The Veil of Isis: An Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature
  • The Veil of Isis: An Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature
  • The Veil of Isis: An Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature

The Veil of Isis: An Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature

by Pierre Hadot
     
 

ISBN-10: 0674023161

ISBN-13: 9780674023161

Pub. Date: 10/30/2006

Publisher: Harvard University Press

Nearly twenty-five hundred years ago the Greek thinker Heraclitus supposedly uttered the cryptic words "Phusis kruptesthai philei." How the aphorism, usually translated as "Nature loves to hide," has haunted Western culture ever since is the subject of this engaging study by Pierre Hadot. Taking the allegorical figure of the veiled goddess Isis as a guide, and

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Overview

Nearly twenty-five hundred years ago the Greek thinker Heraclitus supposedly uttered the cryptic words "Phusis kruptesthai philei." How the aphorism, usually translated as "Nature loves to hide," has haunted Western culture ever since is the subject of this engaging study by Pierre Hadot. Taking the allegorical figure of the veiled goddess Isis as a guide, and drawing on the work of both the ancients and later thinkers such as Goethe, Rilke, Wittgenstein, and Heidegger, Hadot traces successive interpretations of Heraclitus' words. Over time, Hadot finds, "Nature loves to hide" has meant that all that lives tends to die; that Nature wraps herself in myths; and (for Heidegger) that Being unveils as it veils itself. Meanwhile the pronouncement has been used to explain everything from the opacity of the natural world to our modern angst.

From these kaleidoscopic exegeses and usages emerge two contradictory approaches to nature: the Promethean, or experimental-questing, approach, which embraces technology as a means of tearing the veil from Nature and revealing her secrets; and the Orphic, or contemplative-poetic, approach, according to which such a denuding of Nature is a grave trespass. In place of these two attitudes Hadot proposes one suggested by the Romantic vision of Rousseau, Goethe, and Schelling, who saw in the veiled Isis an allegorical expression of the sublime. "Nature is art and art is nature," Hadot writes, inviting us to embrace Isis and all she represents: art makes us intensely aware of how completely we ourselves are not merely surrounded by nature but also part of nature.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674023161
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
10/30/2006
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.50(d)

Table of Contents

Prologue at Ephesus : an enigmatic saying1
1Heraclitus' aphorism : "what is born tends to disappear"7
2From Phusis to nature17
3Secrets of the gods and secrets of nature29
4Heraclitus' aphorism and allegorical exegesis39
5"Nature loves to wrap herself up" : mythical forms and corporeal forms50
6Calypso, or "imagination with the flowing veil"58
7The genius of paganism67
8The "gods of Greece" : pagan myths in a Christian world76
9Prometheus and Orpheus91
10Mechanics and magic from antiquity to the Renaissance101
11Experimental science and the mechanization of nature118
12Criticism of the Promethean attitude138
13Physics as a conjectural science155
14Truth as the daughter of time166
15The study of nature as a spiritual exercise182
16Nature's behavior : thrifty, joyful, or spendthrift?190
17The poetic model201
18Aesthetic perception and the genesis of forms211
19Artemis and Isis233
20Isis has no veils247
21The sacred shudder262
22Nature as sphinx284
23From the secret of nature to the mystery of being309

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