61 Matching Annotations
  1. Feb 2022
    1. Opposition 4     The two spiritualities, Mesopotamian and Biblical, represent the two sides of a binary opposition: tertium non datur.

      See structure.

    1. Appropriation in a Humanistic Way 3     The universally valid perceptions that underlie Mesopotamian and Biblical spirituality invite us to make them our own, to appropriate them in a humanistic way.

      See the discussion of broken tradition.

    1. Time 5     In Mesopotamia, the codification of time in the calendar had a religious significance in the awareness that the cycle of the seasons is not established by man, and also in the emphasis on beginning: the New Year begins a cycle.

      See Ermidoro.

    1. The Temple in Jerusalem 4     The construction of the temple in Jerusalem was seen as rooted in God's decision, and it was seen as a house only for his name. There was only to be one temple in the whole country, in order to avoid suggesting a multiplicity of dwellers.
    1. God whose touching presence in history
    2. There is no documentation of cyclical time in Mesopotamia: historical writings show a narrative progression including development of continuity and unique events. The difference in conceptions of time can better be accessed by looking at the nature of the spiritual center of history, the subject that is transformed in time.

      See Ermidoro.

    1. Political structures control the mechanisms of power ideally not through coercion but tensional factors that unite the social group. 2     Religion is an essentially political act.

      This topic is treated at length in a dedicated volume entitled "Land of the Four Banks" (Italian original: "Alle origini della politica") and its companion website, Mes-Pol.

    1. proverbs
    2.  Evidence for spontaneous prayer in Mesopotamia includes personal names (often phrases expressing personal piety),

      A collection of examples is in Appendix 17.

    3. In Mesopotamia, gods are asked to determine, but not to change, fate. The nature of intercession, in Mesopotamia, is resolved in the request to the gods to implement an event that is already in the nature of things, according to patterns known to the gods better than to anyone else.

      See fate.

    1. Magic can be seen as the cult of the mythology of fate. The gods do not provide remedies, but only act as the executors of rituals which do so.

      See fate.

    2. Religious rituals serve to institutionalize individual efforts to establish an interactive link with the divine element. There are two dimensions: the confirmation of the relationship with the divine element and the restoration of order when it is broken.

      For a specific example of a ritual for an individual, see Appendix 14.

    1. Epiphanic dreams contain symbols than must be interpreted. In Mesopotamia, this was done through divination with a catalog of protases and apodoses

      Examples of epiphanic dreams are in Appendix 11.

    2. A theophanic dream involves a message communicated explicitly to a sleeper by a figure fro; the divine sphere.

      Examples of theophanic dreams are in Appendix 10.

    1. In Mesopotamia, the main example of an experience similar to Biblical prophecy is a group of texts from Mari recording messages by individuals outside the political and religious hierarchy containing juridical verdicts. However, we do not see the development of a prophetic personality or a historical or literary tradition in these figures. The messages were verified through divination and they dealt with pragmatic events rather than matters of spiritual significance or moral authority.

      See Appendix 9 for examples of prophetic episodes in Akkadian sources from Mari.

    2. The first of these invasions is creation itself, in which the prophetic message is the articulation of the divine intervention that continuously supports and sustains the world of nature. The ethos of creation therefore involves the perception of this perpetually regenerating intervention, the awareness of a divine capacity for fresh and new initiatives, the intellectual and emotional willingness to respond with equal spontaneity to this unexpected emergence of the divine presence.

      See creation.

    1.  The Šumma izbu record of abnormal births can be seen as providing a degree of order into an unusual and alarming event. They consist of a protasis (a hypothetical condition) and an apodosis (the omen itself). A degree of systemization is present but there also seems to have been a high degree of empirical observation.

      See Appendix 1.

    2.  For Mesopotamians, the absolute manifests itself through a progressive and cumulative self-manifestation of the great plan, so to speak, of fate: that is, of the regularity and irregularity within nature.

      See fate.

    1.  Mesopotamian moral texts are casuistic, seeking to correct an imbalance of harmony without reference to a central authoritative source.

      See the moral canon for a good example.

    1. inferentially documented because of the cultural testimony of those who are affected by it. We can distinguish three types of perception: inference, epiphany, and incarnation.

      See the discussion of inference by De Pietri.

    2. affecting presence

      See further discussion of the affecting presence.

    3. affecting presence

      See further discussion of the affecting presence.

    4. "Transitivity" 3     In Mesopotamian religion, the relationship with the absolute exhibits an intransitive character and there is no direct relationship with an object as such. In Biblical tradition, the relationship is transitive and direct, which implies deep structural differences.

      The metaphor of transitivity, used first by Jacobsen, is discussed at length by Lynch.

    5. The Affecting Presence 1     A broad concept of the absolute is universally applicable and we can study cultural variations in the articulation of perception. To study these articulations, we can look at whether they involve an individual or a group, whether the absolute or the human is the subject and whether this is understood implicitly or explicitly.

      See further discussion of the affecting presence.

    1.  Rather than evemeristic interpretations of myth, wherein gods are allegories for abstract concepts or natural phenomena, I propose that what lies at the beginning is the perception of the absolute, and the reference to natural phenomena is the result of an effort aimed at giving substance to this perception.

