Re: Test of The "Timeless" Aorist

Date: Tue May 05 1998 - 17:20:51 EDT

Richard Lindeman wrote:
> George writes:
> >The aorist as the "idea of an action" that has no time designation
> >will usually be derived from observations of instances of that
> >action.
> This is not a description of *aspect*. This is a description of the verbal
> root itself.

Richard ~

I do not claim that this IS a description of aspect. Nor is it a
description of the verbal root. It is quite simply a description of
the process of concept formation that underlies ANY verb or noun. [An
interesting issue here is the difference between verbs and nouns.
Nouns become verbs and vice versa!] The WORD thus produced, when
viewed originatively, is not the 'root', but the 'idea' that refers to
any instantiation of it. It probably then becomes modified into a
root that will accept other verbal elements [time, person, etc.] when
it becomes apparent that the first [aoristic] word needs to be
differentiated according to other considerations, hense the 'building'
of the verb via root and add-ons/ins.

> If no meaning was ever intended to be added to the idea of the
> verbal root itself then why add any tense endings? Of course we can never
> disprove this to you by any number of examples because you will always be
> able to look at any verbal root and find exactly what you are looking for.
> But what you are seeing is in reality the verbal root itself and not aorist
> aspect.

I fear that 'aspect' here is a loaded word. The aspect of the aorist
is generic, you see, and has its endings, just as in English, in the
simple present. You are probably right about my approach being
non-disprovable, for indeed the 'root morph', as I guess the 'root'
must be called, will always BE there. How could it not" Eh?
> I may be wrong, but I believe that aspect normally refers to a vantage
> point or a perspective of the verbal action.

Actually, I tend to think of it as a perspective ON the verbal action,
which is why I see the aspect of the aorist as universal.

> But how can one see the "idea
> of an action"? And how can one visualize "timelessness"? You can't.

Well, my friend, you see, this conceptual 'seeing' is the sine qua non
for ANY concept formation. It is NOT an image like a hazy [or clear]
mental photograph, but is instead very much invisible. Just 'look' at
your own thoughts! You can't 'see' them, but you DO see them
'mentally'. Thus the idea we form from images is itself imageless,
yet it enables us to then 'recognize' particular instantiations of it
when they are visually seen.

The formation of a verbally identified concept, then, is already
'timeless' in this sense, you see, because the idea we have will apply
to any particular instance we might meet up with in any time ~ past,
present or future.
Which is why the perspective OF the aorist is timeless. This is not
hard to understand. I speak simply.

> These
> are so abstract that they generate no visual or even pseudo visual images at
> all.

Nor should they be ~ See above...

> I believe at least in narrative texts of the present, imperfect, and
> aorist tenses that we are invited by the author to "see" the action from a
> particular perspective.

I agree utterly.
> So in effect, what you have done is castrated the aorist tense of *any*
> meaning or significance.

Actually, it is our attempt to restrict the aorist to tense values
that chops off its wings, and confines its vision to the immediacy of
the ground, instead of the horizonless [universal] perspective that
was originally its gift to us.

> It may read well to you. And in some instances
> it may be harmless enough not lead you into a totally wrong interpretation.
> But it will certainly not be helpful in conveying to you any sense of Greek
> aspect.

Could you please give an example, preferably a simple one, where you
might illustrate what this means? This universal, or timeless,
understanding of the aorist [that I have] does not in any way detract
from anything that might be understood of it, except placement in
time. That, it is abundantly clear, is a function of context.

Thanks, Rich ~

George Blaisdell

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