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A Real-Life Mystery from Ancient Greece

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message 1: by Margalit (new)

Margalit Fox (margalitfox) Dear Friends:

I'm taking the liberty of writing to let people know about my forthcoming book, "The Riddle of the Labyrinth," to be published on May 14 by Ecco Press/HarperCollins.

The book is narrative nonfiction -- but will be of special interest to this group in that it chronicles the solution of a real-life mystery: the quest to decipher a curious script from the Bronze Age known as Linear B.

Inscribed on clay tablets in about 1450 B.C., Linear B was unearthed on Crete in 1900 and, despite the best efforts of investigators from around the world, remained undeciphered for more than half a century. Not only did no one know what the mysterious tablets said, no one even knew what language they were written in.

As a result, Linear B was considered one of the most intractable puzzles in history, and the book documents the lives -- obsessed, brilliant, triumphant and ultimately deeply tragic -- of the real-life detectives who worked to unravel its secrets. It is also a paleographic procedural, taking readers step by step through the forensic process involved in unraveling a secret code from the past.

I hope you will enjoy "The Riddle of the Labryinth" as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it.

I will be delighted to answer any questions about the book that anyone has; people are welcome to contact me directly at margalitfoxbooks@gmail.com.

With all my best wishes from New York,

Margalit Fox


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

This sounds exciting! I have no idea why no one has commented in this thread since it was started 4 years ago.

I just marked it "to read."

Thanks!


message 3: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) I'm aware of the impact of LinearB but it's just not something I think about on a daily basis. My coursework in archaeology has long been set aside. I applaud the release of the book, but I just can't think of anything which needs saying about it. Seems to fit in very nicely with the spate of such books lately (Godel, Erdos, John Harrison--all these men have gotten book treatments lately).


message 4: by Alan (new)

Alan Johnson (alanejohnson) | 8 comments Margalit wrote (post 1, above): "Dear Friends:

I'm taking the liberty of writing to let people know about my forthcoming book, "The Riddle of the Labyrinth," to be published on May 14 by Ecco Press/HarperCollins.

The book is nar..."


This book actually looks quite interesting. I didn't see this thread until today, but I have now put the book on my "to read" list. I plan to read it after completing my own book project on the US Electoral College.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you for sharing.

Two of the political theory professors that I studied with at the University of Houston came the University of Chicago: Lence & Lutz.

The University of Chicago has been well respected for their political theory department.

Best of luck to you with the completion of your new book.


message 6: by Alan (last edited Nov 21, 2017 05:03PM) (new)

Alan Johnson (alanejohnson) | 8 comments Thank you, Boradicus, for your comment. I took one course from Leo Strauss (on Plato's Apology of Socrates and Crito) in the autumn quarter of 1966 before he left the University of Chicago for Claremont as a result of mandatory retirement policies at Chicago at that time. I also took courses from his associates Joseph Cropsey, Ralph Lerner, and Herbert Storing. In my retirement from decades of law practice, I continue to study political philosophy, among other projects.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you for the link. Professor Lence always encouraged his students to continue to read after leaving school. I certainly have much to catch up on!


message 8: by Alan (new)

Alan Johnson (alanejohnson) | 8 comments Boradicus wrote: "Thank you for the link. Professor Lence always encouraged his students to continue to read after leaving school. I certainly have much to catch up on!"

During my busy career as a litigation lawyer, I didn't have much time for reading. Now, in retirement, I do, but, alas, I now realize that I don't have enough time left to read everything I wish to read and write everything I wish to write. Such is the human condition, and there's no point in complaining about it!


message 9: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 21, 2017 06:15PM) (new)

I concur! It is what we do with what we have that really matters. Thank you for your service as a litigation lawyer! Not every lawyer has the benefit of a grounding in the classics, or can say that they studied with Leo Strauss. On the surface of it, one could easily wish that more lawyers had such a background; yet, upon further reflection, one can be satisfied with the conservative nature of the normal distribution!

What, if I may ask, are you currently intending to read within the corpus?


message 10: by Alan (new)

Alan Johnson (alanejohnson) | 8 comments Boradicus wrote: "What, if I may ask, are you currently intending to read within the corpus?"

After I finish writing my book on the Electoral College (hopefully by the end of this year or early next year), I'm going to undertake a substantial revision of my 2000 book on ethics. That book is inadequate, because I was then working full-time as a lawyer (about 50 hours/week) and had limited time available for study and writing. As explained here, my views have changed on some matters during the last seventeen years. In rewriting it (perhaps just starting over with a totally new book), I will revisit the Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics as well as several of Plato's dialogues. I will also read or reread the writings of some other philosophers on ethics, perhaps Spinoza's Ethics, Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, and Kant. Finally, I will read some twentieth- and twenty-first century works on ethics, for example, Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory as well as scholars writing in the so-called "Virtue Ethics" tradition (some of whom I have already read). It may take me a few years to write the new ethics book, as I will probably also read or reread other works that are not normally considered works on ethics per se. I'm seventy-one years old. I hope to finish the new book on ethics by age seventy-five at the latest in order to get it done before any age-related debility sets in. But I'm not going to rush it. I plan to enjoy my remaining years instead of always working against a deadline, as I did when I was a lawyer.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I like your plan of work. It is certainly the mark of a good thinker to continually learn and revise. Learning is really a life-long, dynamic process. The shift that occurred with Wittgenstein with respect to his ideas about the accuracy with which language functions is an amazing example of this. I think that it takes time to absorb material from those who came before us, and that such shifts occur in our integration of the material as a natural consequence of obtaining some level of mastery and ability to both adapt and abstract the material to new perspectives that are uniquely our own, albeit probably having some convergence with contemporary thought simultaneously emerging elsewhere.

