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Giulio Castellani and the Academica

  • Charles B. Schmitt
Chapter
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Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idees book series (ARCH, volume 52)

Abstract

Though there is little doubt that Renaissance interest in ancient scepticism began in Italy, it is equally obvious that the modern sceptical movement did not flourish there to the extent that it did in northern Europe. All three of the major sources of ancient sceptical thought gained a foothold in Italy in the fifteenth century, but little developed from this and it remained for France and the Low Countries to become the centers from the time of Sanches and Montaigne onward. Before the advent of printing the Academica was more read and more widely distributed in Italy than elsewhere. The first translation of Diogenes Laertius was made in Italy around 1430 and this remained the standard one for well over a century. Essentially all interest in Sextus Empiricus manifested before the translations were printed in the 1560s is traceable to Italy.l With the exception of Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola, however, little attention was paid in Italy to the philosophical ideas of ancient scepticism during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.2 It is almost as though the sceptical seeds fell upon bad ground in Italy and took root only when sowed upon the more receptive soil of northern Europe.

Keywords

Sixteenth Century Sense Experience Sceptical Argument Sensus Communis Sceptical Position 
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References

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    For some information on this see Schmitt (1967b) 16–18 and Popkin (rg68a), 17–19. The present writer plans to treat this question exhaustively in future publications.Google Scholar
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    For a discussion of Pico and scepticism see Schmitt (1967a).Google Scholar
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    For Castellani’s life and activities see Castellanius (1847), the Introduction by F. Zambrini, pp. vii—xxi; Mittarelli (1775), cols. 42–44; Montanari (1882–86) I, I, 6366; Lanzoni (1915), 21–38, 46–48; Lanzoni (1925), 249–256 and passim. More information on Castellani and further bibliographical references will be found in my forthcoming article on him in the Dizionario biografico degli Italiani. Google Scholar
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    ’Immo perfectam incredibilemque Aristotelis in omnibus rebus eruditionem vere-que divinum eius ingenium ita admiror ac tanti facio, ut haec nostra tempora felicissima esse censeam in quibus Aristotelea doctrina, caeteris omissis philosophis, animi potissimum excoluntur, omniaque evolvuntur ea diligenter quae iste cunctorum hominum, quos natura unquam gignere potuit, sapientissimus in omni disciplinarum genere ita perite ac ingeniose monumentis literarum mandavit’ Ibid., 20. Castellani’s admiration for Aristotle does have its limits, however. See De humano intellectu, 55v, where he says that the Christiana philosophia alone is true and far surpasses that of Aristotle.Google Scholar
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    ’Veritatis cognitio, ad quam philosophus tanquam ad scopum dirigitur, cum ea nihil sit praestabilius, nihil homine dignius, ita ardua ac difficilis quibusdam visa est, ut tandem vel nullam esse vel ab homine percipi minime posse crediderint’ Acad. quaes., 25.Google Scholar
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    ’Ego enim duas tantum supremas philosophorum sectas constituendas puto: in quarurn altera eos omnes qui vel rerum omnino comprehensionem negant vel quaerunt vel de ea dubitant collocarem; alteram vero ingredi vellem eos qui alicuius rei veritatem percepisse confitentur; ii enim omnes dogmatici vocari debent’ Ibid., 34.Google Scholar
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    ’Ad quorum [i.e., the dogmatists] ego numerum non solum Aristotelem ac Platonem ascribo, verum etiam Democritum, Empedoclem, Parmenidem, Anaxagoram, Anaximandrum, Pythagoram, Milesiumque Thaletem cum reliquis fere cuntis sapientibus Greciae et caeteros complures turn Ionicae, turn Italicae philosophiae studiosos’ Acad. quaes., 34. On the syncretistic tendency in the Renaissance see Schmitt (1966) and the literature cited therein.Google Scholar
