Thomas Yaeger


I trained as a historian, and studied ancient history and ancient languages (Greek, Akkadian, Sumerian) at University College London, and the School of Oriental and Asian Studies, I specialised in the neo-Assyrian Empire, and the ancient Near East. I also have a qualification in philosophy. I'm the author of the revolutionary study 'The Sacred History of Being', and two other books. I tweet regularly on ancient history and philosophy, with the Twitter ID @rotorvator.

Smashwords Interview

What are you working on next?
I've just finished 'Understanding Ancient Thought' (published August 20, 2017), which is intended as a companion of sorts to 'The Sacred History of Being' (published in 2015). It is much more discursive in style, and (I think) an easier read. I'm now working on a volume which looks at the same body of ideas, but within a later time frame. It is an interesting story of survival: all the way through the neoplatonists and up to the Italian renaissance. And not much written about since then. It should be available around summer 2018.
What is the story behind your first book?
There are two stories about it. The argument of 'The Sacred History of Being' runs counter to much modern speculation about the origins of philosophy. This isn't down to me being contrarian and vexatious for the sake of it, but because when you look closely at the evidence, the consensus model doesn't hang together properly. The book is both an analysis of what is wrong with our agreed picture of the origins of philosophy, and a preliminary attempt at a reconstruction of a history of the subject which is more likely, and which makes more sense of the evidence.

The second story is how I came to write the book. It started from very little things: I'd been interested in philosophy for many years, and was familiar with Plato and Aristotle, the Sophists, and Greek philosophy in general, I found in a book on Ancient Egyptian literature by the eminent German Egyptologist Adolf Erman, a translation of Akhenaten's Hymn to the Aten, which invoked the idea of completion. I was familiar with that idea from Aristotle, where the concept is a key part of his understanding of how the world is put together. But Aristotle belongs to the 4th century B.C.E. Akhenaten belongs to the *14th century* B.C.E. That's a thousand years or so of difference. How could this be?

That was the start of the project, though I had no idea at the time that I was already in motion, and no clue as to where the project would take me. I had no map. I ended up studying ancient history in London, in order to have a map. There is a story to be told about that. I've addressed part of that story already on my blog and in the course of the book, but a full account of the twists and turns on the way to the writing of The Sacred History of Being might be useful to other researchers who find themselves starting on something completely new.
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Where to find Thomas Yaeger online


Understanding Ancient Thought
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 51,070. Language: British English. Published: August 20, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » History » Essays, Nonfiction » Philosophy » Ancient philosophy
There are many puzzling things about the peoples of the ancient world. Why did they practice the sacrifice of animals? Why did they think they could understand the future by examining the entrails and the liver of a ram? What was the logic beneath the practice of magic? This collection of essays attempts, as far as possible, to understand the ancient world within its original context.
J. G. Frazer and the Platonic Theory of Being
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 22,930. Language: British English. Published: April 4, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Philosophy » Ancient philosophy
James Frazer won a fellowship with an essay on the development of Plato's theory of the Forms or Ideas. In this essay he argued that there was no overarching theory of Being in Plato's mind before he embarked on the writing of his dialogues, and that consequently differences in approach and discussion apparent in his work are the result of development in his thought. Was he right?
The Sacred History of Being
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 113,510. Language: British English. Published: November 2, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » History » Civilization, Nonfiction » Philosophy » Religious philosophy
Did the ancient Greeks invent philosophy, and the concept of Being? That has been the conventional wisdom for many years. In fact philosophy is very old, and its presence can be traced in other cultures in the Ancient Near East, at least as far back as the middle of the 2nd Millennium B.C.E. Thomas Yaeger explores the ancient cultural significance and context of philosophy before the Greeks.

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