Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Worldview of the Theologos

This post is one in a series on the Epistemology and Worldview Throughout History.  Previously in this series: Thales and Deductive Geometry.

Aristotle distinguished between two kinds of thinkers.  There were the theologi and the physiologi.  Logos means "account".  So the two types of thinkers had different ways of accounting for the universe.

Theo means "god".  So the theologi accounted for phenomena with reference to gods.  The ranks of the theologi were filled with poets (traveling bards like Homer) and priests (sacramental priests like the Iliad's Chryses,  oracular seers like the Pythian priestesses,  and peripatetic diviners like Calchas).

For Homer, a plague that decimated the ranks of the Achaeans besieging Troy was caused, not by the unwholesome conditions of a war camp, but by the god Apollo shooting invisible arrows into the army as punishment for King Agamemnon having disrespected his priest.  For the ancient Greek theologos, the sun is a blazing chariot being driven by the god Helios, earthquakes are either caused when Poseidon is angry or when Zeus is nodding his head in making a promise, agricultural seasons come and go according to the mood of Demeter, and the souls of the dead are escorted by Hermes into the underworld kingdom of Hades and Persephone.  Even human emotional states are explained by the influence of gods like Aphrodite and Eris, goddess of strife.

Sometimes such individual acts of god are constituent parts of a greater plan.  The events leading up to the fall of Troy are said, by Homer, to all be toward the fulfillment of the will of Zeus.

 Dios d' eteleieto boulê

(thus the plan of Zeus came to fulfillment)

But, even Zeus is said to be bound by the Moirae (the apportioners, or Fates) and their mother Ananke (Destiny or Necessity).

Thus, according to the most complete theologos, all phenomena are at bottom actions in the Misesian sense: purposeful behavior, products of will.  Therefore, to the theologos, all the sciences are praxeology.

Next in this series: The Worldview of the Physiologos.

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