- Series: Pelican
- Publisher: Penguin Books (1946)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 014020198X
- ISBN-13: 978-0140201987
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #393,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Before Philosophy: The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man Paperback – June 1, 1960
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Focusing on Sumer and Egypt we find the ancients didn't separate man from nature. Man was part of society embedded in nature, dependent on cosmic forces. Long before scriptural declarations of conquest over nature, man was not in opposition. They obviously struggled "against" a "hostile" environment, but this account is our language describing their situation, not their state of mind. Reminiscent of Campbell's clarification between modern and ancient perspectives as "it" vs. "thou," our authors describe this difference as "subject" vs. "object." The ancients had one mode of expression, thought, and speech - the personal. Everything had a will and personality revealing itself. The ancients could reason logically, but such intellectual detachment was hardly compatible with their experience of reality. Impersonal laws (physics) did not satisfy their understanding. When the river doesn't rise, it's not due to lack of rain - the river refused to rise. You'd not hurt yourself in a fall - the ground chose to hurt you, or not. The ancient view was qualitative and concrete, not quantitative and abstract.
In science we apply a procedure, progressively reducing phenomena until subjected to universal laws. We "de-complicate" systems to understand them.Read more ›
However, it was for almost three decades better known as "BEFORE PHILOSOPHY: THE INTELLECTUAL ADVENTURE OF ANCIENT MAN," a slightly-abbreviated mass-market paperback edition released in 1949 by Penguin Books, under their Pelican imprint, and kept in print into the 1970s. This was the version I encountered in High School, and re-read in its entirety several times over the decades. Many readers will probably find it quite satisfactory, if a used copy can be found at a reasonable price.
The main difference between the two editions was the omission by Penguin of William A. Irwin's forty-page treatment of "The Hebrews," a competent piece of work, but containing few if any surprises for readers acquainted with the Hebrew Bible ("Old Testament"). This left a few comments in the Introduction (by Henri and H.A.Read more ›