RE: MD food for thought

From: Matt the Enraged Endorphin (
Date: Thu Sep 12 2002 - 22:48:43 BST

At 04:08 PM 9/12/2002 -0400, you wrote:
>Thomas:>>Small but fascinating detail: According to some scholars the ancient
>>>Greeks didn't have concepts for what we later called subject and
>>>object. Especially in Homer's writings these terms are apparently
>>>not found. This gives some extremely interesting perspectives for
>Erin: They may have not referred to "subject" and "objects"
>but they have used other substitutions?
>Animate and Inanimate terms?
> Just because they didn't use these terms in seems hasty to say they
>didn't have a concept of subject and object.
>For example I don't see them thinking that an object like a chair
>is observing them.

Actually, I would be careful in trying to find substitutions for terms they
didn't explicitly use. One of the ways in which we chart intellectual
progress and change is in how different cultures use words and how they
change them. A person starts with the old, literal word and then creates a
specialized word, or metaphor, into the discourse. For instance, you could
probably definitely find subject-object-like talk in ancient Greece, but we
can then chart how the terms actually started to be used the way we use
them. We know that Kant was using the terms as we use them now, so the
change must have occured between then and the 18th century. Another
concrete example is St. Augustine is often said to have created "volition."
 Aristotle often talked like he was using a word like volition, but it
wasn't in his vocabulary. "Volition" didn't become important until
Christianity needed a term to describe why people need to be held
responsible for their actions, for their sins. It was important to
distinguish between an action they had no control over doing and an action
they did--volitionally.


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