Thursday, December 31, 2015

Scarcely Understand, Still Less Imagine

In Vico's The New Science, section 378, cited by Isaiah Berlin in Three Critics of the Enlightenment:
It is equally beyond our power to enter into the vast imagination of those first men, whose minds were not in the least abstract, refined, or spiritualized, because they were entirely immersed in the senses, buffeted by the passions, buried in the body. That is why we said above that we can scarcely understand, still less imagine, how those first men thought who founded gentile humanity.
The Goncourt brothers record a conversation of May 11, 1863:
'Homer', said Gautier, 'is just a poem by BitaubĂ© for most Frenchment. It was BitaubĂ© who made him acceptable. But Homer isn't like that at all. You've only to read him in Greek to see that. It's really very barbaric, all about people who paint themselves.'
Do people paint themselves in Homer? Certainly his world is really very barbaric, and to imagine otherwise is to deceive oneself.


  1. Happy New Year from R.T./Tim at the new and improved

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.