      See the discussion of the term. Buccellati states that "It is therefore possible to speak of a perception of the absolute even if this remains empirically unknown: perception refers to the experience of being conditioned in repeated and coherent ways. It is not the absolute as such that is reduced to the boundaries of empirical experience, but only the resulting effects. While the absolute always remains beyond our senses, and even beyond our ability to define it conceptually and analytically, we can instead define the impact of the resulting limitations. It is not, mind you, that limits as such are sufficient to establish a notion of the absolute: what is added is the perception of a focal point where limits converge coherently. For example, we accept the logical rules of discourse every time we speak to each other, and this single logical principle, which underlies all the rules, is but one aspect of the absolute. Religion is thus the codification of this polarity between the human sphere of the relative and that of the absolute."

    1. All the attributes of the individual gods merge in the God of Israel. He emerges at the same time as personified fate/destiny, the absolute that implements the relative, rather than a relativized absolute. He exists outside spatial and temporal limits.

      Liverani emphasizes the importance of Hezekiah's religious reform.

    2. Considering polytheistic deities aspects of the absolute, we arrive at the concept of a relativized absolute, i.e. a composite absolute that derives its unity from the dynamic interaction of its own constituent parts.
    3. If the plurality of manifestations is the most striking aspect in polytheism, there is nevertheless a strong tendency that presupposes a basic unity of the divine essence, a coherence evident in: 1. the consistency of the divine family tree; 2. a linguistic and categorical awareness of a divine element separate from individual gods 3. the organization of individual deities into groups 4. attributes common to all deities 5. the phenomenon of syncretism, where one god takes the place of another 6. how the names of the gods sometimes appear interchangeable.

      See the similar discussion in Smith

    1. Polytheism and monotheism are absolute structural opposites in their relationship with fundamental aspects of reality, not mere quantitative variations.

      This is the central hypothesis of this narrative. See the dedicated chapter. See also an introduction to structure.

    2. In biblical monotheism, every encounter of the absolute with becoming is an absolute event, in which the non-time and time, the eternal and the temporal, encounter each other, because events are sparked by an absolute subject.

      On the importance of the concept of creation, see Pieper's "The Silence of St. Thomas". In general on time, see Ermidoro.

    1. In monotheism, the initiative rests with God while in polytheism, the divinities are more receptive than active.

      See the structural differences described in a presentation given at the 2021 EASR conference.

    2.  Religion consists of an encounter with the absolute translated into various modalities which assume a specific cultural value.
    1. Control extends to space and time as well, with the invention of calendars and the idealization of physical features of the landscape.

      See Ermidoro.

    2. There is no term "religion" in the Mesopotamian languages, but the absence of the term does not indicate the absence of the experience.

      The definition of the word "religion" is a vexata quaestio in comparative religion since its inception. Some general considerations about this topic are presented in the History of the Discipline page on this site. Buccellati's book begins on the first page with a definition of religion. Excerpts from other important works that deal with the issue of defining "religion" can be found in particular at Bottéro 1992 p. 202, Brelich 1976 p. 1 and p. 36, and Eliade 1958 p. 1. For the purposes of clarifying the point Prof. Cerutti disputes above, we also recall the fact that although a word meaning "religion" does not exist in several ancient languages, this fact does not imply that the experience we indicate with the word was lacking. Words for much less fraught generic categories, for example the noun "tree", also do not exist in some ancient languages that only contain specific nouns for individual species of tree. Clearly, the lack of the word does not imply the lack of the experience. See a longer treatment.

    3. An emphasis on spirituality aids in studying the system from a structural point of view.

      See the beginnings of a commentary on structure.

    1.  In this exploration, we must be aware of our cultural assumptions, and reach for an objectivity that is in tune with the assumptions of the phenomena we study.

      See the consideration of colonialism in the critique-of-ar.net website.

    2. Like I have used the term “absolute” to unite in a single concept what different traditions refer to as god, the divine or fate

      This terminology also refers to the concept of "person" as referred to the divine. See the treatment by Buccellati

    3. Behind religion, a “structured and culturally defined codification”, lies what I term “spirituality” and consider to be the origin of religious phenomena.

      See a conversation regarding the definition of religion.

    4. There is a structural analogy between religious systems, based on the difference in how the absolute is conceived.

      See the beginnings of a commentary on structure.

    5. A “god” is an active absolute, and is capable of interacting with humans. The alternative is an inert absolute which underlies reality but does not intervene or interact with humans.

      This distinction is isomorphic with Buccellati's understanding of the difference between monotheism and polytheism.

      For a contrary view, see Smith

  2. Jan 2022
    1. The central point of the considerations developed here has to do with the deeper distinction between polytheism and monotheism. These are radical contrasts that go far beyond the quantification suggested by the two terms. Thus the contrast of two mutually exclusive conceptions emerges in full light, conceptions which coherently propose, albeit over a long period of centuries, a real system for defining the absolute and relating to it.

      Note the differing opinion in Smith

    1. Because one is “conditioned in repeated and coherent ways”, it is possible to speak of a perception of the absolute, even if it is empirically unknown.

