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Showing posts from August 21, 2022

The first man (and woman) in the quarrel of the ancients and the moderns

  The Ancients, the Moderns, and all that jazz Adam, the first man – and not my son, who bears the same name – has long been a subject of fascination. The story in Genesis of Adam and Eve and the Garden and the Snake and the Tree of Good and Evil has such a satisfying drive, like a beautiful dream; and like a dream, it seems to come to our waking senses to be somehow in fragments, lacking certain important connective moments. Hobbes, in the Leviathan, uses a very interesting term to distinguish Adam in the first of a line of charismatic beings: “From the very Creation, God not only reigned over all men Naturally by his might; but also had Peculiar Subjects, whom he commanded by a Voice, as one man speaketh to another. In which manner he Reigned over Adam, and gave him commandement to abstaine from the tree of cognizance of Good and Evill; which when he obeyed not, but tasting thereof, took upon him to be as God, judging between Good and Evill, not by his Creators commandement, but by

If you never have been tempted by a demon or a god

  “At Pharai in Achaia [a   rite] was practised under the official patronage of Hermes, the market god. In front of the image is a hearth made of stone, with bronze lamps clamped to it with lead. He who would inquire of the god comes at evening and burns incense on the hearth, fills the lamp[s with oil, lights them, lays a coin of the country called a copper on the altar to the right of the image, and whispers his question, whatever it may be, into the ear of the god. Then he stops his ears and leaves the market-place, and when he is gone a little way outside he takes his hands from his ears, and whatever words he hears he regards as an oracle.” - William Halliday Greek Divination (1913) Overhearing, eavesdropping – I have long thought that these are severely neglected topics in the philosophy of language and literary criticism.   In the Pharai example, the inquirer intentionally overhears. He or she intentionally appropriates the word spoken and applies it to the question asked. But