The Well Groomed Dog

I seem to be getting to the core of the book as I appear to have reached the part where fortifications and defensive mechanisms employed are coming in to focus.

Book was an unusual read as it is giving a comparative account of historical documents and ideas but included no direct references. It now has, as it presents its hypothesis. I am not sure exactly what that is yet or even what the wider arguments are here. But it certainly looks like a well-groomed dog about to enter a dog fight.

Constructed to present as balanced an argument as possible and survive. Plotinus’s view’s and perspective are fragmentary and scattered throughout his writing. Reading here is based on gathering and constructing an eagle eye perspective from a much larger fluid and altering body.

viewing that from a wider historical perspective, it’s a task not without its difficulties and I suspect philosophical reconstruction does not escape the issues.

I’ve always largely ignored the subject as aside from issues of context, never sure how philosophy deals standard historical textual issues.

Historical documents are often by nature constructed over time, retro by nature.

A text may date to the 6th century. The only surviving copy may date no later than the 17th century. It may contain details that suggest re-working in the 9th century with further comments and edits in the 12th century followed by a revising and amending 15th century hand.

Irish medieval philosophy generally starts with or includes a discussion here, but then it’s what early medevial historians, trained in Ireland or the U.K. would expect to see. Can’t work with the documents without an understanding of the multi-contextual, organic nature of the text.

With ancient philosophy I am ignorant of what the case may be here, although I suspect it is not exempt from similar issues. Its audience is a philosophical one rather than historical one; detail which allows me to relax is notable by its absence so far. Far more comfortable with an Irish accent and emphasis here.

The book actualy goes as far in defending not taking an ahistorical approach in the introduction and feels the need to also explain why the ideas are set in a wider historical context. Which sends a slight shiver down my spine as I imagine what sort of fantastical creature is being addressed here and where it may dwell


Twisty Turny Thing


pathos, pathema, paschei, paschien


pathos = affection

synonmous cognate pathema

x paschei = x is affected by


paschien = undergoing

x paschei hyp y= x is affected by y

x paschei w = w here is the affection itself, x undergoes pain, x undergoes heating etc.


Next post, paschien= to do, to act

On causation (poiein & paschien)

Talking Fish

Of Electric Fish

At the extreme, there were two opposite conceptions. One was based on the idea that any transmission must necessarily imply the propagation of some form of  corpuscular matter; the other was founded on the notion that qualities or forces could be transmitted without any actual passage of matter. In the latter conception, the qualities or forces were considered attributes (or forms) of the matter, wither inorganic or organic. By themsleves, the qualities or forces were deviod of any spatial diimension or configuration, and thus they lacked any physical substantiality. To use Galen’s phrase, they were located in the “entire substance” of the body posseessing them.

The transmission of the power of the torpedo, together with magnetic attraction-two phenomena relatively easy to verefy but very difficult to interpret- are reccuring issues in Galens writtings and in the Problematca within the discussion about “un-nameable” qualities and, more generally about transmission at a distance


My bookshelve is extremly light in terms of classical philosophy, so I have to grab what I have to hand, my sense of vision is somewhat late 17th century and linked to second sight and I don’t even want to glance or think about what I have in this context at the moment.

I should be looking at sympatheia but as I am having to digest Plotinus’s metaphysics alongside this, which is like trying to read Greek while standing upside down in a revolving room, I need a break.

Slight fishy diversion, as I can get a sense of what Plotinus shares and where he differs to a degree. Or at least make a start.

I also need to get a grasp of how modern academics alter the inflection of these ideas and also a sense of the historical issues associated with science history.



S. Finger, M. Piccolino: The Shocking History of Electric Fishes From Ancient Epochs To the Birth of Modern Neurphysiology

On Sense Perception


I am just starting to enjoy reading Eyjolfur K. Emilsson’s ‘Plotinus On Sense Perception.  Yesterday I was not so sure, its like reading a Martian Artifact. Yesterday I could reach the conclusion that life on Mars exists, I was entirly uncertian if I had any chance of getting to grips with its culture.

My intial thought was no. Its far too weird. I seem to be dealing with a contemporary Martian dealing with the life of an ancient martian and attempting to explore his thought in historical context. I can see a relationship with my own understanding of history and contextual issues but the way this is presented is very unusual and unexpected.

In the end I just had to suspend disbelief, take a deep breath and live with the fact I could not understand what I was reading or why it was presented in the way it was.

The penny started to drop when I got to the disscusion of Plotinus’s sense of vision. How distant objects are percevied, ‘the relationship between the eye and the object of vision.’

An idea utterly alien to my own way of thinking. But I now have a rudimentary framework to put the idea in context, retrospectivly.

E.K. Emilsson’s reading of Plotinus puts it this way, “we should regard the distant object as if it were a part of our own bodies.”

Its alien to my own understanding of how the mechanics of the eye works. Not so sure if it’s entirly contrary to how my percepetion of how art works as a craft.

With acting I was taught to be more interested in the body in front of me, rather than with a pure focus on internal movement (that is more of a method approach, than the classical style I am familiar with). With a camera that object seemed to be removed and beyond sense. Presenting me with a dead spot.

My craft cannot navigate me through this space, I have no art to guide me.

Never been able to think about taking a picture in the same sense as I would think about art, as however I define what art is, its in that relationship between Actor and audience that I get all my sense of where it lies, its my only real experiance of  doing here and knowing what I am doing.

I think I have just been thinking about the word audience in a somewhat limiting way. Mistaking a word for something other than it is.

I can view my photography as a creative form of self expression but in terms of art its mute, shapeless and distinctly unslightly.  It has no form or substance here.

I can’t say that thought causes any concern, photography  is fun, and I can’t think of any reason why it should become anything other than that.

Perhaps its how I  define art that has to alter? I have no clear sense of how I define such things, but it does seem to have a touch of John Knox without the religion about it, I suspect.

I look at art as a craft that takes an awful lot of work to perfect.


Prefatio: I have Heaped (coacervavi) Together All I Have Found

“like a cairn of stones, uneven and ill-fitting… as an example of the historian’s art it is atrocious. But it has the virtue of its defects. We can see the individual stones of the cairn, and in some cases we can trace the parent rock from which they came, and establish its age and soundness”


Leslie Alcock, Arthurs Britian: History and Archeology AD 367-634


Five minutes in to reading Plontinus on Sense Perception I found myself not reading but seem to have spent twenty minutes or so staring at a wall.

My mind wandered to an old historical battle site. A conflict between a Historian and an Archeologist concerning a 9th century historical text.

Its of interest to me as its the first historical record which seeks to retrospectivly to place the subject I am interested in within history.

Interestingly it seeks to place it at the start of that history and at the horizon of its thought.

No more than a pattern forming on the surface of a pond. It may just help me remeber what I am reading by transforming it into something familiar and altering its inflection from its orginal sense. If I am very lucky it has a relationship with its 9th to 11th century inflection.