      The perception of conditioning grounds affirmations about an "affecting presence" or "person" who is empirically unknown, but can be perceived by its effects.

      See The Affecting Presence

    2.  “By religion I mean the codification of the interaction with an absolute that remains empirically unknown, but is nevertheless empirically assumed.” The absolute is the assumed source of an inescapable conditioning of human experience.

      Interaction with the absolute can be thought of as an "affecting presence", to use Armstrong's term. See The Affecting Presence

  3. Jul 2021
    1. Of course, the interrrelationship of argument and record is at the heart of the scholarly method in principle. Whether on paper or in a digital format (such as PDF), any publication will draw conclusions from a deductive reasoning based on other arguments or an inductive reasoning based on cited data. So, where is the difference?

      One important difference, perhaps the central one, is that the circularity - or spiral - of essential idea and its relation to supporting information is present as a spiral. In a linear text, it is possible to occasionally (at chapter starts and ends) restate the overall argument and the specific place in it that one is at. On a website it is possible to create a much more specific connection, and many more layers of evidence, than in a book.

    1. The ultimate achievement of poetry is that it refuses segmentation. Yes, there may be a verse that stands out and that we carry in memory as particularly evocative. But ultimately every "piece," i.e., every word or segment of a poem, whether articulated metrically (as with verses) or not, is in absolute need of all the other pieces.

      Excellent point.

    2. website as an ideal epistemological instrument, i. e., a channel for conveying knowledge. It is an ideal vehicle to this end first and foremost because it allows us to combine the two systems relating to data and argument in ways that are not possible in the paper format.

      This is the project that we have not yet carried out...

    1. within the purview of digital discourse, such fluidity is the hallmark of a deeper value, for it leads to a firm apprehension of the whole.

      excellent point. The motion of the "surfer" allows a rapid apprehension of the whole, although without detail or depth, which is like a first approach to be later fleshed out. Perhaps Beethoven's symphonies can each be heard in less than an hour, and can be studied for a lifetime... A first approach is fast. The same could be true of an argument: it is not necessary to spend a lot of time to give the gist of a book or a large-scale interpretation of Mesopotamian civilization, but the supporting evidence can occupy a lifetime.

    2. requires a new level of commitment to the process through which scholarship is constructed and communicated. The full argument which the digital discourse unfolds rests in fact on this extreme multiplicity of layers

      Yes, we are speaking of a very complex undertaking. It cannot, in my estimation, be carried out without the aid of automated systems, tagging, search, and suggestion algorithms. It is too difficult for a single researcher to have the whole present in their mind, and to simultaneously manage the details. A system could support this work, though, and make it possible.

    1. analogy with a bus tour of a city, with the option of getting off

      good analogy. So we need an abbreviated narrative structure: one that can be entirely per-corso in only a few hours, but which links to all the supporting information.

    2. "information" can become antithetical to "communication," which implies sharing a value, something that stands by itself regardless of whom it reaches, or how rapidly.

      "Sharing a value" is the crucial point. This is what a humanist does in studying the great figures of the past, in trying to understand an alien civilization: to share their values.

    1. The ultimate achievement of poetry is that it refuses segmentation. Yes, there may be a verse that stands out and that we carry in memory as particularly evocative. But ultimately every "piece," i.e., every word or segment of a poem, whether articulated metrically (as with verses) or not, is in absolute need of all the other pieces.

      This is a crucial point. We aim at a discourse which is unified, which cannot be reduced to pieces, nor fully understood in its fragments. And at the same time, we seek to articulate the connection between fragments in such a way that they can be parsed as fragments, and thereby managed and manipulated in automatic ways.

    1. definition of religion.

      By religion I mean the codification of the interaction with an absolute that remains empirically unknown, but is nevertheless empirically assumed. It is an absolute because our perception of things is conditioned by it in ways that are beyond our control. An empirically unknown absolute because it totally eludes all physical and tangible parameters. Unknown, but whose reality we presuppose because of the coherence with which our experience is conditioned. As a result, there is a need to develop a relationship and to interact with the source of this conditioning. This relationship is codified through a series of cultural mechanisms that are conditioned over time by vast social groups. (Buccellati, When on High, 1.1)

    2. History of the Discipline
    3. Jonah Lynch
    4. alternatives can be compared through their structures

      One important structure that permits comparison between religions is indicated with the binomial "transitive" and "intransitive". See https://4banks.net/Mes-Rel/temi/transitivity.htm for a short treatment of this issue.

    5. This short article aims to deal with the definition of religion, but must be completed.

    6. This is the character of a map, which as it gains precision, it also loses usability. A completely precise map, as has often been pointed out, would cease to be useful because it would simply be a copy of the reality it was meant to model. In a similar way, a completely precise definition of "religion" would serve no general purpose, because it would coincide with one or another historical experience.

      See Metaphors and Maps, by Fitz John Porter Poole.

    1. UCLA is an engine for real-world innovation that impacts our lives on a daily basis.
    2. the basic underlying concept is the distinction between an open and a closed system, where -etic refers to the first, and -emic to the second.

      testing this feature