The 4 Aeons: Platonic, Machiavellian, Nietzschean, Homeric.

I recently came to understand the last four great ages or Aeons of the Western world as follows:

  1. the Homeric Age as the age of the theistic deification of nature;
  2. the Platonic Age as the age of the theistic demonisation of nature;
  3. the Machiavellian Age as the age of the non-theistic demonisation of nature;
  4. the Nietzschean Age as the age of the non-theistic deification of nature.

We are now in the transitional period between 3 and 4, in which the two overlap. The necessary link between the two is nihilism.

Anyway, I then came to see the main point of agreement between 1 and 2 in the light of something Nietzsche says:

[size=95]It is perhaps just dawning on five or six minds that physics, too, is only an interpretation and exegesis of the world (to suit us, if I may say so!) and not a world-explanation; but insofar as it is based on belief in the senses, it is regarded as more, and for a long time to come must be regarded as more—namely, as an explanation. Eyes and fingers speak in its favor, visual evidence and palpableness do, too: this strikes an age with fundamentally plebeian tastes as fascinating, persuasive, and convincing—after all, it follows instinctively the canon of truth of eternally popular sensualism. What is clear, what is “explained”? Only what can be seen and felt—every problem has to be pursued to that point. Conversely, the charm of the Platonic way of thinking, which was a noble way of thinking, consisted precisely in resistance to obvious sense-evidence—perhaps among men who enjoyed even stronger and more demanding senses than our contemporaries, but who knew how to find a higher triumph in remaining masters of their senses: and this by means of pale, cold, gray concept nets which they threw over the motley whirl of the senses—the mob of the senses, as Plato said. In this overcoming of the world, and interpreting of the world in the manner of Plato, there was an enjoyment different from that which the physicists of today offer us, likewise the Darwinists and anti-teleologists among the workers in physiology, with their principle of the “smallest possible force” and the greatest possible stupidity. “Where man cannot find anything to see or to grasp, he has no further business”—that is certainly an imperative different from the Platonic one, but it may be the right imperative for a tough, industrious race of machinists and bridge-builders of the future, who have nothing but rough work to do. [Source: Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, aphorism 14, entire.][/size]

The Straussian scholar Seth Benardete, in his The Bow and the Lyre, which first made me see Homer as a philosopher in the Nietzschean sense—i.e., a commander and legislator (BGE 211)—, seems to me to argue that Homer’s innovation was the promotion of the Olympian gods to the rank of supreme gods and thereby the demotion of the cosmic gods to lesser gods:

[size=95]Homer […] gives the impression that the Sun punished Odysseus’s men; but we are later told that the Sun cannot punish individual men; he can withdraw his light from gods and men equally, but he needs Zeus to carry out what alone would satisfy him (12.382-83). Homer does not mention Zeus. If we may distinguish between cosmic gods like the Sun—gods whose possible existence is manifest to sight—and Olympian gods, about whom there is only hearsay, then Homer begins [the Odyssey] with a cosmic god who punishes human folly, but he is at once corrected as soon as the Muse takes over and introduces Homer and us to Poseidon, Zeus, and Athena. Homer on his own suggests that Odysseus’s wisdom and justice are supported by the cosmic gods, who no less exact terrible vengeance for injustice and folly. That this suggestion is not confirmed by the Muse to whom Homer hands over the story seems to imply that Odysseus, in choosing to return home, chooses the Olympian gods. [Source: Benardete, op.cit., page 5.][/size]

Plato’s innovation was basically what changed the Greek culture from a shame culture into a guilt culture; what changed the Greek morality from a master morality into a slave morality. The Platonic as well as the Homeric gods were invisible gods, though.—

Machiavelli’s innovation brings us back to the cosmic gods, in a sense:

