14 janvier 2015

Odin, Buddha, Pan & Darwin

Peter Bickenbach: Odin, Buddha, Pan & Darwin – eine Rezension

Ellen Kositza

Ex: http://www.sezession.de

(Rezension aus Sezession 63 / Dezember 2014)

peter-bickenbach_odin-buddha-pan-darwin_720x600.jpgPeter Bickenbach setzt sich aus christlicher Perspektive mit dem sogenannten Neuheidentum auseinander. Per aspera ad astra: Darum das Bedauerliche an diesem Buch zuerst. Aus christlicher Sicht ist der Neo-Paganismus (der in seinen modischsten Erscheinungsformen sich gern schwarzgewandet präsentiert) ein Obskurantentum, eine düster-magische Geschichte, auch wenn »Lichtgottheiten« dort als Rollenträger (unter anderen) fungieren. Nun kommt das Buch selbst reichlich verschleiert daher:

Der verrätselte Titel an sich (in Lila) verrät wenig, er verschwindet auch optisch im Braun des Untergrunds. Wir finden auch keinen Hinweis zum Autoren – ist er Sozialwissenschaftler, Theologe oder »interessierter Zeitgenosse«? Wir erfahren es nicht; und wenn eine Fußnote besonders interessant erscheint, finden wir über Strecken »Ebenda« und müssen blättern. Da ein Literaturverzeichnis fehlt, bleibt uns, gewissermaßen abgedunkelt zu lesen. Das macht dann nicht viel, wenn man erkennt: Es ist keine Publikation für eine breite Leserschaft, sondern für eine enger gefaßte »Szene«. Wir dürfen diese als jungkonservatives Milieu begreifen. In diesem Rahmen hat Bickenbachs Buch seine Meriten.

Bickenbach wendet sich implizit an ein »anti-modernes« Publikum, an Leser, die mit dem Fortschrittsglauben hadern, die sich auf einem Weg jenseits materialistischer Vorstellungen sehen, die ein Heil jenseits der sichtbaren Welt erahnen. »Anlaß dieses Buches waren Begegnungen und Gespräche mit Menschen, die kein lebendiges Christentum erfuhren und die Kirchengeschichte nur aus zeitgenössischen Darstellungen kennen«, schreibt Bickenbach. Nach seiner Einschätzung orientierten sich »auf der politisch rechten Seite« die meisten Anhänger an einem »Germanentum«, wobei sich esoterische und radikal-biologische Standpunkte unterscheiden ließen. In drei untergliederten Großkapiteln (»Geschichte und Selbstverständnis der Neuheiden«, »Die Deutung von Brauchtum und Überlieferung« und »Postmoderne Religiosität«) sortiert der Autor sein Arsenal gegen jene, die gegen die »orientalische Wüstenreligion«, die »seelische Verknechtung« und den »Identitätsraub« und den vorgeblichen »Völkermord« durch das Christentum polemisieren.

Erst die zeitgenössische verunklarende Verkündigungspraxis, die statt der eigentlichen Offenbarung die angeblichen Ansprüche »moderner Scheinwerte« in den Vordergrund gestellt habe, »konnte die Vorstellung nähren, das Christentum sei eine Religion der Schwachen, Zukurzgekommenen und Lebensuntüchtigen.« Bickenbach entlarvt – und er tut dies auch mit Hilfe »neo-paganer« Nenngrößen wie Julius Evola – das »lyrisch-subjektive Pathos«, das von Naturerscheinungen hervorgerufen werden kann; er hat auch seinen Nietzsche gründlich gelesen, wie er überhaupt neben gebotener Polarisierung eine Synthese anstrebt.

Das Christentum, das er meint, ist streitbar, tüchtig, kulturstiftend und heroisch. Nach Bickenbach verdankt die neuheidnische Kritik am Christentum dem liberalen Protestantismus ihre Beweggründe. Sie argumentiert selbst auf dem Boden einer relativistischen, individualistischen und eigentlich antitraditionellen Religionserfindung – es gibt keine »heidnische Überlieferung«. Der Autor zitiert aus umgedichtetem Liedgut: »O du fröhliche, o du ahnende / lichtverkündende Wintersonnwendzeit«, er verweist auf Parallelen linker und rechter Religionskritik. Die Neuheiden bekämpfen zugleich einen Pappkameraden, nämlich ein von langer Hand umgewertetes, verbogenes, »geupdatetes« Christentum.

