RE: MD food for thought

From: Erin Noonan (
Date: Sat Sep 14 2002 - 16:15:57 BST

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.

Okay I think you have me convinced but I still have some
nagging thoughts that I would like to hear your comments about.
I don't think 'volition' is a fair comparison.
Our whole grammar depends on 'subject's and 'objects" but
volition is more of a 'nuance meaning'.
I think it is unclear whether Artistotle had the concept
of volition without the exact term.
It reminds me of when there isn't an exact translation
for a word in a foreign language. To explain this word
sometimes people will give a short anecdote to what this
word means. The person gets the word without having a term
for it. Do they have that concept? I don't know, I can
see how you would argue both ways.

the subject and object is more then just nuance terms to me
they are how our brain is cutting up reality.

Although I am thinking what you say is true it still just
doesn't suprise me that Homer doesn't use these terms.
How many modern novels of fiction use those terms in their
writing? I guess i still see it just being an implicit assumption
that doesn't really get talked about until modern day fields
that exam this assumption.


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