[size=95]According to Polybius, cyclical change occurs “according to nature” just as it did for Aristotle. According to Machiavelli, cyclical change occurs “by chance” or unforeseen accidents.
The heaven-gods, too, are replaced by fortuna. Nature and the gods are not our friends but our enemies. We should not aspire to know them, let alone love or be loved by them. Above all, we must not allow ourselves to be terrorized by them and thereby become weak and lose our manhood and virtue. We must recognize them as nothing more than fortuna and be men enough to “regulate” her, “to beat her and to pound on her” (Discourses [on the First Ten Books of Livy], 3.30; Prince, chap. 25). Accepting the cyclical view of history as propounded by Polybius, Machiavelli blames the ancients for acquiescing to it, for their lack of resolve, courage, and the will to fight and control the cycle by political means—that is, by continuously renewing the political regime. The ancients’ view of science, their contemplative ideal, was a cowardly surrender to the forces of nature, both external and human. […] Man can control his own destiny and conquer nature by means of science, which is now seen as a servant to be used rather than a master to which one submits. With the political order well under control, the new science offers limitless vistas for progress in the future. [Source: Muhsin Mahdi, Alfarabi and the Foundation of Islamic Political Philosophy, page 239, quoting Machiavelli.][/size]

Machiavellianism aims at breaking out of the cycle. Nietzscheanism aims at bending back into the cycle. Machiavellian science stands in the service of technology, which in turn is put into the service of the conquest of nature and thereby man’s comfortable self-preservation. Nietzschean science does not stand in the service of anything; it is knowledge conceived as an end in itself.

Now it may seem as if Nietzscheanism cannot immediately precede Homericism, as what preceded the Homeric Age was nature worship, and Nietzsche seems to do the opposite of projecting gods into nature:

[size=95]All the beauty and sublimity we have bestowed upon real and imaginary things I will reclaim as the property and product of man: as his fairest apology. Man as poet, as thinker, as God, as love, as power: with what regal liberality he has lavished gifts upon things so as to impoverish himself and make himself feel wretched! His most unselfish act hitherto has been to admire and worship and to know how to conceal from himself that it was he who created what he admired.— [Source: Nietzsche, The Will to Power, Book Two, beginning; translation Kaufmann.][/size]

But, paradoxically, it is precisely by way of this reclamation that Nietzsche restores the possibility of Western nature worship. For what does this reclamation mean?—That man is will to power. And Nietzsche argues that not only man, but all real things are will to power, and nothing besides. But what is will to power?

[size=95]On the face of it, will to power would seem to be the drive to acquire power; yet [Nietzsche asserts] that it essentially concerns the expenditure (“discharge,” “sacrifice,” “overflow and squandering”) of power, “even to the point of absurdity.” Furthermore, having criticized one “superfluous teleological principle,” the instinct of self-preservation, Nietzsche seems to substitute another, the desire for power. Lastly, this desire (for power) would seem to signify a fundamental lack (of power), that is, a fundamental indigence and distress, which, however, here and elsewhere, Nietzsche repeatedly denies is the basic condition of nature.
These difficulties rest on a teleological interpretation of will to power and disappear as soon as we begin to understand Nietzsche’s doctrine otherwise. If the fundamental condition of life is one of superabundance and exuberance rather than indigence and distress, power is not primarily something an organism wants or needs but something an organism is or has and must exercise. Will to power, then, is not a teleological principle but a dynamic force, like a stretched spring or a dammed river. The “willing” of will to power, Nietzsche writes, “is not ‘desiring,’ striving, demanding”; rather, it is “[t]hat state of tension by virtue of which a force seeks to discharge itself” (WP 668).
If Nietzsche’s language is puzzling, his basic hypothesis is fairly straightforward. It is one later taken up and developed by the French Nietzschean Georges Bataille: namely, that the dynamic force of nature (that which propels growth, sexuality, procreation, struggle, and death) and of culture (production, form-giving, creativity, and play) is the superabundance of energy in the biosphere and the compulsion to expend it. As Bataille puts it, “it is not necessity but its contrary, ‘luxury,’ that presents living matter and mankind with their fundamental problems.” For both Bataille and Nietzsche, the source and archetype of this expenditure is the sun and its prodigality[.] [Source: Christoph Cox, Nietzsche: Naturalism and Interpretation, pp. 230-31.][/size]

I think I can see why there are no replies yet to your OP.

LOL, ohh snap son!

I disagree with your opinion that Nietzsche’s science was for the sake of knowledge itself. His Zarathustra, his madman both confront a problem. His philosophy has an aim. Nihilism is seen as a problem and the eternal return as a grave undertaking not for the sake of knowledge, but for the sake of health.

After reading the closing explanation of will to power, I have a far stronger sense of what Nietzsche stood for.

I like it. :slight_smile:

Good, because that is crucial: it is the key that has been truly unlocking Nietzsche’s philosophy for me since the very beginning of 2010.

Still? Honestly, what’s your obsession with him? You should of developed your own thoughts by now, or at least found better philosopher to follow. You’ve wasted at least a solid decade of your life on nothing. Do you have theories on something that isn’t Nietzsche? Just you? Some idea you developed on your own? I’m not upset anymore, just increasingly dissapointed. I don’t think your aware of the number of tracts Machiavelli wrote on Fortune. He has independent works on the subject, and his thinking is deeper on the topic than presented. He was a tactician combining diplomacy becoming strategic in scope. Fortuna was still something to be tactically manipulated, but his thought pushed well beyond this. He found elements of the typology well advanced of Nietzsche’s persona in other works, such as the Golden Ass. His tradition for fortuna has roots, very apparent roots, in Boethius more than the other writers on the topic. He was considerably more advanced in many ways over Nietzsche’s conceptions of hierarchy and nature. They seem similar at a very base face value because both held to elements from Marsilius of Padua’s earlier work, but for different reasons. Marsilius isn’t read anymore, much less as Machiavelli beyond his three famous works on statecraft. But numbskulls will read anything and everything on Nietzsche and think this way. At least Cezar makes a effort to read all the works of his predeccessors- unlike you or even Nietzsche for that matter. It’s why in short time he’ll surpass you… in a race to no where. First place gets a turd sandwich.

You ever wondered about the construction of the imaging of the Wheel of Fortune historically as a means of rationally exploring information as a mnemonic tool? The wheel holds to a scecialized method of accessing categorical information ( one method of thinking analytically) that is seperately and indepedently viewed (a sense of self independent of the first mode of analysis, but also built up from) by the sense of self that preceives that information, in a femine representative (fortuna) of activities that are essentially masculine. You end up with two modes of though, with a alchemical conjunction that modulates mood. The wheel itself explains thought patterns a ego centered mentality withdrwling from pain can’t explain- such as roles in market fluxtuations, optimization, and the realism of currency and social status. The memory of events is recalled in placement, but not the thought patterns. It’s a cover for them, explaining it as a linear, repetitive loop. A means for reintergrating people who experienced traumatic events, giving them a theory of how the world works, and a means of continuing on in accepting that the wheel eventually rises once again. The goddess as a feminine quality isn’t too different in how lady luck is a positive figure in motivating men into risky behavior.

It’s a simple cognitive map, using ancient rules of mental manipulation and common place symbology. Isn’t that complex, and Machiavelli mastered it, not Nietzsche, thanks to Boethius and Apulius. Machiavelli was the one who suffered from the depressions in going out into the field everyday in isolation. That’s why the imagery survived so long… it has a cognitive basis to it, and it’s prescriptive. Nietzsche never quite grasped it. It was just a tool for him to build on other tools.

Machiavelli > Nietzsche
Homer> Machiavelli and Nietzsche

Have you begun reading the homeric cycle beyond the Odyssey and the Illiad? Even the Odyssey and the Illiad are compilations of several authors, much like the Mahabhrata (both are recorded as being much smaller in it’s earlier known stages), so it’s wise to read the entirity of the cycle. Just portions of the cycle- the Illiad and Odyssey, are more polished than others.

