- Augustin über Semiotik und Sprache: Sprachteoretische Analysen zu Augustine Schrift "De Dialectica" mit einer deutschen Überetzung (review)
- Journal of the History of Philosophy
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 21, Number 4, October 1983
- pp. 563-565
- View Citation
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS 563 I1. 194b21-22, for example, seems to explain what it is to answer a why question in terms of grasping the primary cause, and not the other way around. One would do better to view an Aristotelian cause as some real object or feature that is responsiblefor its effect, and explore not the epistemological notion of explanation but the ontological notion of being responsible for, as well as the varioused ways in which aspects of acting and interacting entities can for Aristotle be responsible for an effect. Sorabji is apparently right that one cannot analyze natural responsibility simply in terms of necessary and/or sufficient conditions, but this need not require us to treat explanation (or understanding) as primitive. Aristotle's notion of a cause depends on his notion of the nature of a thing, and of the connection between the nature of a thing and its actions, and it is this connection that needs to be explored if one is to understand Aristote[ian causation. Sorabji's general method of approach is, in a sense, Baconian: a question or set of questions is posed, the passages bearing on the topic are collected, and a generalization regarding Aristotle's position is made. From several such generalizations broader conclusions are drawn. These are checked against the historical context, compared with contemporary views, and assessed. It is a powerful approach, especially when carried out with the care and skill that Sorabji brings to it, but it has important limitations. Aristotle had a deeply integrated view of the world which he captured in a deeply integrated set of concepts, but one doesn't sufficiently get that impression from Necessity, Cause, and Blame. It is hard for this reviewer to believe, for instance, that Aristotle did not have a more integrated and coherent view of necessity than the one Sorabji attributes to him in the list at the end of Part IV, and Sorabji does not make very much of an attempt to correlate his list with Aristotle's own in Metaphysics A. 5. Or, one might compare Part II of Sorabji's book with the examination of similar topics in Sarah Waterlow's Passage and Possibility: A Study of Aristotle's Modal Concepts. '~ Detailed conclusions aside, we get from the latter a plausible picture of the deeper metaphysical roots of Aristotle's views of possibility and necessity in his theory of substance, and thereby a greater sense of the unity and depth of the whole of his thought in this area than we do from Sorabji's book. As a source-book of materials for the search after such deeper understanding, however, and for stimulus to reflection on numerous historical and philosophical matters, Necessity, Cause, and Blame is extremely valuable, and will be used to great profit. Allan Gotthelf Trenton State College Hans Ruef, Augustin fiber Semiotik und Sprache. Sprachtheoretische Analysen zu Augustins Schrift "De Dialectica" mit einer deutschen Obersetzung. Bern: K. J. Wyss Erben AG, 1981. Pp. 228. Ft. 42. This is a good book. It contains the first German translation of Augustine's De Dialectica, the first modern commentary on the work, and a short comparison with Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982. 564 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY ~1:4 OCT 1983 book IV of Martianus Capella. The commentary, the so-called "Analysen", shows Ruef as a shrewd analyst fully capable of presenting his analyses of difficult questions in an intelligible language with few semiotic mannerisms. For a long time to come, all investigations of late ancient semantics will have to take Ruef's notes on Augustine into account. The comparison with Martianus Capeila is instructive, but rather sketchy. In this century, the study of De Dialectica has been dominated by the theses of Fischer and Barwick, that the work is based on Varro's Disciplinae and that it is very Stoic in its doctrine. Varronian influence is highly probable and it is quite certain that Augustine owes much to the Stoics. Ruef denies neither, but he makes a great effort to show that the similarities others (Barwick in particular) have found between Stoics and Augustine are often superficial or simply not there. I do not agree with...