Friday, April 07, 2006

On Philology and Philosophy

'Philology and philosophy are treated as reciprocal. They exist on equal footing, and neither functions satisfactorily without the other. Their methods, as Boeckh views them, are opposite; philology attains to knowledge through induction, whereas philosophy starts from a concept. To formulate his concepts soundly, the philosopher needs an adequate fund of knowledge or data; too many philosophers, Boeckh charges, lack a basis in knowledge or tradition. The insights or intuitions of the well-based philosopher are more trustworthy than are those of the man not thus firmly based. On the other hand, the philologist who attempts to work without some order concept in his view gathers a mere aggregate of facts, cannot digest his data into a system. Philosophy is, as the etymology of the word indicates, the love of wisdom; philology, seeking Newman's "twofold logos," is the love of expression in words and of what that expression conveys. The followers of each strive after an unattainable idea. Boeckh would undoubtedly be exceedingly wary of the tendency apparent in some recent literary interpreters to treat philology as almost subservient to philosophy. In the study of literature, philology must be master and philosophy the servant.'

--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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