Графични страници
PDF файл



The value of a quotation depends on two things, (1) the habit of accuracy in the person who quotes it, and (2) whether it is quoted from the original or from some intermediate source. Consequently the careful student of the early Greek philosophers, who depends wholly on quotations for his direct knowledge of these thinkers, cannot neglect the consideration of these two questions. Closely connected with the accuracy of quotations is the question as to the accuracy of later writers in the opinions which they have attributed to these thinkers. These topics I propose to consider very briefly, that the student may have at least some clue to guide him in his studies,

[ocr errors]

$1. Wefindin Plato' scarcely any quotations, since the literary character of the dialogue excludes anything that might seem pedantic. There are allusions to certain pbrases of Herakleitos which had already become all but proverbs :—the Herakleitean sun, the harmony of opposites, all in motion' with the example of the river; and the comparison god : man:: man : ape’ is also given as the teaching of Herakleitos. Similarly phrases of Anaxagoras are brought into the dialogues—all things were together,' vous disposed all things,'3 but they hardly deserve the name of quotations. Other allusions to his

1 Cf. the consideration of this topic by Zeller in the Archiv f. d. Gesch. d. Philos. Bd. V. (1892) p. 165 f.

2 See I. Index of Sources, · Plato.' Cf. Krat. 401 D, 402 A, 412 D, 439 B, 440 c, Theaet. 152 D.

3 Phaed. 97 B, Gorg. 465 c, Phaed. 72 c, Legg. 595 A.

theory do not even suggest a quotation. The only real quotations are from Parmenides, and in two of these passages the text as read by Simplicius was corrupt and unmetrical. Simplicius quotes the same passage at one time from Plato, at another time apparently from the original, so that he enables us to correct the form of the quotation which he (or the writer from whom he drew) read in his MS. of Plato. Plato's writings betray no particular interest in any of the pre-Sokratic thinkers except Parmenides and the Pythagorean school, nor do they convey any hint as to the value of the work of the other early thinkers. So it need not surprise us that he alludes to popular phrases and seems rather to avoid exact quotation.

§ 2. Beyond these allusions we get comparatively little light from Plato as to the teachings of his predecessors. Xenophanes is once spoken of as the founder of the Eleatic school and of its doctrine of unity. Parmenides is a far more interesting character to Plato, and the highest regard is expressed for him. When his position as to the unity of being and the non-existence of not-being is discussed, there is no reason to think that his opinions are not correctly given; but when Parmenides is introduced as a speaker, we are not to believe that he states the opinions of the real Parmenides any more than the Platonic Sokrates states the positions of the real Sokrates. Of Zeno we learn that he was skilled in the art of dialectic.4 Zeno's statement of the occasion and purpose of his book 5 is of course Plato's deduction from the book itself. The speculations of Anaxagoras are several times mentioned. The statement that he regarded the heavenly bodies as Nidol' is a welcome addition to our knowledge of his doctrines; and Plato's criticism of Anaxagoras' use of his fundamental principle is most important. Of Empedokles we hear but little ; the statement of his doctrine of sense-perception is a happy exception to the rule. The accuracy of Plato's statements where they can be tested gives an added importance


| Parm. 52, 53 ap. Soph. 237 A, 258 D; 98 ap. Theaet. 180 E; 103– 105 ap. Soph. 244 E; 132 ap. Symp. 178 B.

? Cf. Simpl. Phys. 7 r 29, 42 and 1987, 1.
3 Theaet. 183 E, Soph. 237 A.
4 Phaedr. 261 D.

5 Parm 128 B.
6 Apol. 26 D, Krat. 400 A, 409 A, 413 A, Legg. 967 B.

to what he says about the Pythagoreans. In a word all the data which we have from Plato are valuable, but these data are much fewer than we might expect.

§ 3. Both the citations from earlier philosophers and the statement of their opinions are much more frequent in the writings of Aristotle. Two of his references to the sayings of Herakleitos are not new to the reader of Plato ; indeed Fr. 41 ap. Meta. 1010 a 13 is cited with direct reference to the passage where it is cited in Plato. Fr. 37, if we may accept the conjecture of Patin, 2 is a sarcastic phrase of Herakleitos which Aristotle has introduced seriously into a theory of sense-perception. Fr. 46 and 57 are summary phrases stating the fundamental positions of Herakleitos ; Fr.51 and 55 proverbial sayings attributed to him; Fr. 59 alone has the form of a genuine quotation. It is evident that summary phrases give the philosopher's impression, just as proverbial sayings may come through the medium of popular thought, so that neither have quite the value of direct quotation.

From Xenophanes Aristotle gives two mots, which were attributed naturally enough to the poet-skeptic. There is no proof that Xenophanes was the original author of either of them.

