Watchtower of Hindsight
A response to a LinkedIn discussion on the legitimacy of "research of literary material written far removed by us, timewise, using modern knowledge"
Hindsight is a great source of insight. And one of the advantages of studying a work from the past is that we stand in a position of hindsight, and can see (for instance because of future developments in the genre of the work, or later studies on its subject matter) many things which were invisible, or only partially visible, to the author. We also have the tradition of commentaries of that work at our disposal—and that is something no contemporary of the author may know. Contemporaries do have their own set of advantages, as regards the response to a work, but we latecomers should not forgo the special benefits afforded by our retrospective watchtower.