[lit-ideas] Re: Rome and the Barbarians

  • From: "Walter C. Okshevsky" <wokshevs@xxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2014 07:49:18 -0230

I take it your "No" is a transcendental statement.  Cheers, Walter



Quoting Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>:

> All this reference to historical stuff leads me to ask whether such material
> is
> of any relevance to philosophy. Isn't the soundness of philosophical (i.e.
> transcendental) analysis independent of historical, cultural and political
> influence? 
> 
> 
> *No.
> 
> O.K.
> On Thursday, April 10, 2014 11:14 PM, Walter C. Okshevsky <wokshevs@xxxxxx>
> wrote:
>  
> All this reference to historical stuff leads me to ask whether such material
> is
> of any relevance to philosophy. Isn't the soundness of philosophical (i.e.
> transcendental) analysis independent of historical, cultural and political
> influence? 
> 
> And if such a differentiation cannot be made, what happens to the
> transcendental
> distinction between the "context of discovery" and the "context of
> justification." And then there's the genetic fallacy ... 
> 
> Walter O
> MUN
> 
> 
> Quoting Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>:
> 
> > Odoacre had to apply to the Eastern empire in order to obtain some form of
> > legitimacy, and he was granted the title of patrician. One reason he could
> > not apply for the title of emperor was that Julius Nepos, who had been
> > previously named an emperor in the West by Eastern Roman Emperor Leo I
> (and
> > was married to Leo's niece) was still alive at the time.
> > 
> > O.K.
> > On Thursday, April 10, 2014 10:22 PM, "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx"
> > <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx> wrote:
> >  
> > Yes, the Barbarians, not the Barberinis!
> > 
> > In a message dated 4/10/2014 2:52:28 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
> > profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx writes:
> > "What an interesting piece, at least for  someone whose period is not 
> > Roman.  I particularly liked the suggestion at  the end that one
> reason
> > there are 
> > so many theories is that there is so little  evidence.  I began work
> right 
> > away on Ritchie's Law, an equation  demonstrating the relationship
> between 
> > volume of evidence V and number of  theories N, when I realized that
> > escaping 
> > this law's embrace would be Theory  (with a big T), that wadge of 
> > scholarship which exists with its own particular  relationship to
> > evidence.  Would 
> > Theory have to have its own equation or  equations, possibly in some
> manner 
> > akin to the relationship between Newtonian  and Quantum equations? 
> And
> > then I 
> > remembered Elizabeth Potter's recent  book suggesting links among
> Boyle's 
> > law and class and gender relations in the  era in which it was
> created. 
> > What 
> > might I be demonstrating about my own  humble existence if I went
> through 
> > with the project?  Discouraged, I cast  about for a more manageable
> task, 
> > making for example small changes in the design  of the Brompton bike,
> which
> > was 
> > invented by an un-related Ritchie who, it seems  to me, may have folded
> a 
> > Moulton."
> > 
> > For the record, below, extracts  from the Italian HISTORIOGRAPHY (of the
> 
> > so-called or alleged 'fall' of the Roman  Empire -- I follow Brown in
> using 
> > scare quotes). 
> > 
> > Next: the Barberinis  and the second sack of Rome, as per Pasquino? 
> (*)
> > 
> > Cheers,
> > 
> > Speranza
> > 
> > ---
> > 
> > (*) The famous pasquinata:  "Non fecerunt barbari fecerunt Barberini" --
> 
> > quello che non hanno fatto i  barbari, hanno fatto i Barberini.
> > 
> > Heather's book was translated to the  Italian, but I don't think
> complete 
> > with subtitle -- with the PROVOCATIVE  subtitle by Heather, I mean,
> which 
> > explicitly makes a mention to the barbarians  ("Aren't we all?").
> > 
> > I'll try to paraphrase each paragraph of  Heather's complex theory as 
> > historiographically examined by the It. Wikipedia  at
> > 
> >
> http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caduta_dell'Impero_romano_d'Occidente_(storiogr
> > afia)  
> > 
> > "HEATHER, in contrasto con sostenitori della teoria della caduta  
> > dell'Impero come una "trasformazione" senza rotture brusche, afferma in
> "La 
> > caduta 
> > dell'Impero romano: una nuova storia"  che la causa prima della 
> "caduta" 
> > dell'Impero fu l'evento devastante delle invasioni  barbariche."
> > 
> > 
> > --- which is what L. Helm was emphasizing. Indeed,  the very phrase,
> ‘
> > barbarian invasion’ seems theory-laden. I would prefer to  speak
> of
> > migration 
> > due, who knows, to over-population (those Germanics kept  reproducing!)
