Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Philosophical Thought in the Neolithic (and why we cannot see it)



While responding to a mail from the managing editor of a scholarly magazine,  who I'd pointed in the direction of a couple of articles on my blog, I found myself condensing my project into the compass of just four paragraphs. This covers both what I am doing, and why. I reproduce them here:

Years ago I read Adolf Erman's collection of Egyptian Literature in English translation. One text in particular made me sit up, since it involved the use of concepts I associated with classical Greece. The text was Akhenaten's 'Hymn to the Aten'. Akhenaten lived some nine hundred years before Plato and Aristotle, yet he seemed to be comfortable with concepts which are supposed to have been first discussed among the Greeks. I looked for other 'anticipations', and found them.


That propelled me to study in London (in 1989). By that time I'd started to look at antiquity quite differently from the way I'd been taught by classicists. Instead of seeing classical Greece (and the work of the later philosophers all the way up to the closure of the philosophical schools in 529 CE) as the beginnings of sophisticated thought about abstract concepts, I began to treat major components of classical thought as the possible end point of a way of thinking, which might conceivably stretch back into the neolithic. The notion of excellence is one of those components, which as we now know was a concern for the megalith builders.


That's the basic hypothesis. The idea of Greece as the birthplace of philosophy is a modern construct. Plato himself said it was a very old discipline, but classicists don't bother to discuss what he had to say about that when they are writing about the history of philosophy. The evidence from around the eastern Mediterranean however, bears out what Plato said.


My focus so far has been mainly on Mesopotamia, and back to the 14th century BCE, because it is the area where I have the most expertise. It is now pretty clear however that the hypothesis that the presence of abstract ideas stretches back into the Neolithic is sound, and that this insight can deliver great riches. If only we can escape our enlightenment presumptions about the intellectual poverty of our distant ancestors.



Best regards,


Thomas Yaeger


The two articles the managing editor was pointed at were: Stone Circles, Phenomenology, and the Neolithic Mind, and: Frazer and the Association of Ideas

I introduced the first article as looking at the context and function of Stone Circles, particularly when looked at as structures which may have served a similar function to divine statues in both Greece and Mesopotamia. In Mesopotamia, during the installation of divine statues, the three day ritual necessarily involved pointing them at defined areas of the sky, because the heavens were understood to represent an image of the Divine - of Being and Reality itself. 

The second article I described as a review of J. G. Frazer's approach to the meaning of evidence from the ancient world. He was trained in Classics, and knew the works of Plato virtually backwards and his concern with the idea of Being, but chose to write his account of ancient thought entirely without reference to the idea of Being in antiquity. He suggested that since nothing could be predicated of Being, it was an entirely barren concept. So Frazer's voluminous output is really a species of fiction, replacing sophisticated thought about the nature of reality with the argument that ancient human thought was, more or less entirely, built on intellectual error.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

'The Sacred History of Being' is free to download in November!


The Sacred History of Being will be available free from Smashwords during the month of November 2017, to mark the second anniversary of its publication in 2015. Use the coupon available on the Smashwords page for the book. The coupon is available for use from the 25th of October.

Coupon Code: TT95F

:


"All about how history is built by inclusion and omission. Even written histories have to hang together like a good story." - Nick Zacharewicz @NickSCZach

The Subject 


The Sacred History of Being has as its radical thesis that a philosophical knowledge of divine things was at the heart of ancient religion, both in Greece and the ancient Near East. And that the source of all knowledge was understood to be Being itself. 

 Formerly argued by classical scholars to have been first discussed by the ancient Greeks in the middle of the first millennium B.C.E., the articulate concept of Being can now be traced as far back as the middle of the second millennium, and the state of Assyria.

The Greeks themselves had several stories about the origins of philosophy, a discipline which essentially deals with abstractions, including that it originated elsewhere, but that is not the received narrative. The consequence of this, is that all historians of ideas, when constructing their accounts of the intellectual development of man before the arrival of Parmenides and Plato, have had to negotiate the Greek invention of philosophy, and the corollary, that articulate discussion of the abstract concept 'Being' didn’t happen before this. 

