Saturday, October 16, 2010

Andronicus of Rhodes

A remark by Boethius about Andronicus of Rhodes took me on a search for the man. As usual, Wikipedia came up. I was struck again, as so many times before, by Wikipedia's reliance on old out-of-copyright material mostly from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and by the ironic contrast between the advanced technology which led to the birth of the "Web 2.0" project, and the sort of material that ends in it - informative and interesting but essentially obsolete scholarship from more than a hundred years ago.

I have compiled a table below showing how the Wikipedia article on Andronicus was entirely plagiarised from two sources. Most of it is from William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, with the exception of two short passages taken verbatim from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article about him (in bold). The only difference is the part at the end which was omitted from Wikipedia (presumably because too dull or serious).

There is now much better scholarship available about Andronicus. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article is a good start. But the SEP project involves professional philosophers who are rewarded for their contribution by having their name against the article, and by the guarantee of protection against vandalism of the 'anyone can edit' sort. Interesting as the project is, I don't think we will ever see anything of real value from Wikipedia.

If Wikipedia is around in 100 years time, will the historical information in it still be 100 years out of date? But then which encyclopedias will it use? This was supposed to be the project that made traditional encyclopedias obsolete.


SmithWikipedia
ANDRONICUS of RHODES, a Peripatetic philosopher, who is reckoned as the tenth of Aristotle's successors,Andronicus of Rhodes (fl c 60 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Rhodes who was also the eleventh scholarch of the Peripatetic school[Ammonius, In de Int 524]
was at the head of the Peripatetic school at Rome, about B C 53, and was the teacher of Boethus of Sidon, with whom Strabo studied (Strabxivpp 655,757; Ammon, in Aristot Categ P8, , a, ed Ald)He was at the head of the Peripatetic school at Rome, about 58 BC, and was the teacher of Boethus of Sidon, with whom Strabo studied[ Strabo, xiv; Ammonius, in Aristot Categ]
We know little more of the life of Andronicus, but he is of special interest in the history of philosophy, from the statement of Plutarch (Sull, c 26), that he published a new edition of the works of Aristotle and Theophrastus, which formerly belonged to the library of Apellicon, and were brought to Rome by Sulla with the rest of Apellicon’s library in BC 84We know little more of the life of Andronicus, but he is of special interest in the history of philosophy, from the statement of Plutarch,[ Plutarch, Sulla c 26] that he published a new edition of the works of Aristotle and Theophrastus, which formerly belonged to the library of Apellicon, and were brought to Rome by Sulla with the rest of Apellicon's library in 84 BC
Tyrannio commenced this task, but apparently did not do much towards it, (Comp Porphyry vit Plotin C24; Boethius ad Aristot de Interpret 292 ed Basil 1570) The arrangement which Andronicus made of Aristotle's writings seems to be the one which forms the basis of our present editions and we are probably indebted to him for the preservation of a large number of Aristotle's worksTyrannion commenced this task, but apparently did not do much towards it [Comp Porphyry, Vit Plotin c 24; Boethius, ad Aristot de Interpret] The arrangement which Andronicus made of Aristotle's writings seems to be the one which forms the basis of our present editions and we are probably indebted to him for the preservation of a large number of Aristotle's works
Andronicus wrote a work upon Aristotle, the fifth book of which contained a complete list of the philosopher's writings, and he also wrote commentaries upon the Physics, Ethics, and CategoriesAndronicus wrote a work upon Aristotle, the fifth book of which contained a complete list of the philosopher's writings, and he also wrote commentaries upon the Physics, Ethics, and Categories
None of these works is extant, for the paraphrase of the Nicomachean Ethics, which is ascribed to Andronicus of Rhodes, was written by someone else, and may have been the work of Andronicus Callistus of Thessalonica None of these works is extant Two treatises are sometimes erroneously attributed to him, one On Emotions, the other a commentary on Aristotle's Ethics (really by Constantine Palaeocapa in the 16th century, or by John Callistus of Thessalonica)
, who was professor at Rome, Bologna, Florence, and Paris, in the latter half of the fifteenth century Andronicus Callistus was the author of the work Peri Pathon, which was also ascribed to Andronicus of Rhodes, The Peri Pathon was first published by Hoschel, Aug Vi del 1594, and the Paraphrase by Heinsius as an anonymous work, Lugd, Bat 1607, and afterwards by Heinsius as the work of Andronicus of Rhodes Lugd Bat 1617, with the Peri Pathon attached to it The two works were printed at Cantab 167? and Oxon 1809 (Stahr, Aristotelia, ii p129)

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3 Comments:

Blogger Nikola said...

I don't see how can you call it plagiarism when at the bottom of the article it is clearly written:

# This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology by William Smith (1870).

# This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.). Cambridge University Press.

5:35 pm  
Blogger Ocham said...

Plagiarism, in the sense of 'plunder'.

8:51 pm  
Blogger Wilfrid said...

I find it reassuring that at least some Wikipedia philosophy articles are directly plagiarized from existing published sources. No matter how out-of-date, such sources are likely to be more reliable than haphazard google-scholarship by Wikipedia "editors."

5:50 am  

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