In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

1 x6 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 29: x JANUARY 1991 agility and insight through the minefield of problems in Met. 7 and clearly articulating the competing pulls within Aristotle's analysis--most notoriously, the tension between the knowability of universals and the ontological priority of sensible particulars. Though he recognizes the claims of universals and matter to be substances, and accepts "degrees of substantiality," Irwin contends, following Sellars, that particular forms best satisfy the crucial requirements for primary substances--"thisness," separability, and the subject criterion. To the common objection that particular forms lack the definability of essences he responds that, insofar as essences are particular formal compounds-i .e., instances of essential properties--the intelligibility requirement is met. However, Irwin does not completely remove (i) the difficulties about passages (7.7-8, 15, 17) that seem to favor specific over particular form because of the former's preexistence, imperishability, and causality or (ii) doubts about applying the form-matter analysis of artifacts to natural substances. That none of the candidates satisfies all the requirements (specific forms fail to be "thises" or basic subjects) will lead many to prefer Code's view that Met. 7 is expository rather than Irwin's that it represents a "categorical solution." On Part 3 l restrict myself to a few queries (neglecting, regrettably, the illuminating discussions of ethical topics). Since Irwin argues that the De anima crucially depends on (and is later than) the Metaphysics, can he eliminate the conflict in this treatise between strong dialectic and naive realism by simply jettisoning the latter? And it is difficult to see how the intuitive grasp of essences in De anima 3.4-5 overcomes the dichotomy between thought and facts. I also question his uncritical acceptance of Aristotle's claim that the Platonic soul cannot be the primary cause of the unity of the whole compound. After all, he sidesteps the problem of explaining how the activity of the productive intellect--an immaterial actuality "from outside"-fits into Aristotle's anthropology; his quasi-dualistic, functionalist account is superior to reductive materialist interpretations, but it is not totally convincing. Finally, Irwin's silence about theoria and theology raises doubts about his general argument: Are significant portions of Aristotle's world that are chimerical or incapable of rational defense for most contemporary philosophers (cf. Met. lo41al-3) bracketed in order to improve the case for strong dialectic as a justified method for grasping objective reality? Caveats aside, this is a bold and brilliant book that will inspire fruitful debate for years. JOHN BUSSANICH Reed College Antonina Alberti. Sensazione e realtgz.Epicuro e Gassendi. Academia Toscana di scienze e lettere "La Colombaria," Studi 95- Firenze: Leo S. Olschki Editore, 1988. Pp. 18o. Paper, L.48ooo. Although there are numerous recent lexicographic and contextual studies of Epicurus 's extant works, especially of Diogenes Laertius's Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Book BOOK REVIEWS 1 17 10, the literature on Gassendi's edition and translation of the same' is scarce and generally nontopical. (Lynn Sumida Joy discusses it in chapters 4, 7, 8, and 9 of her Gassendi the Atomist [Cambridge, 1987], but that was unfortunately unavailable to Antonina Alberti, who wrote her book in 198 I .) The greatest merit of this book is to provide us with a verbatim comparison of extracts taken from Diogenes Laertius's Greek text (as established by modern specialists) with, on the one hand, the corresponding passages in the earliest Greek editions and Latin translations which were already available to Gassendi2 and, on the other hand, Gassendi's own Greek edition and Latin translation (plus explanatory "notae") of the same. In this comparative textual microanalysis, the author's professionalism as a classical philologist in general and as a scholar in Epicurean studies in particular is unquestionable. The passages of Diogenes Laertius's Lives selected for scrutiny (mostly out of the Letter to Herodotus) are designed to illustrate (with instances classified under the three headings "logics," "the problem of being," and "extension and minimum perceptible ") one single postulate: that Gassendi was incapable of perceiving Epicurus's authentic meaning ("originario significato"3) because of his "late-scholastic" (14, 48, 5~ 57, 79, 87, 16o) ontological prejudices...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 116-118
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.