I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades For ever and for ever when I move.

Month: September 2013

Induction again

I am taking a course on the ancient Near Eastern backgrounds for the Hebrew Bible. Reading an article just now, it occurred to me that comparison between ancient cultures cannot be done without abstractions, without induction, about which I have reservations. Unless we are doing textual criticism, where the categories and comparisons ought to be uncontroversial, comparing cultures requires that we compare aspects of the cultures. If I want to be paint Israel as identical to its neighbors, I go broad and say, “they’re all just Semites who feel a strong national identity and have their own laws”—which is not a poor description of a contemporary Semitic religion either, at that level of abstraction. If I want to paint Israel as being distinct from its neighbors, I stay narrower and stick to more atomistic facts that of course are not going to be identical. Sigh…

Foot in the door

This is something that occurred to me during one of the many times I was reading Rikki-Tikki-Tavi to the boys. On the very, very, very slim chance that I am the first one to think of it…

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is Beowulf, with cobras instead of vipers and mongooses instead of Geats.

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