Divination and Human Nature: A Cognitive History of Intuition in Classical Antiquity

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9780691169392: Divination and Human Nature: A Cognitive History of Intuition in Classical Antiquity

Divination and Human Nature casts a new perspective on the rich tradition of ancient divination―the reading of divine signs in oracles, omens, and dreams. Popular attitudes during classical antiquity saw these readings as signs from the gods while modern scholars have treated such beliefs as primitive superstitions. In this book, Peter Struck reveals instead that such phenomena provoked an entirely different accounting from the ancient philosophers. These philosophers produced subtle studies into what was an odd but observable fact―that humans could sometimes have uncanny insights―and their work signifies an early chapter in the cognitive history of intuition.

Examining the writings of Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and the Neoplatonists, Struck demonstrates that they all observed how, setting aside the charlatans and swindlers, some people had premonitions defying the typical bounds of rationality. Given the wide differences among these ancient thinkers, Struck notes that they converged on seeing this surplus insight as an artifact of human nature, projections produced under specific conditions by our physiology. For the philosophers, such unexplained insights invited a speculative search for an alternative and more naturalistic system of cognition.

Recovering a lost piece of an ancient tradition, Divination and Human Nature illustrates how philosophers of the classical era interpreted the phenomena of divination as a practice closer to intuition and instinct than magic.

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From the Back Cover:

"How could sophisticated thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics accept divination as a valid source of knowledge? In this fascinating book, Peter Struck shows how the ancients viewed divination as seriously as we view the idea of intuition, and he reveals a deep structure of interpretation still of interest today."--David Konstan, author of Beauty: The Fortunes of an Ancient Greek Idea

"This wonderfully interesting book marshals a great deal of information about ancient philosophy in order to make the fascinating argument that what we call divination would have been familiar to ancient intellectuals under Greek terms that we now translate as ‘intuition.' It is a major step forward in understanding the concept of divination in ancient Greece and Rome."--Sarah Iles Johnston, author of Ancient Greek Divination

"A novel account of the concepts of intuition in the ancient world, this book is a remarkable study of how these concepts were clothed in the language of divination. Struck traces this history of divination-as-intuition through some of the most important surviving ancient texts on the subject. His tremendously stimulating book is replete with fresh insights and makes a significant contribution to the histories of ancient philosophy and religion."--Phillip Horky, Durham University

About the Author:

Peter T. Struck is the Evan C. Thompson Term Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Birth of the Symbol: Ancient Readers at the Limits of Their Texts (Princeton).

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Book Description Princeton University Press, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Divination and Human Nature casts a new perspective on the rich tradition of ancient divination-the reading of divine signs in oracles, omens, and dreams. Popular attitudes during classical antiquity saw these readings as signs from the gods while modern scholars have treated such beliefs as primitive superstitions. In this book, Peter Struck reveals instead that such phenomena provoked an entirely different accounting from the ancient philosophers. These philosophers produced subtle studies into what was an odd but observable fact-that humans could sometimes have uncanny insights-and their work signifies an early chapter in the cognitive history of intuition.Examining the writings of Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and the Neoplatonists, Struck demonstrates that they all observed how, setting aside the charlatans and swindlers, some people had premonitions defying the typical bounds of rationality. Given the wide differences among these ancient thinkers, Struck notes that they converged on seeing this surplus insight as an artifact of human nature, projections produced under specific conditions by our physiology. For the philosophers, such unexplained insights invited a speculative search for an alternative and more naturalistic system of cognition.Recovering a lost piece of an ancient tradition, Divination and Human Nature illustrates how philosophers of the classical era interpreted the phenomena of divination as a practice closer to intuition and instinct than magic. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780691169392

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Book Description Princeton University Press, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Divination and Human Nature casts a new perspective on the rich tradition of ancient divination--the reading of divine signs in oracles, omens, and dreams. Popular attitudes during classical antiquity saw these readings as signs from the gods while modern scholars have treated such beliefs as primitive superstitions. In this book, Peter Struck reveals instead that such phenomena provoked an entirely different accounting from the ancient philosophers. These philosophers produced subtle studies into what was an odd but observable fact--that humans could sometimes have uncanny insights--and their work signifies an early chapter in the cognitive history of intuition. Examining the writings of Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and the Neoplatonists, Struck demonstrates that they all observed how, setting aside the charlatans and swindlers, some people had premonitions defying the typical bounds of rationality. Given the wide differences among these ancient thinkers, Struck notes that they converged on seeing this surplus insight as an artifact of human nature, projections produced under specific conditions by our physiology. For the philosophers, such unexplained insights invited a speculative search for an alternative and more naturalistic system of cognition. Recovering a lost piece of an ancient tradition, Divination and Human Nature illustrates how philosophers of the classical era interpreted the phenomena of divination as a practice closer to intuition and instinct than magic. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780691169392

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