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The Forgotten Objective of Francis Bacon, and Peace PDF Print E-mail
A Plan for the Future

Francis_BaconThe generally-held conviction of the average man that he is a supporter of peace and of reason is false.
The conviction also that technical progress would bring about psychological progress has been contradicted by reality. Evidence of this is provided by constant military conflicts, national aggressiveness - with or without pretexts - the violent looting of the mineral resources of countries which have previously been steamrollered 'in the interests of' democracy - and so on.

The ease with which we attribute evil, which by reason of our human nature nests also within us, exclusively to others distorts reality.

In spite of the Second World War, the relative prosperity in the West, and mass education, the psychological profile as regards the political scene does not seem to have made progress. Could it be that the time has now come for us to pay attention to the conclusions and the exhortations of Immanuel Kant and to the objective of Francis Bacon as to liberation from social idols? Could it be that fear in the face of time is a much more practical factor in everyday life than we wish to admit? (editorial team http://solonsynthesis.org/)

A little history
In theory, mankind and most people live with the conviction that peace and the rational management of life and its relations - that is, soundness of intellect - is a good. The reality, however, is different. Our image of our love of peace and reasonableness is false and in no way empirical-experiential. It is roughly the same as our opinion as to whether we are racists, egocentric or not. Our tendency to believe that we give expression with integrity to good and to ascribe evil to our environment renders our image of ourselves and of the environment false and constitutes a kind of war and illogicality. This is now a conclusion of modern psychology, and in the words of the psychologist Carl Jung can be expressed as follows:

"Even if, juristically speaking, we were not accessories to the crime, we are always, thanks to our human nature, potential criminals. In reality we merely lacked a suitable opportunity to be drawn into the infernal mélée. None of us stands outside humanity’s black collective shadow. Whether the crime occurred many generations back or happens today, it remains the symptom of a disposition that is always and everywhere present  – and one would therefore do well to possess some 'imagination for evil', for only the fool can permanently disregard the conditions of his own nature.  In fact, this negligence is the best means of making him an instrument of evil.  Harmlessness and naïveté are as little helpful as it would be for a cholera patient and those in his vicinity to remain unconscious of the contagiousness of the disease.  On the contrary, they lead to projection of the unrecognised evil into the 'other.'"."[i]

Bacon's forgotten objective
Four centuries have passed since the formulation of the terms of the scientific method, which, in fact, was made by Francis Bacon in his fundamental work entitled Novum Organum. Bacon proposed the experimental development of science on condition that this would overcome the four categories of 'idols': the idols of the tribe, of the den, of the market place, and of the theatre.[ii]

Apart from what seems self-evident, but is not - the statistical imprinting of reality - Bacon analysed human error in the famous categories of 'idols' better than anyone else, as Condillac observed. He showed the sources of human error and thus put more life into reasoning that anybody else, as even his severe critic Macaulay tells us.

Our world would be a very different place if we had managed to apply the Baconian approach. On the basis of this, all our approaches in the struggle for liberation from the beautifications of human intentions and images can be put together. Our intention must be to introduce more peace and reason into thought and action. This will reveal the 'cloak' of peace and reason worn by belligerence and illogicality.

The broadening of consciousness and knowledge calls for theoretical, experimental, and institutional innovations. The assumption that technical and institutional progress brings us closer to peace is a fallacy.

The table of Quincy Wright of 1965[iii] shows - together with the later data - that between the sixteenth and the twentieth century, battles multiplied by a factor of more than 20. There are, of course, new data after the Second World War, while the table of battles also stops in 1940. The increased frequency of battles from 1940 to 1945 and the number of post-War conflicts leave no room for naive utopias and methodological approaches to reality. This does not mean that theories which abide by the intentions of their inspirers, in accordance with the 'as one thinks best' character of the sciences of man, such as the rival theories, take precedence in being scientific.

The reactionary character of human nature
The end of the Cold War and the events in the wake of it revealed how far away the world is from peace and reason. We fear, moreover, that we are only at the beginning, since globalisation as a framework for institutions and peace-making has no depth, nor does it have honesty of policy and civilisation.

The impediments of the disengagement of human civilisation from the proneness to conflict have been pinpointed by many classic writers.

Two typical examples are Hobbes and Kant. According to Hobbes, the world of concept is the only way-locus for the management of human society which is not conflictual. But the weakness of peoples’ alertness to the dialectic and creative order of concepts 'imposes' power as a necessity.[iv] The same thought recurs in Hegel, with his appeal for focus on to abstract thought, so that the selfishness and self-interested motives of men and peoples will fall silent.

