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Author Topic: Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind. Descending Underground in the Search for Ultimate Truth  (Read 1921 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Topic Start: February 04, 2010, 11:03:31 am »

Title: Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind. Descending Underground in the Search for Ultimate Truth
Author(s): Yulia Ustinova
Publisher: Oxford/New York:  Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2009
ISBN: 0199548560
ISBN-13: 9780199548569
Current Price and More Info from Amazon

From the Bryn Mawr Classic Review:
For Plato, metaphorically speaking, ideas are up above and philosophy, the rational search for ultimate truth, is represented as an ascension. Is Plato's view representative of ancient Greek culture? Only in part, argues Yulia Ustinova.

In Greek culture caves were also regarded as privileged places to which one had to descend, physically, to search for ultimate truth through inspired prophecy, which is a direct communication with gods and requires the attainment of a state of ekstasis, mania or enthousiasmos. Only inspired mediums--prophets, poets and sages--were able to do it. One can approach inspired prophecy from different angles, but Ustinova's is rather surprising: it is that of modern neuropsychological research.

Read the full review at the Bryn Mawr Classic Review web site.

Additional Description:
Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind analyses techniques of searching for ultimate wisdom in ancient Greece. The Greeks perceived mental experiences of exceptional intensity as resulting from divine intervention. They believed that to share in the immortals' knowledge, one had to liberate the soul from the burden of the mortal body by attaining an altered state of consciousness, that is, by merging with a superhuman being or through possession by a deity. These states were often attained by inspired mediums, `impresarios of the gods' - prophets, poets, and sages - who descended into caves or underground chambers. Yulia Ustinova juxtaposes ancient testimonies with the results of modern neuropsychological research. This novel approach enables an examination of religious phenomena not only from the outside, but also from the inside: it penetrates the consciousness of people who were engaged in the vision quest, and demonstrates that the darkness of the caves provided conditions vital for their activities.

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