Monday, April 10, 2006

Boeckh's Use of the Term 'Encylopaedia'

'Boeckh's use of the term "encyclopaedia" also requires a gloss. He would have the student learn by careful study one or preferably several areas of learning before he is introduced to the survey of learning. He would, for example, introduce one to literature through intensive study of an author's work until he has attained to thorough knowledge of that body of writing. Only after repeated experiences of such a sort would he expose the student to the survey. Careful study in several fields provides a number of points from which the entire circle may be constructed. He who starts from a survey of the whole, which can be presented only in outlines, stands at the mercy of the surveyor and cannot attain to exact knowledge for himself. And yet the student cannot rest in minute knowledge of the several areas he has mastered. Such a one becomes arrogantly biased in his knowledge; and since no part of study is an island, study of single areas remains incomplete without their being fitted into the total ciruict of knowledge. By "encyclopaedia," Boeckh means the comprehensive view of all that is known. Obviously we have here another idea unattainable since probably the time of Dante. Boeckh envisages a scholar well acquainted with several areas whose experience in them enables him to fill out the less nearly complete areas presented in the encyclopaedic survey. He can thus contemplate competently the whole circle of knowledge much more inclusively than if he had not looked at the whole with a mind trained by previous intensive study.

'Methodology is not in Boeckh's view an actual part of philology itself, but is consideration of the means and tools for philological study. Its value for philology lies largely in the fact that it enables the instructed scholar to enter with equal detail as far as he may need to go into whatever area of knowledge the encyclopaedic study has presented to him.'

--John Paul Pritchard, from the preface to his abridged translation of August Boeckh's Encyclopaedie und Methodologie der philologischen Wissenschaften. The title of the translation is On Interpretation and Criticism (University of Oklahoma Press, 1968)

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