I find the field of ethics interesting. However, in my own thinking, I have drawn a line between ethics and morality, labeling the latter as something which is absolute, such as the biblical commandments, which in themselves devolve to the Great Commandment from which all scripture and (biblical) law hangs. On the other hand, I see ethics as stemming from "man-made" ideas, theories, sentiments, and laws (which are not necessarily non-confluent with moral standards). So, by contradistinction, I see ethics as being much more relative to people, polities, geographies, cultures, situations, and circumstances. I also see ethics (being a Christian, myself) as a form of working toward moral absolutes given the temporal constraints of this world. In other words, to me, it seems that it would be quite challenging, and perhaps even impractical to attempt to integrate the differing ethical beliefs of various cultures into a synthesized system of ethics. Rather, it would seem more practical to find consensus both between existing standards and ideal standards to be worked toward in order to create a universal ethical system that still contains room and the toothing into which existing systems can fit themselves.

It is a challenging problem, nevertheless and I wish you all the best with the work to which you have commended yourself.

Good night,

Boradicus


message 12: by Alan (last edited Nov 22, 2017 07:09AM) (new)

Alan Johnson (alanejohnson) | 8 comments Boradicus wrote: "I find the field of ethics interesting. However, in my own thinking, I have drawn a line between ethics and morality, labeling the latter as something which is absolute, such as the biblical commandments, which in themselves devolve to the Great Commandment from which all scripture and (biblical) law hangs."

I approach ethics from a purely secular perspective, asking the question what ethics is by nature as distinguished from revelation. I believe this is what Aristotle was trying to do in the Nicomachean Ethics, though he adapted his teaching in some ways to the culture in which he lived. If we are going to base ethics on revelation, we have the insoluble problem, from a rational perspective, of ascertaining which revelation we accept. There are many points raised in my 2000 book on ethics with which I still agree, including the following:

"Crusades, inquisitions, and religious wars have been waged over such issues as the divine status of Jesus or the truth of the prophecy of Mohammed as well as over seemingly infinite doctrinal disputes. A study of history discloses many different and inconsistent claims to revelation (see Appendix). How, then, is it possible to choose to believe one particular claim to revelation over another? After all, if religion is based upon revelation, but the claimed revelations of the various religions are mutually exclusive, then all of the revelations cannot be said to be unqualifiedly true. It may be that one of the conflicting revelations is true and the others false, but how can one know how to choose between the conflicting revelations?"

Alan E. Johnson. First Philosophy and Human Ethics: A Rational Inquiry (Philosophia, 2000), 16 (Kindle loc. 218-23).

The Appendix to this book is entitled "The Conflicts Among the Claims to Revelation." It discusses the conflicting claims to revelation (and thus moral systems) of the ancient Egyptians, Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, Manicheism, Gnosticism, Hinduism, Taoism, the Delphic oracle, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, and Christian Science. One could add to this list.

Although I was raised a Lutheran, I have thought the foregoing ever since I was in high school.

I do not mean that we should somehow try to amalgamate all the world's religious systems into one overall system. That is impossible, due to the contradictions among the various religions, and is, moreover, nonsensical.

Nor do I accept any kind of relativism. As Strauss would say, the question is what is right by nature ("natural right"). This need not have a religious foundation, though Thomas Aquinas, for example, made a noble and perhaps exoteric effort along this line.

I am just scratching the surface here. My forthcoming book will elaborate my understanding in further detail. My 2000 book was kind of an outline, but it contains a number of statements (especially my offhand remarks about political and economic matters) with which I no longer agree. And my discussion of Einstein et al. in Chapter 2 was naïve and inadequate. I will make no effort to address metaphysics or physics in my forthcoming book. Once it is published, I will attempt to remove the 2000 book from the market.

We are getting pretty far afield of the subject matter of the present Goodreads group and are probably testing the patience of the moderators. If you wish to discuss this further, perhaps you could join the Political Philosophy and Ethics group, of which I am the founder and moderator. See especially the topics in the Ethics folder.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Alan wrote: "Boradicus wrote: "I find the field of ethics interesting. However, in my own thinking, I have drawn a line between ethics and morality, labeling the latter as something which is absolute, such as t..."

I was just thinking that. My apologies to the moderators!


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