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    ’Qui omnes rectius quidem, meo iudicio, quam sceptici fuerunt philosophati; tametsi omnes pene philosophorum scholas Cicero nititur ad istorum sectam reducere’ Ibid.,34-35. See Cicero, Acad., II, 23–24, 72–76.Google Scholar
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    ’Quod an satis commode egerit, videamus nos, eius singula adversus Lucullum argumenta adducta perpendentes: hic enim argumentorum omnium, quae a scepticis afferuntur, acervum facere non decrevimus, sed Ciceronis rationes tantum refellere eisque Aristoteleo quodam more respondere’ Acad. quaes., 35.Google Scholar
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    Chapter II of Castellani’s work is entitled `Quatuor Luculli errores notantur ac quaedam de communi sensu, de intellectu, de artibus, ac virtutibus declarantur, et author se apud Ciceroni addictos excusat’ Acad. quaes., 36. Google Scholar
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    Acad., II, 21. This text is cited in Acad. quaes., 36. See Reid’s edition of the Academica, p. 199, n. 13 for a discussion of the source of the position opposed by Lucullus and its relation to a passage of Sextus Empiricus (i.e., Adv. math., VII, 345 f.). The same issue was also raised in Plato’s Theaetetus, 184B–186E, where Socrates presents a position similar to Lucullus’ in defense against Protagoras’ scepticism.Google Scholar
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    `Decipitur hic Lucullus, quoniam eiusdem generis nosse discrimina ad sensum ilium, quem communem vocant philosophi, et non ad intellectum pertinet. Hic enim in corde proprio illius organo residens, perinde ut centrum ac terminus reliquorum exterorum sensuum, unusque ac individuus permanens, album et dulce, canorum et asperum, frigidum et calidum, caeteraque diversorum generum et contraria sensibilia individuo tempore discernit ac iudicat; nec tamen diversis contrariisque una eademque tempestate motibus agitatur, ut in libro de sensibus a nobis declarabitur.’ Acad. quaes., 36–37. For Aristotle’s discussion of the sensus communis see De an., III, I-2, 424b22–427a16. On its residing in the heart see De part. an., 647a25—b9. It is worth noting, however, that certain later authors, including Avicenna, held the sensus communis to reside in the brain. See Avicenna (1949), V, 8, 142. It seems that Castellani’s treatise De sensibus is not extant, if, indeed, it was ever completed. See, however, Acad. quaes., 74–76, 107 for further discussion of the sensus communis. Google Scholar
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    ’Cum vero artes dividit in eas, quae tantummodo animo rem cernant, et eas, quae aliquid moliantur et faciant, mihi videtur satis imperfectam divisionem efficere’ A cad. quads., p. 37. Cf. Cicero, Acad., II, 7, 21.Google Scholar
  29. 31.
    ’Rectius quidem in Physicarum Ascultationum prooemio ea, quae intellectum nostrum perficiunt secundum eiusdem potestates Simplicius partitus est atque distinxit’ Acad. quaes., 37. See Simplicius (1882), 1.Google Scholar
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    ’Ars enim ea, quae possunt aliter haberi, tractat atque in effectionem, ut in proprium finem progreditur’ Acad. quaes., 37.Google Scholar
  31. 33.
    See, for example, Nicomachean Ethics. Io4oa1–23.Google Scholar
  32. 34.
    `Lucullus vero praeter id nomine artis abutitur, cum mathematicas disciplinas in artium numero collocet, quae rectius profecto scientiae quam artis meruerunt; quippe quod simplici natura et demonstrationum âxpißoaoyía caeteris fere cunctis scientiis longe antecellant nullumque alium finem ac bonum praeter puram cognitionem expetant’ Acad. quaes., 37–38. The passage which Castellani has in mind is th one where Lucullus speaks of a geometer as one who practices art (Acad., II, 7, 22). See also De humano intellectu, 20“-22”. On Aristotle’s notion of mathematics being the most accurate science see De coelo, 3o6a25–30. Mathematics certainly comes under Aristotle’s conception of science and is not an art. See Metaph.,1o6rb10–33.Google Scholar
  33. 35.
