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Aug 14, 2023·edited Aug 14, 2023Liked by Bryan Kam

"As historical grounding for some of the Axial Age claims I’m in danger of making, I read Eric Cline’s 1177 B.C."

Curious what you mean by 'historical grounding'? If we take the so-called "axial age" as roughly the 5th-4th cc. BCE, then I would think that the Bronze Age cultures (whose collapse is Cline's topic) are much less relevant than the 700 years in between. For the Archaic- and Hellenic-era Greeks, at least, the Bronze Age Palace cultures survived in memory only vaguely and confusedly as mythology. Its the literature and thought of the Archaic Age (8th-6th cc.) that is really relevant to understanding the revolutions in Greek moral thought in the so-called Axial Age (e.g. Homer, Hesiod, Tyrtaeus. et al.)

Also, you may find that Kant on teleology in nature (as against freedom) is closer to the mechanists than you might suppose. For the sake of morality and human freedom we think of history as purposive, we think of human faculties as having a purpose, etc. and for subjective reasons we inevitably treat physical natural structures as teleological, but Kant actually thinks that physical nature is strictly mechanistic and not purposive. "Hands are for grasping" is just a very convenient and basically inescapable delusion. Also, current Descartes and Spinoza scholarship sees a lot of interpreters making the case for more teleological readings. It's not a total reversal of interpretation, by any means, but maybe it amounts to important qualifications, clarifications, and nuances.

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