Original and penetrating, this book investigates of the notion of inference from signs, which played a central role in ancient philosophical and scientific method. It examines an important chapter in ancient epistemology: the debates about the nature of evidence and of the inferences based on it--or signs and sign-inferences as they were called in antiquity. As the first comprehensive treatment of this topic, it fills an important gap in the histories of science and philosophy.
Developments in the Academy from the time of Arcesilaus to that of Carneades and his successors tend to be classified under two heads: scepticism and probabilism. Carneades was principally responsible for the Academy's view of the latter subject, and our sources credit him with an elaborate discussion of it. The evidence furnished by those sources is, however, frequently confusing and sometimes self-contradictory. My aim in this paper is to extract a coherent account of Carneades' theory of probability from the testimony (...) with a further end in view, namely to understand better the uses to which that theory was put by the Academy in its debate with the Stoa. Though it is not its principal object, the investigation should also help make clear how the Academy's scepticism and its probabilism were related to each other as parts of a single consistent practice of philosophy. (shrink)
‘In forming our estimate of tragedy, let us first consider its externals—the hideous appalling spectacle that the actor presents. His high boots raise him out of all proportion, his head is hidden under an enormous mask; his huge mouth gapes upon the audience as if he would swallow them; to say nothing of the chest-pads and stomach-pads with which he contrives to give himself an artificial corpulence lest his deficiency in this respect should emphasize his disproportionate height.’.
The historical use of literature poses a methodological challenge, used directly as a document, fiction is unreliable. Postformalist criticism and theory suggest approaches to the novel more appropriate than those historians have traditionally used. Historians should not conceive of the text as document but think of it instead as a structuralist system, discourse, or code. Reader-response criticism merits the historian's serious attention; by studying how readers in the past responded to fiction, the social historian may read the novel to understand (...) its audience and the socially significant conventions it preferred in the novel. The novel is a mental world with an actual historical context peopled by ordinary readers through which mentalities can be investigated. (shrink)
Of the many kinds of documents to have survived from ancient Egypt, only those concerning mathematical problems or medicine have usually been considered in studies of the history of science—probably because, unlike other Egyptian texts, they deal with their subject in relatively objective terms, an approach that has traditionally defined what is meant by “science.” Medical texts are more numerous than the mathematical documents. They are preserved on papyri and ostraca dating from the Middle Kingdom to the Roman Period ; (...) the most extensive and important of them were written during the New Kingdom and Ramesside Period, about 1550 to 1250 b.c.This corpus was published as a whole and extensively analyzed in a nine‐volume series entitled Grundriß der Medizin der Alten Ägypter . This series, the work of three successive authors, Hermann Grapow, Hildegard von Deines, and Wolfhart Westendorf, includes a hieroglyphic transcription of the texts together with translations, dictionaries, and a grammar, as well as studies of the documents themselves and what they reveal of ancient Egyptian medical knowledge and practice. Westendorf's recent publication is essentially a summary of this series. As such, it is a valuable resource for Egyptologists and historians of science alike, both because the original series is no longer generally available and because it incorporates advances in our knowledge of the Egyptian language and culture over the past quarter century.A short discussion of the character of Egyptian medicine serves as the introduction to the work, the body of which is divided into seven parts. Part 1 deals with the sources themselves and describes the history, contents, and publication of each document; a translation is also provided for some of the briefer texts. Although this section is essentially a catalogue, it contains one of the rare instances in which Westendorf's unparalleled knowledge of the genre can be questioned. Westendorf describes Papyrus Edwin Smith as containing “numerous” instances of Old Egyptian forms and spellings , thus perpetuating the notion that the document was originally composed during the Old Kingdom. In fact, the grammar of the text is that of early Middle Egyptian. Accordingly, although it is the oldest of the surviving medical texts, it is certainly no older than the very end of the Old Kingdom and probably at least a century younger.In Part 2 Westendorf examines the genre of medical documents as a whole. He divides the texts into several different categories: instructions, prognoses, prescriptions, magic, and miscellany. The third part contains an exhaustive analysis of the various ailments discussed in the medical texts, and the fourth deals both with the role of the physician in Egyptian society and, more extensively, with the methods and medicaments used in the treatment of illnesses and injuries. These two parts will be of particular interest to physicians and scholars of the history of medicine, along with Part 5 , in which Westendorf describes survivals of Egyptian medicine in the Christian period and its influence on Greek medicine.Parts 6 and 7 are presented in the second volume, paginated sequentially with the first. Part 6 contains a full translation of the two most important medical texts, Papyrus Ebers and Papyrus Edwin Smith. The final part is devoted to references and includes a bibliography, lists of abbreviations and citations, and several extensive indexes.Westendorf's “handbook” is not only the latest contribution to the study of ancient Egyptian medicine but also the most valuable to appear since the publication of the series on which it is based—and to which Westendorf himself contributed in no small part. As such it deserves a place in the libraries of Egyptologists and historians of science alike. (shrink)