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(reminder: all quotes here are fiddled, probably.)

Power of ideas

How to Be an Atheist in Medieval Europe
Alec Ryrie (Gresham Lecture 2018)

Intellectuals and philosophers may think they make the weather, but they are more often driven by it. People who read and write books have a persistent tendency to overestimate the power of ideas. Some of us, sometimes, change our beliefs and our lives as the result of a chain of conscious reasoning. But not very often or very honestly. Our own age has forcibly reminded us that intellectual elites often struggle to bring their societies with them. Their default role is instead to tag along behind, explaining why things have inevitably turned out as they did.

The conventional story has it that philosophers attacked religion and people therefore stopped believing. But what if people stopped believing and therefore found they needed arguments to justify their unbelief? Most of us make the great choices – beliefs, values, identities, purposes – intuitively, embedded in our social and historical contexts, usually without being able to articulate why we have done so, often without being aware we have done so. If we are that way inclined, we might then assemble rationalisations for our choices: rationalisations which may be true, but true in a meagre, post hoc way.

It is no great surprise that Enlightenment thinkers could develop atheistic philosophies. Anyone who needs a philosophy badly enough will find one, and arguments against God were nothing new in the mid-seventeenth century. The question is not, where did these criticisms come from? but, why did some Europeans start to find them compelling? To answer that question, we do not need an intellectual or philosophical history of atheism: we need an emotional history.

Aeneid, Book 6

1970 Mandelbaum, 6.174-182, p.135

Born of the blood
of gods and son of Troy's Anchises,
easy ---
the way that leads into Avernus: day
and night the door of darkest Dis is open.
But to recall your steps, to rise again
into the upper air: that is the labour;
that is the task. A few, whom Jupiter
has loved in kindness or whom blazing worth
has raised to heaven as gods' sons, returned.

1981 Fitzgerald, 6.185-193, p.305

Of gods by blood, Trojan Anchises' son,

The way downward is easy from Avernus.
Black Dis's door stands open night and day.
But to retrace your steps to heaven's air,
There is the trouble, there is the toil. A few
Whom a benign Jupiter has loved or whom
Fiery heroism has borne to heaven,
Sons of gods, could do it.

2006 Fagles, p.176, 6.148-155

Born of the blood of gods, Anchises' son, / man of Troy, the descent to the Underworld is easy. / Night and day the gates of shadowy Death stand open wide, / but to retrace your steps, to climb back to the upper air --- / there the struggle, there the labour lies. Only a few, / loved by impartial Jove or borne aloft to the sky / by their own fiery virtue---some sons of the gods / have made their way.

2007 Ahl, 6.125-131, p.132

O Trojan child of Anchises, / Born from the blood of the gods, going down to Avernus is easy. / All nights, all days too, dark Dis's portals lie open. / But to recall those steps, to escape to the fresh air above you, / There lies the challenge, the labour! A few have succeeded, those people / Fair-minded Jupiter loved or whom blazing manliness wafted / High to the heavens, men born of the gods.

2008 Ruden, 6.124-131, p.121

You, Trojan of the gods' line,
Anchises' son,
the road down to Avernus
Is easy. Black Dis' door gapes night and day.
The work, the effort is to walk back up
Into the open air. A few could: godborn,
Favoured by Jove, or transported skyward
by burning righteousness.

2017 Ferry, 6.175-183, p.172

Offspring of gods, son of Anchises of Tory,
The way to Avernus is easy, the door is open,
Night and day, down to the darkness of Dis.
But how to come back, how to retrace one's steps
And return to the upper air, that is the task,
That is the labour. Only a few have been raised
Up to the heavens, because their virtue earned it,
or because, sons of the gods, Jupiter loved them,
And granted them special favour.


Planet Normal: Dr John Lee on why scientists shouldn't be running the country 11 Feb 2021 (youtube)

go off

Oxford Wordpower:

Animals fall into two groups, those with backbones and those without.
動物分兩類, 有脊椎與無脊椎.

John looks exactly like his father.
阿莊兩父子面貎酷肖, 十足十一個餅印.

You'll have to go in single file---the path is very narrow.
路太窄, 要一個跟一個排住隊行.

If the fire alarm goes off, leave the building immediately.