«New research indicates that Plato and Aristotle were right: Philosophy and the term “love of wisdom” hail from Egypt.»
A new text by the historian of ideas Dag Herbjørnsrud at the Blog of the American Philosophical Association (APA), Dec 17th 2018: «The Radical Philosophy of Egypt: Forget God and Family, Write!»
«A remarkable example of classical Egyptian philosophy is found in a 3,200-year-old text named “The Immortality of Writers.” This skeptical, rationalistic, and revolutionary manuscript was discovered during excavations in the 1920s, in the ancient scribal village of Deir El-Medina, across the Nile from Luxor, some 400 miles up the river from Cairo. Fittingly, this intellectual village was originally known as Set Maat: “Place of Truth.”
The paper containing the twenty horizontal lines of “The Immortality of Writers” is divided into sections by rubrication. They seem composed to be read aloud, as the Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson points out in his new Penguin Books translation.»
«After all, women owned property, could buy land, and were equal to men in the ancient Egyptian court. One evidence of this, is the will – dated November 1147 BCE – of the woman Naunakht, who described herself as “a free woman of the land of Pharaoh.” She owned an impressive library of papyri; including the Dream Book, the world’s oldest interpretations of dreams. In Naunakht’s will, presented for a court of fourteen witnesses, she disinherits three of her adult children as they did not care enough for her. One of the disinherited was her workman son; she also rejected to give him any property from her first husband.
Furthermore, one of the most powerful pharaohs in Egyptian history was the woman Hatshepsut (1507–1458 BCE) of the 18th Dynasty. While the female pharaoh Twoseret (d. 1189 BCE) was the last ruler of the 19th Dynasty, as Kara Cooney attests in her new book When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt.»
Hence, it should come as no surprise that not only the oldest but also some of the most original ancient philosophical texts in writing stem from Egypt. A similar point was also made by the foremost of the Greek philosophers: Isocrates (b. 436 BCE) states, in Busiris, that “all men agree the Egyptians are the healthiest and most long of life among men; and then for the soul they introduced philosophy’s training…”
«Isocrates was 16 years Plato’s senior, a founder of the rhetoric school in Athens, and he declared that Greeks writers traveled to Egypt to seek knowledge. One of them was Pythagoras of Samos who “was first to bring to the Greeks all philosophy.”
These Greek descriptions of Egypt have often been disregarded in the past couple of hundred years. But the scholarship of the 21st century has opened up a new possibility: the founding Greek word philosophos, lover of wisdom, is itself a borrowing from and translation of the Egyptian concept mer-rekh (mr-rḫ) which literally means “lover of wisdom,” or knowledge.
In 2005, The Book of Thoth was finally collected and translated into English. This text originates partly from the 12th century BCE, as Egyptologist Joachim Quack has pointed out. And in this book, “the-one-who-loves-knowledge” (mer-rekh) is a central figure. The philosopher (mer-rekh) is the scholar who desires to know the wisdom of Thoth, the author of books.
The translators of the Thoth book, Richard Jasnow and Karl-Theodor Zauzich, note the word mer-rekh and its “striking Egyptian parallel to Greek Philosophos.” As Ian Rutherford pointed out in 2016, Quack has demonstrated that the Pythagorean concept of akousmata is indebted to Demotic wisdom, arguing “even that the Greek term ‘philosophos’ is based on Egyptian.”
The Greek respect for the Egyptian love of wisdom, philosophy, is a context that can explain Plato’s statement in Phaedrus that the Egyptian Thoth “invented numbers and arithmetic… and, most important of all, letters.” This also makes it easier to understand Socrates, who in Plato’s Timaeus quotes the ancient Egyptian wise men when the law-giver Solon travels to Egypt to learn: “O Solon, Solon, you Greeks are always children.”
In addition, Aristotle attests to Egypt being the original land of wisdom, as when he states in Politics that “Egyptians are reputed to be the oldest of nations, but they have always had laws and a political system.”