Bibliographica Praesocratica: A Bibliographical Guide to the Studies of Early Greek Philosophy in its Religious and Scientific Contexts with an Introductory Bibliography on the Historiography of Philosophy (review)

Journal of the History of Philosophy 42 (2):217-217 (2004)
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In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Journal of the History of Philosophy 42.2 (2004) 217 [Access article in PDF] Bogoljub Sijakovic. Bibliographica Praesocratica: A Bibliographical Guide to the Studies of Early Greek Philosophy in its Religious and Scientific Contexts with an Introductory Bibliography on the Historiography of Philosophy. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2001. Pp. 700. Cloth, €18,00. Professor Sijakovic has given us an invaluable reference work for the Presocratics and for early Greek thought generally: a bibliography of 17,664 entries covering the period 1450-2000. It has some advantages over its principal predecessor, Paquet et al., Les Présocratiques: Bibliographie Analytique (Montreal and Paris, 1988-95), which covers work up to 1980. Sijakovic includes more recent material and aims at complete coverage of works in the Slavic languages and Modern Greek. He does not cover the Sophists, but does include works on topics that extend more widely than the Presocratics. Unlike Paquet, Sijakovic does not provide summaries of articles nor does he list reviews of books, unless they have interest in their own right, or include translations of works into other modern languages. He provides indexes of subjects, Greek terms, proper names, and authors.The ambition of the work is revealed by the subject headings other than those on familiar Presocratic thinkers and the issues they treated. The bibliography begins with a long section on Historiography and Philosophy of the History of Philosophy (with 932 entries) and concludes with one on Presocratics in the Intellectual Tradition (590) from before Plato to the present, with subsections on figures such as Francis Bacon (5), Nietzsche (74), Heidegger (56), and Popper (6). Other sections are labelled Theories of Myth (550), Greek Mythmaking and Religion (667), Orpheus and Orphism (642), Homer (154), Hesiod (147), Theogonies, Greek and Oriental (159), From Myth to Philosophy (365), Mathematics (137), Medicine (86), and Hippocrates of Cos (199). It is here that ambition leads to weakness, since the section on Homer, for example, is obviously not a complete bibliography of Homeric studies, and yet it is not restricted to works on Homer that bear on "presocratic" topics. The absence of an explanatory preface to these sections leaves the principles of selection mysterious and decreases their usefulness.Another feature that limits the value of the book is the arrangement within sections. This is generally chronological, but not always. The irregularities are so pervasive that the cause must be due to some unannounced division into unlabelled subsections, and the result is that we must read through more entries than we should have to. Two other minor complaints: the language of the book is English (aside from the trilingual prefatory material), but there are mistakes of usage and grammar which a copyreader should have caught; and there are occasional unexplained words at the end of entries, frequently in a different type-face, that are not part of the bibliographical entry.I do not mean to detract from the great service Professor Sijakovic has done (seemingly laboring alone over many years) for all who work in the area of early Greek thought—and principally, he notes in a preface, written as NATO was bombing his country, scholars from Western Europe and the United States. We are deeply indebted to him. The book has replaced Paquet as my primary bibliographical resource on the Presocratics. Richard McKirahan Pomona College...

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