“White boy summer” – tracing the development of the concept of justice to own the libs
It’s true that philosophy is arrogant – all writing is thinking. So where do you draw the line? “Thinking” didn’t emerge with Plato, it was present in the poetry before him. So it’s a question of “what is writing?” which brings me back to Agamben writing about how philosophy is grammar. Remember, the controversy is that Plato banned the poets, so what’s in question is whether grammar can be used improperly. Maybe there was something off with Plato’s grammar? Let’s put it a simple way to begin- I think we all know what a “carnie” is. They might have perfect grammar on the surface, yet there’s something about them you want to question, something doesn’t seem trustworthy about them, almost like they’re a professional con-artist. This to me is one of the ways Plato was a paradigm-shifter. Some grammar it would be better not to have in the Just City.
Is it any different for our culture?
an attempt to conceptualize “justice,” usually accepted as the leading Greek “virtue.”
While people won’t often explicitly say it, that does seem to be the way they ACT. Justice is the most important of all. They won’t say the word because it will prompt others to mock them about whether they think they are Batman or Captain America or something like that. It’s similar to the word “God”, i.e. Who are YOU to know what that is? Nonetheless, they ACT as if they know what justice is, and they treat it as the most important thing. So what is it that they believe is most important? Do they have the clearest idea of justice possible? If we go back to the Greeks and see how the idea itself emerged maybe we can determine that. Inb4- you caught me, I do not believe that “acquiring down syndrome” is justice. Let’s forget about that, and try to put our differences aside for now and try to look at this concept neutrally. Sorry if you have to hug your teddy bear when someone points out how you were conditioned to believe in delusions. “Your grammar is insulting.” I am speaking to adults, this is not a place for children, and the fewer here the better for everyone.
Going back to the beginning, and before the beginning, if possible
What is to be made of an argument which seems to be in danger of concluding that ethics was something invented by Plato?
What if Aeschylus was right about justice? Considering these different early conceptions of it is a way we can meditate on an ideal cultural reset.
Is it possible for someone’s understanding of justice to be unjust? For the relativists, use the thought experiment of people whispering behind your back that you are “tolerant of injustices”. You don’t like that, do you? Okay, I don’t tolerate unjust conceptions of justice itself. What’s that, Your Honor, you don’t care? Drivers, mechanics, designers- Supreme Court Justices are only drivers. And this caste design is itself off, since one arguably doesn’t design per se as much as one discovers. We’re trying to figure out what justice is, not invent what it is. Still, it involves human creativity to work through this problem. The “grammar” of the sophist is something that is purely invented (in a pejorative sense)- it doesn’t have any connection to actual reality, it only has the appearance that it does. Some speculate that our very own overlords could be accused of sophistry. Do they know what justice is? Or do they only like using the word while themselves being unjust?
Let’s think of a few ideas to put it in perspective. Trust. What’s more important, justice or trust? How about leisure? Justice has to be more important than leisure, no? How about candy? Is candy more important than justice? What a sophist is is someone who can convince others that candy is more important than justice. They can convince people of anything really. That’s why culture requires a higher order questioning of whether people can be convinced of unjust things. While it isn’t immediately clear whether justice or trust is more important, only a child would want candy over justice and trust. It might surprise you that many adults in our culture do seem to prefer candy. What we often refer to as “corruption”. This is very strict obviously, since there are different levels of corruption, and one can’t expect people to be perfectly just. I am only trying to determine what is perfectly just, so at least we know what it is, even if we, being human, can’t be perfectly just ourselves. This is not a type of discourse for people who only want candy. And to be honest with you, I don’t really “trust” those people. Because they tend to not know what justice is. Part of what is just is talking about what it is. The “corrupt sophists” of our time will proceed as if they know what justice is without ever actually wondering about it. Aren’t you grateful that we live in the best of all possible worlds where all the corporations know what justice is? We ought to thank our lucky stars. It sure saves us a lot of work and turmoil that the leaders of our culture already know what justice is and are thus just themselves, right? I’m so glad we don’t have to think about anything because they are all correct. It couldn’t possibly be the case that all those who conform to their norms are wrong. “I like candy, it doesn’t require an attention span. Know what I also like? Acting like I know what justice is. I am that retarded!” Just kidding, I know that’s not you. Know what justice would be, in my eyes? If our founding cultural myth didn’t have a factual basis and someone revealed how that is the case. Let’s not go there though! It would be unjust to go there, huh? And why is that? I doubt you can give me a response, possibly because you’re a corrupt sophist yourself. “I am a retard.” Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s fine, living in a world without justice, and being one of those ones who makes that world possible is just peachy isn’t it? Who is anyone to judge you? Have some candy, sweet child. In fact, why not have lots of candy until you’re a plump little brat? Allow me to introduce you to “the voting public”. It’s constituted by carnies, grifters, sophists whose idea of justice is pure boilerplate. They believe whatever they are expected to believe. That is “justice” to them. They’ll do some real moral grandstanding too despite that. Can you imagine them ever trying to think out exactly what justice is? I can’t. “I just want candy, I’m a child.” If someone is a child I suggest they stick with childish things. You are not ready to talk with the adults. If all you can do is pout when we tell you no more candy, then you shouldn’t consider yourself someone who should have a say about what justice in society is. In that light, it makes one wonder if equal rights are just. Because that means any child can run their mouth about anything and be regarded as valid. “Don’t wonder what justice is, only eat candy!!” Middle-aged people really are like this.
See how I haven’t really even brought up the different Greek ideas about justice? That isn’t necessary. All they are is a reminder that people in a different time used to discuss what justice is. It wasn’t a settled matter. People really wondered about the meaning of it. They aren’t like that today. They think they know. And when I take a glance at these Greeks the people of today seem like children in their naivete.