VII.—NEW BOOKS

A. E. TAYLOR
1909 Mind  
THKRE lire obvious reasons why it would be improper to subject the present essay to such cntioism as would be appropriate in the case of a " work " published deliberately after receiving its author's final revision. The writer, who composed it in its present form as a Fellowship dissertation, died, unhappily for classical scholarship, very young, and before he had the opportunity to develop what he had written into a mature treatise. Hence, as Prof. Burnet says in hi» introductory note, there
more » ... e indications scattered through the essay of a view of Platonism and Aristotle's reUtion to it very different from that taken in the pamphlet • as it actually stands. I think it most becoming, therefore, to treat the essay in the main as a monument of the aouteness and ability of a youth of great promise prematurely lost to us, and to do little more than call the attention of lover* of Plato to his work as presenting at least a clear and penetrating analysis of the problems to be solved in forming an opinion on the value of Aristotle as an interpreter of his master. In the main., one is, I think, bound to come to Mr. Watson's conclusion that Aristotle is at .least to be absolved from the imputation of bad faith in his account of what Plato taught, though it is, to my mind, quite another question whether he fully understood what he reports to us. As to the question of his accuracy about positive facts, I should, indeed, go further than Mr. Watson does. I believe e.g. that subsequent study, had Mr. Watson's life been spared, would have led him to see that Aristotle is absolutely correct on two points where Mr. Watson, like the Cambridge school against whom some of his most telling criticisms are directed, decides to reject his evidence. Careful study of the Timcnu and the other dialogues of Plato's old age will, I believe, make it certain that Aristotle is quite ri«ht in saying that .Plato seriously taught both that the x(S<rpor is ytvip-ot and that the earth moves. On the other hand, while it is a distinguishing merit in the author to have taken full account of the value of M. Mjlhaud's work, I cannot feel that he is justified in opposing his conclusions on the ground that Aristotle cannot have been so deficient in mathematics as M. Milhaud requires us to suppose. If Aristotle was really abreast of the mathematical science of his times, we may ask, how comes he to show no acquaintance with the development of the doctrine of incommensurable* by Theeetetus or the theory of proportion as worked out by Eudoxus ? How is it, again, that he shows no appreciation of the application of the method of exhaustion to the finding of curvilinear areas, or that when he talks about the " quadrature " he ignores the remarkable discovery of the Ttrpay*vi(ov<ra by Hippias, and never, so far as I know, seems to be aware of the numerous investigations of properties of curves other than tile circle which had occupied Pythagorean and Platonmt mathematicians t
doi:10.1093/mind/xviii.1.613 fatcat:qjlzqykvindwjbsouzsjk5kcge