The Most Scandalous Philosophy Book of Our Time?

"This book is an attempt to show that the aristocratic regime, and aristocratic morality, is the origin of the idea of nature; that, at the point at which a historical aristocracy starts to decline, its defenders, in abstracting and radicalizing the case for aristocracy in the face of its critics, come upon the teaching of nature and the standard of nature in politics. It is precisely this teaching of nature, so corrosive of all convention and all morality, that is politically explosive, and that explains the deep connection between philosophy - the criminal study of nature outside the city and outside the myths and pieties of the regime - and tyranny - the criminal and feral regime of rule outside and above all law and all convention." -Costin Alamariu

Here's a video exposition of the main ideas of the book.

The publication of Selective Breeding and the Birth of Philosophy by Costin Alamariu caused a small scandal among circles worried about the rise of the far right. Alamariu, reputed to be the pseudonymous author behind the underground manifesto called Bronze Age Mindset, attracted attention, and worry, for linking the theme "the birth of philosophy" with aristocratic concern for eugenics, breeding, and bodily vitality. But Alamariu's book lays out in detail the defence of his thesis.

Chapter 1 discusses the idea that primitive societies, completely ruled by custom, cannot produce the distance from custom that is necessary as a precondition for the notion of nature to arise. In other words, primitive societies cannot discover nature - a discovery that Leo Strauss said is coeval with philosophy.

Alamariu argues that only the foreign conquest by an aristocratic regime of a primitive society (which is fundamentally democratic and egalitarian) can introduce into society the preliminary elements that later open the door to the birth of philosophy. He discusses the various factors in such a conquest that facilitate a radical break with the customs of fundamental democracy.

For instance, the warriors of an aristocracy are often united in an institution called a warband or Mannerbund, which is characterized, among other things, by the fact that it exists on the margins of society. In other words, the young warrior class escapes the dominance of custom just to the extent that it is allowed to roam free, like a pack of wild wolves, in order to sharpen its fighting abilities.

Also, when society has a conquering part and a conquered part, there is now the ability for the conquering part to rely on the conquered part for all the labours of mere life, leaving it free to pursue more disinterested, theoretical pursuits, which later can lead to philosophical discoveries.

Another point Alamariu makes is that aristocratic societies are societies that practice selective breeding at least among their livestock. This practice also teaches them that there is something "natural" (physis) that differs from custom (nomos). These and other factors serve as a precondition in aristocratic society for what later becomes the philosophical notion of nature.

In Chapter Two, Alamariu shows through examination of the writings of Pindar that the pre-philosophical, aristocratic notion of nature had everything to do with a certain intensity of life, i.e. that it was biological, that it was expressed, manifest, or revealed in and through the body. It is important, in his view, that we recover the prephilosophical notion of nature in relation to the aristocratic appreciation of body excellence. Otherwise, if we operate merely with the philosophical concept of nature, we risk forgetting what it was designed to accomplish.

What was the philosophical notion of nature designed to accomplish? Alamariu argues as follows. When an aristocratic society starts to collapse or decay, there are some "better turned out" individuals in it whose energies are now liberated from even aristocratic custom, and they want above all to preserve the aristocratic principle -- not of custom but of nature -- in the face of social decline. They do so by radicalizing the notion of excellence and conceptualizing it as the standard of judgment for men and societies. Philosophers seek to keep alive the promise of "men of nature," men of a peculiar intensity and vitality of life that is not bound by custom.

Alamariu argues that philosophers are not alone in wanting to preserve nature. Tyrants have the same goal. Tyrants break with custom and the rule of law to preserve the independence and influence of men of nature. At least, Alamariu argues, the long-standing Greek suspicion toward philosophers as friends of tyrants is merited by their shared concern for the men of nature. Alamariu argues that both Plato (Chapter Three) and Nietzsche (Chapter Four) understood and taught the kinship of philosophy and tyranny. But Plato taught it under a mask of concealment, whereas Nietzsche was content to speak of it more frankly -- a strategy that Alamariu himself apparently supports and follows.