The Old Testament has examples where God declares his identity with Being itself (‘I am that I am’, better translated into English as ‘I am that which is,’ and ‘I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God', for example), but these are not regarded by scholars as evidence of a sophisticated discourse around the idea of Being. Instead these statements indicate inchoate notions and beliefs about the nature of god, rather than anything more profound. The statement in Malachi, however, that 'I do not change', is an explicitly philosophical understanding of the nature of God. 


This is the full chapter list for the edition of The Sacred History of Being, published on November 2, 2015. 


Preface.


Part One.

A Sense of the Past.
How old is Philosophy?
The Arrival of the Idea of Being.
The West and the Other.
The Golem.
Change and what is Permanent.
The Ontological Argument.
The Ontological Argument in Anselm.
The Ontological Argument in Descartes.
The Nature of Reality in Berkeley.
Hume and Kant on Reality.
The End of the Ontological Argument.

Part Two.

The Sweet Song of Swans.
The Academy.
The Platonic Theory of Being.
Plato’s Theory of Vision.
The Paradox of Knowledge.
Eleven attributes of Being.
Pythagoras and Totality.
Solon in the court of Croesus.
The Complexion of the Dead.
Being in Homer.

Part Three.

Ocean and the Limit of Existence.
Creation.
The Fifty names of Marduk.
The Idea of Being in Israel.
Understanding Creation as a Sacred Tree.
Being, Kabbalah, and the Assyrian Sacred Tree.
The Making and the Renewal of the Gods.
The Ritual sequence and its purpose.
The Nineveh ritual.
The Babylonian ritual.
Finding the Name of the Sacred Tree.
Postscript.

Appendices.

Thomas Taylor on the Ineffable principle.
Oannes and the Instruction of Mankind.
Ashurbanipal on the exercise of Kingship.
Select Bibliography.
Abbreviations


Available Full Chapters



The first five chapters of the book, plus the preface, are available to read in full, by following the links below. A further chapter from part one, which discusses George Berkeley's understanding of the Nature of Reality, and two chapters from part three, 'Ocean and the Limit of Existence', and  'The Idea of Being in Israel', are also available to read in full. Plus one of the appendices, which discusses the Babylonian account of the first sages, and man's acquisition of knowledge. 

Preface

Part One

A sense of the past
How old is Philosophy?
The Arrival of the idea of Being
The West and the Other
The Golem
Change and what is permanent
Recurring Questions
The Ontological Argument
The Ontological Argument in Anselm
The Ontological Argument in Descartes
The Nature of Reality in Berkeley
Hume and Kant on Reality

....

Part Three

Ocean and the Limit of Existence
The Idea of Being in Israel

....

 Appendices

Oannes and the Instruction of Mankind


The eBook is in ePub format, which can be read on Macs, iPads, iPhones, etc, and most other tablets, irrespective of the operating operating system they use. If you have an Amazon Kindle, the ePub formatting of the book can be converted easily to the MOBI format, which the Kindle uses, with the excellent eBook management software Calibre, which can be downloaded free. 

The book can be read on a PC, laptop or notebook computer, in ePub or any other eBook format, using the Adobe Digital Editions software, which is also available free, in both Mac and PC formats. Supports conversion to many formats, including PDF. 

The principal distributor of The Sacred History of Being is Smashwords. The book can be downloaded from Smashwords directly, after a signup which takes just a minute or so. After purchase (free, with the coupon TT95F), the book goes into a library space associated with your signup, and it can be downloaded on to your device from there. Just follow the link.

The book has a five star review at Goodreads

Thomas Yaeger, October 25, 3017.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Sacred History of Being




(New Cover, issued March 12 2017. The image links to the book page at Smashwords)

Nick Zacharewicz @NickSCZach
"All about how history is built by inclusion and omission. Even written histories have to hang together like a good story."

The Subject 


The Sacred History of Being has as its radical thesis that knowledge rather than belief was at the heart of ancient religion, both in Greece and the ancient Near East. And that the source of all knowledge was understood to be Being itself. 

