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In this collection of richly documented case studies, experts in many textual traditions examine the ways in which important texts were preserved, explicated, corrected, and used for a variety of purposes. The authors describe the multiple ways in which scholars in different cultures have addressed some of the same tasks, revealing both radical differences and striking similarities in textual practices across space, time and linguistic borders. This volume shows how much is learned when historians of scholarship, like contemporary historians of science, focus on earlier scholars' practices, and when Western scholarly traditions are treated as part of a much larger, cross-cultural inquiry.
In their explicit doctrines, Plato and Aristotle express distrust and disdain for allegorical interpretation; but they do not manage to slam the door upon it altogether. Plato explicitly repudiates the allegories (hyponoiai) with which traditional tales of divine violence and immorality might be rescued for children (Republic 2.378D) and makes fun of attempts to make sense of myths by rationalizing them (Phaedrus 229C-30A). And yet the same Plato takes pains to introduce into crucial moments of various dialogues extended mythic narratives, often transparently allegorical in character, which seem designed to supply the philosophically correct forms of myth from which students will be able to learn acceptable views, once the incorrect forms transmitted to them by their traditional culture have been discarded. His independent-minded student Aristotle shares his teacher's anti-allegorical tastes: in his view of the development of human thought he disregards claims for the poets' philosophical seriousness and instead consigns their alleged cosmological views to the period before genuine philosophy began, while in his work on poetry he entirely ignores allegorical interpretations of epic, substituting for them the view that what makes Homer and other poets philosophically interesting are not any covert philosophical doctrines but the structures of human thought and action they explicitly portray.
These days, the emotions are hot stuff. No doubt they always have been, and in more ways than one. For, however often and drastically they interfere with our thinking, the fact remains that the emotions are good tools for thought – not only for thought about the similarities and differences between humans and animals, but even more for reflection upon the similarities and differences between humans and humans. Attributing to other human beings the same kinds of emotional states as those we attribute to ourselves is one of the fundamental strategies in all attempts at understanding across the gulfs that separate one culture from another, one age from another, one person from another. Astonishingly, such attempts seem often to succeed; but the questions of why they do, and how they fail, have provided conundra for anthropology, hermeneutics, historical studies, lexicography, and a host of other disciplines. For at first glance emotions may well seem universal, and indispensable to anything we would wish to count as being human, and it is certain that in the end we cannot do without them as an explanatory category in our dealings with other humans and their works; yet by the same token it does not take much reflection or experience to see that what has been understood as an emotion and what has been thought proper to do with it, in private and in public, vary and have varied widely across all possible sets of parameters.