    For Aristotle, science has to do with being (’rò 5v) and art has to do with comingto-be (yfveónç). On the distinction between the two see Bonitz, Index aristotelicus, 759a2I ff. It should be noted, however, that Aristotle also speaks of the “making sciences” (7rou ruxa.i & n’riµar.), Methap., ro46b3. Perhaps Aristotle’s most cogent discussion of the relation between art and science is in Metaph., 981ar—b26.Google Scholar
  34. 36.
    `Hine tertius eiusdem Luculli error emanavit, tametsi in secundo illum excusare posses, quoniam virtutum cognitionem solum appellat scientiam, nec a scientiae diffinitione multum descivisse animadvertit; nam rerum agendarum notitiam quae proprie virtus est, ex probabilibus potius quam demonstrativis argumentis consequimur’ Acad. quaes., 38. For the text of Cicero referred to see Acad.,II, 8, 23.Google Scholar
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    ro94b12–27. For Castellani’s paraphrase see Acad. quaes., 38.Google Scholar
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    `Mens enim ipsa, quae sensuum fons est atque etiam ipse sensus est, naturalem vim habet, quam intendit ad ea, quibus movetur’ Cicero, Acad.,II, 10, 3o.Google Scholar
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    `Denique parum mihi satisfacit, cum mentem sensuum fontem eandemque sensum esse affirmet; mentem enim quae voúç graece dicitur eruditiores philosophi perfectiorem animae nostrae vim atque potentiam constituerunt, maximeque a sensibus naturam habere diversam’ Acad. quaes., 38. The position defended by Lucullus has several ancient precedents, including Antiochus. See the note in Reid’s edition, p. 212, beginning “ipse sensus est,” and also Luck (1953), frag. 66, p. 88, from Sextus Empiricus.Google Scholar
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    `… Nullum esse visum verum a sensu profectum, cui non appositum sit visum aliud, quod ab eo nihil intersit quodque percipi non possit’ Acad., II, 26, 83. Cf. Castellani, Acad. quaes., 103–104. Visum here seems to have the meaning of phantasm. See Acad., I, II, 40 where visum is used specifically to translate the Greek <pavTaóia.Google Scholar
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    Cicero, Acad.,II, 26, 84. Nota seems to translate urilµeiov. See the note in Reid’s edition, 278.Google Scholar
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    In Aristotelian school philosophy as it developed in the sixteenth century, I think we can identify two major strands. The first was characterized by a tendency to emphasize the Platonic, theological side of metaphysics and epistemology to the extent of holding to the possibility of the immediate intuition of substances and defending the absolute and certain character of the principles of scientific demonstration. The second tendency was to emphasize the experiential origin of knowledge and to move toward a probabilistic, inductive, and quasi-experimental theory of science. It is in this second tendency that John Herman Randall, Jr. has found the beginnings of a new `scientific method.’ See Randall (1961), esp. pp. 15–68. As we shall see more fully below, Castellani, educated in the northern Italian Aristotelian tradition, does not quite fit into the picture which Randall gives us, although in some respects he is a foremost example of a philosopher who makes a strong appeal to observational experience.Google Scholar
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    ’Verum cum supradixerimus universales formas solum ab intellectu nostro cornprehendi, hic nos velim animadvertere, eo in loco nos de proprio intellectus obietto locutos esse, quoniam aliquando evenit ut mens nostra etiam ad particulare descendat: singulare enim percipit, non quia singularis speciem in seipsam suscipiat (haec enim solum a sensu recipitur), sed quoniam sensui coniuncta est illumque terminat ac diffinit. Mihi autem (quicquid alii dixerint) minime dubium est particulare aliquando ab intellectu cognosci; quippe quod ille est, qui inter [text: iter] universale et particulare discrimen statuit, communiaque axiomata, quae sunt demonstrationum principia, ex singularibus deducendo format’ Acad. queer.,105–106. See also De humano intellectu, 36v-37r where Castellani contends that the intellect can know particulars (singulares) and cites John Philoponus in support of this position.Google Scholar
  42. 49.