 Formerly argued by classical scholars to have been first discussed by the ancient Greeks in the middle of the first millennium B.C.E., the articulate concept of Being can now be traced as far back as the middle of the second millennium, and the state of Assyria.

The Greeks themselves had several stories about the origins of philosophy, a discipline which essentially deals with abstractions, including that it originated elsewhere, but that is not the received narrative. The consequence of this, is that all historians of ideas, when constructing their accounts of the intellectual development of man before the arrival of Parmenides and Plato, have had to negotiate the Greek invention of philosophy, and the corollary, that articulate discussion of the abstract concept 'Being' didn’t happen before this. 

This can now be shown to be a faulty understanding, resulting in many absurdities. The Old Testament has examples where God declares his identity with Being itself (‘I am that I am’, better translated into English as ‘I am that which is,’ and ‘I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God', for example), but these are not regarded by scholars as evidence of a sophisticated discourse around the idea of Being. Instead these statements indicate inchoate ‘notions’ about the nature of god, rather than anything more profound. The statement in Malachi, however, that 'I do not change', is an explicitly philosophical understanding of the nature of God. 

The Sacred History of Being unpicks this log-jam in the history of ideas, largely the legacy of classical scholarship from the late eighteenth century onward.

Around late November 2016, 'The Sacred History of Being' entered the bestseller lists at Smashwords, in the categories of Philosophy and History

Chapter List for The Sacred History of Being


This is the full chapter list for the edition of The Sacred History of Being, published on November 2, 2015. 


Preface.


Part One.

A Sense of the Past.
How old is Philosophy?
The Arrival of the Idea of Being.
The West and the Other.
The Golem.
Change and what is Permanent.
The Ontological Argument.
The Ontological Argument in Anselm.
The Ontological Argument in Descartes.
The Nature of Reality in Berkeley.
Hume and Kant on Reality.
The End of the Ontological Argument.

Part Two.

The Sweet Song of Swans.
The Academy.
The Platonic Theory of Being.
Plato’s Theory of Vision.
The Paradox of Knowledge.
Eleven attributes of Being.
Pythagoras and Totality.
Solon in the court of Croesus.
The Complexion of the Dead.
Being in Homer.

Part Three.

Ocean and the Limit of Existence.
Creation.
The Fifty names of Marduk.
The Idea of Being in Israel.
Understanding Creation as a Sacred Tree.
Being, Kabbalah, and the Assyrian Sacred Tree.
The Making and the Renewal of the Gods.
The Ritual sequence and its purpose.
The Nineveh ritual.
The Babylonian ritual.
Finding the Name of the Sacred Tree.
Postscript.

Appendices.

Thomas Taylor on the Ineffable principle.
Oannes and the Instruction of Mankind.
Ashurbanipal on the exercise of Kingship.
Select Bibliography.
Abbreviations


Available Full Chapters



The first five chapters of the book, plus the preface, are available to read in full, by following the links below. A further chapter from part one, which discusses George Berkeley's understanding of the Nature of Reality, and two chapters from part three, 'Ocean and the Limit of Existence', and  'The Idea of Being in Israel', are also available to read in full. Plus one of the appendices, which discusses the Babylonian account of the first sages, and man's acquisition of knowledge. 

Preface

Part One

A sense of the past
How old is Philosophy?
The Arrival of the idea of Being
The West and the Other
The Golem
Change and what is permanent
Recurring Questions
The Ontological Argument
The Ontological Argument in Anselm
The Ontological Argument in Descartes
The Nature of Reality in Berkeley
Hume and Kant on Reality

....

Part Three

Ocean and the Limit of Existence
The Idea of Being in Israel

....

 Appendices

Oannes and the Instruction of Mankind



Questions addressed by The Sacred History of Being


The Sacred History of Being addresses many questions. Some of these have been puzzles over the centuries. What follows is a list of fifty of these questions, all of which are given some kind of answer in the course of the text. 

This list of questions developed slowly over the decade between the first draft of the book in 2003-4, and the final version which was published in 2015, after four years of writing. Other questions are discussed, including the meaning of the strange discussion of the Great Year in relation to the life of man, in the famous conversation between Solon and Croesus, recounted by Herodotus.

