08 March 2008

End of Translation Workshop

Today I'll conclude my 'Translation Workshop' in an unusual way. I'm going to give solely my rendering of the final few lines, but I'll do so giving the context of the entire passage in Greek. The reason for this strange way of proceeding is that the most difficult decisions for rendering the final lines involve discerning the structure of Aristotle's reasons, not his choice of particular words or phrases, and in fact some of that structure reaches back to much earlier in the passage. This was not recognized by any of the other translators (and I've been following the usual way of rendering things so far), so I'll discuss the final lines simply in relation to my own rendering. You'll see what I mean in a moment.

Below is the passage which we've been looking at, and I'll place the final lines to render in red. I'm also going to take liberty in formatting the passage, to bring something out that you probably did not notice:

τὸ δ' ὄνομα τῆς ἀκολασίας καὶ ἐπὶ τὰς παιδικὰς ἁμαρτίας φέρομεν· ἔχουσι γάρ τινα ὁμοιότητα. πότερον δ' ἀπὸ ποτέρου καλεῖται, οὐθὲν πρὸς τὰ νῦν διαφέρει, δῆλον δ' ὅτι τὸ ὕστερον ἀπὸ τοῦ προτέρου. οὐ κακῶς δ' ἔοικε μετενηνέχθαι·
κεκολάσθαι γὰρ δεῖ τὸ τῶν αἰσχρῶν ὀρεγόμενον καὶ πολλὴν αὔξησιν ἔχον, τοιοῦτον δὲ μάλιστα ἡ ἐπιθυμία καὶ ὁ παῖς· κατ' ἐπιθυμίαν γὰρ ζῶσι καὶ τὰ παιδία, καὶ μάλιστα ἐν τούτοις ἡ τοῦ ἡδέος ὄρεξις. εἰ οὖν μὴ ἔσται εὐπειθὲς καὶ ὑπὸ τὸ ἄρχον, ἐπὶ πολὺ ἥξει· ἄπληστος γὰρ ἡ τοῦ ἡδέος ὄρεξις καὶ πανταχόθεν τῷ ἀνοήτῳ, καὶ ἡ τῆς ἐπιθυμίας ἐνέργεια αὔξει τὸ συγγενές, κἂν μεγάλαι καὶ σφοδραὶ ὦσι, καὶ τὸν λογισμὸν ἐκκρούουσιν. διὸ δεῖ μετρίας εἶναι αὐτὰς καὶ ὀλίγας, καὶ τῷ λόγῳ μηθὲν ἐναντιοῦσθαι – τὸ δὲ τοιοῦτον εὐπειθὲς λέγομεν καὶ κεκολασμένον –
ὥσπερ γὰρ τὸν παῖδα δεῖ κατὰ τὸ πρόσταγμα τοῦ παιδαγωγοῦ ζῆν, οὕτω καὶ τὸ ἐπιθυμητικὸν κατὰ τὸν λόγον. διὸ δεῖ τοῦ σώφρονος τὸ ἐπιθυμητικὸν συμφωνεῖν τῷ λόγῳ· σκοπὸς γὰρ ἀμφοῖν τὸ καλόν, καὶ ἐπιθυμεῖ ὁ σώφρων ὧν δεῖ καὶ ὡς δεῖ καὶ ὅτε· οὕτω δὲ τάττει καὶ ὁ λόγος.

The key here is γάρ at b13, the lectio difficilior (recall the critical apparatus which I gave here), the reading which I accept.

It's a characteristic of γάρ ('for', quia or enim) in Aristotle that it reaches back. Usually of course γάρ reaches back to the sentence immediately beforehand, and scribes and critics have looked for it to do so also here at b13, and that's why it was changed to δέ, because there's no obvious way in which it reaches back to the preceding sentence.

But in fact γάρ sometimes reaches back farther than that, sometimes very far back indeed, and this is one of those cases (I believe) in which it does: I take it to reach all the way back to Aristotle's observation at b3 that the term akolasia had been transferred on good grounds (οὐ κακῶς δ' ἔοικε μετενηνέχθαι), and this sentence now provides the reason why the transference was well-grounded.

To give the reason, Aristotle articulates an analogy--this in accordance with standard Aristotelian doctrine, that it's an analogy which licenses the metaphorical extension of a term for one thing to another thing. Here the analogy is: as a child is related to the direction of his master, so, in a moderate person, the faculty of sense-desire is related to the reasoning part.

This, then, gives us the key to discerning the structure of arguments:

1. Everything between οὐ κακῶς δ' ἔοικε μετενηνέχθαι at b3 and ὥσπερ γὰρ at b13 is a digression (on the meaning of 'disciplined' or 'well-restrained').

2. You might have thought that it was awkward that Aristotle had placed two clauses beginning διὸ δεῖ in close proximity, and indeed that would have been awkward. Only, as it turns out, the clauses are not in close proximity (logically, even though they are so locally): the first belongs to the digression, and the second belongs outside the digression.

3. Furthermore, as we shall see, the second dio clause introduces a supporting point hardly connected at all with the line of argument we've been following so far!

Here's how I would render:

[a dio clause, giving a supporting point, within the digression] .... That’s why sense desires need to be moderate and few, and not in any way resistant to reason. (that’s the sort of thing we refer to it as ‘docile’ and ‘well-restrained’).

[outside the digression] --since, as a child needs to live under the direction of his guardian, so too the sense-desiring part needs to live under reason.

[a dio clause, giving a new supporting point/corollary altogether] That’s why the sense-desiring part needs ‘to agree with’ the reasoning part: (i) The attractiveness of the action is a target for both of them. (ii) And a moderate person has sense-desire only for the things he should, and in the way that he should, and at the time that he should; and reason issues orders in that way also.

What's the significance of this last supporting point? Understand διὸ δεῖ here to mean, in effect, "that's the sense in which it's right to say that the sense-desiring part needs to 'agree with' reason". (Beresford intuited that something like this was being claimed, and so he put scare quotes around 'to agree with'.)

This is a point which I believe is directed against Plato. Aristotle himself is not committed to saying that one part of the soul should 'agree with' (συμφωνεῖν) another part. But he does want to account for the naturalness of that way of speaking, and the discussion that he has just finished, in which the epithumetikon part was shown to be analogous to a child, gives him a good occasion for accounting for that way of speaking, viz. for just the same reason that one can say that a moderate person is 'well-disciplined' (viz. the analogy he has given), one can say such things as that the epithumetikon 'agrees with' reason. (And then in the last two clauses, σκοπὸς γὰρ ἀμφοῖν κτλ., Aristotle gives the non-metaphorical cash-value of this way of speaking.)

And just think that articles have been written, too, about the significance of συμφωνεῖν τῷ λόγῳ here, when it's not even something Aristotle is defending in his own voice!