Damien F. Mackey
I do not know whether Eduard Meyer, a German, was himself also a Kantian by philosophical persuasion, but Meyer certainly did to Egyptian chronology what Kant claimed the physicists were doing to the order of nature. He actively imposed his pre-conceived mathematical system, which, unfortunately, has no compelling basis in reality. His elabo-structure, like some clumsy and mis-placed scaffolding offering no practical points of reference, is basically the model that is so lauded today, whilst the real Egyptian history awaits its Tutankhamun-ian resurrection.
Though I would be far from describing myself as ‘Kantian’, my favourite book on the subject of the philosophy of science is Gavin Ardley’s Aquinas and Kant: The Foundations of the Modern Sciences, in which Dr. Ardley gives the credit to Immanuel Kant for having uncovered the nature of modern theoretical science (or physics). The modern physicist apparently, quite unlike the earlier scientists, does not seek to study nature as it really is (Kant’s Ding an sich), but, instead (and this is Kant’s immense contribution), actively imposes his/her ‘a priori’ mental constructs upon nature. According to Ardley this is for utilitarian and/or commercial purposes.
Now I believe that a similar type of artificial ‘a priori’ process has been applied by the Berlin School of Egyptology’s Eduard Meyer to ancient Egyptian chronology, which then became the yardstick for the chronologies of other ancient nations.
Meyer’s ‘Sothic Theory’
an unmitigated disaster
The pattern of this series has been to distinguish between the two orders of things, namely:
(i) the real nature of things or underlying and unchanging reality behind the appearances, and
(ii) that which exists not by nature, but by artifice, convention, custom, or usage. It is man-made, and not part of the everlasting order of the world.
- known to the ancient Greeks as, respectively, (i) physis, and (ii) nomos.
The reason for taking pains to make the distinction is so that the artificial is not taken for reality, and virtually idolised (as with those ancient man-made idols), as so often tends to happen.
The order of nomos we have found to serve some most useful purposes, as aide-mémoire, as points of reference – for example, in the case of the artificial numbering of biblical texts into chapters and verses.
As long as one does not lose sight of the underlying reality, though.
For, in the case of the modern numbering of the Bible, the artificial divisions can also be an impediment when it comes to one’s grasping the original intentions and meanings of the authors. I gave an example of this previously.
But, whilst the mathematising of the Scriptures has proven to be a most effective contribution to biblical studies - though with the types of limitations just referred to - Berlin chronologist Eduard Meyer’s attempt to bring some type of mathematical (astronomically-based) order to the highly complex Egyptian chronology (30 dynasties), laudable though his intentions may have been, has had the most disastrous results from which ancient history is yet far from recovering. For a handy summary of all of this, see my:
The Fall of the Sothic Theory: Egyptian Chronology Revisited