What Is Us Philology?- A History of Identity and Knowledge Creation

What Is Us Philology

What is US Philology? Philology, the study of ancient texts, has been around since the Middle Ages. But US Philology is considering a branch of history and culture rather than a field of pure study. This is because unlike history and culture, philology requires intensive research, interpretation and compilation.


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How many times have we found ourselves in the position of having to interpret something written on a piece of paper or parchment? We have undoubtedly encountered it at least once. The other day I had a conversation with an acquaintance from the UK whose father was a philologist (among other things). His father had immigrated to the US and worked as a professor at a university there.

He proudly showed me his collection of antique books, which in total number was close to a thousand. These included not only classic books but also many volumes of modern classics. The most interesting thing about them, however, was the knowledge that he had gained from them. He told me that he loved his country and considered himself very English. His books had to be antique, he said, because they had not been published when they were first written.

This raises a question, one we may all be thinking: how is US Philology different from Europe’s history of philology? And the answer is this: whereas Europe has had its own academic philology since the twelfth century, the US did not develop its own version until the eighteenth century. It then gained a solid education in the university system of its day. But unlike Europe, which has seen the rise of numerous historic philologists, the US has not produced many of its own great scholars. Consequently, its literary knowledge has not been built up or updated as much.

There are in fact two theories on the subject. One theory says that American knowledge creation is slower than that of Europe. The other suggests that the US is a passive rather than an active society. Philip Zimbardo’s “prison experiment” and his Stanford Prison Experiment have put this theory to the test. The results of the study, it turns out, show that this is true.

Philip Zimbardo’s prison experiment demonstrated that people do not easily change, even when subjected to immense pain. This may prove to be the ultimate test of all philologists. On the other hand, there is also a school of thought that argues that American philology has been radically transformed by socialization. In the case of the Stanford Prison Experiment, some say that the notion of individualism and social hierarchy was too strong for the American system. The study by Price and others casts doubt on this view.

So, what is us? The US might be a behind-the-scenes empire, but it is not a deeply rooted one. The US can be proud of its achievements, but the question that must be asked is how much of those achievements are for show, what is it that actually drives our own cultural and political identity? Philip Zimbardo’s experiment at Stanford University into what he calls the “American Dream” may yet prove to be a turning point for understanding what is us.

Understanding what is in us requires that we ask deeper questions. Questions that go beyond the mere history of the country, beyond our self-defining ideas of what is American, and into the very heart of our being. Asking those deeper questions may indeed help answer the age-old question: what is us? And understanding what is us would allow us to celebrate the success of our history, and avoid the mistakes of our past.

The information is given by Los Filo Logos Website. Thank you for reading!

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