These two sizeable volumes complete OUP's publication of Jonathan Barnes's collected papers in ancient philosophy. The four volume set constitutes a partial record of the phenomenal career of one of the foremost scholars of ancient philosophy. The first two volumes—Method and Metaphysics (2011) and Logical Matters (2012) —were previously reviewed in vol. 63.1 of this journal (2015: 123–8). The twenty-two essays on epistemological matters in Proof, Knowledge, and Scepticism are devoted to late ancient views regarding the function of logic (chs 1–3), to the notion of proof (chs 4–14) and to ancient scepticism (chs 15–22). The sensible decision to organize Barnes's wide-ranging output thematically rather chronologically was bound to leave some essays without a natural home. Mantissa—the title is taken from the Latin for ‘makeweight’—assembles essays whose themes are other than method, metaphysics, logic or epistemology. Barnes acknowledges that this fourth volume ‘might as well have been called Oddments or Left-overs’ (Essays IV: ix); yet, the items in this volume are hardly minor works or afterthoughts. After essays on ancient ethics, politics and aesthetics (chs 1–6) and on ancient philosophy of mind (chs 7–11), Mantissa includes treatments of such diverse topics as Protagoras's atheism (ch. 12), the fate of the Platonic corpus and Aristotle's library in the Hellenistic age and thereafter (chs 13 and 16), Platonic lexicography (ch. 14), the catalogue of Chrysippus's logical works (ch. 17) and his response to the so-called ‘lazy argument’ (ch. 18), the historical importance of Antiochus of Ascalon (ch. 15), the presentation of Pyrrhonism in Diogenes Laertius IX (ch. 19), Nietzsche's contribution to Laertian studies (ch. 20), Clement of Alexandria's knowledge of Greek philosophy (ch. 21) and the study of Greek philosophy in Victorian Oxford (ch. 23). Several of the essays here were originally published in French or Italian and appear here in English for the first time: ‘Aristotle on knowledge and proof’ (Essays III, ch. 5), ‘Language in Galen's simp med temp’ (ch. 12), ‘Scepticism and scandal’ (ch. 20), ‘Scepticism and the Book of Ecclesiastes’ (ch. 22), ‘Teaching virtue’ (IV, ch. 2), ‘Cicero and the just war’ (ch. 3). ‘Sensibility and the Stoics’ (ch. 11), ‘Pseudo-Clement and Greek philosophy’ (ch. 21) and ‘Menecles’ (ch. 22). One essay, ‘Zeno says that the soul is a body…’ (IV, ch. 9), is published here for the first time. Two others, ‘nova non philosophandi philosophia’ (III, ch. 15) and ‘Greek philosophy and the Victorians’ (IV, ch. 23), are first published here under Barnes's own name rather than pseudonymously. Several of the essays first appeared as reviews of other works. Most of these merit reprinting. A couple of items originally served as introductions to other volumes: ‘Logic and the imperial Platonists’ (III, ch. 1) is adapted from Barnes's preface to A. Longo's Siriano e i Principi della scienza (Naples, 2005), a study of Syrianus's commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics Γ. ‘The Platonic lexicon of Timaeus the Sophist’ (IV, ch. 14) is a version of the monograph-length introduction to M. Bonelli's Timée le Sophiste: Lexique platonicien (Leiden, 2007). As in the first two volumes, alterations and revisions to the originals are indicated in initial footnotes, and some essays receive new titles. While many of the essays in the second volume attend to technical matters in ancient logic and logical theory, the essays on proof in the third volume tend to focus on the methodological and epistemological questions that arose in the ongoing disputes throughout antiquity regarding the nature, utility and even the possibility of logical proof. Several essays are devoted to Galen's role in these disputes. The essay ‘Galen and the utility of logic’ (Essays III, ch. 2) explores how his Introduction to Logic is shaped by his attitude that logic is useful only to the extent that it serves scientific ends, so that only those parts of logic merit attention that are germane to the theory of proof, before providing a critical text, translation and commentary on the latter part of its ch. xix, where Galen dismisses as useless certain syllogisms of Chrysippus. The trio of essays ‘Proofs and syllogisms in Galen’ (ch. 10), ‘Galen on logic and therapy’ (ch. 11) and ‘Language in Galen's simp med temp’ (ch. 12) treat particular instances and features of Galen's own probative method, which he advocated as the optimal way for both philosophers and scientists to make progress in their researches. In ‘Aristotle on knowledge and proof’ (Essays III, ch. 5), Barnes contrasts Galen's attitude toward proof with Aristotle's decidedly more theoretical attitude in the Analytics: ‘Aristotle intends to explain what a proof is and what probative knowledge is—he does not intend to give advice on how to discover proofs or to gain probative knowledge’ (Essays III: 74). ‘Aristotle's theory of demonstration’ (ch. 7) considers how best to resolve the discrepancy between the theory of epistēmē apodeiktikē or demonstrative science presented in the Posterior Analytics as an axiomatized deductive system comprising a finite set of connected apodeixeis or demonstrative syllogisms and the fact that there are no such syllogisms to be found in Aristotle's scientific