http://cimarronline.blogspot.com/2004/0 ... beast.html
Simone Weil gets the term "Great Beast" from Plato. Specifically, this passage from Book VI of his Republic (here Plato critiques those who are "wise" through their study of society):
Karl Marx describes Man as like the Great Beast. The difference is that Plato describes Man as asleep in Plato's cave with the ability to awaken while with Marx there is no awakening. Man is awake but only needs to be conditioned.I might compare them to a man who should study the tempers and desires of a mighty strong beast who is fed by him--he would learn how to approach and handle him, also at what times and from what causes he is dangerous or the reverse, and what is the meaning of his several cries, and by what sounds, when another utters them, he is soothed or infuriated; and you may suppose further, that when, by continually attending upon him, he has become perfect in all this, he calls his knowledge wisdom, and makes of it a system or art, which he proceeds to teach, although he has no real notion of what he means by the principles or passions of which he is speaking, but calls this honourable and that dishonourable, or good or evil, or just or unjust, all in accordance with the tastes and tempers of the great brute. Good he pronounces to be that in which the beast delights and evil to be that which he dislikes...
Society, the "mighty strong beast." There's the obvious power of many hands working together. But Plato points to a deeper, pseudo-moral power of the many, the group. Weil also describes this:
The power of the social element. Agreement between several men brings with it a feeling of reality. It brings with it also a sense of duty. Divergence, where this agreement is concerned, appears as a sin. Hence all returns to the fold are possible. The state of conformity is an imitation of grace.
https://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201 ... /marx.html
"It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but on the contrary, their social existence that determines their consciousness.""It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but on the contrary, their social existence that determines their consciousness."
Men can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion, or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they to produce their means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their physical organization, men are indirectly producing their actual material life."
So which is it? Does our consciousness determine our existence or does the quality of our existence determine our consciousness?
If Marx is right mankind is the Great Beast which must be conditioned by society with the goal of producing utopia. If Plato and the essence of Christianity are right, Man can evolve to become consciously human rather than the reacting creature called the Great Beast which inhabits Plato's Cave.
Who is closer to the truth: Marx or Plato?