Here is the list.

 1. Is Plato writing literary fiction when he talks about the Forms? 2. Philosophical concepts and terms can be found in texts belonging to the 2nd millennium B.C.E. in both Mesopotamia and Egypt - is philosophy that old?  3. Can we identify philosophical ideas in Homer? 4. How and why did scholars schooled in philosophy not notice philosophical elements in Ancient Near Eastern texts from the 2nd millennium B.C.E.? 5. What was Homer joining together? Philosophical ideas in literature and poetry in the Late Bronze Age. 

6. Can philosophical underpinnings be identified in the liturgy of the New Year Festival in Babylon (The ‘Enuma Elish’)? 7. How is it the case that statues of the gods were considered themselves to be divine in the ancient world? 8. How was it understood to be possible to make gods, and why?  9. What was the significance of the Undefined Dyad in ancient thought? 10. When is polytheism actually polytheism, and when is it monotheism?

11. Why is the Ontological Argument such a disaster for our understanding of ancient philosophical ideas concerning the gods? 12. Why was philosophy in Egypt demoted from its original status by German scholarship? 13. How and why did Egypt lose its reputation? 14. Can the nature of Reality be accommodated by an Aristotelian logical model? 15. When scholars blink: Not seeing what there is to be seen. 

16. What aspect of philosophy did Pythagoras learn at Babylon? 17. How were the kings of ancient Assyria able to take on divinity? 18. How are we to understand what was called ‘The most secret and sacred of rituals’: the setting up of gods in Heaven? 19. What is the meaning and purpose of the Assyrian Sacred Tree?  20. What aspects of the Divine have existence on Earth?

21. Why is the home of the Mesopotamian god Ea at the bottom of the sea?  22. Why did Assyrian kings on campaign wish to touch the ‘Upper and Lower Seas’?  23. What is the meaning of the Mesopotamian story of man being instructed by the first sages in the art and science of civilization? 24. Why did the Assyrian Court value scholarship and excellence? 25. What theory of reality is present and cultivated from the 2nd millennium B.C.E., and can be found not only in the writings of Plato, but also in the Nag Hammadi codices? 

26. Why are rivers divine in Mesopotamia? 27. What is the symbolic significance of Ocean in both Greece and Assyria? 28. Can holiness be conferred and taken away? 29. Why does Marduk carry a woven basket (the banduddu)? 30. What is the meaning of the Mesopotamian interest in making lists?

31. What was the nature of philosophical analysis before Plato? 32. How old is Jewish mysticism, and what is its origin? 33.  Is ancient cultic life not best understood in terms of modern notions of religion? 34. Is the origin of the world always with us? 35. What did the European Enlightenment leave behind? 

36. How much fiction is there in our rational understanding of the past? 37. How old is abstract thought? 38. Has the myth of progress damaged our capacity to understand the history of the human mind, and the role and power of abstract thought in antiquity? 39. What is the relationship between ancient cult practice and the pursuit of knowledge? 40. Why was it considered necessary to know the mind of God, and how was it known?

41. What is the Doctrine of Wholes and Totalities? 42. What was the significance of the question whether Reality is One or Many? 43. How was the idea of a supreme 'God' understood to be different from the other gods? 44. What was understood to be the fundamental nature of Reality? 45. How were the properties and attributes of the Divine understood? 

46. What did Solon understand by the phrase: ‘the complexion of the Dead’? 47. What is Plato’s Paradox of Knowledge, and what does it tell us about his model of reality? 48. What is meant by the phrase:  ‘the Sweet Song of Swans’, which Olympiodorus used to describe Plato’s writing? 49.What is esoteric knowledge, and why is it esoteric? 50. What is the ‘True light of the gods’?


Thomas Yaeger, November 13, 2016


Buying The Sacred History of Being


I've been asked many times about the options for purchasing the book, so I've decided to digest my responses into one blogpost. The text contains active links to the relevant pages. This is all you need to know, in just a few paragraphs. 

