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The prenatal influence of visual impressions
#1
The prenatal influence of visual impressions
Here's a curious passage in Genesis that I hadn't really noticed before today. I came across it while reading Augustine's City of God:
Quote:And Jacob took rods of green poplar and of the hazel and chestnut tree, and peeled white strips in them and made the white appear which was in the rods. And he set the rods which he had peeled before the flocks in the gutters, in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink. And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth animals ringstreaked, speckled and spotted.

Genesis 30:37-39
Apparently, the biblical writers - and Augustine - believed that if the lambs and goats had a visual impression of stripes while they were mating and conceiving, some kind of prenatal influence would cause the offspring to assume the same form...LOL. Here's Augustine's thoughts on the matter, in the context of the Egyptians worshipping the bull-deity Apis:
Quote:When this bull died, a calf of the same colouring was sought, that is, one similarly marked with special white patches; and it was always found. Therefore they supposed it to be some kind of miracle, divinely provided for them. It was, in fact, no great task for demons, bent on deceiving them, to display to a cow which had conceived and was pregnant a phantom of a bull, which the cow alone could see, so that the mother's desire should from that stimulus induce the marks which would then appear in her young. This was how Jacob ensured the birth of parti-coloured lambs and goats by the use of variegated rods. Doubtless what men can achieve, by means of material things and colours, demons have no difficulty in effecting, by displaying unreal shapes to animals at the time of conception.

Book XVIII, chapter 5
I wish I could say that the divine idiocy, which is such a common feature in both of these bloated works, couldn't get much worse (or is better more appropriate here?) but...
He who loves God cannot endeavour that God should love him in return - Baruch Spinoza
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#2
RE: The prenatal influence of visual impressions
Oh, this is rich. This is from young earth creationist Henry Morris:
Quote:It should not be overlooked, however, that Jacob was over ninety years old at this time, that he was a very intelligent and [a] careful observer, and that he had spent most of his long life raising and studying cattle, sheep, and goats. He would have been most unlikely to have been taken in by a groundless superstition....

There is a great deal, even today, that scientists have not been able to work out concerning the transmission of hereditary factors. In a certain population, there are multitudes of different characteristics which may appear in different individual animals of that species. The variational potential in the DNA molecular structure is tremendous. Exactly what it is that determines the actual characteristics a particular individual [or animal] may have, out of all the potential characteristics that are theoretically available in the gene pool, is not yet known in any significant degree. It may be that Jacob had learned certain things about these animals which modern biologists have not yet even approached.
????
He who loves God cannot endeavour that God should love him in return - Baruch Spinoza
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#3
RE: The prenatal influence of visual impressions
They were so advanced back then. If only we had that cutting edge technology known as "90 year old farmer" today.

There's absolutely no excuse for believing that bullshit today, but I can imagine living back then and seeing an animal adapted to its surroundings to such a degree that they resemble it, and then thinking "Must be from what they see at conception. Wonder what would happen if I showed them this pattern?" But this seems to be an attempt at explaining why some animals have counter-intuitive patterns that couldn't be explained by their obvious resemblance to their surroundings.
I can't remember where this verse is from, I think it got removed from canon:

"I don't hang around with mostly men because I'm gay. It's because men are better than women. Better trained, better equipped...better. Just better! I'm not gay."

For context, this is the previous verse:

"Hi Jesus" -robvalue
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#4
RE: The prenatal influence of visual impressions
I'll be more conscientious, should I decide to conceive in the future. I'll reproduce during the Olympic Games, on top of a pile of Encyclopedia Brittanicas. 
Wouldn't hurt to have a few of those cartoon money-bags with the $ signs on them lying around as well. Wink
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#5
RE: The prenatal influence of visual impressions
You are actually reading the City of God?  Why?  If you feel you must try some Augustine, he wrote some much shorter books that will give you the idea of how bad he is.

Since you seem to be a glutton for punishment, you should look forward to reading Aquinas when you get to his time period.  He is even worse than Augustine.

"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence."
— David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section X, Part I.
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#6
RE: The prenatal influence of visual impressions
(October 14, 2015 at 2:47 pm)Thena323 Wrote: I'll be more conscientious, should I decide to conceive in the future. I'll reproduce during the Olympic Games, on top of a pile of Encyclopedia Brittanicas. 
Wouldn't hurt to have a few of those cartoon money-bags with the $ signs on them lying around as well. Wink

Oh, I wish I could give triple kudos.  That one gave me a good laugh

Spit Coffee
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#7
RE: The prenatal influence of visual impressions
(October 14, 2015 at 3:41 pm)Pyrrho Wrote: You are actually reading the City of God?  Why?  If you feel you must try some Augustine, he wrote some much shorter books that will give you the idea of how bad he is.

Since you seem to be a glutton for punishment, you should look forward to reading Aquinas when you get to his time period.  He is even worse than Augustine.
It seemed unavoidable. I'm trying to really cover all of the major points in my survey of the history of Western philosophy. I read the Confessions before this. Much better. City of God has some good moments, but far too much of it (and there's a lot) is like the above quote.
He who loves God cannot endeavour that God should love him in return - Baruch Spinoza
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#8
RE: The prenatal influence of visual impressions
(October 14, 2015 at 10:17 pm)Nestor Wrote:
(October 14, 2015 at 3:41 pm)Pyrrho Wrote: You are actually reading the City of God?  Why?  If you feel you must try some Augustine, he wrote some much shorter books that will give you the idea of how bad he is.

