By Jean Bottero, Clarisse Herrenschmidt, Jean Pierre Vernant, Francois Zabbal, Teresa Lavender Fagan
With Ancestor of the West, 3 uncommon French historians demonstrate the tale of the beginning of writing and cause, demonstrating how the logical spiritual constructions of close to jap and Mesopotamian cultures served as precursors to these of the West."Full of topic for a person attracted to language, faith, and politics within the historic world."—R. T. Ridley, magazine of non secular History"In this obtainable advent to the traditional international, 3 major French students discover the emergence of rationality and writing within the West, tracing its improvement and its survival in our personal traditions. . . . Jean Bottero specializes in writing and faith in old Mesopotamia, Clarisse Herrenschmidt considers a broader historical past of old writing, and Jean-Pierre Vernant examines classical Greek civilization within the context of close to jap history."—Translation evaluation
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Extra info for Ancestor of the West : Writing, Reasoning, and Religion in Mesopotamia, Elam, and Greece
I will 34 therefore do my best to limit myself to a brief description of twQ criticaJ realities regarding that vjsjQ[l, realities that, as such, are no vo longer our own but-and this is also true for writing-that still fundamentally belong to us, and without which our own reality would not have become what it is today. First we will look at the ancient Mesopotamians' general conception of the universe, of its origins and the reasons for its existence, and then at the order they introduced into their intellectual operations in their search for truth, the methodology they developed to advance in their knowl edge of things, a method that did not involve physical displace ment, a manual and visual form of exploration, but simply an inter nal use of intelligence-or, to express myself differently, the way they introduced what was to become our "logic, " the collection of rules of mental behavior used in the search for knowledge.
And yet (not even to mention the centuries during which in our own civilization reading and writing were a sort of privilege) when we think about it, it becomes obvious that, after all, writing is not something inherent in our nature, like seeing or eating, but, like art or cooking, it is a cultural phenomenon, just like everything humans have gradually superimposed on their basic animal nature in order to improve their existence. First there is or ganized speech: one's language-simultaneously the expression and the prolonging of thought, the most perfect instrument of commu nication, of exchanges with others.
First there was an epidemic, but the god Enki saved them; then there was drought and its necessary consequence, famine, but they were again saved by Enki. 50 Enlil, furious to see his plans thwarted, resolved to anni hilate mankind purely and simply, through a scourge without rem edy: flood. But the very clever Enki taught his protege, the king of the land, who was nicknamed 5upersage, to build a boat in which he would carry his wife, as well as pairs of all the animals, and this THE I NTELLIGENCE OF TH E WORLD 41 would assure renewal on every level.