Currently the book is available for sale in eBook format from a number of large retailers, including Itunes (click the link on the left which allows you to see the book in your Itunes application), Barnes & NobleBlio (search on Thomas Yaeger), Kobo (preview available), Inktera, and other retailers around the world. So, if you are already signed up to an account with one of those (and half the planet seems to be signed up with Itunes), you can buy the book in exactly the same way as any other book. 

The book is not available from Amazon. Their current terms and conditions are why I chose to exclude Amazon from distribution of the book. Their terms and conditions may change, however.

The eBook is in ePub format, which can be read on Macs, iPads, iPhones, etc, and most other tablets, irrespective of the operating operating system they use. If you have an Amazon Kindle, the ePub formatting of the book can be converted easily to the MOBI format, which the Kindle uses, with the excellent eBook management software Calibre, which can be downloaded free. 

The book can be read on a PC, laptop or notebook computer, in ePub or any other eBook format, using the Adobe Digital Editions software, which is also available free, in both Mac and PC formats. Supports conversion to many formats, including PDF. 

The principal distributor of The Sacred History of Being is Smashwords. The book can be downloaded from Smashwords directly, after a signup which takes just a minute or so. The book can be paid for using a credit or debit card, or with Paypal, if you have an account with them. After purchase, the book goes into a library space associated with your signup, and it can be downloaded on to your device from there. Just follow the link.

The book has a five star review at Goodreads

Interested in a review of the reasons why this book cannot possibly exist? I wrote about these (rather facetiously) while putting together an early draft of the book. The review is in the form of a publisher's memo. 

Thomas Yaeger, July 24, July 29, July 30, September 6, October 30-31, November 13,  December 31 2016, January 5, 2017, February 13, 2017, March 12 2017, July 1, and August 12,  2017. A copy of the static page, October 21, 3017.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

J.G. Frazer and the Platonic Theory of Being


 

When he was only twenty-four years old, James Frazer won a Cambridge fellowship with an essay on the development of Plato's theory of the Forms or Ideas (eidos). In this essay he argued that there was no overarching theory of Being in Plato's mind before he embarked on the writing of his dialogues, and that consequently differences in approach and discussion apparent in his work are the result of the development of his thought. He also argued that the very idea of Being is a barren notion, in that nothing can be predicated of Being. As a result Plato made a mistake, effectively conflating an epistemology with an ontology. 

Though the essay was written in 1879, it was not published until 1930, after much of his later work was done. 

Frazer became famous for his monumental study The Golden Bough, which explored a vast range of ancient and primitive myth and ritual. Here too he found intellectual processes founded in error. 

What was Frazer's intention in re-interpreting Plato against what Plato himself said, and his wholesale restructuring of ancient thought by reducing much of it to a pattern of error?

In sixteen sections, with prefaratory material and a conclusion. Over 23 thousand words, a preface, select bibliography, and extensive notes. Published Spring 2016. 

A couple of blog posts explore J.G. Frazer's discussion of Plato, and the implications for the writing of The Golden Bough. The two articles are synthesised together in a third article: Frazer and the Association of Ideas.

This is a summary of the sixteen sections: 

Frazer excluded from the Golden Bough - without argument - all discussion of the relationship between magic and religion on the one hand, and theories of Being on the other. Both Magic and Religion are treated as phenomena explicable entirely in terms of the association of ideas. This essay explores the reasons for this, largely through his essay on The Growth of Plato's Ideal Theory, and examines whether or not the texts support his case.

In Section One we considered the question of whether or not there was a programme of research at the the Athenian Academy: there is no evidence for this - we know only that ontology and epistemology were discussed. We know that the theory of Ideas or Forms was eventually demolished in the Sophist, but this is not evidence that there was a programme of enquiry at the Academy.

Section Two explored Frazer's assertions that the "earliest philosophers were philosophers of Being", and that "reflection" began with Socrates. Frazer argued that both Socrates' and Plato's concern with epistemological matters in addition to questions about Being, distinguished them from the pre-Socratic philosophers, in that the new philosophical approach was subjective, concerned mainly with the apparatus of perception and judgement. Frazer's view is that Socrates investigated the faculty of generalization, whereas for Plato and Aristotle epistemic notions were converted into a theory of Being. This was Plato's "great error", since "induction is the road to knowledge, not Being".