    ’Tanta ephecticorum fuit apud Ciceronem authoritas hicque tanto eorum amplificandae sententiae desiderio conflagravit, ut etiam peripateticos ac ipsummet Aristotelem ad illorum numerum transferre non dubitaverit dixeritque istos etiam existimasse nihil tale verum a nobis percipi posse’ Ibid., p. 127. Cf. Cicero, Acad., II, 35, 112–113. It should be noted, however, that Cicero does not really insist that Aristotle was a sceptic with the same vigor with which he contends that other “dogmatists” were really sceptics.Google Scholar
  43. 51.
    ’0 perspicacem atque ingeniosam naturam, quae nobis quinque sensus tam miro artificio construxit, ut illis primum quae amica nos conservent, quaeve inimica laedant, cognosceremus… Cur haec rerum omnium parens in nobis cunctis mirum quoddam sciendi desiderium genuit, si nihil scire, si nihil percipere valeamus? Frustra quidem hoc egit et a consuetudine et institutis suis longe recessit. O stulti ac amentes philosophi, qui oculos et aures caeterosque sensus tanti facitis, tantoque amore complectimini ob rerum scientias adipiscendas’ Ibid., p. 120. For Ficino’s theory of appetitus naturalis see Kristeller (1953), 18o-z1z.Google Scholar
  44. 52.
    Clitomachus (ca. 187–110 B.C.) was the follower of Carneades who took down the philosophical opinions which his master never compiled. See von Arnim (1921); Patrick (1929), 187–90; dal Pra (1950), 219–25.Google Scholar
  45. 53.
    Cicero, Acad., II, 31, 99. Sections 99–1oI are relevant.Google Scholar
  46. 54.
    ’O praeclaram philosophiam, quae humanarum divinarumque rerum causas nobis palam facere pollicetur; atque se hac praesertim de causa caeteris disciplinis praestare omnibus sibi persuadet: attamen nihil perfecte novit, hihil nisi quaedam probabilia, nos edocere potest’ Acad. quaes., p. 121. This distinction between `human’ and `divine’ knowledge goes back in the Latin tradition at least to Cicero himself. See the Tusc. dis p., IV, xxvi, 57. For the history of the distinction in antiquity see the note in the edition of this work by T. W. Dougan and R. M. Henry in Cicero (1934), II, 167. Gianfrancesco Pico emphasized the distinction and wrote a work entitled De studio divinae et humanae philosophiae, on which see Schmitt (1967a). See also Castellani, Epistolarum libri IV, p. 76, where, in a letter to Ludovicus Muratorius, Castellani argues, ‘Et frustra in hoc humana contendit philosophia, quae cum sensibus ac naturali tantum lumine nitatur, nequit ad perfectam Dei cognitionem ascendere… id vero praestat fides…’Google Scholar
  47. 55.
    ’Tu, quaeso, tuusque Clitomachus me doceatis, quae sint ista probabilia, quid istud sit verisimile; ego enim id non percepi. Vos quo modo illud novistis, si verum, cuius est simile non percepistis?’ Acad. quaes., 121. See also note 77, below.Google Scholar
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    Cicero, Acad. II, 28–31, 91–98. Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Vitae, V, 49; VII, 82, 196–97; and Sextus Empiricus, Outlines II, 229–59. On the sorites argument see Prantl (1855) I, 54–56. On ‘the Liar’ see Prantl (1895) I, 50–51; Rüstow (1910); and Bochenski (1961), 130–33.Google Scholar
  49. 57.
