07 October 2006

A Loose End on Textual Criticism

A loose end. I know that there are experts in textual criticism who read this blog. Of them I ask: What is your view?--Are there independent philological grounds for favoring the reading of Bywater, Bekker, et al. for NE 1114b3? Is that the 'better reading' on purely philological grounds? Again, here is the text at issue:

ei) me\n ou)=n e(/kastoj e(autw=| th=j e(/cew/j e)sti/ pwj ai)/tioj, kai\ th=j fantasi/aj e)/stai pwj au)to\j ai)/tioj: ei) de\ mh/, ou)qei\j au(tw=| ai)/tioj tou= kakopoiei=n, a)lla\ di' a)/gnoian tou= te/louj tau=ta pra/ttei, dia\ tou/twn oi)o/menoj au(tw=| to\ a)/riston e)/sesqai, h( de\ tou= te/louj e)/fesij ou)k au)qai/retoj,

1114b3. mh/, ou)qeij] mhdei\j Lb Mb G


Michael Pakaluk said...

My thoughts. There are two relevant considerations, both counting in favor of Bywater's text, besides the fact that Kb tends to be the more reliable ms.

That ei medeis is a corruption of ei de me, outheis is more likely than that ei de me, outheis is a mistaken expansion of ei medeis.

ei de me, outheis preserves better the paralleism of the men ... de ... clause, since then one has hekastos heautoi ... aitios, in the men clause, matched by outheis hautoi ... aitios, in the de clause. The sound is better.

These considerations are slight and are hardly decisive. Nonetheless, what philological grounds there are suggest that Meyer is not correct, --that the text that conflicts with her interpretation is a better reading.

As I said, she offers no reasons for her view, but rather seems to reason in a circle: the text that is inconsistent with my interpretation is the worse reading, because my interpretation implies that Aristotle would not have said that.

Chris said...

Why do you think that Kb tends to be the more "reliable" MSS? Are you thinking of what Bywater says about it? I think it's probably better to get away from the idea of a "reliable" MS. (Indeed, one of the beefs I have with Bywater's NE is that he seems to fall for Kb in error at times.) What matters more is where a MS fits into a stemma, if it's possible to reconstruct one for the tradition. (So, for example, you could have an error-riddled late MS that is nevertheless extremely valuable if it falls in the right place in the stemma. See Maas's "Textual Criticism" or M.L. West's "Textual Criticism" for more on why this is so.)

As for a stemma for the NE, my understanding is that there is, from a stemmatic point of view, no way to choose between a reading found in an M family MS and one in a K family MS. K is older than M, of course, but that's completely irrelevant, and M preserves important readings lost in the Kb family. So you just have to go on sense.

At least, that is what I remember off the top of my head from my work with D.S. Hutchinson on the question a few years ago.  

Posted by Chris