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#133445 - 09/25/04 12:12 PM the Pythia-Rediscovered
grapho Offline
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Registered: 11/09/03
Posts: 619
Loc: Carpal Tunnel Country
In another thread, Inselpeter searched for the word describing Yeats' theory of the value of intuition.

It concerned -- or named -- his theory that a poet doesn't need or desire to nail everything down, nor to understand anything through and through. That is, I take it, a poet acknowledges the impossibility of so doing, and writes within that limitation

A commentator on Yeats suggests that Yeats had something valuable to say to the scientists of his time.

"I still, however, tend to see the tower as a symbol of “reason,” reason as opposed to “intuition.” The rational thinking of scientists and scholars is continually opposed to the inspiration or intuition of the artist in Yeats’ poetry, as it was in almost all forms of romanticism."

http://lorenwebster.net/In_a_Dark_Time/archives/000111.html

That Yeats had something important to say to the scientists of his day a 100 years ago is perhaps less surprising than the fact that Plutarch had something to say to the scientists of our own day approximately two thousand years ago.

Plutarch studied the Delphic oracle and made meticulous observations of the perfume-like odors which he associated with the entrancements of "the Phythia" who chanted their divinations.

For most of the last century, Plutarch's scholarly observations were dismissed as claptrap. Now, eminent scientists think otherwise. In fact, they actually think modern science has something to learn from Plutarch.

Extract from: "Questioning the Delphic Oracle", Feature article, Scientific American, August, 2003

"Spiller uncovered even more parallels in the reports of experiments on the anesthetic properties of ethylene carried out more than half a century ago by pioneering American anesthesiologist Isabella Herb. She had found that a 20 percent mixture of ethylene produced unconsciousness but that lower concentrations induced a trance state. In most cases, the trance was benign: the patient remained conscious, was able to sit up and to respond to questions, experienced out-of-body feelings and euphoria, and had amnesia after being taken off the gas. But occasionally Herb would see violent reactions, the patient uttering wild, incoherent cries and thrashing about. Had a patient vomited during such a frenzy and ingested some of the vomit into the lungs, pneumonia and death would inevitably have followed. Thus, according to Spiller's analysis, inhaling ethylene could account for all the various descriptions of the pneuma at Delphi--its sweet odor and its variable effects on human subjects, including even the potential for death.

Spiller uncovered even more parallels in the reports of experiments on the anesthetic properties of ethylene carried out more than half a century ago by pioneering American anesthesiologist Isabella Herb. She had found that a 20 percent mixture of ethylene produced unconsciousness but that lower concentrations induced a trance state. In most cases, the trance was benign: the patient remained conscious, was able to sit up and to respond to questions, experienced out-of-body feelings and euphoria, and had amnesia after being taken off the gas. But occasionally Herb would see violent reactions, the patient uttering wild, incoherent cries and thrashing about. Had a patient vomited during such a frenzy and ingested some of the vomit into the lungs, pneumonia and death would inevitably have followed. Thus, according to Spiller's analysis, inhaling ethylene could account for all the various descriptions of the pneuma at Delphi--its sweet odor and its variable effects on human subjects, including even the potential for death.

....

The primary lesson we took away from our Delphic oracle project is not the well-worn message that modern science can elucidate ancient curiosities. Perhaps more important is how much we have to gain if we approach problems with the same broad-minded and inter-disciplinary attitude that the greeks themselves displayed."

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=0009BD34-398C-1F0A-97AE80A84189EEDF&pageNumber=5&catID=2




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#133446 - 09/25/04 12:18 PM Re: the Pythia-Rediscovered
plutarch Offline
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Registered: 10/10/01
Posts: 1385
For most of the last century, Plutarch's scholarly observations were dismissed as claptrap. Now, eminent scientists think otherwise. In fact, they actually think modern science has something to learn from Plutarch.

Thank you, Grapho. I couldn't have said it better myself.



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