    ’Iis auteur cum dialettica maxime conducat, Cicero istius obscurare vires ac utilitatem enititur. Sed quam iniuste (obsecro Ciceronis studiosos, ut haec mihi loqui permittant) invehitur in hanc artem, quam alibi suis in libris ita utilem ac fructuosam appellavit summisque celebravit laudibus, ac per omnes sapientiae partes manare omnemque veri discernendi scientiam continere iudicavit?… Tertium üs additur beneficium, quod in nos confert haec disciplina: quemadmodum etiam medendi ars vires et genera venenorum docet, non ut iis utantur, qui illam execent, verum ut sint in eis evitandis animadversi; ita logicus omnes laqueos latentesque insidias nobis ostendit, quibus nos irretire conantur sophistae, ut, quando cum eis congredimur, illos debilitare frangereque possimus. Quamobrem nihil sorite, nihil pseudomeno aliove captioso arguendi genere turbabimur, si vere et falsi disceptatricem ac iudicem perfecte dialecticam tenuerimus. Mihi quidem videtur, Cicero magis eleganter quam argute logicam artem reprehendere; nam ea, quam increpat disciplinam, assidue utitur, dum nos in Pyrrhoniorum sententiam deducere contendit’ Acad. quaes., rii-i 14. Google Scholar
  50. 59.
    Especially Acad. quaes., chaps. 4–8, pp. 45 - 59. Cf. Cicero, Acad.,II, 72–76, 116–146.Google Scholar
  51. 60.
    For further details see Schmitt (1967a).Google Scholar
  52. 61.
    E.g. the material cited in Schmitt (1967a), 86–96.Google Scholar
  53. 62.
    Acad. quaes., 97–98. Cf. Picus (i6or), 688-go.Google Scholar
  54. 63.
    ’Huic igitur viro admodum ingenioso et acutissimo, qui verum Aristotelis philosophiae exordium et fundamentum evertere conatur, in primis dicimus, in omni quatuor elementorum admistione, quibus aliae compositae res omnes constant, necesse esse ut aliqua primarum qualitatum caeteris aliquantulum dominetur, cui temperatio, et si cum alüs comparetur, ratio formae tribuatur; aliter mixtum ab una tantum forma perfici minime posset, nec ullo simplici moveretur motu. Deinde addimus sentiendi virtutem eandem esse in singulis hominibus secundum speciem ac quatuor elementorum admistioni una cum reliquis animae partibus supervenire esseque eiusmodi materiae ita admistae et confusae formam, adeo tarnen, ut tale corpus eiusmodi propter ipsam constitutionem habuerit; non autem ipsa a corpore sui naturam susceperit, nam rectius quidem philosophamur dicentes formam materiae necessitatem imponere, quam cum formam propter materiam designari voluerimus. Igitur non possunt esse tot tantumque diversae, ut iste ait humanorum corporum temperationes’ Acad. quaes.,98.Google Scholar
  55. 65.
    `… Quippe quod in singulis visus organum, quod pupilla dicitur, ita ex quatuor elementis constitutum est, ut in eo maxime aqua dominetur, quod facile in humanorum corporum sectione conspicitur: nihil enim purius, nihil candidius, nihil magis perspicuum videri potest, ut quondam memini me vidisse in celeberrimo Patavino Gymnasio, cum ab excellentissimo Gabrieli Falloppio publica anatome fieret’ Ibid., 99. Falloppio (1523–62), the most prominent Italian follower of Vesalius and one of the foremost anatomists of his time, taught at the University of Padua from 1551 until his death. During the academic year of 1552–53 he gave a series of public anatomy lessons, which mark the beginning of the research eventually published as Observationes anatomicae (first edition, 1561). For the details of his career at Padua, see Favaro (1928), esp. pp. 85–146. For Falloppio’s specific doctrine regarding the aequeous humor of the eye see what he says in the Observationes anatomicae, p. 112 and in the Institutiones anatomacae, p. 28, contained in volume one of Falloppius (1606). For his specific contributions to the study of the anatomy of the eye see Ovio (195o) I, 241, 243, 259, z6o, etc.Google Scholar
  56. 66.
    ’Cum ergo sensoria naturalem suam in cunctis hominibus et semper temperationem conservent, profecto sensus vera et certa, quod ad eos attinet, pronunciare potuerunt, quoniam tametsi aliquantulum eorum organa mutentur, non tarnen proprium et naturale ipsorum temperamentum variabitur, ac de illis perinde evenire credideiim, ut de cerebro accidit’ Acad. quaes., IOo—IOI.Google Scholar
  57. 67.
