Book Reviews

M. M. Trumbull
1893 The Monist  
THE MONIST. dethroned the old fate that was supposed to rule the affairs of men and pointed out the importance of knowledge, for through knowledge we can learn to regulate our fate ourselves. The philosopher who thought little of well-being, of EVTVX'IO., and demanded above all a well-doing, an ev nparTEiv (" Memorabilia," III, 9, 14, 15,) did not recommend asking soothsayers questions where we should better ask ourselves, although it is probable that he recommended the Athenians to apply to
more » ... ians to apply to the Delphic oracle instead of relying upon omens not so much because he believed in prophesies, but because he thought that they would be influenced by the authority of this venerable institution whose wisdom and conservative spirit were beyond question, so that good advice could be expected from it. Karl Joel, accordingly, advises us to read the " Memorabilia" with an inversion of the points, viz., to convert the sentences qualified by " although " and " t o be sure" into the main sentences and vice versa. In this way we shall be able to distinguish between the pagan orthodoxy of Xenophon and the rationalism of Socrates. Why does Xenophon not state directly and simply (1) Socrates advised his friend to ask the oracles in all cases of uncertainty, (2) manticism is indispensable in the economy of a household as well as of a state, and (3) the gods have not granted us any real knowledge as to a final success and reveal it through special revelations. Why must he add long sentences introduced by " although " ? He adds to (1) that everybody ought to act solely according to his own conviction, to (2) that all the trades up to the highest professions had to be learned before practiced, and to (3) that those who inquired at the oracles for things which could be learned and studied in the usual way are crazy and even blasphemers. This sketch may suffice to characterise the book which is much better than could be anticipated after a perusal of the preface, which almost induced us to lay it aside unread. It is not the modesty of the author which produces a prejudice but the random talk concerning things which neither a reader nor a reviewer will care to know. The author has apparently no talent for writing prefaces, and he would be wise to omit them in the future entirely. The book might be very much condensed, repetitions avoided, and an alphabetical index certainly should have been added. It contains_/?w hundred and fifty-four pages ; and the author says he is preparing a second volume. We think it would have been better for his views if he had expressed them in a pamphlet. xpf.
doi:10.1093/monist/3.3.482 fatcat:ejy5vuv42vgvpccair35txpvxq