> > 
> > The Italian wiki goes on:
> > 
> > “Heather afferma che Roma,  per affrontare la minaccia sasanide,
> dovette 
> > concentrare buona parte delle sue  forze (il 40% dell'esercito romano 
> > d'Oriente) sul limes orientale.â€
> > 
> > I  think the idea of ‘pars occidentalis’ and ‘pars
> orientalis’ is a
> > good 
> > cause. I  mean, what’s the good of an empire which is going to
> have two 
> > parts. Imagine if  Victoria (the Queen) had allowed for Australasia to
> be
> > part 
> > of the Eastern  British Empire! “Stuff and nonsense!†–
> she would
> > typically 
> > NOT be  amused.
> > 
> > The Wikipedia goes on:
> > 
> > “Secondo la storiografia più  diffusa tale riorganizzazione
> dello stato, 
> > operata da Diocleziano e Costantino I  nel tentativo di risolvere la
> crisi 
> > persiana, portò a un declino generalizzato  dell'economiaâ€.
> > 
> > I.e. imperial bureaucracy meant economic decline. I can  identify with
> that!
> > 
> > --- and this brought an increase in  taxation.
> > 
> > “Heather smentisce queste tesi di un declino generalizzato 
> dell'economia 
> > rurale nel tardo impero sulla base di recenti studi  archeologiciâ€
> > 
> > This is interesting in that it mentions the EVIDENCE. For  indeed, here,
> 
> > for the historian, the issue is between THEORY and  EVIDENCE.
> > 
> > For the philosopher of history (alla Montesquieu, or Hegel, or  –
> Grice!) 
> > it may be different!
> > 
> > Heather speaks of a “fiscalismo oppressivo  del Tardo Imperoâ€
> – an 
> > oppressive fiscalism. Which reminds me of a Tea Party at  Boston (I
> never
> > say “in†
> > Boston).
> > 
> > Of course one has to distinguish of the  once and future Italy (and
> Roma, 
> > the eternal city) and the Roman empire proper.  The evidence Heather
> gathers
> > 
> > is extra-Italian, it seems. What is a fact, though  is what the
> Wikipedia 
> > refers to as 
> > 
> > “a partire dal IV secolo, un declino  nelle città†–
> of the cities, 
> > including Rome.
> > 
> > A decline in the city of  Rome – which I think is in the end,
> unless you 
> > are a proud Roman, a good thing,  since there is more to Italy than the 
> > Colosseum!
> > 
> > What happened, and this  I think is retained in the passage Ritchie was 
> > referring to:
> > 
> > "i literati  proprietari terrieri provinciali ora volsero la loro 
> > attenzione a dov'era il  denaro … passato dalle politiche
> provinciali e
> > locali alle 
> > burocrazie  imperiali."
> > 
> > So what about the ‘bararians’ that count, i.e. the
> Germans?  (or 
> > Germanic)? – since it was the Germanic people who held military
> office as 
> > more or 
> > less mercenary – fighting ‘for the glory of Rome’, yet
> holding an 
> > underlying 
> > different idea of ‘nationality’ (or kinship).
> > 
> > “La crescita  della prosperità dovuta ai contatti con l'Impero
> aveva 
> > condotto a disparità di  ricchezza sufficienti a creare una classe
> > dominante in 
> > grado di mantenere il  controllo su molti più gruppi rispetto che in 
> > precedenza, con il risultato che i  "barbari" erano diventati una
> minaccia
> > più seria.â€
> > 
> > The Germanic  borderline tribes then were becoming ‘rich’
> and developing
> > a 
> > royal  elite.
> > 
> > If Ritchie mentions his law, so does Heather. He uses what he  calls the
> 
> > third principle of dynamics:
> > 
> > “L'estrema aggressività dello  stato romano nei confronti dei
> "Germani" 
> > abbia portato a una reazione uguale e  opposta che abbia permesso ai
> Germani
> > di 
> > reagire alla supremazia romana  riorganizzando la propria società in
> modo 
> > da riuscire a liberarsi dalla  dominazione romana, giungendo infine a 
> > provocarne la caduta.â€
> > 
> > The alleged  ‘fall’ of the Romans then was a logical even
> physical
> > effect 
> > of their aggression  towards the Germans which was soon enough
> reciprocated.
> > 
> > At this point  Heather introduces the Huns and the "effetto domino".
> > 
> > It was the Huns who  got the “Visigoti, Vandali, Alani, Svevi,
> Burgundi a 
> > entrare all'interno dei  confini dell'Impero.â€
> > 
> > ---- and recall that while the Romans cared to  build a few walls in 
> > Northern Britain, the Continent was less  protected?
> > 
> > At this point Heather mentions the co-alition, if that’s the 
> word, of 
> > different Germanic tribes, which looked puzzling to me – In what
> used  to
> > be 
> > Roman Britannia, after all, the Angles were fighting against the Saxons 
> and
> > 
> > the Jutes. So, it was not in their blood to co-operate, as they did, 
> > however, 
> > to join forces against the Romans.