Since you seem to be a glutton for punishment, you should look forward to reading Aquinas when you get to his time period.  He is even worse than Augustine.
It seemed unavoidable. I'm trying to really cover all of the major points in my survey of the history of Western philosophy. I read the Confessions before this. Much better. City of God has some good moments, but far too much of it (and there's a lot) is like the above quote.


Here is the advice I gave previously about Augustine:

(August 30, 2015 at 1:57 pm)Pyrrho Wrote:
(August 30, 2015 at 1:17 pm)Randy Carson Wrote: Will your reading of the great works of history eventually include authors such as Augustine, Aquinas and others who were thoroughly Catholic?

If he does, I can make some suggestions for him.  I have read some Augustine.  If he wants a brief introduction to his thought, The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love is probably the best choice.  The Confessions is a popular choice, and one can read in it what a total asshole he was (both before and after he converted; for example, his attitudes toward women are appalling).  One should make sure one gets an unabridged version, as there is an interesting discussion of time in it that is worth reading.  It is theologically motivated, of course, but it is strikingly modern and interesting for his era.  The City of God is probably his most famous book, but it is long.  And that is a vice in a book by Augustine, as he has a tediousness about him that is hard enough to stomach [figure of speech intended] even in a short book.

One can find a list of his works here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine_...bliography

Almost no one is going to read all of them.  And for the sane reader, all it will take is reading a couple of them to convince one not to try to read them all.

And once one has read some Augustine, if one wants worse, one can move on to Aquinas.

Of course, it is a question of what your goals are.  I have a couple of ethics textbooks that are anthologies that include excerpts from Augustine (along with many others) to give the reader the main ideas.  They chose to use excerpts from both The City of God and the Enchiridion.  Given that they were wanting to give an overview, and were not interested in complete works, that was probably their best option.

Do you plan on reading any more Augustine, or do you think the City of God will finish him off for you?

Although I have read a couple of books by Augustine, I do not plan on ever reading another one.  Nor do I plan on rereading any of those I have read.  Sure, if you want an overview of all of the major names in philosophy (both good and bad ones), you should read some of him, but I would not think that the City of God is strictly necessary.  But it is your life.  On the plus side, you seem to read rather quickly.

"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence."
— David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section X, Part I.
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#9
RE: The prenatal influence of visual impressions
(October 14, 2015 at 10:46 pm)Pyrrho Wrote:
(October 14, 2015 at 10:17 pm)Nestor Wrote: It seemed unavoidable. I'm trying to really cover all of the major points in my survey of the history of Western philosophy. I read the Confessions before this. Much better. City of God has some good moments, but far too much of it (and there's a lot) is like the above quote.


Here is the advice I gave previously about Augustine:

(August 30, 2015 at 1:57 pm)Pyrrho Wrote: If he does, I can make some suggestions for him.  I have read some Augustine.  If he wants a brief introduction to his thought, The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love is probably the best choice.  The Confessions is a popular choice, and one can read in it what a total asshole he was (both before and after he converted; for example, his attitudes toward women are appalling).  One should make sure one gets an unabridged version, as there is an interesting discussion of time in it that is worth reading.  It is theologically motivated, of course, but it is strikingly modern and interesting for his era.  The City of God is probably his most famous book, but it is long.  And that is a vice in a book by Augustine, as he has a tediousness about him that is hard enough to stomach [figure of speech intended] even in a short book.

One can find a list of his works here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine_...bliography

Almost no one is going to read all of them.  And for the sane reader, all it will take is reading a couple of them to convince one not to try to read them all.

And once one has read some Augustine, if one wants worse, one can move on to Aquinas.

Of course, it is a question of what your goals are.  I have a couple of ethics textbooks that are anthologies that include excerpts from Augustine (along with many others) to give the reader the main ideas.  They chose to use excerpts from both The City of God and the Enchiridion.  Given that they were wanting to give an overview, and were not interested in complete works, that was probably their best option.

Do you plan on reading any more Augustine, or do you think the City of God will finish him off for you?

Although I have read a couple of books by Augustine, I do not plan on ever reading another one.  Nor do I plan on rereading any of those I have read.  Sure, if you want an overview of all of the major names in philosophy (both good and bad ones), you should read some of him, but I would not think that the City of God is strictly necessary.  But it is your life.  On the plus side, you seem to read rather quickly.
Ah, I wish I had seen that earlier. The book on time was indeed interesting, though it was pretty much borrowed from the stock material employed by the sceptics in their arguments for and against its existence (which I had previously read in Sextus Empiricus). My favorite book was the one on Memory though. That was a brilliant discussion. I didn't think Augustine came across as an asshole. That would be much more applicable to City of God IMO. After this, which is very soon as I am about 80% through it (thank goodness), I'm DEFINITELY moving on to Boethius.
He who loves God cannot endeavour that God should love him in return - Baruch Spinoza
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#10
RE: The prenatal influence of visual impressions
(October 14, 2015 at 11:11 pm)Nestor Wrote: ... I didn't think Augustine came across as an asshole. That would be much more applicable to City of God IMO. ...

It has been a number of years since I read the Confessions, but think about how upset he was about the pears, and think about the way he cast off women when he was done with them.  (And sending away his child.)  He seems far more upset about the pears, judging by how he goes on and on about them.

"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence."
— David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section X, Part I.
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