I have developed very significant doubts, throughout my wisdom quest and research, about the very foundations (literary or textual and mythological) of Western Civilization. It began when I discovered the nearly absolute destitution of real (that is “sound”) evidence in favor its primary pillars — the existence of Jesus and the apostles was the first to fall to my scrutiny. Then it would seem that the OT has almost nothing substantively historical to offer — with a few exception taken almost exclusively from the Kings-Chronicles narratives. Next, Alexander’s world conquest — and supposed worldwide Hellenization efforts (which left almost no evidentiary footprint behind) had to be scaled back considerably. Arrian’s account, to my mind, is nearly worthless, being so filled with legend and myth of the Alexander that chases holy grails, with temples and oracles being glorified much too often — just like Herodotos, in the Homeric mythological tradition.
These Three traditions construct Western civilzation, which has lead the world since at least the Renaissance: The Homeric Tradition (adopted and transformed a bit by the Romans from the Greeks); the Hebrew, Biblical Tradition (see Josephos’ Antiquities of the Jews) for its most masterful expression; The Eusebian -Augustian (synthesis) tradition that runs through the Middle Ages until (roughly) the Printing Press (1453), and the fall of Constantinople in the same year.
Each of these traditions bears significant flaws that stem from their earliness, their primitivity (if you will), and the overbearing trust in the “authority” of sources, treated as truthful or accurate, merely for the sake of that (alleged) authority, which turns out upon more critical scrutiny to bear all the actual authority of the Donation of Constantine, introduced to the reading public in roughly 1453 as well.
These are the most recent adventures in my progressively more skeptical studies, persons whose careers (or certain aspects of them) or whose existence I am beginning to doubt. These will occupy several of my upcoming blogposts — I am now doubting:
- Julius Caesar (His death account seems quite spurious)
- The Emperor Justinian (Rests upon almost one source only, Procopius, and his biography of Justinian bears way too many similarities with Constantine to be accurate).
- The Emperor Constantine (has apocryphal features and rests upon dubious source material at many points — the “In this sign you shall conquer” drama is a bit much for many).
- The Emperor Charlemagne (Charles the Great) — has only 3 real sources, and 1 depends on one of the others, making the real sources two in number [The Royal Annals and Nithard]; some parts of Charlemagne’s campaigns seem questionable, and he ends up too much like Alexander as conquerer of way too much for the historiographic comfort of many.
- The Carolingian Dynasty (Slated for closer scrutiny, with source problems similar to those of Charlemagne)
- The Library at Alexandria — too good to be true? If it sounds like it is, it usually is. The historians serving a primary references for its existence turn out to be quite legendary and untrustworthy in many places. And archaeology surprisingly seems to offer little support. I simply have to investigate further.
What does it mean? I am proposing as a world peace initiative a new approach to history that relies far more on archaeology and empirical sciences — and computer science with virtual models for assessing the likelihood — quantifiably — of any particular set of events unfolding, given this or that set of (historical) initial conditions. Once we systematically apply the study of patents to the world of archaeology, working to create a more scientific set of approaches, and a much wider variety of “forensic science” tools (Fractal Geometry and better math too), we should be able to reconstruct human history from the ground floor up, on an ongoing basis, landing at the present moment, at the end of which effort we should offer the best and most complete, universal history to date.