and metaphysical treatises. Barnes responds to what he calls this ‘Problem of Demonstration’ by suggesting that ‘the theory of demonstration was never meant to guide or formalize scientific research: it is concerned exclusively with the teaching of facts already won; it does not describe how scientists do, or ought to, acquire knowledge: it offers a formal model of how teachers should impart knowledge’ (Essays III: 145). Barnes is correct in arguing that demonstration was never itself intended to be a research technique, and the point needed arguing when the essay was first published in 1969. But Aristotle envisages the possibility of developing the theoretical sciences to the point where their universal truths could be presented systematically in the manner of a demonstrative science as described in the Posterior Analytics. In his day, the mathematical sciences, particularly geometry, were proceeding rapidly toward achieving such a goal. But natural science and metaphysics were still very far from doing so—how far one can see from the fact that Aristotle's physical and metaphysical treatises are so concerned with isolating and properly conceptualizing the first principles of their domains. If the goal is systematic and hierarchical causal explanation of all the universal truths within the domain identifying the attributes belonging to the domain's subjects in virtue of their natures, and if the questions that arise when one tries to specify the principles of natural philosophy and metaphysics that will serve as the foundations of these sciences are as thorny as they prove to be in Aristotle's physical and metaphysical treatises, then one can appreciate how preliminary and exploratory those treatises actually are. Barnes returns to the problem in ‘Proof and the syllogism’ (Essays III, ch. 6) and approaches it in connection with the problem for the aspirational ideal posed by the fact that the syllogistic logic of the Prior Analytics is inadequate for the formalization of even the most elementary geometrical proof. It is a serious problem, for instance, that neither of the first two Euclidean common notions—‘Things equal to the same thing are also equal to one another’ and ‘If equals are added to equals, the wholes are equal’—is expressible as a universal proposition capable of serving as the premise of an Aristotelian syllogism, and so they could not function as principles in a demonstrative science of geometry. Barnes responds by stressing that although Aristotle regards an understanding of syllogistic as a necessary preliminary to understanding his theory of demonstrative science, the doctrine of the Posterior Analytics is almost entirely independent of the theory of the syllogism, in the sense that the theory of demonstration can be formulated without reference to syllogistic; and the larger part of the essay is devoted to arguing that Aristotle's theory of demonstration is prior in its origins to his theory of the syllogism. Barnes now concludes that the absence of syllogisms in Aristotle's scientific and metaphysical treatises ‘no longer need indicate absence of Apodeictic intent and Apodeictic technique’ and, more generally, that ‘the pre-Syllogistic Apodeictic holds fair promise for science’ (III: 127). Still another approach to the problem is implicit in ‘Aristotle on knowledge and proof’ (Essays III, ch. 5), where Barnes pursues the implications of the fact that the Posterior Analytics is primarily concerned with knowledge based on proof—epistēmē apodeiktikē in the broad sense—and to this end presents its account of epistēmē apodeiktikē in the more specific sense of demonstrative or probative science. One knows or has the optimal epistemic relation to some fact when one is able to explain why it is the case with an apodeixis or proof. Barnes reframes Aristotle's account of knowledge at An.Po. I 71b9-13 as: ‘For any x and P, x knows that P if and only if x apprehends why P and necessarily P’ (Essays III: 83). He finds the account ‘jaw-dropping’ in that the conditions it implies—that someone who knows something knows why it is so, and that if someone knows something, then it is necessarily so—are patently false. Barnes considers various ways of trying to make these conditions appear less unpalatable, but he concludes by expressing his fear that ‘Aristotle's account of knowledge is a mistake’ (p. 94). Barnes has been a major contributor to the revival of interest in ancient scepticism in recent decades. Here ‘Proof destroyed’ (Essays III, ch. 14), Barnes's contribution to the first Symposium Hellenisticum, serves as a pivot from the essays in the first half of the volume by considering the attack on the Stoic theory of proof mounted by sceptics of the Hellenistic era and recounted for us by Sextus Empiricus. Most of the essays that follow are concerned with ancient scepticism in its Pyrrhonian guise. There are also three items in Essays IV specifically devoted to ancient scepticism: ‘Is rhetoric an art?’ (ch. 5), on Sextus's critique in Adversus Mathematicos II; the lengthy ‘Diogenes Laertius on Pyrrhonism’ (ch. 19); and the little gem ‘Menecles’ (ch. 22), on the inscription on a funerary stele from Cyme which runs: ‘The leader of song in Greece, | a man who equalized all sayings to all | and ran the path of tranquility among mortals, | a Pyrrhoniast, Menecles: here am I.’ On Academic scepticism there is a discussion review of A. M. Ioppolo's Opinione e scienza (Naples, 1986) (Essays III, ch. 15), critically exploring her view that Arcesilaus positively advocated suspension of judgement and the criterion of to eulogon, and the masterful ‘Antiochus of Ascalon’ (Essays IV, ch. 15), a deflationary survey of what is known of the life and thought of this pivotal apostate from the sceptical Academy with acute discussion of his contretemps with Philo of Larissa. Two of Barnes's early articles on Pyrrhonism—‘The beliefs of a Pyrrhonist’ and ‘Ancient scepticism and causation’—were subsequently stitched together as ‘Pyrrhonism, belief, and causation’ in Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt II 36.4 (1990), reprinted here as Essays III, ch. 17. ‘The beliefs of a Pyrrhonist’ interceded in the incipient debate between Michael Frede and Myles Burnyeat regarding whether and in what sense the Pyrrhonian sceptic has beliefs. Barnes approaches the issue by contrasting two sceptical types: the ‘rustic Pyrrhonist’, who has no beliefs whatsoever but suspends judgement on every issue, and the ‘urbane Pyrrhonist’, who suspends judgement only on theoretical issues but is prepared to believe the sorts of things ordinary people do. Barnes's rustic sceptic is akin to Burnyeat's Pyrrhonian sceptic, and Barnes inclines toward regarding the Pyrrhonist of Sextus's Outlines as rustic: ‘the Pyrrhonist of PH will have no ordinary beliefs at all. Ordinary beliefs are not δóγματα, nor do they advert to ἄδηλα. Nonetheless, in rejecting δóγματα, the Pyrrhonist must reject ordinary beliefs; for the possession of ordinary beliefs presupposes the possession of at least one δóγμα—the δóγμα that there is a criterion of truth’ (Essays III: 448). However, Barnes acknowledges that a rustic interpretation of Sextus's account of how sceptics live in accordance with everyday observances without holding opinions (S.E. PH I 23), though possible, is forced, and he thus feels compelled to conclude ‘either that PH is not uniformly rustic or else that PH is culpably disingenuous’ (Essays III: 459). Finding this result unsatisfactory (as it certainly is), Barnes concludes that the problem of the scope of Pyrrhonian epochē or suspension of judgement may be misconceived, suggesting that the degree of epochē required to achieve ataraxia will vary depending on the state of the particular individual. Barnes's simple division of sceptics into rustic and urbane unfortunately fails to accommodate Frede's resolution of the problem. The Pyrrhonian is above all a sceptic about justification: when he encounters reasons supporting some claim, he finds that there are equally compelling reasons supporting the opposing claim. He thus suspends judgement in that he recognizes that he does not have adequate justification for believing one claim rather than the other. But this does not mean that he has no beliefs at all. For in many cases he finds that he cannot help but have a certain belief, even when he recognizes that the belief is not rationally warranted. The scope of the beliefs at issue is universal, for it is not only philosophers and theoreticians who feel they have good reason to believe as they do, and yet there is a perfectly good sense in which the sceptic still has all manner of beliefs. Frede's Pyrhonian is neither rustic nor urbane. Barnes should have abandoned the dichotomy, yet it resurfaces in a peculiar manner in ‘Sextan scepticism’ (Essays III, ch. 16). Barnes now pronounces the problem of the Pyrrhonist's beliefs irresolvable because the relevant texts are incoherent. The ‘Sextan scepticism’ of the essay's title is ‘a notional scepticism’ or ‘a coherent scepticism…which Sextus does not embrace but which he could have embraced and would have been best advised to embrace’ (Essays III: 406). He then proceeds to consider whether this Sextan scepticism is rustic or urbane and eventually finds it, at least, if not Sextus's own scepticism, to be out-and-out rustic. Several of Barnes's articles and essays have not found a place in this collection. These include a few essays on Presocratic philosophy, a few more on ancient scepticism, and some topical surveys. There are also a number of valuable essays not specifically devoted to ancient philosophy and pieces of a more occasional nature. Since 2010, the date of the most recent essay in these volumes, Barnes has continued to publish on a wide range of topics. So we may perhaps hope for yet another volume of Barnes's papers. In the meantime, there is ample material here for stimulation and reflection. All serious students of ancient philosophy will enjoy revisiting some of Barnes's best work and are certain to discover new gems as well. The essays are consistently a pleasure to read: few scholars of ancient philosophy can match Barnes's erudition, and perhaps no one else manages to be so lively, engaging and provocative while revealing new depths in the subject. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Scots Philosophical Association and the University of St Andrews. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Philosophical Quarterly – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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