Publisher’s note: This book investigates some of the central topics of metaphysics in the philosophical thought of the Maya people of Mesoamerica, particularly from the Preclassic through Postclassic periods. This book covers the topics of time, change, identity, and truth, through comparative investigation integrating Maya texts and practices — such as Classic Period stelae, Postclassic Codices, and Colonial-era texts such as the Popol Vuh and the books of Chilam Balam — and early Chinese philosophy.
Comment (from this Blueprint): McLeod begins by asking whether, for ancient Mayans, the name of rulers or gods is a case of proper names or of function names, i.e. a description of a role. He is interested in a Mayan view discussed in previous chapters according to which the attributes of e.g. an exemplary ruler are attached to the role they fulfilled. For McLeod, the Mayan view is partly supported by their metaphysical views on the self. As preamble to his discussion of the Mayan notion of personhood, McLeod provides some comparison between the Mayan view of the self to that of other traditions. He refers, too, to the sacrality of objects discussed in the previous session. McLeod, then, moves on to discuss the ideas that Mayan personhood can be collective and that someone’s essence can extend to material artifacts. The text also includes a discussion of the Mayan notion of substitution (k’ex), the act in which someone took the essence of a god.