It is commonly agreed that the doctrines of classical Greek philosophers and scientists were transformed by commentators of, roughly, the second to sixth centuries AD. It is, however, less clear how these transformations precisely took place. This article contributes to the discussion by exploring explanative practices in ancient Greek commentaries on authors such as the Hippocratic Corpus, Aristotle, and Euclid and by arguing that among the practices concerned there was a tendency to blur the distinction of nature and text. Among the commentators discussed are Apollonius of Citium, Galen, Proclus, Pappus, Palladius, Simplicius, and Eutocius. Disciplines concerned are mathematics, medicine and natural philosophy. Having distinguished ontological and pragmatic approaches to explanation, I provide an overview of exegetical practices in commentaries which deal with natural phenomena through authoritative texts. The second part of the paper discusses the commentator’s problem of how to decide where to stop explaining or how to select the problems that deserve explanation. The last part analyzes the habit of many commentators to turn perceived gaps into stories. I conclude by returning to the communicative functions of the explanations discussed. It turns out that they, to differing degrees, all contain self-referential aspects that serve to enhance the commentator’s position within his field.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsa.2012.10.002
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 72,607
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Studies in the Logic of Explanation.Carl Gustav Hempel & Paul Oppenheim - 1948 - Philosophy of Science 15 (2):135-175.
The Pragmatic Character of Explanation.Peter Achinstein - 1984 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1984:275 - 292.
A Mathematician's Apology.Godfrey Harold Hardy - 1969 - Cambridge University Press.
Prolegomena.Jaap Mansfeld - 1996 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 58 (1):154-155.
Preface.Steven Luper-Foy - 1988 - Synthese 74 (3):263-263.

View all 6 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Aristotle and the Later Tradition.Henry J. Blumenthal (ed.) - 1991 - Oxford University Press on Demand.
Aristotle's Concept of Happiness in the 13th Century.Anthony John Celano - 1980 - Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
Philoponus on the Priority of Substances.Riin Sirkel - 2016 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 54 (3):351-372.
Philosophy of the Ancient Commentators on Aristotle.Miira Tuominen - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (12):852-895.
Aristotle’s Intellects: Now and Then.Jonathan Buttaci - 2013 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 87:127-143.


Added to PP index

Total views
32 ( #360,909 of 2,533,647 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #389,210 of 2,533,647 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes