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630 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 3 I :4 OCTOBER 1993 then, has provided access to an important Jewish philosophical polemic that demonstrates once again the impact of Aristotelianism upon medieval religious culture. IRVEN M. RESNICK University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Anthony Grafton. Defenders of the Text: The Traditions of Scholarship in an Age of Science, 145o-i8oo. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, x991. Pp. 33o. Cloth, NP. Philology is not everyone's cup of tea, least of all philosophers'. Insofar as philosophers are concerned with the interpretation of texts, however, philosophy and philology share the common ground of hermeneutics. And as a primary tool in the ~letective game of historical scholarship, philology has much to offer anyone interested in the history of thought and culture. Defenders of the Text is a book which illustrates just that by looking at the shaping influence on our intellectual tradition of a group of scholars for whom the study of ancient texts lay at the heart of their intellectual enterprise. Anthony Grafton is a scholar uniquely well qualified to interpret the achievements of humanists: he is master of a clutch of accomplishments of which any humanist from the quattrocento to the seicento would have been proud. In addition to the essential fluency in classical languages, his historian's mind is endowed with a mastery of rhetoric that makes his painstaking research disarmingly entertaining to read. Furthermore, he is unusual among students of humanism in having at his fingertips the scientific and technical as well as the literary learning of his subjects. Undoubtedly, their lack of scientific background has led many modern scholars to accept the view that humanism and science were mutually exclusive enterprises--a view which Anthony Grafton traces back to the aggressive new philosophers of the seventeenth century and which still enjoys surprising currency among scholars today. It is the chief aim of this book to correct this assumption, and the essay which does so most forcefully is the one on Kepler, which makes abundantly clear not only the depth of Kepler's reading in the classical tradition, but the pertinence of his classical studies to his astronomical endeavors . Other studies in the collection deal mainly with nonscientific aspects of humanism. But here too there is not an essay which does not call in question an article of faith of modern scholarship. The picture of Renaissance classical studies which emerges is not one as detached and disinterested as the objectivity of its methods might have us believe. Rather it is one entrammeUed by what Andrew Marvell would have described as "wreaths of fame and interest." While full recognition is given to the originality and rigor of the historical philology developed by Poliziano, Grafton shows that the critical methods used by humanist scholars in some of the most celebrated exposures of the spurious antiquity of ancient texts (notably Isaac Casaubon's death-blow to the Hermetic tradition) were often based on ancient critical methods and motivated by extraneous ideological considerations. Moreover, although it is to the credit of the humanists that they recognized that classical texts belonged historically to a very different culture from their own, there was overwhelming incentive to interpret them in the light of the concerns of later ages. This is particularly true in the case of philosophy. In recom- BOOK REVIEWS 63~ mending Seneca as a philosopher for seventeenth-century Christians, Justus Lipsius could with some justification boast "I made philology into philosophy" (39). But ultimately such an attitude played into the hands of the moderns who wished to sweep aside antique learning in favor of genuinely relevant contemporary issues. Fatally, the expertise in classical philology of the likes of Richard Bentley unpicked the learned assumptions on which Cambridge Platonism based its synthesis of classical and modern philosophy. In place of the simple representation of the Renaissance recovery of ancient texts as the triumph of humanist philological expertise which swept away the errors of their predecessors, Grafton offers a counterhistory of fake and fudge, of the persistence of spurious texts in spite of the celebrated advances in historical philology--indeed of the knowing use of spurious works by scholars who should have known better and undoubtedly did...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 630-631
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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