Section Three questioned Frazer's characterization of Socrates as a pioneer of epistemology. Frazer himself was uncomfortable with it in the course of his 1879 essay, observing that epistemic notions (without predicates) are as barren as terms of Being. Socrates, he argues, sought universals in moral subjects, but in fact both Socrates and Plato used generalization as a tool. Both in fact, according to the Frazerian analysis, were dealing with notions rather than ascertainable truths.

Frazer's remarks on the significance of inductive reasoning in science are largely irrelevant because he is talking of practical knowledge, not the pursuit of general truths. Frazer's use of induction in science to explain the Socratic activity is based on a lack of clarity of how induction in science functions in practice. Frazer's engagement with the subjective idealism of Locke and Hume was explored, and it was observed that he was attempting to substitute a "public neutral reality" behind appearances for Plato's supersensible reality, in order to support his initial characterization of Socrates. Plato made a quite different set of judgements about the structure of the world. Frazer's use of Xenophon to support his characterization of Socrates was argued to be problematic.

Section Four looked briefly at the question of whether or not Socrates, Plato and Aristotle distinguished their epistemological and ontological structures. Aristotle's Ethics features an Anabasis of the soul; theTimaeus also features a similar hierarchy of Being based on moral action. Did the three men fail to distinguish the subjective and objective realms? Or are these worlds tied together together by some substrate? The Final Cause is suggested as the common substrate.

Section Five considered the Interchangeability of the Forms, which appears in the Timaeus. Discussion of the function of the dialogues as dialectical excursions from Plato's "assumptions"; the "starting points" in an ascent to the final principle of everything, using nothing in the sensible world, but only movement from "form to form". This practice seems to imply some mysterious inductive and acausal process, not fully discussed in the Platonic Corpus.

Section Six reviewed some of the other dialogues: their arguments do not lead to consistent epistemological conclusions. Taken together the dialogues support only the contention that knowledge is not attainable through sensibles, nor through the organs of sense.

Section Seven noted the introduction of Pythagorean elements into the Timaeus: if these were introduced after the collapse of the Ideal Theory, this eclectism might be some kind of evidence towards there being a programme of research at the Academy. The absence of any significant discussion of the divine in the Timaeus was also mentioned. More than once Plato stresses that the accounts of the creation contained in the Timaeus are mere likelihoods.

Section Eight is the first of the sections considering the Parmenides. It considers his well known view that the world of generation and passing-away does not participate in the world of Being. Consequently it is not at all possible to give a verbal account of Reality.

Section Nine introduced the difficulty of an "Idea of the Bad". Frazer's argument is that Plato converted a theory of knowledge into a theory of Being: that there is no Idea of the Bad suggests that this view is incorrect. Induction (epistemology) and generation (from Being) are contrasted - the former moves from the particular to the universal, while the latter moves from the universal to the particular. Plato's "Form of the Good" is presumed on logical, not epistemological grounds. Frazer's objection to the "Form of the Good" is not a logical one, but a matter of belief: he prefers to see Plato's objective reality as the "public neutral reality" behind appearance noted before, which may be approached by induction and experiment. Plato is thus presented as the failed antecedent of the empirical tradition.

Section Ten: In the Sophist the Ideas are suddenly and unexpectedly presented as capable of participating in each other, and to be compounded of both Being and Not-Being. The material world appears to be distinguished from the world of Being by its causal relations, whereas in the world of the Ideas participation is an acausal process. The question of whether or not knowledge is an action is discussed in theSophist - the problem it poses is as follows: is Reality altered by being known, and consequently subject to change, contrary to an earlier and axiomatic definition? The wider cultural context of the argument involved at this point is discussed - the point at which the argument in favour of the world of Ideas traditionally is brought to collapse. The conclusion adopted by the participants in the dialogue is a default position, which cannot be argued (i.e., it is a non-discursive apprehension) - Reality is both at once - it changes and is unchanging.

