The Plato Manuscripts--A New Index [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 24 (2):351-352 (1970)

The aim of this index of pre-1500 Platonic manuscripts is to prepare for a complete reediting of a new edition of Plato's works. The project, which began over ten years ago, brings together in one collection microfilms of all the older extant manuscript material. The index first lists the manuscripts according to the libraries in which they are found, including the library shelf number. The second half of the index lists the manuscripts by dialogue. The need for a new edition of the Platonic text is based--for the most part--on the findings of E. R. Dodds in his work on the Gorgias. Dodds discovered that the nineteenth-century textual scholars oversimplified matters by assuming that the extant manuscripts were handed down by scribes. Dodds has shown that as much editing was done as transcribing; hence, the manuscripts could include "extensive possible unsystematic contamination." Also, the nineteenth-century scholars erred in assuming a "fixed rule of evidence." Thus--of three manuscripts-two having similar readings would be accepted and the third considered erroneous. However, probability theory shows that the agreement of two against one will work seven out of eight times. But the eighth instant will have the single reading as the right one--with no way of telling which out of the eight instances will have the single reading as the original. This new and convenient index should enhance Platonic scholarship.--J. J. R.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1970242196
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