We see, that is, that both experience and the theoretical analysis of the classic thinkers point to the impossibility of lasting peace on the existing anthropological, cultural, and educational terms.

The problem which we have to deal with is:
1. the absence of an in-depth peace-loving and rational structuring of the world;
2. the absence of a collective consistency and spirit of co-operation on the part of intellectuals over problems of the contemporary world.

It is true that the planet's course and evolution, in spite of all the imbalances and unfair inequalities, appears to embody the prospects and the forces for the prevention of a major war in a consumerist peace and in a market culturism. It is, however, also a truth of history that there have been in the past similar historical periods of impressions which showed mankind to be taken aback by the flare-ups and waves of barbarism which civilisation concealed within it. A typical example is the disillusionment of Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud, as that is expressed in their correspondence,[v] with what occurred during the First World War. The striking thing is that even worse crimes were committed a few years later, during the course of the Second World War. Unfortunately, today, there continue to be many functional, institutional, and cultural deficits, while there is no serious communications strategy for Reason and Peace.

It is a matter for regret that contemporary reality continues to be aligned - both at its educational and at its communications level - with what Hitler maintained in his notorious book. Scientific education is not at all experiential, dialectical, and based on synthesis, but remains rudimentary. From the experience of education which I have been able to have, I have noted a tragic picture both as regards school-leavers and graduates of tertiary education. Articles which have been published from time to time on educational questionnaires, both in Greece and abroad, are - it seems - very well-founded. The tragic picture is still there even as regards knowledge concerned with matters internal to a specialisation at university level, while thought about causes and effects is virtually non-existent. This intellectual aphasia is clearly disturbed by intellectual gifts, and for this reason the Nazi Hitler considered that the man of the spirit acts in a destructive way, and not in the interests of organisation and perpetuation, as he would have wished. Hostility towards intellectual vigour and the refusal of traditionalism to accept the creative and progressive role of intellectuals is not a matter of chance.

Nevertheless, responsibility for the lack of credibility of intellectuals rests with a large part of  their own representatives.[vi] It is time for us to realise that the same pathological features of thought are expressed both among intellectuals and ordinary people, whatever their educational development and that of their consciousness is. Futurist manifestos are an example of irresponsible intellectualism before the emergence of the Nazis, which continued on the disturbed course of Nietzsche.[vii] Marinetti was a forerunner even of our technology-dominated contemporary recreation. Expressions such as: "we wish to extol aggressive action", "the leap of death", "the beauty of speed", and others are suited both to contemporary 'culture' of youth and to the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. These criminals of civilisation - as Marinetti was - give expression to a primeval error, a fall into the void and into envy on the part of the mind.

The totalitarianism of mass society
By way of contrast, the expression of the good aspect of the mind has been put forward with consistency and coherence of dialogue, from Amphictyon to Kant. But this side of things is and has remained little recognised and accepted, because it has not been commercial, and also because holistic education and an interest in self-awareness, which would have made the world of concepts and meanings a possession of the many and a sound basis for meritocracy and planning for civilisation, have continued to be lacking.

Unfortunately, mass communication entrenches itself in a hostile manner against this qualitatively necessary step. Thus, today's politics continue to operate at that level which confirms the definitions put forward by Dietrich Eckart, to the effect that politics does not need intelligence, because it is the most stupid thing in the world, and that what is needed is a vain monkey, capable of giving immediately the answer required. This requirement was fulfilled by Hitler in the most consistent and systematic manner. In a depressing way, the seven principles of his demagogy do not differ from those of current communications policy - it is only the aim which is different. Hitler's aim was not the dissemination of his ideology, but unbounded totalitarianism, whereas today's mass media are content with profits and their impact - when, of course, their market is not in a state of abnormal crisis.

The first principle, then, was that the greater the mass which they wanted to 'catch', the lower the level should be. The second principle says that we address ourselves to the feelings in a crude manner, without intricacies, complicated articulations, and subtle shades of meaning. The third is based on the need, the nostalgia, and the fascination which the violence of the strong exerts. The fourth looks forward to the gradual adjustment of every means and the occupation of all positions by the use of weaknesses. The fifth is paradoxical, and we shall concern ourselves with this particularly, because it demonstrates the passion of the mind for the lie and the shared basis of the lie and naivety, or underdevelopment, of the mind. The principle of this demagogy states that the big lie is more readily believed than the truth. The sixth principle makes use of the limited development of the intellect and memory in the mass consciousness and requires restriction to a very few points easy to digest, which will be repeated. The seventh involves insistence on a simplifying 'image' of an enemy, to the point of collective paroxysm, in which the people, in order to be quiescent, will demand that their victim be sacrificed.

