Monday, January 07, 2008

Happy New Year!

Be it resolved that I hereby pledge to post at least once a week, and hopefully a lot more. Now if politics, global conflicts, my own theological intake, family life, and personal interests would only cooperate to provide me with both interesting things to blog about and the time to do it, I'll be set!

Interesting observation of the day, so that this post isn't total fluff: this post, as are many other posts, is labeled "meta". In common parlance, the prefix "meta" has come to imply "having to do with the thing itself rather than the content of that thing" -- so in this case, having to do with me, the blogger, rather than any topic on which I might blog. More generally, it seems that the "meta" prefix implies a "one level higher" quality to the thing to which it is attached -- so that the meta-information about, say, a digital photograph, does not tell us what is depicted in the photograph, but rather when it was taken, and on what equipment. It implies a "deeper look" into things. My contention is that these connotations come from the use of the prefix in the word metaphysics, in which case the subject matter of that particular field loaned some of its significance to a mere part of the word that described it!

What makes this interesting to me is the following: We call "metaphysics" that because of Aristotle's work entitled, colloquially, "Metaphysics", which in its own way "founded" that field of study. However, the actual "title" of that work, &tau&alpha &mu&epsilon&tau&alpha &tau&alpha &phi&upsilon&sigma&iota&kappa&alpha, is nothing more than a descriptor of where the work itself was located -- in a particular collection of Aristotle's work, it was located after (&mu&epsilon&tau&alpha -- "meta") his discussion of Physics! (&phi&upsilon&sigma&iota&kappa&alpha -- "physica"). So not to get all "meta" on the origins and use of "meta", but the historical significance of the usage of the word lies in the completely uninteresting way in which it was used!

I suppose it's fortunate that Aristotle's discussion wasn't located after, say, a collection of his grocery shopping lists, or we'd have to study Metagorics!*


(* lame second-year Greek student (autodidactic) attempt at humor; &alpha&gamma&omicron&rho&alpha == "market")

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Marty said...

I'm the first commenting witness to your metamorphosis into a regular blogger. Your promise is a bit less ambitious than mine, but represents a much bigger percentage increase. Keep up the good work. I never met a post of yours that I didn't like.

BTW, you need a new label category. "Geek". But maybe there would be little information added by creating such a label. At least your posts would be cross filed under it.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Marty said...

The last sentence should read "At least half your posts would be cross filed under it."

9:23 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Well, Marty, if I stick to my pledge to post once a week, it would, technically speaking, be a reduction in my overall blogging output. I have 145 blog posts since 11/11/05, the first time I ever posted here. Doing the math indicates that I have been blogging for approximately 112 weeks, for a post-per-week rate of about 1.3. Of course, my variance might be a bit high, considering I tend to be "bursty" in my output. But my point is made. Hooray for Math!

2:49 PM  

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