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The path of realism Print
ImageLet us start with a dose of realism!

 

If you prefer to believe, with Moses, that man is created in the “image of God”, take to the left right after the main entrance opposite that of restaurant Gelsomina. But if you are strong enough to stand the idea that man is but an “inflated bacteria”, take the middle road, slightly to the right, up to Heracleitos and Thales, who tell you some realistic truth.

 

Can then Thucydides’ “fear, honour and self-respect” help us understand the US warfare in Iraq? Are you sure your answers are right? Isn’t there, as Socrates tells you a few meters higher up, always one more “why?” to which you only can say: “don’t know, yet!”

 

After you have contemplated the horrible Machiavelli, genial in understanding, ruthless as a consultant, turn to the left and you will better understand why Aristotle said that you are a “political animal”. Locke gives you one hint of how to rise up towards culture. Hegel’s cries for an understanding of History’s “slaughterhouse” before you meet the father of atomic warfare, Einstein. Repenting what he had done, shortly after Hiroshima he expressed his desire to “uninvent” science’s most brutal butcher’s knife so far, the one he and his friends had invented. If that is at all possible is one of mankind’s basic questions for centuries to come!!!

 

Having passed idealists such as Seneca,  Rousseau and Pico della Mirandola, you find Descartes. With his “cogito, ergo sum” he was realistic enought to save himself from the same destiny as Giordano Bruno. But scientifically he got it all wrong. Correct is, of course, “Famesco, ergo sum”. Hunger surely goes before thinking in awakening man’s self-consciousness. Thus you also find him among the idealists.

 

That our politicians are rather impotent when it comes to the truly important things for their subjects, that is the idea of the wonderfully cynic Samuel Johnson.

 

Now, continue up to the three oak benches, a gift to the Park from the Swedish King, sit down on them and contemplate the still utterly valid insight of the forgotten but extremely important population philosopher, Thomas Robert Malthus, whom you find three meters away.

 

Malthus was the mental father of  Charles Darwin’s “natural selection” which idea, together with Gregor Mendels insights in our innate and unequal biological nature, has given us modern genetics, the so far very best tool for understanding why we behave as we do.

 

Between the King’s benches and Darwin you find two cynic super-realists, Joseph de Maistre, who after the French revolution couldn’t keep order without an executioner, and Friedrich Nietzsche, who can justly be named “the literary Darwin”.

 

If you search a while you will find three other famous realists, Joseph Schumpeter, born 1883, who realized that all economic creation also costs destruction, educated by the wisdom of Adam Smith, born 1723, the father of economic liberalism, and Baruch Spinoza, born 1632, who already then was realistic enough to realize that we had to worship Nature as if it were God and vice versa.

 

A bit down, above the “love nest”, you find Mandeville, a ruthless realist who became bitterly hated a hundred years before Malthus because he said that the poor live not despite but thanks to the luxury of the rich. Is that true or false today? Why do ministers of finance often say that we have to increase consumption to cure unemployment?

 

If you take a few steps down your find a man, twenty years younger than Mandeville, baron Montesquieu who gave mankind the truly realistic idea to divide supreme but fallible human power into three parts, governing, legislating and judicial. As that is too well-known, here you find another of his insights.

 

Go up the same steps again, take to the right and go the ten meters till the path is divided. Go down and you will find Leopold von Ranke and Ortega y Gasset. However provocative they both may be, they must be counted among the realists. As well as Anna Akhmatova, the poetess who summarized Stalin’s time with the Aristotelian observation that she couldn’t know who was a human being, who a predatory beast.

 

Finally, before you walk up to “the Philosophers’ Belvedere”, ask yourself, with St. John, two very important questions: First, may people like Stalin and Hitler, Nero and Caligula or Genghis Khan and Mao be biologically predetermined in the Mendelian lottery to do what they do in the eternal Darwinistic struggle ?

 

If it is so, how can we avoid similar rulers, now being equipped with atomic bombs?

 

The second important question is: Are you absolutely sure that you yourself could have thrown the first stone?

 
 

 
 


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