Please move on from Nietzsche, stop misunderstanding Machiavelli, and stop beating on Fortuna- the physical abuse towards women mentality… just pathetic and the positive message that can be retrieved is smaller than the reality of the metaphor- men beating on women. It’s a memonic device, and it’s not a good one for explaining how strategic though operates as it substitutes for several of it’s necessary cognitive operations. A Machiavellian would seek to overcome the underlining need for such pedological tools in the first place… Machiavelli was always searching for new techniques that expanded beyond his former understanding of his Art of War. The Wheel of Fortune is just a representation of the functions of the classical understanding of Eudaimonia. It’s not something to base one’s life understanding on… especially since you’ve never seemed to of figured it’s classical synthesis and reason for being out. We have better formulas, it’s but a single psychological subset, and it by default has to wallow in it’s pity while holding out hope for brighter days ahead. There are much healthier ways of thinking. Look at Machiavelli’s comedy… he’s the best of the Italian comedians of the reniassance. He pointed fun at the very process of the seperateness of fortune and individual’s farsical attitude to it.

Again? Honestly, what’s your obsession with me? You should shut the fuck up.

I equate this to “please be silent about the matter”, but then it is reduced to swear words to add a hostility factor.

I thought it was interesting, Sawelious.
Some questions first…
About Homer, in the first schema he is described as deifying nature, but later as making a shift from visible to invible gods. Wouldn’t this be deifying the transcendent?
How did Plato shift the culture from shame to guilt? It might also be helpful if you could define those terms (guilt and shame) since when I look at shame-based cultures, I do not in any way see master morality.
It seems like you are equating what you are calling in Nietschze, nature worship, with the deification of nature? It seems to me you are slipping religious concepts into his desacralized outlook. Or am I missing something? I can see nature love, to use a rather drab phrase, but nature worship, especially if it slides into deification, seems like a number of unjustified leaps. Just noticed that you referred to it as a non-theist deification which seems like an oxymoron to me.
What do you think N was getting at here…

since what he seems to be snide about is, well, where we are now.
Christianity according to the schema would be Platonic.
It seems to me however that pagan and indigenous religions don’t fit anywhere. These are not only positing immanent entities, but also invisible ones. And these traditions persist.
Also, then Buddhism, seems to not quite have a home here.
Not that you were necessarily trying to cover all ground, but it reads a bit like that.

No, the Homeric gods do not transcend nature; they live in the world, not beyond it.

By commanding and legislating a Christianity for the lower nobility (the higher nobility being commanders and legislators like Plato himself).

Well, maybe you entertain a different definition of master morality. The Japanese and the Arab cultures, of whose noble classes Nietzsche says—in the Genealogy—that they have the blond beast at their root, are examples of shame cultures. The Homeric culture, which was obviously master-moral (and indeed, Nietzsche mentions “Homeric heroes” in the same list with the Japanese and the Arab nobilities), was a shame culture, as is evident from Sophocles’ Ajax, for example.

Apparently, yes: namely, that the death of God is only the beginning for Nietzsche.

I meant “theism” in the sense of personal gods. Zeus is a theistic god; the Sun is not.

I think he was getting at the fact that where we are now is a necessary bad.

Yes, as Christianity is Platonism for the people.

Not in the Western world, they don’t. And as I said earlier on in this post, immanence and invisibility do not necessarily preclude one another.

Which is quite in order, as it belongs to the Orient.

I was indeed wrong when I said that Nietzschean science was knowledge conceived as an end in itself. After all, Nietzsche says:

[size=95]“Knowledge for its own sake”—that is the last snare of morality: with that one becomes completely entangled in it once more. [Beyond Good and Evil, Zimmern translation, section 64 whole.][/size]

Nietzsche’s philosophy is completely nonteleological. Therefore, knowledge cannot even be an end in itself for it; it does not have any ends at all, not even ends in themselves.

[size=95]“[W]hy knowledge at all?”—Everyone will ask us about that. And we, thus pressed, we who have asked ourselves the same question a hundred times, we have found and can find no better answer… [ibid., section 230.]