Bickenbach begleitet beispielhaft den Glaubensweg des irrlichternden Gorch Fock, der als Sohn frommer Eltern erst Gott gegen Nietzsche verteidigte, dann zum »Germanengläubigen« wurde (»Mein Zion ist Walhall!«) und im Verlauf des Jahres 1915 bei seinen Einsätzen in Rußland, Serbien und Verdun Monate vor seinem Tod ringend zum Glauben seiner Väter zurückfand: »Den größten Segen des Krieges haben die erfahren, die sich von ihm zu Gott führen ließen.«

Peter Bickenbach: Odin, Buddha, Pan & Darwin, Neustadt a.d. Orla: Arnshaugk 2013. 274 S., 18 € – hier bestellen

mercredi, 24 décembre 2008

Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802)








DARWIN, Erasmus  (1731-1802)

Né à Elston Hall le 12 décembre 1731, Erasmus Darwin fréquente d'abord l'école de Chesterfield avant d'entrer en 1750 au St. John's College de Cambridge, où il obtint le grade de Bachelor of Art.  En 1754, il part à Edimbourg pour y étudier la médecine. En 1756, il est médecin, d'abord à Nottingham puis à Lichfield et à Radbourne Hall, après son second mariage. Médecin dévoué, Erasmus Darwin se rend célèbre en préchant contre les excès d'alcool. Poète fougueux, sceptique en matières religieuses, matérialiste dans l'esprit du XVIIIième siècle, correspondant de Rousseau, Erasmus Darwin est un précurseur du lamarckisme et de l'évolutionnisme de son petit-fils Charles Darwin. Bon observateur des phénomènes naturels, Erasmus Darwin n'a cependant pas pu transformer ses observations empiriques en théories, comme le fit en 1859 son très célèbre petit-fils. Son ouvrage majeur en quatre volumes, la Zoonomie,  est un monument de la médecine théorique de son époque, qui a indubitablement préparé la voie vers la biologie moderne. Erasmus Darwin meurt le 18 avril 1802 à la suite d'un malaise cardiaque. Ses travaux s'inscrivent dans un contexte familial très précis: son frère aîné, Robert Waring Darwin, écrivit un ouvrage intitulé Principia Botanica,  où l'on découvre déjà des notes très particulières sur les phénomènes biologiques. L'aîné de ses trois fils, issus de son premier mariage, étudie la médecine mais meurt accidentellement d'un malencontreux coup de bistouri lors d'une dissection. Le troisième fils de son premier mariage est le second Robert Waring Darwin, père de Charles Robert, initiateur de l'évolutionnisme. La fille aînée de son second mariage, Violetta Darwin, épouse S. Tertius Galton et sera la mère de Francis Galton, théoricien de l'eugénisme.

Zoonomia, or, the Laws of Organic Life  (Zoonomie, ou lois de la vie organique),  1794-1796

L'intention de l'auteur nous est d'emblée révélée par son traducteur, le médecin gantois Joseph-François Kluyskens: "Faire connaître les loix qui gouvernent tous les corps organisés; partir de ces mêmes loix, dans les corps les plus simples, pour remonter jusqu'à celles qui régissent l'homme, l'être le plus parfait; réduire toutes ces loix qui ont rapport à la vie organique en classes, ordres, genres et espèces, et les faire servir enfin à l'explication des causes des maladies; tel fut le but que se proposa la Docteur Darwin lorsqu'il composa la Zoonomie...".

