Approaching a Critique of Mesopotamian Reason
When Immanuel Kant wrote his Critique of Pure Reason, he negotiated between two competing perspectives on the world, empiricism and rationalism. As a consequence, he understood critique in a dual way that renders the of in the book’s title as both a genitive obiectivus (critique addressing reason) and a genitive subiectivus (critique through reason). First, it means that the scholar carefully discerns and assesses philosophical ideas that are produced by reason. Second, it embraces the critical potential that underlies reason.
The symposium aims to reconstruct complex ancient Near Eastern thought that is in many ways equivalent to Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia). This approach faces a challenge similar to Kant’s since it aims to harmonize two foci on the ancient sources. The emic perspective aspires to understand the material from a culturally internal view; the etic perspective applies modern categories to describe and evaluate the past. The latter corresponds to Kant’s critique through (modern scientific) reason; the former tries to explore the critical potential of ancient reason in addressing (social) wrongs or misbehavior of people in charge, such as kings and gods (e.g., in the story of the flood).
The workshop collects data from various spaces, times, and textual genres in order to investigate the distinctive aspects of high-level ancient Mesopotamian thinking. Special attention will be given to underlying assumptions and prevailing paradigms. Although the results will still be preliminary to a large extent, such an in-depth investigation of ancient cognitive practices will facilitate our understanding of ancient sources within and beyond Mesopotamian culture.
Please RSVP to Gösta Gabriel, firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday April 21
3:30 pm | Room 133, Barker Center
Session 1: Critique
3:45 pm | Room 133, Barker Center
The Critical Potential of Order and Disorder: The Flood and Other Cases
Harvard University, Universität Göttingen
4:30 pm | Room 133, Barker Center
The Reluctant en of Inana or the Persona of Gilgamesh from the Perspective of Babylonian Political Philosophy
6:00 pm | Room 105, William James Hall
Theses on Babylonian Philosophy
Marc Van De Mieroop
Saturday, April 22
Session 2: Reasoning I - Part I
9:30 am | Room 133, Barker Center
The Reconciliation of Angry Gods: A Revision of the Šuillas
Session 2: Reasoning I - Part II
10:45 am | Room 133, Barker Center
Arguing One’s Case in Akkadian Disputation Poems
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
11:30 am | Room 133, Barker Center
Reasoning and Representing: Babylonian Astronomical Models
University of California, Berkeley
Session 3: Reasoning II
1:15 pm | Room 133, Barker Center
After Babel–Bibel Babble: Language, Translation, and Commentary in Cuneiform Scribal Practice
University of Michigan
2:00 pm | Room 133, Barker Center
The Perils of Omnisignificance: Language and Reason in Mesopotamian Hermeneutics
Final Discussion and Closing Remarks
2:45 pm | Room 133, Barker Center
This symposium is made possible by the generous support of the Volkswagen Foundation.
Seating is limited.
- Click here to download a program for this event.