It would, moreover, be interesting to psychologize some historical psychologists.

From Pierre Hadot’s The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (pg 257, translation of  La Citadelle Intérieure. Introduction aux Pensées de Marc Aurèle).  Hadot in his writing – and even more so in the little I’ve read of his personal side – was typically as gentle and easygoing as befits a former priest turned scholar of Greek and Roman philosophy as lived philosophy.  But every now and then some of the more enterprising revisionists set him off and you get a glimmer of his wit sharpened to a different direction:

I believe I have sufficiently demonstrated the workings of a certain type of historical psychology.  Generally speaking, it is based upon ignorance of the modes of thought and composition of ancient authors, and it anachronistically projects modern representations back upon ancient texts.  It would, moreover, be interesting to psychologize some historical psychologists; I believe we could discover in them two tendencies. One is iconoclastic: it takes pleasure in attacking such figures as Plotinus or Marcus Aurelius, for example, who are naively respected by right-thinking people. The other is reductionist: it considers that all elevation of soul or of thought, all moral heroism, and all grandiose views of the universe can only be morbid and abnormal.  Everything has to be explained by sex or drugs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s