From Parmenides four passages are quoted; strangely enough three of them are passages that had been quoted by Plato. Lines 52–53 in our texts of Aristotle repeat the same error that appears in our texts of Plato; ll. 103-105 are not so near to what seems to be the original (judged by the quotation in Simplicius) as is the Platonic version. Unless our MSS. are greatly at fault, two of the four passages were very carelessly reproduced, and we have reason to believe that they were drawn from Plato. The fourth passage, given by Aristotle and Theophrastos, has the appearance of careful quotation, though one verb has an unmetrical form in our Aristotle (where Theophrastos gives a correct form). Aristotle does not quote directly from either Zeno or Melissos.

Coming now to Empedokles, we find two extended passages which can only be regarded as genuine quotations, namely

1 See supra, p. 133 f.; also Phileb. 16 c, 23 c, Pol. 530 D, 600 A.
2 Die Einheitslehre Heraklits, p. 17 f.
3 See I. Index of Sources, under · Aristotle.'

11. 287–311 and 316–325. On the other hand several phrases (11. 208, 326, 443) give only a general idea of the language of Empedokles. Most of the quotations consist of from one to four lines preserving their metrical form, so that they deserve the name of quotations; but their accuracy is doubtful in matters of detail. This is most clearly seen by an examination of the ten cases where the same passage is quoted twice by Aristotle, namely : lines 36-39, 104-107, 146–148, 167, 208, 244, 270-271, 330-332, 333-335. In only three of these instances (38–39, 270-271, 333-335) is the quotation identical; in the other cases there is some slight difference in the text, although commonly both versions scan correctly. An examination of the lines quoted only once in Aristotle shows very frequent deviation from the same lines as quoted by others. In two instances a line is omitted from the context (37 and 99); a case is changed, a connecting particle changed or omitted entirely, a common word is substituted for a rarer one (236–237) or an Aristotelian word for the word required by the full context (e.g. Meta. 1015 a 1), or finally only the substance of the line is given (e.g. lines 91, 92). These variations are so numerous as to justify the conclusion that the text furnished by Simplicius or by Sextus Empiricus deserves quite as much weight as that furnished by Aristotle, since the latter cares only for the thought and not at all for the exact language in which the thought had been clothed.

§ 4. In addition to these quotations we find in the writings of Aristotle a comparatively full statement of the opinions of the pre Sokratic philosophers. Aristotle was interested in the work of his predecessors, since he rightly regarded his own system as the crowning result of partial views that had been set forth before. All that is valuable in their work he would give its place in his own philosophy, and their false or partial opinions he would controvert. Accordingly his ordinary method is to commence the discussion of a theme by stating the opinions of his predecessors and criticising them; and it is natural that the early thinkers who first set forth characteristic views with force and vigour should receive the fullest consideration, for indeed this position is still due to them in the history of philosophy.

Inasmuch as Aristotle set the fashion for later philosophic writers in collecting and criticising the opinions of earlier thinkers, it is important to form a clear conception of both the excellence and the defects of his method.

: On a first examination of his statements of these opinions the student is struck by their fullness and comparative accuracy. Emmingerl has collected and discussed these data, and arrives at the conclusion in every instance that Aristotle's statement is based on a use of the best materials at his command, and that it reproduces correctly the view of the philosopher in question. It is true that Emminger takes the position of an apologist. There is no doubt, however, that Aristotle was very familiar with the poems of Empedokles, the arguments of Zeno, the system of the Pythagoreans; when he cannot verify his opinions, as in the case of Thales, they are commonly introduced with a déyeral of caution ; and where the views of earlier thinkers seem to be distorted, it is generally due to one of several simple causes which we can estimate with considerable accuracy.

My own conclusion is that the data given by Aristotle are of the greatest value for the study of his predecessors, though they are to be used with caution.

Turning to the defects of the Aristotelian method, I would point out that there is apparently no little difference in the care with which Aristotle had studied the writings of his predecessors. His general attitude towards the Eleatic school is well known, and there is no evidence that he was really familiar with the works of Xenophanes or Parmenides or Melissos. The fact that three of the four quotations from Parmenides were at least suggested by Plato's writings should not receive undue weight, yet it is certainly suggestive. Several sayings are quoted from Herakleitos, and his logic is severely criticised; we do not, however, obtain from Aristotle any conception of the real importance of Herakleitos. In fact, Aristotle does not seem at all to have understood the meaning of Herakleitos' work, whether we are to attribute it to his inability to put himself in sympathy with so different a

| Emminger, Die vorsokratische Philosophie der Griechen nach den Berichten des Aristoteles. Würzburg 1878.

« ПредишнаНапред »