The Open Past: Subjectivity and Remembering in the Talmud

The Open Past: Subjectivity and Remembering in the Talmud

The Open Past: Subjectivity and Remembering in the Talmud

The Open Past: Subjectivity and Remembering in the Talmud

Excerpt

Zero and the “imaginary number” i in mathematics; paper money in economics; the vanishing point and the royal vista point in perspectivist painting; the free will of a person bound by the chain of causes and effects in the physical world as posited in theology; virtue as a power to practice what is known to be right (as opposed to only knowing what is right) in ethics—all these make up a short list of examples of the virtual. These examples entail agents, agencies, or instances that actively participate in the real world without being real in the same way in which other things in that world are. Historically, some of the above examples of the virtual came to life in the Middle Ages, well before computer gaming or digital consumption in general both dominated and shaped our ideas about virtual worlds, peoples, and lives. Other examples of virtual agencies hark back to even earlier times and are even more complex. Such older examples include the characters in philosophical dialogues, who are neither present on the stage nor absent, that is, present somewhere else in the world, but rather are not only discussed in the dialogue as its subject matter, but also take active, indeed leading parts in the conversation.

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