Erasmus Darwin perçoit un lien entre métaphysique et physiologie, dans le sens où il affirme que nos facultés intellectuelles sont l'effet nécessaire de nos facultés physiques. Descartes, Mallebranche, Locke, Condillac et Hume, explique Erasmus Darwin, manquaient des notions physiologiques nécessaires pour percevoir cet état de chose ou ont négligé d'en faire l'application à leur système. Le corps de la démonstration, dans la Zoonomie, consiste en une exploration des facultés dites "sensoriales" (néologisme utilisé en français par le traducteur de la Zoonomie,  le Dr. Kluyskens). Celles-ci se répartissent en quatre classes, irritation, sensation, volition, association, auxquelles correspondent quatre classes de maladies. 

Les réflexions d'Erasmus Darwin sur l'instinct méritent amplement d'être évoquées; pour notre auteur, l'instinct n'est pas invariable; il est au contraire une sagacité susceptible de modification, se développant d'une manière différente suivant les différentes conjonctures qui en déterminent l'exercice. L'instinct provient donc d'une détermination raisonnée et non pas d'une obéissance aveugle et mécanique à une loi de la nature. La théorie zoonomique d'Erasmus Darwin, très proche du lamarckisme, repose sur un concept d'évolution, où l'action d'une "force vitale intérieure", amorcée par un filament primal originel de substance vivante, provoque le développement graduel de l'ensemble des diverses formes de vie par un processus analogue à celui de la reproduction des végétaux. La Zoonomie contient de ce fait un ensemble de réflexions sur la génération, qui font la nouveauté absolue des idées d'Erasmus Darwin. Sa méthode généalogique part d'une observation des bourgeons dans les arbres pour aboutir aux mammifères en passant par tous les animaux de la création. 

Pour Erasme Darwin, toute pathologie dérive d'un excès ou d'un défaut, d'un mouvement rétrograde des facultés du sensorium; les pathologies consistent de ce fait dans l'aberration des mouvements des fibres vivantes.

(Robert Steuckers).

- Bibliographie. Poésie: The Botanic Garden  (1794-95); The Temple of Nature or the Origin of Society  (1803; publication posthume). Ouvrages scientifiques: Zoonomia; or, the Laws of Organic Life,  in four volumes, London, J. Johnson, 1794-96 (la traduction française est basée sur la 3ième édition anglaise de 1801; Zoonomie, ou lois de la vie organique,  trad. de Joseph-François Kluyskens, en quatre volumes, Gand, P.F.  de Goesin-Verhaeghe, 1810); Phytologia, or the Philosophy of Agriculture and Gardening  (1800). Autres ouvrages: A Plan for the Conduct of female Education in Boarding Schools  (1797).

- Sur Erasmus Darwin: Ernst Krause, Erasmus Darwin, trad. anglaise de W.S. Dallas, avec notice préliminaire de Charles Robert Darwin, 1879; Anna Seward, Memoirs of the Life of Dr. Darwin,  1804 (voir également la correspondance de Miss Anna Seward); Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth;  John Dowson, Erasmus Darwin, Philosopher, Poet and Physician,  1861; cf. également, Samuel Butler (l'auteur d'Erewhon), Evolution Old and New, où le célèbre romancier tente de faire revivre l'ancien évolutionnisme d'Erasmus Darwin contre le nouvel évolutionnisme de son petit-fils Charles; Leslie Stephen, "Erasmus Darwin", in Leslie Stephen (ed.), Dictionary of National Biography,  vol. XIV, London, Smith, Elder & Co., 1888; D. M. Hassler, Erasmus Darwin,  Twayne, New York, 1973; D. King-Hele, Doctor Darwin: The Life and Genius of Erasmus Darwin, Faber, London, 1977; cf. également: D.R. Oldroyd, Darwinian Impacts. An Introduction to the Darwinian Revolution,  New South Wales University Press, Kensington (Australia), 1980, Open University Press, Milton Keynes (England), 1980. 


samedi, 20 décembre 2008

Ernst Mayr wird 100



Hohepriester der Evolution

Der Evolutionsbiologe Ernst Mayr wird 100


Von Martin Lohmann (http://konservativ.de )


Kaum eine andere naturwissenschaftliche Lehre hatte einen vergleichbaren revolutionären Einfluß auf das moderne Weltbild wie die Evolutionstheorie von Charles Darwin. Ihr zufolge sollen alle Lebewesen, und somit auch der Mensch, nicht durch einen göttlichen Schöpfungsakt ins Dasein gekommen sein, sondern durch eine Ansammlung zufälliger Mutationen, die durch anschließende natürliche Selektion im "Kampf ums Dasein" zu einer steten Höherentwicklung allen Lebens aus gemeinsamen Vorfahren führten. Diese auch als Darwinismus bezeichnete Lehre entzog dem Christentum jede naturwissenschaftliche Basis; der Mensch brauchte sich dadurch mit allen Konsequenzen für die bis dahin geltenden Moralbegriffe in seinem Handeln nicht länger einer ihm übergeordneten Instanz verantwortlich fühlen.

Darwins im 19. Jahrhundert entwickelte Evolutionstheorie wies jedoch gravierende Schwächen auf. So ging Darwin von einer allmählichen langsamen Entwicklung der Arten mit vielen Zwischenstufen aus, was sich seiner Hoffnung zufolge auch bald im Fossilbericht bestätigen ließe. Die Paläontologen haben diesen Ansatz jedoch bis heute nicht bestätigen können: neue Arten tauchen urplötzlich auf, zwischen den Stufen einzelner Entwicklungslinien klaffen riesige Lücken. Die gesuchten Bindeglieder, die "Missing Links", sind bis heute unauffindbar. Das Verdienst, diesen Widerspruch zwischen Darwins Theorie und dem paläontologischen Befund beseitigt zu haben, wird dem Evolutionsbiologen Ernst Mayr zugeschrieben, der diese Woche 100 Jahre alt geworden ist. Der am 5. Juli 1904 in Kempten geborene und 1931 in die USA ausgewanderte Mayr war in den 1940er Jahren maßgeblich mitbeteiligt an der Formulierung der inzwischen allgemein akzeptierten "Synthetischen Evolutionstheorie", einer Präzisierung des Darwinismus. Ihr zufolge verlaufen Mutation und Selektion in einem schnellen Tempo in kleinen, geographisch geschlossenen Einheiten, so daß sich von diesen "Gründerpopulationen" keine versteinerten Überreste auffinden lassen. Profan ausgedrückt wird der Inzest zum Motor der Evolution erhoben. Mit dieser These gelang es Mayr zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe zu schlagen: zum einen überbrückte er ein entscheidendes Problem im Darwinismus, zum anderen entzog er ihn hiermit jeder Beweispflicht. In einem evolutionskritischen Buch verriss der Journalist Reinhard Eichelbeck Mayrs These der "Gründerpopulationen": "Abgesehen davon, daß Inzucht normalerweise genetische Defekte hervorruft und keine Verbesserungen, die einen Vorteil im 'Kampf ums Dasein' darstellen könnten, ist dies eine Beweisführung, mit der man alles beweisen kann. Wenn ein theoretisches Konstrukt, das auf nichtvorhandenen Indizien aufgebaut ist, als wissenschaftliche Tatsache gehandelt wird, dann ist dieses Denkmodell offensichtlich auf dem Niveau angekommen, wo sich die Wissenschaft vor Darwin befand: auf dem Niveau des dogmatischen biblischen Schöpfungsmythos."

Mit anderen Worten: mehr als 150 Jahren nach Darwin haben auch Mayrs Forschungen nichts daran geändert, daß es der Evolutionstheorie an einem ordentlichen Fundament fehlt. Bis heute kann sie natürliche Phänomene wie beispielsweise die Entstehung des Auges oder des genetischen Code nicht zufriedenstellend rekonstruieren.

Ernst Mayr ficht derartige Kritik bislang nicht an, er nimmt sie nicht einmal zur Kenntnis. In der Vermessenheit der eigenen geistigen Vollkommenheit hält er jeden, der an die "Tatsache" der Evolutionstheorie zweifelt, für "ungebildet". Bescheidenheit ist ihm fremd. Wenn ihn die Fachwelt als "Darwin unserer Zeit" feiert, nimmt er derartige Huldigungen gerne an. Aus seinem Mund wird erst deutlich, wie weitreichend der Einfluß des Darwinismus selbst das Denken der Durchschnittsmenschen geprägt hat: "Die moderne Anschauung geht in fast allen Bereichen irgendwo auf darwinsche Gedanken zurück."