Section Eleven summarised Plato's view of the nature of the ultimate reality: it is always beyond understanding, unchanging, yet participates in the world of change - a paradoxical matrix. Is this a problem of epistemology? Is there no distinction between epistemology or ontology (since the world of change is what can be known)? Plato's ontology is shown to be beyond the mere projection of the categories of knowledge, since it is known at the point where the epistemology breaks down in contradictions. It is beyond all human categorisation. The Idea of the Good in the dialogues is simply part of the armoury of likelihoods employed by Plato - one of the assumed positions on the path to knowledge of Reality.

Section Twelve: Socrates (in Plato's words) is interpreted as holding this view of Reality (i.e., as a paradoxical matrix) beyond human comprehension. Further suggestions are made as to the nature of the Platonic "agrapha", and it is observed that parallels between Platonic formulations and pre-Socratic fragments are possible.

Section Thirteen returned to a discussion of Frazer, and discussed his equation of the savage and the ancient, his programme of understanding the past in terms of an great intellectual error in the human apprehension of the world's processes. This error involves mistaking contiguity for connection, and confusing similarity with identity (his theory of sympathetic and contagious magic). This theory assumes an intellectual basis of an association of ideas, rather than a theory of Being as a substrate. Frazer's proposed order of cultural development is: magic/religion/science. Theories of Being are simply not mentioned in the Golden Bough. Frazer argues that underlying the system is a faith in the ordered uniformity of nature (the "public neutral reality" once again). Explicitly he states that the magician "supplicates no higher power". Likewise Frazer argues that Religion also is not traceable to a theory of Being, despite involving belief in higher powers. Instead, the higher powers are the personifications of natural forces. The universal absence of a basis in a theory of Being for both Magic and Religion is questioned here, and it is suggested that Frazer found it necessary to imply this because of his pre-existing equation of the savage and the ancient.

Section Fourteen: considered Frazer's exclusion of the Parmenides from his discussion in "The Growth of Plato's Ideal Theory": his behaviour here is very odd, for he argues almost simultaneously that its date is necessarily late, that its date is unimportant, that its arguments tell us little relevant to Plato's programme, and that he is not going to deal with the whole of it since he has not read it for some time. This despite the fact that it contains arguments fatal to the Ideal Theory, which would seem to make it essential material for discussion in his essay.

Section Fifteen: contemporary commentators recognised some of the fatal objections to the Ideal Theory in the Parmenides. The collapse of the possibility of discursive knowledge of the Real leaves the possibility of a non-discursive knowledge. This might suggest that the default position adopted by the speakers in the Sophist is in fact the goal of the whole Platonic enterprise. Evidence that Plato understood himself to be working within an already given ontology is discussed (from the Laws).


Section Sixteen: It is suggested tha the non-discursive technique might be what is referred to obliquely in some of the dialogues, particularly in those passages which seem to imply knowledge beyond what is contained in the texts.

Buying a copy of J.G. Frazer and the Platonic Theory of Being


The book is available from a number of large retailers, including ItunesBarnes & NobleBlio, (search) KoboInktera, and other retailers around the world. So, if you are already signed up to an account with one of those, you can buy the book in exactly the same way as any other book. 

The eBook is in ePub format, which can be read on Macs, iPads, iPhones, etc, and most other tablets, irrespective of the operating operating system they use. If you have an Amazon Kindle, the ePub formatting of the book can be converted easily to the MOBI format, which the Kindle uses, with the excellent eBook management software Calibre, which can be downloaded free. 

The book can be read on a PC, laptop or notebook computer, in ePub or any other eBook format, using the Adobe Digital Editions software, which is also available free, in both Mac and PC formats. Supports conversion to many formats, including PDF. 

The principal distributor of J.G. Frazer and the Platonic Theory of Being is Smashwords. The book  can be downloaded from Smashwords directly, after a signup which takes just a minute or so. The book can be paid for using a credit or debit card, or with Paypal, if you have an account with them. After purchase, the book goes into a library space associated with your signup, and it can be downloaded on to your device from there. Just follow the link.




[Republished copy of static page. Original page updated July 1, and August 12, 2017 (section summaries added. Links updated October 19, 2017)