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Review

Author(s): Walter G. Englert


Review by: Walter G. Englert
Source: Phoenix, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Spring, 1986), pp. 102-104
Published by: Classical Association of Canada
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1088971
Accessed: 12-05-2015 02:18 UTC

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102

PHOENIX

forthemostpart,no finalanswercan be given,and overwhichwe must


itis nottherefore
anempty
continually
ponderinthelightofnewevidence;
phraseto say thatit makesone think.It is a pitythatone's processesof
andsolearesometimes
mistakes,
bymisprints,
spelling
interrupted
thought
aloneareworthyofnote:theNicomachean
cisms,ofwhichthefollowing
to as the"Nichomachean
Ethicsarerepeatedly
referred
Ethics;"31, n. 33
"ContraDionysodorus;"
note34, thetitleof Van Groningen's
editionof
Book2 oftheOeconomica
is Aristotle,
Le SecondLivrede L'Economique,
not" .. . de l'Economie;"
ContraAphobos;"35,
34, n. 40, "Demosthenes,
n. 41, "Lysias,ContraDiogneiton"shouldbe "ContraDiogeitonem;"
on
references
to a (col.) II ofPHib. 27 aresimply
to "11.,"and
97,theapparent
on thesamepagetheessential
nounx,6xvovs
hasfallenoutbetweenKUL'and
minor
flaws
the
Such
book
is
well
apart,
produced.
KcUO1YL.
ALL SOULS COLLEGE,

OXFORD

P. M.

FRASER

METHOD.ByELIZABETH
EPICURUS'SCIENTIFIC
ASMIS.IthacaandLondon:

CornellUniversity
Press(CornellStudiesin ClassicalPhilology42).
1984.Pp. 385.
isknown
"EPICURUSIS WIDELY KNOWNAS AN EMPIRICIST .... Yetverylittle
aboutEpicurus'scientific
method.Indeeditis generally
believed
thatEpicurusdid not have a coherentmethodof scientific
inference"
(9). In this
and detailedstudyAsmissetsherself
thetaskof showingthat
important
hada coherent
methodofscientific
andthatheappliedit
inference,
Epicurus
hisphilosophical
The booksucceedsadmirconsistently
throughout
system.
ably,and illuminates
manyaspectsof Epicurus'thought
alongtheway.
Asmisreinterprets
theancientsourcesin lightof recentscholarship,
and
anelegant
andon thewholeconvincing
of
scienpresents
picture Epicurean
tifictheory.
The book is dividedintosix majorsections.The firsttwo treatwhat
AsmiscallsEpicurus'tworulesofinquiry(LettertoHerodotus
37-38): (1)
theinvestigator
musthaveconceptsthatcorrespond
to thewordsthatare
usedas a meansof judginga problem,and (2) theinvestigator
mustuse
observations
as
of
evidence
what
is
unobserved.
Asmis
empirical
explores
bothrulesin detail,and discussesmanyimportant
as
Epicureandoctrines
relate
to
them:
initial
the
of
utterthey
concepts(nTpoXELts), relationship
ancesto things,
ofdefinition,
standards
oftruth,
comrejection
perception,
the
and
notorious
doctrine
that
all
affections,
pacting,
Epicurus'
perceptions
aretrue.In section3 Asmisexamines
ofsignsas itrelates
Epicurus'theory
tohisscientific
andexplores
thedifference
between"theexpected"
method,

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BOOK REVIEWS/COMPTESRENDUS

103

(7d 1Tpouivov) and "the nonapparent"(7d 68rh-ov).Asmis discusses Epicurus'theoryof signsin itshistoricalcontext,and arguesthatscholarshave
confusedthe distinctionbetween70d rpouRivovand 76 d6Xhov.Sections4
and 5 show how Epicurusapplied his scientificmethodin his fundamental
theories(presentedin Letterto Herodotus38-44) and in his further
elaborationsof thesetheories.Asmistriesto show thatall of Epicurus'fundamental
theorieshave an empiricalbasis, and comparesEpicurus' treatmentwith
those of the early atomistsand Parmenides.The last section provides a
helpfulsummaryof Epicurus' scientificmethod. It argues that Epicurus
derivedmuchof his scientificmethodfromthe earlyatomists,and thatthe
earlyatomists,like Epicurus,made fargreateruse of empiricalarguments
thanhas been appreciated.
Asmistreatsmanydifficult
problemsof interpretation
conciselyand conThe
remainder
of
the
review
can
comment
on a fewof her
vincingly.
only
moreimportant
and controversial
conclusions.
Asmis'saccountof initialconceptsor presumptions
is inmpor(rpoki-i4ELt)
tantbut problematic.She rightlyobjectsto any interpretation
of rpof
OELt
as an intermediateclass between utterancesand objects, since ancient
sourcesmake it clear thatEpicurusrecognizedno such intermediate
class.
Asmis argues that WpoXiqiELs
are to be identifiedclosely with external
objects.Most ofheraccountis plausible,butshethinks(27-28) thatthereis in
effectno difference
betweenthe individualperceptionof an object and an
initialconcept formedfromindividualperceptions.This seems unlikely.
Asmis does not successfullyshow how, on her view, Epicurus could
accountforinitialconceptslike "man." Asmiswrites(64) that"The general
featuresthatone thinksof by presumptionare featuresthathave appeared
thesamefromone observedinstanceto another,"but whenone thinksof a
comes fromwithoutand entersthemind?
man,whatsortof image
(Ei8Xov)
It cannotsimplybe the memory
of a particularman or men one has seen,
and mustinvolvesome further
stageof thoughtor abstractionbeyondindividualperceptions.
Asmis's accountsof the criteriaof truthand the focusing(mrri3poij)
of
themindand sensesare balancedand persuasive,but she is less convincing
on the difficultconcepts of "compacting"(WrKvWRCo)
and the "residue"
(~KE'YKtTK'cXE()

