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On the Ineffable

This is my review of Nick Stockton’s “Time Might Only Exist in Your Head. And Everyone Else’s.” From Wired, 26 September, 2016. Published at 0600 hrs. I later modified this piece on 17 October, 2016. It keeps bothering me like a splinter in my mind. In its current revision, it comprises 2,537 words. “Some physicists blame gravity […]

Eco: The “Library” of Leibniz and the Encyclopédie

“During the Enlightenment there began to develop a critical attitude towards any attempt to construct a system of a priori ideas. It was a critique founded, in large part, upon the considerations advanced by Leibniz. Thus it was in terms that closely recalled Leibniz’s own description of an ideal library that, in his introduction to […]

Eco: The Encyclopedia and the Alphabet of Thought

“The idea of a universal encyclopedia was something that Leibniz was never to give up. Leibniz was, for a long period, a librarian; as such, and as a historian and érudit, he could not have failed to follow the pansophic aspirations and encyclopedic ferment that filled the closing years of the seventeenth century–tremors that would […]

Eco: Later Critics

“About a century later, Vico took it for granted that the first language of humanity was in the form of hieroglyphics–that is, of metaphors and animated figures. He saw the pantomime, or acted-out rebus, with which the king of the Scythians replied to Darius the Great as an example of hieroglyphic speech. He had intimated […]

Eco: A Dream that Refused to Die, 2

    “Again apropos of the crusty old myth of Hebrew as the original language, we can follow it in the entertaining compilation given in White (1917: II, 189-208). Between the first and ninth editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1771 and 1885), a period of over one hundred years, the article dedicated to “Philology” passed […]

Eco: Philosophers Against Monogeneticism

“Although in the eighteenth century a de Brosses or a Court de Gébelin might still persist in his glottogonic strivings, by the time of the Enlightenment, philosophers had already laid the basis for the definitive liquidation of the myth of the mother tongue and of the notion of a linguistic paradise existing before Babel. Rousseau, in […]

Eco: The Nationalistic Hypothesis, 3

  “Ideas similar to these were expressed by Schottel (Teutsche Sprachkunst, 1641), who celebrated the German language as the one which, in its purity, remained closest to the language of Adam (adding to this the idea that language was the expression of the native genius of a people). Others even claimed that Hebrew had derived […]

Plato, Timaeus, 360 BCE

” … In the Egyptian Delta, at the head of which the river Nile divides, there is a certain district which is called the district of Sais, and the great city of the district is also called Sais, and is the city from which King Amasis came. The citizens have a deity for their foundress; she is called in the […]

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