«Of science, skepticism, and sophistry: The pseudo-Hippocratic On the Art in its philosophical context Committee: _ Lesley Dean-Jones, Co-Supervisor _ ...»
Joel Eryn Mann
The Dissertation Committee for Joel Eryn Mann
Certifies that this is the approved version of the following dissertation:
Of science, skepticism, and sophistry:
The pseudo-Hippocratic On the Art in its philosophical context
Lesley Dean-Jones, Co-Supervisor
Robert J. Hankinson, Co-Supervisor _____________________________
Michael Gagarin _____________________________
Alexander Mourelatos _____________________________
Paul B. Woodruff
Of science, skepticism and sophistry:
The pseudo-Hippocratic On the Art in its philosophical context by Joel Eryn Mann, B.A.
Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Texas at Austin in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy The University of Texas at Austin May 2005 Preface Maligned for millennia, the Sophists began to experience in the nineteenth century a renaissance of sorts. Hegel saw their "subjectivism" as an integral moment in the philosophical development of Geist, and Nietzsche praised them for their individuality, autonomy and intellectual courage (see further Mann 2004).
Classicists like George Grote strove to undo what they took to be the unjust damage done to the sophistic reputation by Platonic slander. In addition, the steady swell of interest in pre-Socratic philosophy over the years has buoyed the fortunes of the Sophists along with those of Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles and the rest. So when I encountered On the Art for the first time, I was surprised to find out just how little attention had been paid to this veritable diamond of sophistic philosophy in the rough. I was astonished that so few scholars had tried to give it a good cut and polish. Already deeply fascinated by the sophists and pained by the paucity of extant material, I resolved to try my hand at historical gemology.
Regarding the text itself and its transmission, I cannot do better than the account given by Jacques Jouanna in the Budé edition (1988, 190-223), and I will not try to do so, except to give themost cursory overview. The best MSS are M (Marcianus gr. 269, coll. 533), which dates from the tenth century CE, and A (Parisinus gr. 2253 from the eleventh or twelfth. All others, with the exception of the partial text given by Vat (Vaticanus Urbinas gr. 64), are copies of A and M.
Jouanna relies heavily on A and M and refers to the readings of other MSS only rarely, usually when there is serious disagreement between them.
The text as I print it is not Jouanna's, but it stands to Jouanna's as Jones' Edition for the Loeb Classical Library stands to Gomperz'. That is to say, I follow Jouanna in the main, though I diverge where I believe him to have underappreciated a variation or where I deem conjecture justified. The apparatus criticus, based on Jouanna's collation, gives only what I have deemed to be the iv most significant variations in the MSS. I cannot pretend to Jouanna's philological expertise, and, in any case, I doubt seriously whether Jouanna's edition leaves much room for improvement. Coupled with the fact that the text is on the whole remarkably secure, my indolence on this count will perhaps be forgiven.
Instead of an edition proper, I offer the reader a new translation of On the Art into English, of which there is much need. Jones' translation for the Loeb Library, while admirably clear and expressive in many respects, is now dated and suffers from some key conceptual miscues. The translation given by Chadwick and Mann in G.E.R. Lloyd's Hippocratic Writings, while decisively more modern than Jones', is too much so, wandering far astray from the Greek. By contrast, I hope readers will find in my translation a contemporary voice that speaks to the original spirit and style of this ancient text.
To ensure this, I have undertaken the most comprehensive study of On the Art since Gomperz' Apologie der Heilkunst. Some of my conclusions are found in the Introduction, but I have reserved most for the pages of commentary that follow the text and translation. I hope that my readers with a soft spot for sophists will find my comments to their taste, but if not, I will be satisfied if they come away with the impression that On the Art itself, apart from my interpretation of it, is worth savoring.
