This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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The advice of Pythagoras

Pythagoras is sometimes ridiculed for having advised his disciples to “abstain from beans,” this being taken by moderns as a silly dietary proscription. Bertrand Russell is one significant example of this superficial type of criticism, since he is at other times quite insightful and measured. He lists some of the principles of the Pythagorean order in phrasing that makes them all sound utterly childish and absurd, without acknowledging even the possibility of their intent as symbols, and summarily dismisses them saying that “All these precepts belong to primitive tabu-conceptions.”[1] He takes an equally dismissive view of Empedocles who railed against ‘laurel leaves’ and who also told followers to ‘keep your hands from beans,’ and while the socio-political significance of both of these objects should be obvious to anyone (laurel leaves being the reward of victors in various public contests), Russell insists on interpreting them as the expression of ancient ignorance, the mistakes of mental children who do not have the benefit of modern scientific superiority. In actuality, the references to ‘beans’ had nothing to do with diet but with political involvement. Public offices in Athens, for example, were decided by a voting process involving different colored beans, and so to ‘abstain from beans’ was to abstain from participation in the political process. In other words: do not vote.

[1] History of Western Philosophy, Ch. 3.

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