Review of Striker translation of Aristotle's PRIOR ANALYTICS [Book Review]

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This review places this translation and commentary on Book A of Prior Analytics in historical, logical, and philosophical perspective. In particular, it details the author’s positions on current controversies. The author of this translation and commentary is a prolific and respected scholar, a leading figure in a large and still rapidly growing area of scholarship: Prior Analytics studies PAS. PAS treats many aspects of Aristotle’s Prior Analytics: historical context, previous writings that influenced it, preservation and transmission of its manuscripts, editions of its manuscripts, interpretations, commentaries, translations, and its influence on subsequent logic, philosophy, and mathematics. All this attention is warranted because Prior Analytics marks the origin of logic: the field that, among other things, asks of a given proposition whether it follows from a given set of propositions; and, if it follows, how we determine that it follows; and, if it does not follow, how we determine that it does not follow. This translation and commentary is not suitable for use in an undergraduate course. It has too many quirks that the teacher would want to warn against. A copy editor should have dealt with these things and with other matters such as incorrect punctuation and improper end-of-line divisions. The prose is heavily laden with glaring clichés. The one-page preface contains “longer than I care to remember”, “more than I can possibly list here”, “first and foremost”, and “last and by no means least”—a sentence later is devoted to thanking the “incredibly meticulous and helpful copy-editor”. A few pages later the translator reveals the need “to find a path between the Scylla … and the Charybdis …”. Moreover, the index is far from meeting the needs of undergraduate students. The attention to scholarly detail is not what one hoped for from Oxford University Press. At 26b10-15, this translation reads “let swan and white be chosen as white things” for what Smith correctly translates “let swan and snow be selected from among those white things”. At 41b16, “angles AB and CD” should read “angles AC and BD”. Despite this book’s flaws, it will be found useful if not indispensable for those currently engaged in Prior Analytics studies. The alternatives suggested to Robin Smith’s translation choices are often worth consideration. It is to be emphasized, however, that this book is unsuitable for those entering Prior Analytics studies.
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