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Writing, Reasoning, and the Gods

Our ancestors, the Mesopotamians, invented writing and with it a new way of looking at the world. In this collection of essays, the French scholar Jean Bottero attempts to go back to the moment which marks the very beginning of history.

To give the reader some sense of how Mesopotamian civilization has been mediated and interpreted in its transmission through time, Bottero begins with an account of Assyriology, the discipline devoted to the ancient culture. This transmission, compounded with countless discoveries, would not have been possible without the surprising decipherment of the cuneiform writing system. Bottero also focuses on divination in the ancient world, contending that certain modes of worship in Mesopotamia, in their application of causality and proof, prefigure the "scientific mind."

326 pages | 1 halftone, 3 line drawings, 1 map | 6 x 9 | © 1992


History: Ancient and Classical History

Table of Contents

Rules of transcription and translation
The Birth of the West
I: Assyriology
1: In Defense of a Useless Science
2: Assyriology and Our History
3: A Century of Assyriology
II: Writing
4: The "Avalanche" of Decipherments in the Ancient Near East between
1800 and 1930
5: From Mnemonic Device to Script
6: Writing and Dialectics, or the Progress of Knowledge
III: "Reasoning": Institutions and Mentality
7: Oneiromancy
8: Divination and the Scientific Spirit
9: The Substitute King and His Fate
10: The "Code" of Hammurabi
11: "Free Love" and Its Disadvantages
IV: "The Gods": Religion
12: The Religious System
13: Intelligence and the Technical Function of Power: Enki/Ea
14: The Dialogue of Pessimism and Transcendence
15: The Mythology of Death
Bibliographical Orientation

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