    ’Verum eiusmodi mutatio tantas non habebit vires, ut diversas fallacesque sensuum operationes reddere possit. Nam licet alius longius audierit, alius exacte magis odoraverit, alius viderit acrius; illi tarnen, qui haec agent obtusius eandem quocunque sensu ferent sententiam, si rebus quae sentiuntur fuerint propinquiores’ Ibid., nos.Google Scholar
  58. 68.
    ’Si ego its hibernis temporibus, dum tu in interioribus amplissimi Cardinalis nostri cubiculis una cum reliquis mei amantissimis ac familiaribus ad ignem sederes, istic essem a vobisque percunctarer ad omnes eodem modo ignem perciperetis, num tu eum calidum mihi affirmares, Hieronymus autem frigidum et Dominicus humidum persentire diceret?’ Ibid., IoI—IO2.Google Scholar
  59. 69.
    Ibid., Io8. This story seems to have been a favorite with all of the sceptics. See Cicero, Acad., II, 23, 72; Sextus Empiricus, Outlines, I, 33; Picus (r6or), 547.Google Scholar
  60. 72.
    `Ego praeterea its meis oculis comprehendo singulis diebus solem ex oriente occasum versus viginti quatuor horarum spatio se in eundem orientem recipere, et verebor affirmare sidus istud tam darum atque perspicuum moveri? Haesitabo forsan, quoniam Hicetas [printed “Nicetas”] Syracusius et Pythagorici senserint non coelum esse illud, quod perpetuo in orbem cietur, sed terram, quae cum ab occidente orientem versus circa axem se maxima celeritate convertat, coelestes orbes ita versari nobis videntur? Equidem sensus habeo, quibus terram, urbes, domos caeteraque aedificia permanere nulloque agitari motu percipio; istos nequaquam mihi Hicetas [printed “Nicetas”] et Pythagorici suis inanibus commentis lubricos reddent atque fallaces’ Ibid., 123.Google Scholar
  61. 73.
    Copernicus (1949), 5 14; see also the editors’ comments on pp. 429, 432-33• Copernicus, Castellani, Talon and others drew their information about Hicetas of Syracuse from Acad. II, 39, 123 and, following the early editions of Cicero, give his name incorrectly. Copernicus writes `Nicetus’, Castellani ‘Nicetas.’ While Talon mentioned Copernicus, Castellani did not. For information on Hicetas and his doctrine see Schiaparelli (1873), r-11 and Heath (1913), 187–89. For further information on Talon’s discussion the use of the Academica text by other sixteenth century writers see above, p. 9o.Google Scholar
  62. 74.
    Rather than go into detail here, I refer the reader to my discussion in Schmitt (1969).Google Scholar
  63. 75.
    This seems to be quite evident in the case of the evolution of the classical laws of dynamics, where complicating factors such as resistance and friction prevented a solution to the problem through an empirical approach. Idealized, theoretical conditions had to be found before a proper understanding was possible. See the incisive observations of Dijksterhuis (1961), 30–31. Consequently the strongly empirical approach of Jean Buridan was unsuccessful, although the acuteness of his observation was quite remarkable. See, for example, the texts and discussion in Clagett (1959), 532-40 557-64. Further documentation for my general argument is to be found in Schmitt (1967c, 1969).Google Scholar
  64. 77.
    Castellani cites Lucretius’ argument that we must have true knowledge before we can distinguish doubt from certitude (De rer. nat., IV, 473–477) in support of his own contention that the verum must be known before the verisimile. See above. He also cites the Roman poet in support of his view that the senses can transmit true information to us, but that the intellect alone can penetrate to the true nature of things. See Acad. quaes., 105–106 and De yeti. nat., IV, 380–385. Lucretius is also cited regarding other points at pp. 32 and 163.Google Scholar
  65. 78.
    See, for example, Acad. quaes., 176–178.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1972

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  • Charles B. Schmitt

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