[Marxism] NYT book review of Aristotle

Tom Cod tomcod3 at gmail.com
Sun Jul 3 13:10:44 MDT 2011


In today's book review section of the New York Times, there's a review
of a new edition of Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, a work I recall
reading in college and which I also recall for its common sensical
tone and lack of obscurantism present, say, in Plato's Republic.  The
review, by a certain Harry V. Jaffe, a neo-conservative political hack
from way back, seeks to correct that quality through a sanctimonious
paen to, you guessed it, that guy Strauss, ya know the guru of W's
clique, with that shop worn straw man about how the problem with
"liberals" is that they are "moral relativists" who don't know right
from wrong, or who in "post modern" style nihilistically could care
less about it, all of which is at the heart of the "crisis of the
West" which is besieged by "barbarians".  Hmmm.  He goes on to
conflate the ancient Greeks and Hebrews as brothers in arms in
founding "Western Civilization", notwithstanding their admitted
radical differences in culture.

Now, I'm not sure what evidence exists for his supposition that
leftists are moral lepers who openly espouse nihilistic "moral
relativism".  Could it be they have a different view of what those
ethics are?  He kind of brings to mind one of those sanctimonious
pharisees Leon Trotsky talked about in "Their Morals and Ours" who
cover over their own political impotence by "masquerading in the beard
of a prophet."  On a really superficial level, to the extent his rant
reflects the fuddy-duddyism of a 92 year old with the hedonism of
these kids today, his analysis fails on its own terms.  He castigates
Ken Burns for a passing reference to the Civil War as a precursor of
gay rights as a blatant example of moral relativism supporting
"sodomy" while going on to equate Aristotle and the Greeks with Old
Testament mores.

Really, let's see, the sexual mores of the ancient Greeks were what?
and their religious mythology and ethos was what?  Remember that guy
Prometheus?  the eroticism and open gay sexuality of much of Hellenic
culture? No, the Greeks and Aristotle, rightly or wrongly, viewed
"Asian" nations like the Hebrews as inferior and primitive and
pitiable rubes with Aristotle telling Alexander the Great that it was
right and proper for them to be ruled over by him as the
representative of "The Greeks".  Ultimately they showed their contempt
for what they viewed as a neolithic cult by sacking the Hebrew temple
during the war of the Maccabees in the second century bc and
butchering a pig on its altar, although the Jews triumphed in the end.
 Some comrades in arms of the "Biblical tradition".




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