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Boethius's "In Ciceronis Topica" (review)
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BOOK REVIEWS 607 hangs together as a whole, I think Mitsis exaggerates the role they play in the theory he reconstructs. First, the condition of "completeness," which requires happiness to be the end for the sake of which we do everything we do, is attested for the earlier hedonism of Eudoxus, and it becomes a commonplace in later Hellenistic sources. So this condi- tion is fairly likely to have played a part in Epicurus's reflections -- though it is worth emphasizing that the clearest testimony occurs in Cicero's late discussion (De Fin. x.a9 and 42), and the only passage in Epicurus's own work (Letter to Men. 122) may or may not bear the same sense. The second condition, though widely attested, is actually less well founded: "self-sufficiency" is mentioned numerous times in our sources, but it is invariably associated with the ascetic's ability to do without externals. It would take more argument than Mitsis musters, then, to establish a connection with Aristotle's formal conditions. Mitsis's third condition, which is actually rejected by Aristotle (lo96al-2 and 1153b16-21; lo95b~6 claims only that happiness is "hard to lose," not "impossible to lose"), usually appears in Epicurean testimony in the lesser degree of "security" (aspha/e/a), rather than the utter "invulnerability" exploited by Mitsis's argu- ment and invoked in the subtitle of his book. Of course, the Stoics demanded the highest degree of invulnerability, and some Epicureans may have risen to their chal- lenge, but more needs to be said to establish a place for this condition in Epicurus's own theory. Finally, if Epicurus did appeal to formal conditions, it would be surprising if they played as large a role as Mitsis sometimes gives them. Rather, in the light of Epicurus's empiricist methodology, I remain unconvinced that he would tailor his theory to fit certain formal conditions, rather than to fit the facts, at least as he understood them. Failing some reference to a "preconception" of happiness as invul- nerable, or a clearer connection between the happiness of the gods and divine invul- nerability, I suspect Epicurus would consider it a factual question whether ataraxia is more than extremely secure. But these are questions of interpretation that require further discussion, and far from detracting from the merits of Mitsis's work, they should signal its importance. For what be has done here is to marshal both textual resources and critical analysis to show how complex Epicurean ethics are: details may be out of place, but he has established that Epicurus's ethics deserve serious consideration, even despite their paltry remains. The feast of argument served up in this work, therefore, is unlikely to satisfy every palate, but the pleasures of this far from "simple table," vulnerable though some may be, should delight any philosophical epicure. STEPHEN A. WHITE University of Texas at Augtin Boethius's "In Ciceronis Topica." Translated with notes and an introduction by Eleonore Stump. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988. Pp. xi + 277. $ 35.00. The interest of this book should be obvious considering the members of the trio who have coauthored it. Eleonore Stump can justly claim to be an authority on the theory of 608 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY ~8:4 OCTOBER 1990 topics and its historical development; the book she has translated and annotated was composed by a man who has been called both the last of the Romans and the first medieval philosopher; and he in turn was commenting on a treatise by the most famous of all the many thousand writers of Latin prose. In recent centuries Cicero's Topics has been probably the most neglected of the old senator's writings, but it used to be otherwise. In late antiquity the book was part of the standard fare in Roman higher education, and when in the early sixth century Boethius wrote a modern commentary and followed it up with the monograph De topicis differentiis, he secured for it a signifi- cant influence on medieval learning. In 1978 Professor Stump published the first English translation of De top. diff. or Topica Boethii, as the medievals said, which has always been the...



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