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Philosophy before the GreeksThe Pursuit of Truth in Ancient Babylonia$
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Marc Van De Mieroop

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157184

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157184.001.0001

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Babylonian Epistemology in History

Babylonian Epistemology in History

Chapter:
(p.185) Chapter 8 Babylonian Epistemology in History
Source:
Philosophy before the Greeks
Author(s):

Marc Van De Mieroop

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691157184.003.0008

This chapter discusses the important role of Babylonian epistemology in history. While the Babylonians shared the aims of modern philosophers, they never abandoned the primacy of the texts, and actually found in them an unparalleled power to create. It was not physical reality but writing, with its creative processes, that determined the parameters of what was possible and needed to be investigated. The chapter first considers the creativity of the ancient Babylonian texts, citing as examples the Babylonian science of lexicography and the law codes. It then examines empiricism vs. rationalism in Babylonian writings and concludes with an overview of three moments that were important for Babylonian intellectual history: the early second millennium in Babylonia and adjacent areas, later in that millennium across the entire Near East, and at the end of the first millennium, in the Babylonian heartland.

Keywords:   Babylonian epistemology, Babylonia, creativity, Babylonian texts, lexicography, law codes, empiricism, rationalism, intellectual history

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