This study would not have been possible without the help and encouragement of several people. Jim Hankinson and Lesley Dean-Jones supervised the project and deserve so small credit for whatever insights into ancient philosophy and medicine I have stumbled upon. Their patience and perspicuity through several drafts was, it goes without saying, indispensable. I should also like to thank the other members of the dissertation committee, Michael Gagarin, Paul Woodruff and Alex Mourelatos, the latter of whom was especially thorough in his consideration of my work. I have benefited immensely from my associations with all these fine scholars, and my hope is that I will someday produce scholarship worthy of the faith they have placed in me.
v On a personal note, I thank my parents, James and Evelyn Mann, for their generous support both moral and financial. My brother and sister-in-law, Paul and Krislyn Mann, happily housed me during my many trips back to Austin, for which I am deeply grateful. Betsy and Joe Buxer kindly bestowed upon me the medical textbooks that are responsible for whatever competence I have managed in my discussion of human anatomy. Finally, I thank my wife, Sarah Ziebell Mann, for her love and companionship over the course of these last few long and trying years. Not only did she tolerate with strikingly little complaint a moody and penniless philosophy student, but she even proofread his dissertation and did the lion's share of work on the arrangement of his bibliography. It is to her that I dedicate this work.
Students of Greek thought will be familiar with the concept of t°xnh and the pivotal role it plays in the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. The nature of t°xnh and what pursuits count as t°xnai became important questions. With this fresh translation and commentary on the pseudo-Hippocratic and unrepentantly sophistic treatise On the Art, I hope to show not only that the debate over t°xnh predated Plato and Aristotle but also that the terms of the debate were somewhat different. Certain works in the Hippocratic Corpus evince a concern over the charge, evidently in circulation among the Greeks, that medicine "is not" (On the Art, Ancient Medicine, Regimen in Acute Diseases). Many medical writers focus on refuting or deflecting the accusation that medicine's apparent successes are the work of mere chance (On the Art, Ancient Medicine, and perhaps Diseases I) or that physicians can't know anything about the internal processes of the body vii since they are not open to inspection (On the Art, Ancient Medicine, and perhaps Nature of Man). These are the main problems that occupy the author of On the Art, and I discuss them at some length in my commentary.
On my reading, the ancient attack on medicine's theories of the unobservable amounted to an anti-realist critique of Greek medical theory, and against this On the Art represents the earliest defense of scientific realism in the history of philosophy. For our author, the task of the medical t°xnh is to discover énãgkai, or necessary connections, in nature. This amounts to discovering the e‡dea, or forms, of nature, which is to say natural kinds and their essences. In addition, he embraces a causal theory of reference for natural kind terms. Like some modern defenders of scientific realism, our author believes he can leverage essentialism and a causal theory of language to topple his "anti-realist" critics.
The pseudo-Hippocratic Per‹ t°xnhw, henceforth referred to as On the Art, is a perennially puzzling peculiarity of pre-Platonic prose. Since the classicist and intellectual historian Theodor Gomperz first conducted a serious study of the piece in 1890 under the title Die Apologie der Heilkunst,1 scholars have taken turns issuing edicts upon the significance of On the Art in the history of Greek philosophy, science and medicine. Most often, commentators have dwelt upon questions of authorship. Who wrote On the Art? Was it a doctor, a sophist or a philosopher, or some combination thereof? Can we attribute On the Art to any particular historical figure? The only consistency in the answers offered by scholars is their inconsistency. Gomperz argued enthusiastically that the treatise was written by Protagoras (1910, 22-35). Subsequent skeptics pled for a return to Hippocratic orthodoxy: On the Art was composed by a Greek doctor (Edelstein 1931, 107-8; Jouanna 1988, 179-83). Still others have conceded sophistic authorship but, against Gomperz, attributed On the Art to Hippias (Dupréel 1948, 242-54; Jones 1923b, 187-8). One commentator has even suggested that On the Art is the work of the physician Herodicus of Selymbria (Ducatillon 1977), whom Protagoras, in Plato’s dialogue of the same name, calls “as great a sophist as any” (316e).