Hitler himself was aware that the mass communication media are fond of striking events, and promised that he would create events in order to make the media serve his power and his rise.

We have spoken of the grim realities of the twentieth century - and not only - because concealed in them is a part of the future and of the present, and because without these references we would not appreciate the seriousness of the changes which we must attempt. To a certain degree, the turning-point and the point of realism of our approach continues to be offered to us by Kant - and we accept Kant's offer.

There are conditions where we can incorporate competitiveness into peace and co-operativeness. Kant has stressed this sufficiently. But we need to advance to a greater depth and in the light of psychoanalysis to arrive at the causes of conflictuality and the deflection of the mind into being a 'murderer of the real'. This has to be done not only in order for us to understand and interpret what we could call human and cultural reality, but also in order to expand our methodological arsenal in our efforts to establish Peace and Reason. We need to find the ground for a new collective collaboration both in the sciences and between intellectuals so that we can direct our footsteps along the lines of progress and of the sustainability of civilisation.

We shall notice that the mania of Futurism for machines and speed has the same causes as the bent of the mind towards the lie and competitiveness. The creation of the dizzying superstructure and the dominance of symbols have the same causes as the attack of art and advertising on reality. Violence - as a total delusion - has the same essence as hunting and the fear of Time,[viii] as the deification of speed and of the lie.

The common origin of all the above has to do with the fundamental way in which thought develops. The anthropological dimension of the mind, which as a weapon opposes itself to reality and to the fear of death and of annihilation, concerns all of us.

Basic positions:
● Our image of our love of peace and our reason is false and in no way empirical-experimental.
● The assumption that technical and institutional progress brings us closer to peace is a fallacy.
● Bacon propounded the experimental development of science on condition that this would overcome the four categories of 'idols': the idols of the tribe, of the den, of the market place, and of the theatre. On the basis of this approach, all the approaches for liberation from the beautifications of human intentions and images can be put together.
● An - in-depth - peace-loving and logical structuring of the world, and the collective consistency and co-operativeness of intellectuals on the problems of the contemporary world are a necessity.

Ioannis Zisis, Writer

Photo: Francis Bacon, from Wikipedia

[i] Jung, Carl, 'Self-knowledge and political crises'.

[ii] Bacon, Francis, Novum Organum.

"There are four kinds of idol which beset the human mind. Idols of the tribe are based on human nature and the tribe itself, or the human race. Consequently, it is a mistake to think that reason is the criterion of things. On the contrary, all perceptions both of the reason and of the mind, arise from the analogy with man, not the analogy with the cosmos. The idols of the den are idols of man as an individual ... everyone (apart from the deviations in general of human nature) has a kind of cave or den where he refracts and counterfeits the light of nature, either because of the personal and individual nature of each person or because of upbringing, conversation with others, authority ... . The idols of the market place... which are derived from what is virtually a deal  and from the mutual relations of the human race ... . The idols of the theatre ... which enter the soul of men from various philosophical systems and from the erroneous laws of ostentation ... ." Nicola Umbaldo, Anthology of Philosophy [Greek edition], 2005, publ. Enalios, p. 215.

[iii] See the link: War cycles - Wikipedia.

[iv] Hobbes, Thomas, Leviathan, Greek edition publ. Gnosi, 2006, p. 252

"they that live under a monarch think it the fault of monarchy; and they that live under the government of democracy, or other sovereign assembly, attribute all the inconvenience to that form of Commonwealth; whereas the power in all forms, if they be perfect enough to protect them, is the same: not considering that the estate of man can never be without some incommodity or other; and that the greatest that in any form of government can possibly happen to the people in general is scarce sensible, in respect of the miseries and horrible calamities that accompany a civil war, or that dissolute condition of masterless men without subjection to laws and a coercive power to tie their hands from rapine and revenge: ... . For all men are by nature provided of notable multiplying glasses (that is their passions and self-love) through which every little payment appeareth a great grievance, but are destitute of those prospective glasses (namely moral and civil science) to see afar off the miseries that hang over them and cannot without such payments be avoided."

[v] Freud, Sigmund, On War and Death [Greek edition], publ. Epikouros.

[vi] Zisis, Ioannis, 'Totalitarianism and contradictions of politicians and intellectuals'.

[vii] Moutsopoulou, Ioanna - Zisis, Ioannis, 'The Nietzschean nucleus of evil'.

[viii] Zisis, Ioannis, 'The Herod syndrome'.

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