Dennoch formiert sich Widerstand. In Abkehr vom früheren klerikalen Dogmatismus entwickelte eine Anzahl ernstzunehmender Wissenschaftler das Konzept des "intelligenten Design", welches die Entstehung der Arten mit naturwissenschaftlichen Methoden unter Verzicht auf religiöse Quellen einem Schöpfungsakt zuzuschreiben versucht, wobei die Identität des "Designers" bewußt offengehalten wird. Die Vertreter dieses Modell grenzen sich ebenso gegen den "Kreationismus" ab, dessen in wortwörtlicher Interpretation des biblischen Genesis-Berichts entworfenen Vorstellungen eines Schöpfungsaktes in sechs Tagen und einer erst 10 000 Jahre alten Erde sie scharf ablehnen. Während das intelligente Design“ in den USA recht erfolgreich ist, wird es hierzulande heftig bekämpft.

Erst im vergangenen Jahr sorgte der Kasseler Biologe Ulrich Kutschera für die Kaltstellung des am Kölner Max-Planck-Institut für Züchtungsforschung tätigen Genetikers Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig. In einer als inquisitorisch zu bezeichnenden Kampagne erreichte der Darwinist Kutschera, daß Lönnig auf Weisung der Institutsleitung seine Internetseiten, in denen er für das "Intelligente Design" warb, vom Server des Instituts löschen mußte. In dieser Kampagne im Sinne der "biological correctness" kamen nicht nur Kampfbegriffe wie "pseudowissenschaftliche Ideologie" und "christlicher Fundamentalismus" gegen Lönnig zu Einsatz, auch sein Bekenntnis als Zeuge Jehovas wurde auf unsachliche Weise gegen ihn verwandt. Letztlich blieb die Freiheit von Forschung und Lehre auf der Strecke. Niemand macht in den Naturwissenschaften Karriere, wenn er nicht vorbehaltlos die Evolutionstheorie akzeptiert.

Lönnig sieht in dieser Kampagne den Beweis dafür, daß die Evolutionstheorie "ein totalitär geschlossenes philosophisch-naturalistisches System" ist, weil es von vornherein "jeden wissenschaftlichen Ansatz für Intelligentes Design a priori und absolut ausschließt".

Ebenso heftig kontrovers diskutiert wurde im April in Italien der Plan der Bildungsministerin Letizia Moratti, im Unterricht des Landes dem christlichen Schöpfungsmodell den Vorrang einzuräumen, obwohl selbst der Papst in der Evolutionstheorie "mehr als eine Hypothese" sieht. Unter dem Druck zahlreicher italienischer Wissenschaftler, die in einer Petition den Plan als schädlich für die wissenschaftliche Kultur kommender Generationen“ bezeichneten und davor warnten, daß mit der Ignorierung der Evolutionstheorie die wissenschaftliche Neugier der Jugend angeblich untergraben werde, nahm sie ihr Vorhaben kleinlaut zurück.

In solchen Kulturkämpfen entlarvt sich die Evolutionstheorie als ein im naturwissenschaftlichen Gewand ummantelter Mythos, der die Grundlage für den modernen Atheismus bildet. Wo die Christen Gott am Werke sehen, ersetzen ihn die Darwinisten durch die "Natur". Ihren Siegeszug verdankt die Evolutionstheorie dem Umstand, daß sie Generationen von Schülern als "Tatsache" indoktriniert wurde, oftmals unter dem Vorwand der Trennung von Kirche und Staat. Ihr Fundament beruht nicht auf einer rationalen Überprüfung standhaltenden Beweisen, sondern auf einem rein materialistisch ausgerichteten Glauben. Mit seinem Beitrag hat sich der "Hard-Core-Darwinist" Ernst Mayr zum obersten Hohepriester dieses atheistischen Mythos gemacht.

