January 06, 2004

Vico's theories freed from Joyce?

Posted by Curt at 03:47 PM in What the Fuck? | TrackBack

So now Howard Dean thinks he’s Job. But Job had everything he could hope for, and was almost arbitrarily deprived of the fruit of his ambitions. That’s is more or less the opposite of Dean’s trajectory. I also don’t think that he is Jeremiah, although that might be the most obvious Biblical figure to compare him to. Jeremiah lived in a time of slavery and poverty for his country, and railed against the lack of pride and militancy of his people. Again, that is pretty much the opposite of both the situation and the rhetoric of Howard Dean. I think that he is probably one of the minor, non-electable prophets somewhere between Hosea and Habakkuk, but I’m not sure which one. Any suggestions?


Curt, how about a false one?

Posted by: John Venlet at January 6, 2004 07:52 PM

Ah, indeed, I agree completely. But then again, if we are using that criterion, I would have to include most of the prophets in the Bible in the same category.

Posted by: Curt at January 6, 2004 11:15 PM

Would Kucinich, then, be like the demon-possessed man in Mark 5.5 who "Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones"?

Posted by: Curt at January 6, 2004 11:19 PM

Well, many people say history repeats itself.

Posted by: John Venlet at January 7, 2004 08:39 AM

'Ah, indeed, I agree completely. But then again, if we are using that criterion, I would have to include most of the prophets in the Bible in the same category.'
Gonna have to disagree with you there, Curt. Assuming I understand you correct, if most OT prophets are false, then it is implied that some are not. (That is to say that I take most as meaning not simple some, but not all.) So, if I'm correct so far, then you would affirm that not all OT prophets are false, that is that some are true. So a true prophet, at least in the sense that we mean, would include a miraculous element. And a miracle would, obviously, imply the existence of some form of god. Further, since this god, of whatever type, worked a miracle through this prophet, it would be an implicit confirmation or recognition of the prophets message, including the type of god, let's say, advocated by the prophet as well as the truth of the prophet's religious system, in this case Judaism. From there it's just a few more steps to showing that those prophets labelled as such are not based on the other assumptions. So there are clearly some problems with such a position. A far more reasonable position is that the OT prophets were not false prophets.
As to the question of Dean. I would say certain aspects of Jonah and Hosea might apply. If we are not limited to OT prophets, I'm sure I could come up with some better ones.

Posted by: Aaron at January 10, 2004 03:55 AM

Just because you're right about something doesn't mean you're not a false prophet.

Posted by: shonk at January 11, 2004 04:38 AM

'Just because you’re right about something doesn’t mean you’re not a false prophet.'

But that ignores the jewish concept of prophecy. In Judaism a prophet was not simply a fortune teller. Rather a prophet was a special messenger from God, and a prophecy was a message from God. Sometimes, often perhaps, a prophecy included future events, often times warnings, but not always, but that was not essential. It should be mentioned that Jewish law had strict rules for these future prophesies. But the point is, and I think the jewish use of the term was implied, that if we are to recognize some prophets are true then we are recognizing their message as such. Beyond all this, though, I think a case could be made that the OT prophets were not false prophets.

Posted by: Aaron at January 11, 2004 05:51 AM

The point is, stipulating a Judaic God of some sort, that just because someone purports to be a messenger of God and is generally in-line with the Judaic tradition does not mean that the person is actually a messenger from God. An allusion might be drawn with a calculus exam: a student could correctly state that $\int_0^1 xdx = 1/2$ (the definite integral from 0 to 1 of the function x is equal to 1/2) but for entirely the wrong reason (for example by stating the antiderivative of x as 1/2 instead of (x^2)/2). In such a case we would say that the student's reasoning was basically wrong and that he didn't understand integration. In the same way, a so-called prophet whose message seems more-or-less legitimate is not necessarily an actual messenger from God.

Posted by: shonk at January 11, 2004 12:21 PM

I think this is all much ado about a false distinction. I was certainly devoting more thought to making fun of Howard Dean than to making dogmatic distinctions between the relative truth or falseness of prophets in the Tanach. I don't think it is particularly enlightening to quarrel over which of those prophets are "true," although I do appreciate the point that prophets in the Bible are not simply seers and that "true" and "false" in such a case refers more to the truth of the doctrine they are propounding than to the literal truth of their predictions for the future. It might have been a pretty useless and arbitrary thing to say, but as far as my purposes in making my comment I might just as well have said that all the Biblical prophets are false, particularly as I do not even accept the basic assumption in all of their doctrines, i.e. a theological meaning to the universe. Rather, in such a case, the best response is a humble admission of personal ignorance as to the real theological truth of the universe, but to the extent that I had any agenda in my playful denigration of Biblical prophets I was only motivated by the conviction that, as Tolstoy said, "the whole truth can never be immoral," which I find to be a sufficient epitaph for the warmongers of ancient Israel such as Jeremiah.

Posted by: Curt at January 14, 2004 04:15 AM