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TSE  February 2004

TSE February 2004

Subject:

Re: Eliot and the president (Was leader of the free world)

From:

Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 19 Feb 2004 10:06:34 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (36 lines)

Adam Trexter writes, " It's difficult to transport a thinker to another
time. . . ." Actually, I would argue it is _impossible_ to transport a
thinker in time, and that even 'transporting the thought' involves
radical abstraction -- consider, for example, that both Aquinas & Marx
were Aristotelians, one of the most important single sentences of the
latter (see below*) is very near pure Aristotelianism, but also
obviously (?) Aristotle himself would have had a hard time recognizing
it as Aristotelian. (For that matter, Aristotle was not an Aristotelian,
Aquinas was not a Thomist, and Marx was not a Marxist.)

Even when it can be argued convincingly that two thinkers from different
eras share principles, it _cannot_ be convincingly argued that
_therefore_ they would share a common application of those principles in
a given contingency.

Back in the mid-60s my younger daughter wanted to know if I would have
voted for Lincoln had I been alive in 1860. It was while puzzling out an
answer to that question that I first noted clearly the point being made
here. Had "I" been alive in 1860, I told her, "I" would have been
someone else, not "me." Hence the question was meaningless.

Some principles or attitudes do not even have an acceptable verbal
"translation" into another language at at another time, which is why
translaters sometimes use the original word. The greek words _thes_ and
_oikos_, for example, as they appear in the _Odyssey_, have no
equivalents in any modern language, and it is debatable whether the word
_polis_ in the speech of a 5th century Athenian has a modern
translation.

Carrol

*"This third thing, distinct from the other two since it expresses a
ratio [relation]. exists initially in the head, in the imagination, just
as in general ratios [relations] can only be _thought_ if they are to be
fixed, as distinct from the subjects which are in that ration [relation]
to each other." MECW 28, pp. 80-81.

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