Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Questions and Answers

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 (some of which are framed as proposals for discussion), all of which are given some kind of answer in the course of the text. Other questions are discussed, including the strange description of the Great Year in relation to the life of man, in the famous conversation between Solon and Croesus, recounted by Herodotus.

There isn't much about my use of methodology in the course of SHB. It would have been a tedious way of starting the book, and instead I chose to write about the development of my understanding of certain problematic questions during my formative years, and some of my reading, as a way to introduce the main subjects I wanted to deal with. But there is a methodology present. The text is the result of the application of a Husserlian approach to the study of ancient history. This approach has been refined over the years, and is capable of producing rich results, as I think SHB shows. I intend to write more about this methodology at some other time.

Here is the list.

1. Is Plato writing literary fiction when he talks about the Forms? 

2. The history of philosophy is old, and was understood in the 2nd millennium B.C.E.

3. Are there philosophical ideas in Homer?

4. How did scholars schooled in philosophy not notice philosophical procedures in texts from the Ancient Near East in the 2nd millennium B.C.E.?

5. What was Homer joining together? Literature and poetry in the Late Bronze Age.

6. The undiscovered philosophical underpinnings of the liturgy of the New Year Festival in Babylon (Enuma Elish).

7. How is it that statues of the gods are themselves divine in the ancient world?

8. How can you make gods, and why?

9. 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 philosophy concerning the gods?

12. Why was philosophy demoted from its original status by German scholarship?

13. Can the nature of Reality be accommodated by an Aristotelian logical model?

14. How and why did Egypt lose its reputation for philosophy?

15. What is the meaning and purpose of the Assyrian Sacred Tree?

16. When scholars blink: Not seeing what there is to be seen.

17. What aspect of philosophy did Pythagoras learn at Babylon?

18. How the kings of ancient Assyria could be gods.

19. Philosophical analysis before Plato.

20. The most secret and sacred of rituals: the setting up of gods in Heaven.

21. How old is Jewish mysticism, and what is its origin?

22. What aspects of the Divine have existence on Earth?

23. Why is the home of the Mesopotamian god Ea at the bottom of the sea?

24. Why Assyrian kings on campaign wished to touch the ‘Upper and Lower Seas.’

25. Why ancient cultic life is not best understood as religion.

26. Is the origin of the world always with us?

27. What did the European Enlightenment leave behind?

28. How man was instructed by the first sages in the art and science of civilization, and what the story means.

29. How much fiction is there in our rational understanding of the past?

30. The myth of Progress, and the power of Abstraction.

31. What theory of reality is present and cultivated from the 2nd millennium B.C.E., and can be found in the Nag Hammadi codices?

32. Why the Assyrian Court valued scholarship and excellence.

33. What is the True light of the gods?

34. How old is Abstract Thought?

35. Ancient Cult practice and the pursuit of Knowledge.

36. The necessity of knowing the mind of God, and how it is known.

37.  What is the Doctrine of Wholes and Totalities?

38.  Is Reality One or Many?

39. How 'God' is different from the gods.  

40.  What is the nature of Reality?

41. The properties and attributes of the Divine.

42.  What is the complexion of the Dead?

43. Why are rivers divine in Mesopotamia?

44.  What is the significance of Ocean?

45. Can holiness be conferred and taken away?

46. Why does Marduk carry a woven basket?

47. The meaning of the Mesopotamian interest in lists.

48. What is the Paradox of Knowledge?

49. What is the Sweet Song of Swans?

50. What is esoteric knowledge?

Thomas Yaeger, 22 September 2015


  1. Interesting stuff! They are all questions worth asking. My personal interests end temporally where the Greeks took up the banner of higher thought. I make my case here: http://www.awhico.com/blog/egyptianpyramidmysticism.

    There is so much evidence for cultural elevation before the time of the Greeks that it is a wonder we have the modern concepts of "progress". You capture it with your Question #30.

  2. Texelar, hi. Thanks for your comments, and for the links to your blog pages.

    The intellectual world before the Greeks of the middle of the 1st millennium BCE *was* very sophisticated. But it and the moderns for the most part speak different conceptual languages, with different assumptions and understandings. So it is possible for the moderns to fail completely to recognise what they are looking at.

    One of the functions of SHB is to explore and explain some of the sophistication and the complexity of ideas in the ancient world (and not just in Greece). Another is to show intellectual continuities between Greece and other cultures; and also the continuities which exist between the 2nd millennium BCE and the 1st.

    Certain technical details of ancient civilisations, their art, their poetry, their architecture, their rituals, etc., illustrate how they understood the nature of reality, once you understand something of the armature of ideas they employed to understand their world. SHB is very much focussed on these technical details, which have been described before, but not much subjected to interpretation.

    We have the modern concept of progress because we choose to look at the past from the point of view of the present. It's where we are, after all. Hard to bear the idea that we represent a shadow of what once was.

    Best, Thomas.

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