> > 
> > numerica rispetto agli  invasori del V secolo, stimati intorno a 
> > 110.000-120.000 guerrieri.[30] 
> > But  it would be simplistic on Heather’s part to JUST blame the
> Barbarian 
> > or Germanic  movements.
> > 
> > “Inoltre le lotte all'interno dello stato romano per la  conquista
> del 
> > potere imperiale tra i generali.â€
> > 
> > I.e. there was an  internal (or what I would call intestine or civil,
> even) 
> > war, as it were, within  the corridors of power within the “Roman
> stateâ€
> > 
> > (whatever that was at the time),  with one goal, according to Heather:
> the 
> > conquest of Imperial power, and this  was pursued among the warlords
> –
> > where I 
> > would read it to mean “Roman†generals,  proper.
> > 
> > For Heather, the Barbarians, or Germans, were what Aristotle  would call
> 
> > the ‘efficient cause’, even alla Leibniz. Quoting from
> Heather, the  
> > Wikipedia has:
> > 
> > “Senza i barbari, non ci sono prove del fatto che nel V  secolo
> l'Impero 
> > avrebbe comunque cessato di esistere.â€
> > 
> > I.e. you can speak  of the bureaucracy, and the rest of it, but
> “without 
> > the Barbarians,†there are  no proofs (again, note Heather’s
> emphasis on
> > 
> > matters of evidence rather than  free theorising) of the
> ‘fact’ that the
> > Empire 
> > ‘fell’, when the last emperor  ‘abdicated’
> – even if his life was
> > spared, 
> > he was giving a princely pension, and  his ‘successor’
> showed all the 
> > respect he could, calling himself ‘rex Italiae’,  king of
> Italy, all the
> > Roman 
> > institutions like the Senate – and stuff. He even  learned proper
> Italian!
> > 
> > The local Roman (ethnically Roman, as it were)  army could not,
> according 
> > to Heather, cope with “dei foederati germaniciâ€, the  Germanic
> foederati
> > – 
> > there is no strict translation for this, but ‘federal’ 
> comes to mind.
> > 
> > “provocandoâ€, according to Heather, “la “cadutaâ€
> finale 
> > dell'Impero e la 
> > formazione dei regni romano-barbariciâ€, i.e. the formation of  the
> > kingdoms 
> > (such as the kingdom of Italy, under Odoacre) which Heather labels 
> ‘
> > Roman-barbarian’, but some prefer to label
> ‘Latin-German’ or
> > Roman-Germanic’  
> > (to avoid the hateful implicature of ‘barbarian’ especially
> vis-à-vis 
> > theories  that are built on the base of the VIRTUES these peoples
> brought to
> > the  s
> > cene!
> > 
> > “Tuttavia Heather non ritiene che la "caduta" di Roma fosse per 
> questi 
> > rapporti di forze inevitabile ma, a suo parere, fu dovuta anche alla 
> > casualità 
> > di vari avvenimenti che se avessero avuto esito diverso avrebbero 
> potuto 
> > ritardarla anche di molto.â€
> > 
> > This point above I found of interest,  and a cross-reference of 
> > meta-history and philosophy of history. Surely there is  no HISTORICAL
> > INEVITABILITY, 
> > and I wonder what readership Heather is having in  mind (not
> philosophers!).
> > 
> > On top of that, Heather enages in counter-factual  reasoning that HAS
> been 
> > criticized by philosophers of history (such as  Danto?).
> > 
> > At this point, there is a mention of a battle loss. And this can  be 
> > generalized. In the standard historiography which is political, rather
> than 
> > 
> > social, it is all about who wins what battle. And surely Heather can occupy
> > a  
> > few passages expanding on what battles the Romans could have won that would
> 
> > NOT  have led to the alleged ‘fall’ of the Empire.
> > 
> > (I prefer another trend in  historiography: Odoacre could NOT have used
> the 
> > title of ‘emperor’, because he  was just a
> ‘patrician’ of the
> > ‘pars 
> > orientalis’ of the Empire. Hence he chose to  call himself
> ‘rex’,
> > king. Had he 
> > maintained the title of emperor, the ‘fall’  would not have
> happened,
> > and 
> > Humpty Dumpty would still be sitting up on the  wall!
> > 
> > At this point, Heather mentions the “fallimento della spedizione, 
> dovuto 
> > anche a sfortuna meteorologicalâ€, which reminds me of
> Cleopatra’s nose.
> > I  
> > mean, how are we to interpret historical change? My ultimate take is  
> > INTENTIONAL, alla Grice, and Von Wright – history proceeds via the
> > intentions of  
> > historical agents!
> > 
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