The Known World
The Known World
This chapter details how an inquiry conducive to freedom must reflect on its own processes of knowing. The thinkers of this period take up the question of how inquiry is located through travel and movement through the world described. Unlike tyrants who use inquiry to control the world, Herodotus’s account offers itineraries of inquiry that provide frequent foils to the inherited grids or polarities of his time. Herodotus’s insistent reflection on the particularity he and others encounter through their inquiries distinguishes him from the Hippocratic writers, whose empiricism was limited by inherited polarities and grids and whose inquiries lacked explicit connection to space and time. The tension between these conventional understandings and Herodotus’s itinerant empiricism appears strikingly in Herodotus’s treatment of the Scythians, mostly nomadic peoples in the areas north and west of the Black Sea. These wild frontiers show the porosity and contingency of the inhabited world (oikeomenê) and how its being known depends on the movements of the inquirer.
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