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Re: tc-list Formulae and textual criticism

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  • Robert B. Waltz
    ... I meant that we will never reach agreement. A few people -- of whom I seem to be the only vocal one :-) -- will never accept that subjectivity is
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 18, 1997
      On Thu, 18 Dec 1997, Matthew Johnson <mejohnsn@...> wrote:

      >> It is obvious that what we have here is an irreconcileable argument.
      >Irreconcilable? How so?

      I meant that we will never reach agreement. A few people -- of whom
      I seem to be the only vocal one :-) -- will never accept that
      subjectivity is desirable. The rest of the people on this list will
      never accept that subjectivity is not desirable.

      It is, as best I can tell, a fundamental difference in the way we
      view the universe.

      >The history of TC, and NT TC in particular, is
      >littered with attempts to formulate these hard-and-fast rules. Each
      >attempt has been proven a failure. And it was proven a failure by methods
      >other than the "rigorous" methods you propose.

      If a proof isn't rigorous, it isn't a proof. :-)

      >But since you mentioned that one of the tests for a good theory is the
      >ability to predict new discoveries, it is good to point out that Westcott
      >and Hort made several conjectures about which variant was the earlier
      >reading, conjectures which were then proved correct with the discovery of
      >earlier papyri. They made these conjectures by relying on the methods you
      >condemn as non-scientific and non-rigorous.

      Not quite -- since W&H were being as rigorous as was possible in their
      day (the fact that they were geniuses of internal criteria does not
      mask the fact that they relied primarily on external criteria).

      If the evidence were still as it was in Hort's day -- if there were
      no P46, no 1739, no P72, no minuscules of Family 2138 -- then I
      would probably accept Hort's theory (with computer controls on the
      evidence) as being the best possible in its time.

      > It is true that we have
      >many more manuscripts than for any of the Classical authors. It is also
      >true that this opens the door for the application of some statistical
      >methods, methods that are entirely useless for the TC of Classical
      >authors. But it does NOT imply that these statistical methods can REPLACE
      >the methods Housman is speaking of. At best, it can supplement and extend

      An entirely serious question: How do you know?

      [ ... ]

      >> I really don't see any point in continuing this discussion, as I
      >> doubt we will change anyone's opionions. But if someone *really*
      >> wants to argue that scientific rigour is bad -- well, I invite
      >> that person to go live in a log cabin for a year, with no electricity
      >> or tools made out of any material more advanced than cast iron,
      >> and *then* come back and tell me scientific rigour is to be
      >> avoided. :-)
      >Isn't this what Ted Kaczynski did?

      So? It would seem to me that that is an argument for scientific
      rigour, if it is an argument for anything at all. (Which it
      probably isn't. :-)

      >But seriously now, nobody is claiming that "scientific rigour is to be
      >avoided". What I am saying (and I think this is not too far from what the
      >others are saying as well), is that what you call "scientific rigour" is
      >too narrowly defined. Your notion of "scientific rigour" is really "the
      >experimental method", which method has produced excellent results in the
      >last 500 years in the physical sciences. It has also yielded fruit in
      >psychology, sociology, history and a few others of the humanities in the
      >last 150 years or so, but it has never been able to replace the other
      >scientific methods of these fields, as it did in the physical sciences.

      But there is a difference. In NTTC, we have a defined objective:
      Recovery of the original text. What is the "objective" of, say,
      history? If we had a precise objective, perhaps we could invent a
      scientific method.

      I will concede that I can't offer true "proof" that my methods
      are better than others'; the only way we can have true proof is
      to have the autographs. But in the meantime I am at least offering
      a method that is relatively repeatable. :-)


      Folks, I see little point in continuing this discussion. What we see
      here is a difference in belief systems. As I already stated, there is
      *no reconciling such differences.*

      But since I am one of the few defenders of rigorous methods, I must
      keep answering, if for no other reason than to show that the answers
      exist. If you, like me, wish we could drop this pointless thread,
      then just don't answer. I know I haven't convinced you. But you
      haven't convinced me, either. :-)


      Robert B. Waltz

      Want more loudmouthed opinions about textual criticism?
      Try my web page: http://www.skypoint.com/~waltzmn
      (A site inspired by the Encyclopedia of NT Textual Criticism)
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