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Empiricism in Babylonian Omen Texts and the Classification of Mesopotamian Divination as Science

Francesca Rochberg
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Vol. 119, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1999), pp. 559-569
DOI: 10.2307/604834
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/604834
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Empiricism in Babylonian Omen Texts and the Classification of Mesopotamian Divination as Science
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Abstract

This paper reevaluates the empirical content of Babylonian omen protases in the light of more recent discussions among philosophers of science of the relation between observation and theory, and argues against separating observationally derived phenomena, understood as physical objects of ordinary sense perception, from those derived by use of schematic symmetries. The goal of this paper is to ascertain the criteria of observation implied by omen texts in order to evaluate the "empirical" nature of Mesopotamian divination in the wider framework of the history of science.

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