Plutarch's Science of Natural Problems

Plutarch's Science of Natural Problems

A Study with Commentary on Quaestiones Naturales

:: Sommaire    :: Détails




Plutarch and the history of science: the case of Quaestiones naturales

1. Plato, Plutarch and scientific infancy 

2. Date and chronology of Quaestiones naturales: a 'life's work'? 

3. The value of Plutarch's natural problems 

4. Classical philology and the petrification of science 

5. Status quaestionis 

6. Note on translations and abbreviations 


1. Problems, problems, problems (and Aristotelian precedents) 


1.1. Quaestiones naturales and the Aristotelian genre and tradition of natural problems 

1. Preliminary remarks on Plutarch's Naturwissenschaft 

2. Quaestiones naturales: the work of a Plutarchus Aristotelicus? 

3. The genre of problems and the Aristotelian tradition of natural problems 

4. Internal organisation of Plutarch’s natural problems (microstructure) 

5. Coherent reading in Quaestiones naturales and convivales (macrostructure) 

6. The title and its programmatic value 1


1.2. Problems related to Plutarch’s scientific discourse 

1. Trifles unworthy of Plutarch? Some remarks on authenticity 

2. The rhetoric of scientific discourse according to Plutarch 

3. The problem of style 

4. The problem of morality 

5. A 'generic’ solution 

6. Conclusion and new questions 

2. The position of Quaestiones naturales in the corpus Plutarcheum


2.1. Scientific traits in the corpus Plutarcheum

1. Intellectual and literary interest of natural phenomena 

2. Cluster analysis in Quaestiones naturales

3. Scientific digressions in the Vitae 

4. Indirect references to Quaestiones naturales


2.2. A comparative study of Quaestiones naturales and Quaestiones convivales

1. The level of elocutio 

2. The level of dispositio 

3. The level of inventio


2.3. Hypomnematic text genetics of Quaestiones naturales and Quaestiones convivales 

1. Historicity and fiction in Quaestiones convivales 

2. Problems and personal notes 

3. Zetetic autonomy in Quaestiones naturales 


2.4. Opening up Plutarch’s zetetic archive 

1. The issue of publication: problems as functional literature 

2. Classification and overlap 

3. Conclusion and new questions 


3. Quaestiones naturales and zetetic pa?de?a 


3.1. Sitz im Leben: readership and educational context 

1. Natural problems and philosophical s???? 

2. Plutarch’s academy 

3. Digestive discussions and problematic promenades 

4. Quaestiones naturales as school text: technicality and complexity 

5. The dialogue between author and reader: vivacity and historicity 

3.2. Quaestiones naturales as a preamble to metaphysics 

1. Natural problems as a means of exercising the mind 

2. Natural problems as a means of easing the mind 

3. Conclusion and new questions 

4. Plutarch’s Platonic world view: the aetiological design of Quaestiones naturales and its scientific context 

4.1. Science and its foes? The ancient scientific value of Quaestiones naturales 

4.1.1. Saving popular beliefs: the wonders and paradoxes of nature 

1. Natural problems and the fabric of strangeness 

2. Democritus and the cucumber 

3. Plutarch’s popular beliefs: anti-Aristotelian and anti-Stoic dynamics 

4.1.2. Plutarch’s dualistic causality: rationalising the divine and the use of myth and poetry 

1. Plato’s scientific revolution 

2. Science, religion and mythology 

3. Science and poetry 

4.2. Constructing scientific authority: between continuity, ingenuity and innovation 

4.2.1. Character and use of the scientific tradition 

1. Quotations from scientific prose authors 

2. Problematisation of scientific knowledge 

4.2.2. Scientific innovation and performance 

1. A note on the sociology of knowledge and pa?de?a 

2. The pragmatics of Plutarch’s scientific ingenuity and creativity 

4.3. Plutarch’s scientific methodology: a rough guide to explaining natural phenomena 

4.3.1. Material principles and natural processes 

1. Material principles 

2. Natural processes 

4.3.2. Towards the limits of natural science 

1. A 'sceptical’ Plutarch: ?µpe???a, ?p??? and e???ße?a 

2. Truth and probability in Quaestiones naturales 

3. Sense perception and the issue of autopsy in Quaestiones naturales

4.3.3. Logical-rhetorical dynamics 

1. Contradiction, non-contradiction and aetiological freedom 

2. Aetiological comprehensiveness and pluricausality 

3. Aetiological subtlety and sophistication 

4.3.4. Uniformity and technicality of the scientific terminology 

1. Let’s talk science: the birth and use of technical vocabulary 

2. Big words? High-tech vs. low-tech vocabulary 

3. Conclusion: Plutarch, Plato and Aristotle (again) 


0. Approach and structure 

1. Salt and water (Q.N. 1–13) 

2. Wheat and barley (Q.N. 14–16) 

3. Sea animals and fishing (Q.N. 17–19) 

4. Land animals and hunting (Q.N. 20–28) 

5. Viniculture (Q.N. 30–31) 

6. Longolius (Q.N. 32–39) 

7. Psellus (Q.N. 40–41) 



Index Locorum 






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