Than what? The accused has no better answer than the answer just given that there are two natural inclinations of mind. Or the answer given in the following section that philosophy is an inescapable gift of nature. Or the answer given in the whole book that philosophy accords with what it discovers, the way of all beings, and glimpses a new ideal of affirmation of all beings and sets in motion the ultimate politics on behalf of the natural order of the beings. The accusation of cruelty is the accusation already made a hundred times: “Why philosophy at all?” [Lampert, Nietzsche’s Task, page 231.][/size]

We formidable exceptions seek knowledge because it’s in our nature to seek knowledge, to be cruel to ourselves by forcing ourselves to see the truth. This does not mean, however, that the truth must needs be “deadly”:

[size=95]Whoever has endeavored with some enigmatic longing, as I have, to think pessimism through to its depths and to liberate it from the half-Christian, half-German narrowness and simplicity in which it has finally presented itself to our century, namely, in the form of Schopenhauer’s philosophy; whoever has really, with an Asiatic and supra-Asiatic eye, looked into, down into the most world-denying of all possible ways of thinking—beyond good and evil and no longer, like the Buddha and Schopenhauer, under the spell and delusion of morality—, may just thereby, without really meaning to do so, have opened his eyes to the opposite ideal: the ideal of the most high-spirited, alive, and world-affirming human being who has not only come to terms and learned to get along with whatever was and is, but who wants to have just what was and is repeated into all eternity, shouting insatiably da capo, not only to himself but to the whole play and spectacle, and not only to a spectacle but at bottom to him who needs precisely this spectacle—and who makes it necessary because again and again he needs himself—and makes himself necessary——What? And this wouldn’t be—circulus vitiosus deus? [BGE 56 whole, Zimmern trans.][/size]

If I remember right, Faust said how the eternal recurrence isn’t a state of reality, it is a state of mind. Live like you would have it repeat forever, and want it to repeat forever. This is slightly like the catagorical imparative, but it is like an upgrade. What is good for one may not be good for all. But the catagorical imparative democratic crap universalizes good in a way where only what is good for all is “truly good”. Eternal recurrence also relates to “the love of fate”. Being beyond good and evil means we accept nature, basically, since it should be obvious that in many ways nature is amoral. Some people consider it evil, even. But it is our source and we should deal with it and affirm things instead of trying to deny reality.

Your theory of “the four great ages or Aeons of the Western world” is too much originated from Friedrich W. Nietzsche, thus too much Nietzsche-orientated. Long before Nietzsche there were Goethe and many philosophers of the Deutsche Romantik (German Romantic) who deeply idealised the nature, so that one can speak of a very strong deification of nature. Most of them were pantheists. A deification is always theistic. Of course. Duh! A “non-theistic deification” is not possible.

So at least your 4) has to be corrected:

  1. the Romantic Age as the age of the pantheistic deification of nature.

Homer, Plato, and Machiavelli came out of the blue just as little as Nietzsche. Also, Nietzsche was ultimately no Romantic; to the contrary. Of his predecessor Schopenhauer, who heavily influenced the ultimate Romantic Wagner, he said that he’d come a long way but did not know how to deify his “Will”. This in turn is what Nietzsche did, and thereby he is the initiator of a new age, like Machiavelli, Plato, and Homer were before him.

As I wrote in the leo-strauss list on Yahoo Groups in this context:

[size=95]“non-theistic” is about the absence of theistic gods like Zeus, but not necessarily of nature deities like the Sun (cf. the end of Strauss’ 13th paragraph [of his “Note on the Plan of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil”], where he says that “in a manner the doctrine of the will to power is a vindication of God, if a decidedly non-theistic vindication of God.”)[/size]

Had I meant “theistic” in a general sense, then you would have been right, as theos and deus are basically the same word. But I meant it in a specific sense, in which anthropomorphic deities are theistic whereas deified animals, objects, etc. are non-theistic.

I recently came to understand the last four great ages or Aeons of the Western world as follows:

  1. the Homeric Age as the age of the theistic deification of nature;
  2. the Platonic Age as the age of the theistic demonisation of nature;
  3. the Machiavellian Age as the age of the non-theistic demonisation of nature;
  4. the Nietzschean Age as the age of the non-theistic deification of nature.

how useless.

A suggestion for further reading: my “The West. A Straussian Metanarrative.” (

Nontheistic deification of nature is an oxymoron.

What do you mean by impersonal God?