## Tag Archives: 2019

### Sex and Gender

A certain thesis is reasonable to me, and yet it would seem to anger persons whom I wish to respect. I am trying to understand why it does.

The hypothesis of the homunculus in the sperm
by Nicolaas Hartsoeker, 1695

Perhaps the manner of expression of the thesis is the problem. Thus one person tweets:

### On the Odyssey, Book II

Having been put to bed by Eurycleia at the end of Book I of the Odyssey, Telemachus gets up in the morning and has the people summoned to council, at the beginning of Book II.

There is no mention of a breakfast. Perhaps none is eaten. On the other hand, Telemachus probably relieves his bladder at least, and there is no mention of that either.

Telemachus straps on a ξίφος, but arrives at the assembly with a χάλκεον ἔγχος in hand. Wilson calls it a sword in either case; for Fitzgerald and Lattimore, the first weapon is a sword, but the second a spear and a bronze spear, respectively. Cunliffe’s lexicon supports the men; however, for Liddell and Scott, an ἔγχος can also be a sword, at least in Sophocles. For Beekes, ξίφος is Pre-Greek, and ἔγχος may be so. Continue reading

### Ordinals

This is about the ordinal numbers, which (except for the finite ones) are less well known than the real numbers, although theoretically simpler.

The numbers of either kind compose a linear order: they can be arranged in a line, from less to greater. The orders have similarities and differences:

• Of real numbers,

• there is no greatest,

• there is no least,

• there is a countable dense set (namely the rational numbers),

• every nonempty set with an upper bound has a least upper bound.

• Of ordinal numbers,

• there is no greatest,

• every nonempty set has a least element,

• those less than a given one compose a set,

• every set has a least upper bound.

One can conclude in particular that the ordinals as a whole do not compose a set; they are a proper class. This is the Burali-Forti Paradox.

### On the Odyssey, Book I

• In reading his rendition of the Iliad, having enjoyed hearing Chapman speak out loud and bold;

• having enjoyed writing here about each book, particularly the last ten books in ten days on an Aegean beach in September of this year (2019);

• having taken the name of this blog from the first line of the Odyssey;

• having obtained, from Homer Books here in Istanbul, Emily Wilson’s recent translation (New York: Norton, 2018);

### Computer Recovery

Part of this post is a laboratory notebook. I record how I fixed my computer, because

• I am pleased to have been able to do it, and

• I may have to do it again.

Briefly, when Windows on my laptop failed, I installed Ubuntu, but this failed. Somebody else installed Ubuntu again, and this worked for a while before failing. I managed to fix that problem for myself; but later an upgrade failed. Now I have fixed that.

I am recording further issues in an addendum.

### On the Idea of History

Note added, March 10–11, 2021. The bulk of this post concerns race in the theory of history, particularly the theory attributed to Johann Gotfried Herder (1744–1803). Not having read Herder for myself, I rely on the accounts of

• R. G. Collingwood in § 2, “Herder,” of Part III of The Idea of History (1946),

• Michael Forster in “Johann Gottfried von Herder,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (summer 2019).

Somebody like Herder may introduce race as an hypothesis to explain history, but ultimately the hypothesis fails, by denying us the freedom that is essential to history as such. Nonetheless, Forster defends Herder as having

an impartial concern for all human beings … Herder does also insist on respecting, preserving, and advancing national groupings. However, this is entirely unalarming,

because, for one thing, “The ‘nation’ in question is not racial but linguistic and cultural.”

Change Collingwood’s word “race” to “linguistic and cultural grouping” then. I think his conclusion remains sound: “Once Herder’s theory of race is accepted, there is no escaping the Nazi marriage laws.”

### Anthropology of Mathematics

This essay was long when originally published; now, on November 30, 2019, I have made it longer, in an attempt to clarify some points.

The essay begins with two brief quotations, from Collingwood and Pirsig respectively, about what it takes to know people.

• The Pirsig quote is from Lila, which is somewhat interesting as a novel, but naive about metaphysics; it might have benefited from an understanding of Collingwood’s Essay on Metaphysics.

• A recent article by Ray Monk in Prospect seems to justify my interest in Collingwood; eventually I have a look at the article.

Ideas that come up along the way include the following.

### On Translation

Achilles is found singing to a lyre, in a passage of Book IX of the Iliad. Homer sets the scene in five dactylic hexameters; George Chapman translates them into four couplets of fourteeners.

I wrote a post about each book of the Iliad, in Chapman’s version of 1611. As I said at the end, I look forward to reading Emily Wilson’s version. Meanwhile, here I examine the vignette of the lyre in several existing English translations, as well as in the original.

### On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book XXIV

One man kills another, legally, according to the laws of war, such as they are. The two sides fight over the body, which might be ransomed, if taken by the killer’s side; however, the body is not so taken. The friend of the slain man kills the killer and takes his body to mutilate, though this be sacrilege.

The father of the newly slain man crosses enemy lines to ransom his son’s body. He puts his lips to the hand of the killer, who agrees to give up the body, even coming to admire the father, who in turn admires him.

Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-69), Lucretia, 1664, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington

Such are the emotions of the Iliad. Homer depicts them as terrifically as Rembrandt does those of a woman, Lucretia, about to kill herself in shame for having been raped. One might consider these works as “emotion porn,” where the second element of this phrase denotes

written or visual material that emphasizes the sensuous or sensational aspects of a non-sexual subject, appealing to its audience in a manner likened to the titillating effect of pornography

—in the words of the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, as quoted by Arnold Zwicky in a blog article, “X porn.” Continue reading

### On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book XXIII

Book XXII of the Iliad is rich in human emotion; Book XXIII, in anthropological detail. The books form a natural sequence:

1. Defiance, flight, fight, and death of a man.
2. Funeral and memorial games for a man.

That the man is different in either case creates tension, to be resolved in the next and final book (whose emotions I once took up in “Homer for the Civilian”).