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Objet-sujet. Observations préliminaires sur les démarches de Jean Bollack et de Peter Szondi Introduit par Franz Kaltenbeck

2017 , Laks, André

Jean Bollack (1923-2012), l’helléniste et interprète de la lyrique moderne (spécialement de Paul Celan), et Peter Szondi (1929-1971), le germaniste, sont liés par une réflexion sur le statut et les ressources de la philologie. Le projet était, dans l’un et l’autre cas, de rétablir le lien entre critique et herméneutique, distendu tant par la réduction tendancielle, dès le xixe siècle, de la philologie à la critique textuelle que, plus récemment, par la confiscation de l’herméneutique par l’herméneutique philosophique dérivée de Heidegger et éminemment représentée par Gadamer. L’article explicite, à travers une confrontation sommaire des deux trajectoires intellectuelles de Bollack et de Szondi, ce que recouvre, chez Bollack, les notions d’« herméneutique critique » et d’« historisation radicale » par lesquelles il en était venu à caractériser sa démarche, et à la distinguer de celle de Szondi.

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A guide to Jean Bollack's The art of reading

2018 , Laks, André

This is certainly an unusual book (Jean Bollack, The Art of Reading: From Homer to Paul Celan (translated by Catherine Porter and Susan Tarrow), published by the Center for Hellenic Studies and distributed by Harvard University Press, 2017. 438 pages. Paperback. $29.95) one that demands an unusual and unusually long review, and I am grateful to Arion, an appropriate place for its appearance, for having given me the opportunity to write it. Let me begin by quoting an extract (slightly modified and with some cuts) from the In memoriam I wrote after Jean Bollack’s death in 2012. ©2018 Arion : Journal of Humanities and the Classics, Boston University Arion.

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The Continuation of Philosophy by Other Means?

2016 , Laks, André

In a study dedicated to Karl Kraus’s art of polemics, Stefan Straub lists six necessary features for a discourse to qualify as polemical, namely: personalization (Personalisierung), aggressiveness (Aggressivität), argumentation (Argumentation), credibility (Glaubwürdigkeit), activation of value feelings (Aktivierung von Wertgefühlen), and direction toward a concrete and practical goal (konkrete Zielsetzung). The question I want to raise in this sketch, which was inspired by Sharon Weisser’s idea about a possible typology of ancient philosophical polemics, is whether these characterizations, or at t least the most relevant among them, also specifically apply to philosophical polemics or whether philosophical polemics represent a special case of polemics—due, perhaps, to the very nature of philosophy. The question essentially arises because argumentation, which certainly belongs to the essence of polemics if it is to be distinguished from sheer personal attacks, plays a particular, constitutive role in philosophy: under this assumption, are philosophical polemics, strictly speaking, possible? Must not a philosophical argument be by definition neither aggressive nor personal nor practical (in the relevant sense) nor emotionally loaded? In other words, are philosophical polemics philosophy continued by other means? The alternative would be to assume, in agreement with an intuition we might wish to preserve, that ‘philosophical polemics’ is a well-formed, nonoxymoronic expression. In what follows I present some considerations to this effect. I shall first look at the relationship between polemics and critique (Part 1); I shall pinpoint various ways in which personal references of a certain kind play a role in philosophical polemics—what I call ‘depersonalized personalization’ (Part 2); I shall then say something about how polemics can be philosophically reevaluated (Part 3); and add an observation about polemics and hermeneutics (Part 4). In dealing with these different points, I shall refer to various ancient philosophical polemics, but I shall not engage in a detailed analysis of any of them, in order to keep these preliminary remarks at a general level. On the other hand, I shall mention some modern polemics and modern views on polemics. One reason for this is that ‘polemics’, if not a modern phenomenon, is at least a modern word: for whereas polemikos in Greek means “related to war” or more generally “hostile,” it very seldom, if ever, specifically applies to literary or philosophical polemics (the same is true of polemos). The second related but more important reason is that whereas the notion and practice of blame (psogos) in ancient rhetoric has attracted scholarly attention, conceptual reflection about ancient polemics as such remains relatively rare.

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¿Qué es cognitivo en la metáfora según Aristóteles?

2020 , Laks, André

En la Poética (21 1457b6 s.), Aristóteles define la metáfora como la transferencia (epiphora) de un nombre de un dominio extraño (allotrios) a otro. Si, como en la doctrina clásica de los tropos, vemos en ella un término figurado, que sustituye al término propio, la metáfora reviste un valor puramente ornamental y el discurso podría en principio prescindir de ella. La metáfora moderna, en cambio, tiene la ambición de ofrecer una redescripción del mundo, es una metáfora viva (Paul Ricœur), y por tanto cognitiva. La cuestión es saber en qué medida esa concepción cognitiva de la metáfora puede apoyarse en el análisis de Aristóteles, como Ricœur lo hace. La respuesta es sí, pero no, dado que la cognición de la cuál Aristóteles habla con relación a la metáfora es una cognición de tipo especial, una “cuasi-cognición”. © 2020 Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra. All right reserved.

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Destructible worlds in an aristotelian scholion (Alexander of Aphrodisias' lost commentary on Aristotle's Physics, frag. 539 rashed)

2018 , Laks, André

Does Anaxagoras admit that the world is destructible? Aëtius' doxographical handbook says as much, and so does a doxographical scholion derived from Alexander of Aphrodisias' lost commentary on Aristotle's Physics (Frag. 539 Rashed) according to the transmitted text. However, because of other difficulties occurring in the same scholion, Rashed was led to correct not only this text, thus making it contradict Aëtius' testimony, but also the entry dedicated to Plato. My article suggests that while Rashed's corrections are superfluous, the problems that triggered them are of great interest for the history of the doxographical tradition, for the way in which this tradition was used by Alexander of Aphrodisias and Simplicius in their commentaries on Aristotle's Physics and, last but not least, for the understanding of the difficulties that ancient interpreters had to confront when they had to make sense of the lines now known as Anaxagoras B12 DK - difficulties that modern interpreters have still to confront. © 2018 Edizioni Di Filosofia E Scienze Bibliopolis. All rights reserved.