Weiterführende Literatur:

1. Philip E. Johnson
Darwin im Kreuzverhör
Christliche Literaturverbreitung Bielefeld
ISBN: 3-89397-952-2

2. Reinhard Eichelbeck
Das Darwin-Komplott - Aufstieg und Fall eines pseudowissenschaftlichen Weltbildes
Riemann Verlag
ISBN: 3-570-50002-0

3. Reinhard Junker / Siegfried Scherer
Evolution - Ein kritisches Lehrbuch
Weyel Biologie
ISBN: 3-921046-10-6

00:05 Publié dans Sciences | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : biologie, évolution, darwinisme, sciences biologiques | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

samedi, 22 novembre 2008

Gumplowicz: volonta e lotta alle origini dello stato







Ex: http://www.mirorenzaglia.org/

Nietzsche riassunse alla sua maniera la questione: il vero Stato, lungi dall’essere il mostro freddo delle burocrazie democratiche, è un sistema sociale messo al servizio degli «eroi di una cultura tragica». L’intera civiltà ellenica fu da lui pensata come un unico servizio reso all’affermazione del genio della stirpe, al cui àpice si aveva l’emergere di un’eccellenza: quella dei migliori, gli aristòcrati, scaturiti dallaselezione operata attraverso il Rangordnung l’ordinamento per ranghi. Ciò che determinava la selezione era un principio di lotta, di gloria e di vittoria. Su se stessi e sugli altri. Nulla di più distante dalle odierne posizioni di democrazia liberale, di origine banalmente contrattualistica. Tra l’egualitarismo pacifista dei progressisti, che abbassa la società a convivenza tra mandrie sedate e omologate, e il differenzialismo tradizionale, che affida la vita e il perfezionamento umano al salutare conflitto, c’è un incolmabile abisso antropologico, prima ancora che ideologico.

Nietzsche vide come al solito giusto nell’indicare nell’origine della nostra civiltà il principio del valore che sgorga da una comunità di prescelti. E valore avrà allora colui che sappia battersi, innanzi tutto per la vita, poi nel nome delle sue convinzioni: agòn, parola omerica ed eraclitèa, fissa sin dall’inizio della storia conosciuta il discrimine tra l’uomo e il non-uomo, stabilendo una ferma gerarchia tra chi è di lega nobile e chi è di lega vile. L’uno sta in alto, l’altro starà in basso. Il significato dello Stato - «l’utensile crudele» - come potenza guerriera e ordine di selezionati, fu indicato da Nietzsche nel suo essere il risultato della «spietata durezza» che vige in natura. Lo Stato gerarchico fondato dalla lotta è il mezzo che permette l’irrompere del Genio, tanto che si può fare una connessione tra «campo di battaglia e opera d’arte». Si vedano in proposito gli scritti giovanili di Nietzsche Lo Stato dei Greci e L’agòne omerico, oggi ripubblicati dalle Edizioni di Ar. La cultura europea è rimasta per alcuni millenni incardinata su questi princìpi, prima che qualcosa di degradato e senescente iniziasse a corroderne le fondamenta, asservendo lo Stato ai maneggiatori di danaro e ai violenti divulgatori della menzogna egualitaria.



Questo concepire l’esistenza come somma di tensioni, regolata dalla legge ferrea ma esaltante del rischio, dell’esposizione alla prova, fu come noto riproposto modernamente da Oswald Spengler (nella foto sotto a sinistra). Suo fu il rilancio della figura di Eraclito, proprio come l’artefice di un annuncio di purezza, tale da affidare il protagonismo sociale al tipo esemplare del greco di nobile ascendenza. Ma è chiaro che qui si tratta di un’aristocrazia che è distillata dal popolo, esso stesso già di per sé nobilitato in un continuo processo di perenne affinamento. Spengler mise in luce assai bene che in Grecia il concetto di aristocrazia forgiata dalla lotta era «connesso agli interessi vitali del popolo greco nella sua interezza», così chiarendo che non era in gioco alcun individualismo, ma la personalità creata dalla comunità di formazione.



