The beginning of tractate XI from the book Mercvrii Trismegisti Pœmandres, published in Paris in 1554

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One Perceiveration
(pdf)

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From the Preface:

Following suggestions from several readers of both my translations of and commentaries on eight tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum [1] and my book The Numinous Way Of Pathei-Mathos, [2] I have collected here several essays of mine, published between 2012 and 2019, concerning my methodology in regard to translating and employing certain Ancient Greek words.

Hopefully this collection will go some way toward revealing to readers the reasoning behind why I, for example, use σωφρονεῖν in preference to σωφρονέω/σωφροσύνη and attribute to that Greek word a particular philosophical meaning – “a fair and balanced personal, individual, judgement” (that is, thoughtful reasoning, or wisdom) – rather than the English meaning now associated with the transliteration sophrosyne which is “soundness of mind, moderation”, thus avoiding the English word “mind” with all its post-classical and modern interpretations philosophical and otherwise.

Another example is pathei mathos – πάθει μάθος – which is used not in accord with Greek grammatical (inflective) usage, but in accord with the English language use of an expression, with my writings thus employing expressions such as “a pathei-mathos”, “that pathei-mathos”, “which pathei-mathos”, “our accumulated pathei-mathos”, “my pathei-mathos”, and of course “the philosophy of pathei-mathos”.

A further example is σοφόν in preference to σοφός, when the sense implied is not the usual “skilled”, or “learned” or “wise” but rather what lies beyond and what was/is the genesis of those denotata: which is the quiddity, the physis, with the denotata (σοφός: skill, learning, wisdom) a presencing [3] in an individual of that wordless quiddity, [4] that physis. [5]

In these and other instances the words are used in an Anglicized, non-inflective, way to suggest a specific philosophical term or concept different from what the original Greek does or might suggest, ancient or modern, as in the matter of σωφρονέω/σωφροσύνη. That is, they are intended to be assimilated into the English language either in their transliterated form (for instance sophronein) or in their Greek form (for instance σωφρονεῖν) and refer not to some supra-personal “idea” or ideation – ἰδέᾳ/εἶδος – or abstraction but rather to individuals.

I attempted to explain the philosophical principles behind my methodology and weltanschauung in my book The Numinous Way Of Pathei-Mathos, and in my two monographs Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos [6] and Tu Es Diaboli Ianua. [7] Which principles are (i) emphasising the individual, the personal, the unique and empathic nature of perceiveration – of apprehending and understanding Being and beings, and our own physis – over and above abstractions and ideations and thus over and above denotata – and (ii) that the classical principles or virtues of τὸ καλόν, ἀρετή, and τὸ ἀγαθὸν related to and were defined by the deeds, the lives, of individuals and not to something supra-personal such as some idea or ideation or dogma or faith or ideology, and were well-expressed in the term καλὸς κἀγαθός, which implies those who conduct themselves in a certain manner and who thus manifest – because of their innate physis or through pathei-mathos or through a certain type of education or learning – a particular personal character.

But as I noted in one of the essays included here: does my idiosyncratic use of Ancient Greek and Latin terms make my philosophy confusing, difficult to understand and difficult to appreciate? Perhaps.

However, in regard to translations such as tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum and the Gospel of John, when I have used an original phrase – for example “quidditas of semblance” in the Pœmandres tractate, and, in the Gospel of John, translated οὐρανός as Empyrean rather than the conventional Heaven, to give just two examples from the many – I have explained my interpretation in the associated commentary.

For reasons which the essays included here may make clear, I have added a slightly revised version of my Glossary of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos: Vocabulary, Definitions, and Explanations, and also the Introduction to my translation of and commentary on chapters I-V of the Gospel of John. [8]

David Myatt
2020
Second Edition

[1] Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates. 2017. ISBN 978-1976452369

[2] The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos. ISBN 978-1484096642

[3] Presencing: from the classical Latin praesentia – meaning “having or implying actual presence”, as manifesting (as being presenced) in a locality or an individual. Qv. my commentary on Ιερός Λόγος 2, et sequentia, of the Corpus Hermeticum.

[4] The scholastic term quiddity derives from the 11th/12th century post-classical Latin quidditas, and avoids using the term “essence” (οὐσία) which has post-classical and modern connotations. As I noted in my commentary on tractate XI:2 of the Corpus Hermeticum,

In respect of οὐσία, qv. Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book 5, 1015α:

ἐκ δὴ τῶν εἰρημένων ἡ πρώτη φύσις καὶ κυρίως λεγομένη ἐστὶν ἡ οὐσία ἡ τῶν ἐχόντων ἀρχὴν κινήσεως ἐν αὑτοῖς ᾗ αὐτά: ἡ γὰρ ὕλη τῷ ταύτης δεκτικὴ εἶναι λέγεται φύσις, καὶ αἱ γενέσεις καὶ τὸ φύεσθαι τῷ ἀπὸ ταύτης εἶναι κινήσεις. καὶ ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κινήσεως τῶν φύσει ὄντων αὕτη ἐστίν, ἐνυπάρχουσά πως ἢ δυνάμει ἢ ἐντελεχείᾳ.

Given the foregoing, then principally – and to be exact – physis denotes the quidditas of beings having changement inherent within them; for substantia has been denoted by physis because it embodies this, as have the becoming that is a coming-into-being, and a burgeoning, because they are changements predicated on it. For physis is inherent changement either manifesting the potentiality of a being or as what a being, complete of itself, is.

See also my Some Notes on Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book 5, 1015α, at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/aristotle-metaphysics-1015α/

[5] In respect of physis, refer to Appendix I: The Concept Of Physis

[6] Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos. 2017. ISBN 978-1979599023

[7] Tu Es Diaboli Ianua. 2017. ISBN 978-1982010935

[8] The translation and commentary are available at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/gospel-according-to-john/

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Contents:

Preface.
On Translating Ancient Greek.
A Note On Greek Terms In The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos.
Appreciating Classical Literature.
An Indebtedness To Ancient Greek And Greco-Roman Culture.
Concerning The Gospel Of John.
On Minutiae And The Art Of Revision.
Concerning ἀγαθός and νοῦς in the Corpus Hermeticum.
Glossary of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos.
Appendix I – The Concept Of Physis.
Appendix II – Towards Understanding Ancestral Culture.
Appendix III – On Ethos And Interpretation.

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The beginning of tractate XI from the book Mercvrii Trismegisti Pœmandres, published in Paris in 1554.


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