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Diogenes Laertius’ Life of Pythagoras

2014 , Laks, André

We know very little about Diogenes Laertius as a person. One recent hypothesis is that his surname refers to his birthplace (the city of Laerte in Caria or Cilicia), but other interpreters prefer to think – on the basis of a controversial indication in his text – that he was born (and lived) in Nicaea in Bithynia; it is also generally admitted on the basis of the scanty and mostly negative internal evidence that he lived and worked at the beginning of the third century AD: the last philosophers he mentions are Sextus Empiricus (active c. 190 AD) and his disciple Saturninus, and the most recent source he refers to is Favorinus of Arelate. This approximate date helps us appreciate the chapter he devotes to Pythagoras at the beginning of Book 8 of his Lives (as I shall abbreviate the work known as Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers), for it allows us to relate Diogenes’ treatment of Pythagoras to two philosophical movements deeply indebted to Pythagoreanism, i.e. Neopythagoreanism and Neoplatonism.

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The Pythagorean Hypomnemata reported by Alexander Polyhistor in Diogenes Laertius (8.25–33): a proposal for reading

2013-10 , Laks, André

On various occasions, Aristotle uses a remarkable expression to refer to Pythagoras ’ followers, calling them “ those that are called Pythagoreans ” ( hoi kaloumenoi Pythagoreioi ). Aristotle ’ s caution reflects, at an early date, the problematic nature of the relationship between Pythagoras and his followers. This is true at two levels. First, the use of the plural points to the problem of the relationship between the group and the individual, if indeed the expression refers, in some of the passages mentioned, to the work of Philolaos only; second, and more importantly, the term kaloumenoi shows that in Aristotle ’ s eyes, the relationship between those who were called (and who must have called themselves) “ Pythagoreans ” and Pythagoras himself was not a straightforward one: the expression both identifies and denies the identification, thus opening a crack between Pythagoras and Pythagoreans, which the further history of the Pythagorean school was to both deepen and fill in a variety of ways – from stories about the publication of secret doctrines to the abundant production of pseudepigraphic literature. By the time we reach the latter stage, the crack has become an abyss: in most Neopythagorean texts, the name “ Pythagoras ” is no more than a substitute for either Plato, Aristotle, or a syncretic combination of both. One can wonder whether the main responsibility for Pythagoras ’ Platonization – which is much older, and also easier to understand, given Plato ’ s own clear if indirectly expressed Pythagorean inclinations, than his Aristotelization – belongs to Plato ’ s immediate disciples Speusippus and Xenocrates, as is commonly held, or rather to Aristotle himself, as L. Zhmud interestingly argues in the present volume. © Walter de Gruyter GmbH 2023

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The Lever, or how to act at a distance : a backdrop to Theophrastus' De sensibus

2019 , Laks, André

It is well known that when it comes to perception in the De anima, Aristotle uses affection-related vocabulary with extreme caution. This has given rise to a debate between interpreters who hold that in Aristotle's account, the act of sense-perception nevertheless involves the physiological alteration of the sense organ (Richard Sorabji), and those think, with Myles Burnyeat, that for Aristotle, perception does not involve any material process, so that an Aristotelian physics of sense-perception is a "physics of forms alone". The present article suggests that the dematerialisation of Aristotle's theory of perception, which has a long story from Alexander of Aphrodisias to Brentano, may be in fact traced back to Theophrastus' exegesis of Aristotle's relevant passages in the De anima in his Physics, as we can reconstruct it on the basis of Priscian's Metaphrasis in Theophrastum and Simplicius' commentary of Aristotle's De Anima. The reconstruction also provides a scholastic-theoretical frame to Theophrastus' critical exposition of ancient theories about sense perception in his De sensibus, whether or not the discussion originally belonged to Theophrastus' Physics. © 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.

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Platonicien malgré lui? Le statut de l'éthique platonicienne dans les Grundlinien

2014 , Laks, André

L’importance de Platon dans l’œuvre de Schleiermacher est connue, mais a été souvent trop exclusivement liée à la traduction des dialogues et à la célèbre Introduction qui la précède. Or cette Introduction ne porte que sur la forme des dialogues platoniciens. S’agissant du contenu, il convient de lire, en parallèle avec l’Introduction (publiée en 1804), les Principes d’une critique de la doctrine des mœurs antérieures, qui datent de 1803. Platon y joue en effet un rôle central, à côté de Spinoza, auquel il est régulièrement associé. Une des questions qui se pose alors est comment construire la relation entre l’éloge constant que Schleiermacher fait de l’éthique platonicienne dans ce traité, et les critiques qu’il adressera aussi par la suite à Platon, notamment dans son Introduction à la République de 1828.

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Articulating the De Motu Animalium

2020 , Laks, André

This contribution locates the treatise De Motu Animalium within the Aristotelian oeuvre as a whole. It pays special attention to a section in De Anima III 10, where Aristotle announces another treatment that will deal with functions that are common to body and soul. Accordingly, the contribution tries to specify the kind of hylomorphism that is implied by this announcement. ©2020 Oxford University Press.