Quora en Français: First impression


Michael Masiello’s answer to Which would be better for humanity in the long run, everyone being a Catholic Christian or everyone being an atheist?

I would argue that what would be better for humanity in the long run has something to do with the cultivation of eudaimonistic virtues — ethical and civic values that aim to maximize human flourishing and minimize discrimination.

The Magister has defined eudaimonistic for us right there. It is a quite resonant word, though you have to be across Ancient Greek philosophy to pick up the nuance (as indeed the Magister is).

Eudaimonia is an Ancient Greek word for happiness. It comes from eu “good” and daimon “daemon”; originally the daimon was not a demon, but a spirit—and a spirit that people have with them. In fact, the notion was not too dissimilar to the notion of a guardian angel.

Aristotle famously defined eudaimonia as the highest human good, and the goal all humans should be working towards. It’s not just being happy for yourself, selfishly. It’s not about getting ripped with hookers and blow. It’s the happiness which comes with being virtuous, righteous. It’s the happiness that sees you flourishing to your full human potential.

It’s the warm fuzzies you get, as if you realise that there’s a guardian angel looking after you—but you know that the guardian angel is only going to be looking after you so long as you Do The Right Thing. And the philosophers weren’t Calvinists: their discussions were all about You doing the right thing, and the eudaimonia being its own reward.

Why can’t we have a nutritionist answering questions about food health instead of a Pixar animator?

We can. Anyone can answer anything about anything, Quora’s creeping credentialism notwithstanding.

As a Quora reader, you have the responsibility to weigh against each other peoples’ credentials, answers, tone, and the exchanges they have in comments (including errors and disagreements pointed out there).

Who shows up on your Quora feed most frequently? Who do you see as soon as you log in?

It really varies according to who I’ve been upvoting of late. Currently, the first two people on my feed refresh are Vicky Prest and Jordan Yates, with astonishing regularity. A month ago, it was Laura Hancock week. I get notifications from Michael Masiello, which I presume is why he’s not more heavily represented on my feed.

Who are people on Quora whose answers you frequently upvote even though you disagree with them?

Dimitra Triantafyllidou and I have a running pretend feud about how we disagree about lots. We don’t disagree about lots, though, and we’re always pleasantly surprised when we disagree about anything! She gets an upvote when we don’t, and she gets an upvote when we do: she argues her point well, and sometimes even changes my mind.

Don’t tell her I said that, though.

I benefit from different political opinions to my left, and I particularly appreciate answers from Victoria Weaver. I’m not going to become a communist, but I’m interested in where’s she’s going with technocommunism, and we have enough good will for each other that’s she’s promised me a lovely bridge to shoot me under, when the Revolution comes.

No, I haven’t listed Clarissa Lohr here. I don’t know that I actually disagree with her all that much. She’s too circumspect about her own ideology for me to.

On my right (and to me, American libertarianism is to my right) I did upvote Rob Weir a fair bit, because he presented that ideological perspective cogently, and I was vaguely interested to hear more. More vaguely than the Quora feed assumed I was: I was soon deluged with libertarianism 24–7, and I ended up muting him.

Which languages have changed the most drastically in the last 1000 years?

When Bergsland and Vogt (1962) debunked the assumption in Glottochronology that core vocabulary is lost at a constant rate among languages [Bergsland, Knut; & Vogt, Hans. (1962). On the validity of glottochronology. Current Anthropology, 3, 115–153], the lexically conservative language they brought up was Icelandic.

The lexically innovative language they brought up was Inuit, which has taboo replacement of words. (If a word has been used as the name of someone recently deceased, or even sounds like it, you get rid of it. It might come back in a couple of generations, if anyone remembers it.) Australian indigenous languages do the same. Such languages may well be stable grammatically, but their vocabulary undergoes a huge amount of churn.

On the YouTube channel “Χριστιανισμός”, which Modern Greek Bible version do they read from? Gallipoli? Seraphim?

OP, you know about the first translation of the New Testament into Modern Greek by Maximus of Gallipoli, in 1638! That is awesome!

And it would be awesome if that was the version that the channel used in the video:

But no. The text is Neophytos Vamvas’ translation, and you can read along here:

N. Vamvas (Bambas) Old and New Testament

You did some great detective work: of course it’s Byzantine Text Type, it’s an Orthodox translation.

The language does look a bit old fashioned, doesn’t it? Not just Koine old fashioned, and not straying very far from the syntax of the original: Τας εντολάς εξεύρεις “you know the commandments”. It sounds not just katharevousa, but positively 18th century.

And indeed: his New Testament translation dates from 1833, with the Old Testament following in 1850.

Here’s the Wikipedia article about the translation: Η Αγία Γραφή, Τα Ιερά Κείμενα Μεταφρασθέντα εκ των Θείων Αρχετύπων – Βικιπαίδεια. And here’s a speech about him from the Archbishop of Athens: Ο Αρχιεπίσκοπος κ. Ιερώνυμος μιλά για τον Νεόφυτο Βάμβα.

The Church of Greece seems to be friendlier towards him now than it would have been at the time: he (or his collaborators) translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew and not from the Septuagint, and knowing he’d get no support from the Orthodox Church, he’d cooperated with the protestant British and Foreign Bible Society, which the Orthodox Church loathed. (In fact his translation is the preferred translation of the Evangelical and Pentecostal churches of Greece, and had also initially been the translation used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.) This Orthodox blog post attacks it as a translation from the King James Bible: Λάθη στή μετάφραση τοῦ Βάμβα. Χρήστος Σαλταούρας.

Vamvas got the idea for the translation in Paris, working with Adamantios Korais, started the translation as a teacher in Corfu, completed it as a teacher in Syros, and then got a job as a philosophy lecturer in the new University of Athens, where he ended up as Dean of Arts.

The Vamvas translation was the only modern translation until the 1960s that didn’t provoke street riots (unlike the demotic translation of the New Testament by Pallis in 1902); and given that it is not a Demotic translation, I suspect it is the favourite of the Orthodox church now, even if they distanced themselves from it beforehand.