“It might be tempting to distinguish between ‘pseudo-sciences’ like divination and physiognomy, and ‘sciences’ like law and medicine, and to explain their differences by the great distance in space and time from the society which we have been discussing. But it would be a superficial explanation. There was a real common ground amongst these Mesopotamian forms of knowledge(if we omit divination through inspiration, which was based on ecstatic possession): an approach involving analysis of particular cases, constructed only through traces,symptoms,hints. Again, the Mesopotamian legal texts do not just list laws and ordinances, but discuss a body of actual cases. In short, there was a basic model for explanation or divination which could be oriented towards past or present or future, depending on the form of knowledge called upon. Towards future – that was divination proper; towards past, present and future- that was the medical science of symptoms, with its double character,diagnostic,explaining past and present,and prognostic, suggesting the likely future; and towards past- that was jurisprudence, or legal knowledge.”


About paoleb

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