Contemporary belief in science and reason (which should supposedly be deflationary ways of thinking, more common sense, less arcane) fails to tell us why shouldn’t barbarians be more scientific, since they didn’t have a big corpus of literature to make exegesis on. Of course, this blindness is a willing blindness, since part of the myth-of-science is this mockery that it is no myth at all.
One of the inventors of this silliness was Hesiod. This was the guy who made a pure rational account of greek mythology. In other words, up to him, everyone saw Zeus and the storms as more or less the same thing, and whichever intentions or personality they construed onto Him was not really different from us web-2-dot-oh people ascribing feeling to our computers. But Hesiod came up with this manoeuvre whereby he excised Zeus-personality from thunder-phenomena. In some ways, this amounts to inventing the contemporary idea of «phenomena».
Nevertheless, when Hesiod made a pure rational account of the Greek Gods, he was exercising the worship of one of the Greek Gods, which Nietzsche called Apollo but for all we care could as well be Athena. In this sense his account could equally be seen as a theological argument, and at that one of the worst kind, for it was both metaphysical (in the contemporary sense of being an exclusively God-against-God affair with scant consequence in secular business) and bargaining (as it denies utterly anyone else’s right to believe differently). His God was the one who liked arguments better than sacrifices, but both where forms of worship.
Strikingly, his assumption is that there was some kind of power in talking about things without doing anything about them, that words or symbols could could command actual, graspable, real stuff. This kind of practice could only come about in the context of an organized religion. And as he proposed his own practice to be stronger than all others, qualitatively, he bred the illusion that thinking is not a form of action.
From there, a series of mistakes led to such contemporary maladies as “Maths is the language of Nature” or the “11th thesis on Feuerbach“. Maybe someone could follow this thread. But for now let’s just see how belief systems are all equally fictional, whether it’s science or mythology, and that being literature is one of their strengths.
[This post is a preview of “Greek Prejudice”, a post planned to feature on RefTemp#04!]