ofimagesthesensesandthemindreceive
(LettertoHerodo-

tus50). She arguesthattwo passagesfromAlexanderof Aphrodisiasshow


thatthecompactingof an imagein sensationtakesplace when"smallpartsof
eidolaentersuccessivelyand combinein theeye to formthesinglepresentation of an object" (132). She does not show, however,how thistheoryof
takingin an imagebit by bit accountsforobjectsof sightappearingsmaller
at a distance.Anothertheory,which Asmis rejects,holds thatthe images
shrinkbetween the externalobject and the eye. On Asmis's
(eooac) sincethis
of theimagedoes notoccur,thephenomenonof
account,
shrinkage

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104

PHOENIX

is leftunexplained.
Asmis'streatment
smaller
ata distance
objectsappearing
ofthe"residue"ofimagesis also unconvincing.
She restricts
"residues"
to
thesenseseventhoughthemindcaneasilybe saidtoretain"residues"
inthe
senseofpatterns
of motionswhichmakeit receptive
to particular
images.
Asmishelpfully
adducesa passageof Lucretius
(4.706-721)to supporther
sheslightly
positionthatit is thesenseswhichcontainresidues(although
misreads
it [138]: Lucretiussaysit is lionswho areafraidof thesightof
shouldbe interpreted
as sayingthat
cocks,notviceversa).Still,Lucretius
remain
in boththeorgansofperception
and themind:hewrites
"residues"
of"openpathsthatremainin themind"(relicuastamenesseviasin mente
in 4.976. ThisbringsEpicurus'theorycloserto Aristotle's,
who
patentis)
talkedaboutresiduesin the senseorganswhichalso affectthemindin
anddreams.
recollection
Asmistacklesmuchmorein thisbook.Her treatments
ofEpicurus'doctrinethat"allperceptions
aretrue,"theEpicurean
useofdifferent
typesof
arguments("counterwitnessing"

and "no counterwitness-

[dvap'tTLVotpTnplois]
and
and

induction, deduction), Epicurus'use of


ing"[oU'KdvTLV~aop1TpTrJL4],
and
of therelationship
betweenParmultiple
explanations, herdiscussion
the
and
are
menides, earlyatomists, Epicurus important
reading.Not all
willagreewithAsmison individual
of
buteveryone
points interpretation,
interested
in Epicurus'scientific
and otherfundamethod,epistemology,
mentaldoctrines
will consultthe book forcleardiscussions
of thechief
difficulties
and attractive
fortheirsolution.This is a major
suggestions
contribution
to Epicurean
studies.
REEDCOLLEGE,

WALTER
G. ENGLERT

PORTLAND, OREGON

THE PHONOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION OF ANCIENT GREEK: A PANDIALECTAL ANALYSIS. By ViT BUBENiK. Toronto: Universityof Toronto

Press (Phoenix SupplementaryVolume 19). 1983. Pp. iv, 241, 34


illustrations.

HAVING LONG BEEN AN ADMIRER OF BUBENiK'S WORK, I regret


thatthisbook
is not up to par. There are fewtrulynew or "different"
analyses.Even the
titleis misleading.One doesn'tlearnuntilpage 20 thatthestudyis primarily
historical.Trivialconcernsabout taxonomicphonemicization(consistently
misspelled)and a prioriassumptionsabout phonemicinventories(e.g., 64
endeavor.The pandialectal
ff.) detractfromBubenik's historical-dialectal
of data (e.g., vowel contractions[65-74], on whichsee Peters
presentation
1980and Threatte1980),whileprovidingpossiblestagesin thedevelopment
of dialectsforwhichhistoricalinformation
is lacking,unfortunately
substi-

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