L’approccio agonale alla vita esprimeva in quegli arcaici contesti «la pienezza della vita, la salute, il senso di potenza, il piacere autenticamente greco per la bellezza e per l’equilibrio della forma». Un principio di competizione così inteso, ben lontano dal significare plebea smania di affermazione materiale, magari compensatoria di frustrazioni caratteriali, doveva al contrario portare al solenne riconoscimento di una legge di natura: ciò che conduce all’urto, all’impatto, al confronto anche violento non è che naturale istinto di vita («l’attacco è cosa naturale in ogni vita in ascesa», scrisse Spengler nel Tramonto dell’Occidente), così che vivere si presenta essenzialmente come un destino di lotta. Un popolo vivente sotto la continua minaccia dell’annientamento non poteva non vedere nell’athlèter, nel combattente, il suo vertice esemplare. Popolata da visioni di potenza cosmica come il fuoco, la tempesta, la catastrofe tellurica, la mentalità greca giunse a interpretare la vita come ininterrotto erompere di energhèia. Questa misteriosa forza propulsiva fu chiamata, ad esempio da Aristotele, l’essenza stessa del vivere, fonte radicale di decisione tra il pre-valere e il soccombere.



A cavallo tra Ottocento e Novecento, dinanzi al prodursi dei giganteschi fenomeni di potenziamento dello Stato moderno e all’affermarsi delle masse, la giovane scienza sociologica non mancò di riandare alla concezione del conflitto come origine dei rapporti sociali e meccanismo di selezione delle classi dirigenti. Un’intera scuola di pensiero elaborò questi temi. Culminando nella triade italiana formata da Pareto, Mosca e Michels. I quali, ognuno per suo conto ma in modo simile, individuarono nel gioco conflittuale delle minoranze e nella circolazione delle élites il segreto del potere. Ludwig Gumplowicz (nella prima foto in alto a destra) fu una sorta di loro maestro e anticipatore. Il fatto che le Edizioni di Ar adesso ne pubblichino Il concetto sociologico dello Stato va considerato come un benefico sintomo reattivo: si cerca in qualche modo di fronteggiare, almeno con gli strumenti dell’alta cultura, il procedimento verso il basso che è tipico dei nostri tempi. In cui, all’elogio del mezzo-uomo, si unisce quello del renitente, dell’imbelle, del pavido, tutte creature di quell’irenismo farisaico che è il fulcro della società mondializzata. L’edizione in parola, curata da Franco Savorgnan e introdotta da Giovanni Damiano, è l’anastatica di quella del 1904. Si tratta di un libro - pubblicato la prima volta a Innsbruck nel 1892 - che riscopre la faccia vera della convivenza, quella liberata dalle ipocrisie contrattualiste, ecumeniste e democratiche che già cent’anni fa coprivano a malapena col mantello filantropico la violenza e la brutalità della società industrialista. Gumplowicz è un pioniere. Disinteressato alle concezioni giuridica, marxista, razionalista o teologica dello Stato, va diritto al problema. Incline a considerare poligenica l’origine dell’umanità, secondo lui lo Stato - cioè l’organizzazione della convivenza secondo la suddivisione dei ruoli - non è che l’esito del «cozzo di gruppi umani eterogenei».



