Omowale Jabali : White Pseudoscience, Mythology and Other Eurocentric Asiliness

In nascent Europe the literate mode had ideological force. Remember that according to Platonic epistemology we must achieve objectivity in order to know and that in his terms this is achieved by causing our reason to dominate our emotions, which in turn gives us control. We gain control over that which we wish to know, therefore creating an "object" of knowledge. The mode of preserved communication (which had characterized most cultures and which would prevail in Greece centuries after Plato), was the poetic, the oral, and to some extent the symbolic mode, although Greek culture was not nearly so well developed in that regard, borrowing from other cultures their sacred and religious concepts. This mode relied on the identification of the knower with the known. On powers of memorization, and familiarity of the listener/participant with the subject-matter being used. The symbolic modes of the more ancient and developed civilizations also required apprehension of abstractions, but these were not the rationalistic abstractions that would come to dominate in European thought.
In the analysis of Eurocentric theorists it was this memory, this emotional identification and "involvement" caused by the poetic, "oral," and "Homeric" mode that had limited "pre-Platonic" man. This characterization thrusts us into yet another "split," another dichotomy of invidious comparison. And with this another aspect of the supposed "superiority" of the European rears its head. The "pre-Platonic" man (Havelock's term), whom Homer's epics represented and whom they addressed, was in trouble according to Havelock. He is described as being "nonliterate," which of course has much more ideological force than just saying that he preferred the poetic form. It surfaces as a weakness and inability to conceptualize, a negative characteristic. It devalues him as a person. This "nonliterate," "pre-Platonic" person also picks up a host of the characteristics, which, in the European world-view, are either valueless or absolutely negative. Havelock describes the "Homeric man" as being a "sleeping" state, as though drugged. His mind is governed by "uncritical acceptance," "self surrender," "automatism," "passivity of mental condition," "lavish employment of emotions," "hypnotic trance," "complacency." He uses "dream language" and is the victim of "illusion." He is in the "long sleep of man" and is even "lazy."46 Why is Havelock so hard on those whom he places in intellectual opposition to Plato? It is as if this stage in Greek history or European development must be destroyed; certainly thoroughly repudiated. We will see in subsequent chapters of this study why these are precisely the terms that Europeans use to describe and demean other cultures, cultures that are labeled "primitive." And these are the terms they use to characterize the abilities of children of African descent and other groups who are seen as lacking cultural and racial value within the societies in which Europeans dominate. In fact, European academies "create" such nomininds.47 In each of these instances, including Havelock's critique of the mental habits of humankind "before" Plato, the statements made have ideological significance. They are supporting a chosen way of life, a set of beliefs. The objective is to establish the "way of life" as superior to all which either preceded it or that is different from it. It is the ideological nature of Platonic epistemology that makes this possible: an epistemology dictated by the European asili, carried in the cultural genes.
For Plato, the poet does not appeal to the proper "principle" in the person or to the proper part of his or her soul. And so the poet would not be able to help in the task of lifting us out of the darkness of the cave and correcting our ignorance towards the "light" of truth. The poet obstructs the proper functioning of reason and does not help us to gain control of our emotions.

An African-Centered Critique of
European Cultural Thought and Behavior

by Marimba Ani, Ch. 1.


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