Much of the disagreement over authorship has arisen, I suspect, as a result of a failure to understand the text completely. Much of the language and argument of On the Art sounds philosophical; we want it to be the work of an interesting intellectual figure so that it will become interesting by association. But is it really interesting? The present project is an attempt to assess the historical value of On the Art as a document of the development of early Greek philosophical and scientific thought.
Throughout the present study, I will refer to the second edition of Gomperz' Apologie der Heilkunst from 1910, which is identical to the first edition in all respects with the exception of a new foreword.
Students of the Greek concept of t°xnh (skill or technical expertise, though I will refer to t°xnh in translation as "art" in its archaic sense) are familiar with the pivotal role it plays in the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. The nature of t°xnh and what pursuits count as t°xnai became important questions. In On the Art, we can see that the debate over t°xnh predated Plato and Aristotle, though we discover also that the terms of the debate were somewhat different. Certain works in the Hippocratic Corpus evince a concern over the charge, evidently in circulation among the Greeks, that medicine "is not" (On the Art II 1, Ancient medicine I.12-16 Jones, Regimen in Acute Diseases VIII.3-5 Jones). Both On the Art and Regimen in Acute Diseases point to a public display of some sort in which medicine has been slandered, and even Hippocratic writers who do not mention this particular attack on medicine fret about the art's ability to defend itself in a public setting (Nature of Man I and Diseases I I). It is unclear whether these writers had to worry about medicine's ability to attract patients.2 It is enough that some of them took exception to this affront on intellectual grounds, and it is for this reason that the Hippocratic response is of interest to historians of philosophy.
We must take care to distinguish these intellectual concerns about the foundations of medicine from moral concerns about the physician's character that become salient to Hellenistic writers whose works are also among those included in the Corpus, notably the Oath, Decorum and Precepts. The earlier authors have nothing to say about a physician's personal appearance or bedside manner.
Instead, they focus on refuting or deflecting the accusation that medicine's apparent successes are the work of mere chance (On the Art, Ancient Medicine, and perhaps Diseases I) or that physicians can't know anything about the internal processes of the body since they are not open to inspection (On the Art, Ancient Medicine, and perhaps Nature of Man). These are the main problems that Lesley Dean-Jones 2003 denies that the attack on medicine had any real public support.
occupy the author of On the Art, and I discuss them at some length in my commentary. The second of these is especially interesting in the history of philosophy, for the proper role of unobservable entities in scientific theories is a perennial question in the philosophy of science. It was a major point of contention between the Sceptics and their philosophical opponents, and the issue saw a revival in the twentieth century at the hands of the Logical Positivists.3 Comparison of the critics of medicine with the Logical Positivists is especially apt in that both groups seem to have launched their attack from the same point of origin: the positive epistemological thesis that, in order to count as knowledge, beliefs about matters of fact must be justified by perceptual experience. Thus, any supposed knowledge about unobservable entities is no knowledge at all. But while they share a severe empiricism, the ancient critics and the Logical Positivists part ways in their conclusions about where this critique leaves science. The Logical Positivists sought to reform science by purging it of its "metaphysical" tendencies;4 the ancient critics, from what we read in the Hippocratic Corpus, were happy to fiddle as t°xnh burned.
Viewed in this light, On the Art emerges as perhaps the earliest defense of scientific realism in the history of philosophy. So what precisely is its defense?
Few historians of philosophy or medicine have dared to wade into its murky waters, not without some justification. Its highly compressed and high-toned arguments do not invite friendly analysis. Sometimes we find no argument at all for our author's philosophical views but only bald assertion. Nonetheless, I believe On the Art is greater than the sum of these parts. When we take an aerial view of our author's philosophical positions, we may be surprised to find that they fit rather snugly together. For him, the task of the medical t°xnh is to discover énãgkai, or necessary connections, in nature (XII 3). This amounts to See Carnap and Neurath 1929 for the classic statement of the logical positivists' anti-realist program.
See Carnap 1928.
discovering the e‡dea, or forms, of nature, which is to say natural kinds and their essences. In addition, he embraces a causal theory of reference for natural kind terms (II 8-10).