Il giudizio di Gumplowicz è di tipo tradizionale: la realtà va riconosciuta per quello che è, senza edulcorarla con ipocrisie alla liberale o alla marxista. Per questo, egli annuncia l’impossibilità di abolire il dominio. Anzi, essendo il dominio l’essenza del politico, compito dello Stato sano sarà quello di renderlo organico, armonico: la tirannia oligarchica estranea al popolo non è aristocrazia di comando, ma un’indegna usurpazione. La concezione politica di Gumplowicz è comunitaria. L’origine dello Stato è il «prodotto della superiorità di un gruppo umano belligero e organizzato di fronte a un altro imbelle». In questa contesa i migliori non sono individui astratti, ma esemplari della stirpe che agiscono solidarmente: l’uomo «combatte come membro del suo gruppo, come individuo ha un’importanza minima». Da tipico ebreo galiziano emancipatosi nelle accademie austro-ungariche, Gumplowicz ebbe una sicura sensibilità per l’identità di stirpe. E cosa intendesse esattamente per “gruppo” di affini lo spiegò nel 1883, scrivendo il libro Rassenkampf, un testo che fece da scuola alla cultura positivista-razzialista dell’epoca. L’avvento della civiltà aria nel mondo, che produsse l’erezione di Stati castali retti da dominazioni schiavili, è da lui spiegato come il risultato del prevalere di una cultura superiore. Sicuro nel definire gli eventi della storia come il prodotto del conflitto tra diverse appartenenze di genere, Gumplowicz sanzionò come evidente il primato della civiltà bianca, associando senz’altro ad essa - con procedimento all’epoca non bizzarro - anche l’ebraismo.



Tutto questo lo ha fatto giudicare, ad esempio da Domenico Losurdo, come un teorico con precise rispondenze anche con Nietzsche e con le sue crude rivendicazioni per una società fondata sul dominio dei Signori e sull’organizzazione sociale per caste, atta come nessuna al dispiegarsi della civiltà superiore. Nel Concetto sociologico dello Stato noi troviamo, tra l’altro, l’apprezzamento per gli scritti di Gustav Ratzenhofer, il coevo studioso di storia politica che individuò nella forza primordiale custodita dai popoli l’energia che muove la vita attraverso la lotta per il primato, selezionando in continuazione i caratteri organici.



La concezione elitaria e socialmente discriminante di Gumplowicz venne posta dallo storico A. James Gregor tra i fondamenti ideologici del Fascismo. Mediato da Pareto, il suo insegnamento sarebbe giunto fino a Mussolini. In effetti, attorno al volontarismo mussoliniano, ad un tempo comunitario e gerarchico, si coagularono diverse intelligenze del tempo. Da Olivetti a Michels e fino a Corradini e alla sua dottrina di una struggle of life mondiale, affidata alla competizione tra imperialismo di rapina anglosassone e imperialismo sociale italiano. E fino a Costamagna, nella cui dottrina dello Stato Gregor riconobbe i tratti del socialdarwinismo di Gumplowicz.



È stato del resto lo stesso Gregor a ricordare che al centro della sociologia di Gumplowicz si trova il concetto di etnocentrismo, espresso col termine Syngenismus, neologismo tedesco che intendeva ricalcare quello greco di synghèneia, l’eguaglianza di sangue. Lo Stato nasce dalla devozione alla comunità sociale definita dall’ethnos.



Con tutto questo grande bagaglio di cultura politica antagonista alla modernità, noi siamo di fronte al massimo sforzo operato dalla civiltà europea, tra fine-Ottocento e primi decenni del Novecento, per liberarsi dalle già pesanti aggressioni portate dall’egualitarismo cosmopolita al cuore della nostra identità. In quell’ultimo sforzo si riverberano le più arcaiche proclamazioni legate all’affermarsi del tipo differenziato, plasmato da un’ascesi superiore e ricolmo di attitudini sovrane, tali da imprimere alla vita politica il segno di eterne creazioni di civiltà. Ciò che Evola (nella foto sopra) inquadrava nella categoria di metafisica della guerra, recava il segno del concetto di lotta come liturgia sacrale: evocare dai propri retaggi l’energia, la fierezza e la volontà di proteggere gli ordini dell’appartenenza. Nel suo scritto - risalente agli anni di guerra - sulla Dottrina aria di lotta e vittoria, Evola espresse un principio che, dai Greci fino alla moderna “sociologia anti-individualista”, era risuonato come annuncio di grandezza: «È nella lotta che occorre risvegliare e temprare quella forza che, di là da assalti, sangue e pericolo, propizierà una nuova creazione in un nuovo splendore e con pace possente». In effetti, è così che sorgono le grandi civiltà.



Luca Leonello Rimbotti