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HISTORISCHES WÖRTERBUCH DER PHILOSOPHIE Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie,edited by Joachim Ritter and Karlfried Gründer. Basel/Stuttgart: Schwabe & Co Verlag, Vol. I A-C 1971; Vol. II D-F 1972; Vol. Ill G-H 1974; Vol, IV I-K 1976; Vol V L-Mn 1980. What would a person with lexicographic interests — particularly, diachronic interests — find most provocative in the new, comprehensive, and yet unfinished Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie (HWP)? Probably not its articles on such major categories of philosophy as metaphysics and ontology, and probably not its articles on the theories, systems, schools, and dogmas associated with them. Such a person would consider these articles encyclopedic. Certainly, its verbal esotérica — words like anamnesis, doxograph, eidolon, organon, sorites, tyche — would intrigue such a person; but words for concepts (and here I make no distinction between "concept" and "idea" like being, existence, intellect, mind, though, understanding, and will would evoke serious attention. In his Preface to The Concept ofMind, Gilbert RyIe notes that "Many people can talk sense with concepts but cannot talk sense about them." Persons with lexicographic interests would agree but would also be aware of the protean significations of concepts and be aware that it is indeed feasible, in an attempt to pin them down, to try "to talk sense about them," in other words to go well beyond or even to ignore their genus/differentiae definitions. Such is exactly what the articles in the HWP do with words like Anschauung, Einsicht, Eitelkeit, Gefühl, Leiden, Macht. These are presented in well-demarcated time categories and discussed in their culture-determined and person-determined contexts — that is, metalinguistically. Few definitions as such are present — very often, none at all. William Frawley in his "Lexicography and the Philosophy of Science," published in Dictionaries (Number 2-3/1980-81) sees such a technique revealing "a fuller lexical universe" over against "the classic Aristotelian definition of genus and differentiae" and urges that even terms from the exact sciences ought so to be treated. Taken from this point of view, definitions such as those in Webster's Third New International and The OxfordEnglish Dictionary merely give the bare coordinates of words; 251 252Reviews metalinguistic discussions, like the long articles on conceptual terms in the HWP, breathe life into them. This is a considered judgment . What lies behind the HWP, however, is a fascinating editorial history and an equally fascinating linguistic rationale. The two deserve some discussion. Below the names of the various editors on the title page of each volume of the HWP is the legend (it is more of a memorial than a subtitle) "Völlig neubearbeitete Ausgabe des 'Wörterbuches der philosophischen Begriffe' von Rudolf Eisler." The work referred to is the fourth edition in three volumes of Eisler's Wörterbuch der philosophischen Begriffe historisch = quellenmässig bearbeitet, the first volume of which appeared in 1927, the third, two years after Eisler's death, in 1930. (The second volume, which runs from L to Sch and which appeared in 1929, was completed in its second half — N to Sch — by Eisler's colleague Karl Roretz, the first half being in fair proof at the time of Eisler's death. The third volume was edited by Roretz with the help of Eisler's notes and with the cooperation of Eisler's widow.) Eisler's Wörterbuch was, up until the HWP began to appear, the only multivolume philosophic lexicon in the German language that was usually available in large reference rooms. For fifty years it remained an indispensable reference tool, usually being referred to in English as "Eisler's Fourth" or simply as "Eisler." Whether the HWP will ever be called "Eisler's Fifth" is open to doubt and there are grounds for believing that it may not. The intellectual milieu in which Rudolf Eisler matured may have conditioned strongly not only the speculative works he produced but also his several reference works. He was born in Vienna in 1873 and, after early education in Paris and Prague, received his doctorate under Wundt in Leipzig in 1894. From 1899 to the end of his life, he resided in his native city as an independent writer and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 251-261
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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