Contact: Dr. Heinrich C. Kuhn
Document created: 2008-09-26
Last update: 2008-10-01
Frank, GŁnter (ed. & trans.)
Beyer, Michael (coed.)
Ethicae Doctrinae Elementa et Enarratio Libri quinti Ethicorum
Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt [frommann-holzboog] 2008
XLII, 271 pp. ISBN: 978-3-7728-2372-5
Price: EUR 186
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This title was reviewed by: Sabrina Ebbersmeyer of "Seminar fŁr Geistesgeschichte und Philosophie der Renaissance / Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitšt MŁnchen"
Item arrived at GGREN on: 2008-07-28
Review was finished on: 2008-09-26
The edition of Melanchthonís Ethicae Doctrinae Elementa et Enarratio Libri quinti Ethicorum is the first volume of the series ĄEditionen zur Frühen Neuzeit. Lateinisch-deutsche Quelleneditionen" edited by Günter Frank. One may expect this series to be appreciated by a wide range of scholars, following the intention to make more available important texts of the early modern era. The first volume will be followed by Petrus Ramusí Dialecticae libri duo, eight further volumes are in planning.
The present volume offers the Latin text of Melanchthonís work taken from the printed edition Wittenberg 1550, together with a German translation. The critical notes containing variants from the different following editions of the years 1554, 1557 and 1560 are taken from the edition of the text in Corpus Reformatorum (CR 16, 165-276) but only partly, namely those "containing relevant textual changes" ("die inhaltlich relevante Änderungen am Text beinhalten" p. XV). In addition, some references to ancient and Christian authors are supplemented. A detailed table of content, some editorial notes, a list of abbreviations, and an introduction by the editor precede the text, which is followed by an index of names.
The introduction places Melanchthonís ethics in the context of the Aristotelian tradition. It contains a brief sketch of the reception of Melanchthonís ethics from the late 19th century up to now and gives some information about Melanchthonís interest in moral philosophy and his published works in this field from the year 1529 up to 1552. Melanchthonís ethics is seen "in the broader context of the humanist movement" ("im weitergehenden Kontext der humanistischen Bewegung" p. XXIV), which means for the author mainly an intensified interest in the Greek text and the Greek commentary tradition. The introduction concludes with three general remarks on Melanchthonís ethics: 1. Melanchthon offers an "outline of a Reformation ethics" ("Entwurf einer reformatorischen Ethik" p. XXXIX); 2. despite its orientation on Aristotle Melanchthonís ethics is not a philosophical but rather a theological one; 3. Melanchthonís ethics is intended for all men, including philosophers, theologians and citizens.
As the title of Melanchthonís work indicates, the first book deals with such fundamental ethical questions as the definition of moral philosophy, the ultimate goal of men, virtue and free will, whereas the second book takes up the central issue of the fifth book of the Nicomachean Ethics, that is justice.
The present edition is a good starting point for reading and studying Melanchthonís moral philosophy. Nevertheless some critical remarks may be allowed. The translation offers a comprehensible and reliable text. Still, in the perspective of the history of philosophy one would have appreciated some more attention to the technical meaning of such concepts as "demonstratio" (which is sometimes translated with "Veranschaulichungen (p. 9) or "Beweisgründe" (p. 10)) or "solutio" (translated as "Widerlegung" (p. 23, 31) and "Schluss" (p. 22, 31)). And it remains unclear why "multa plausibilia argumenta" is translated with "viele anscheinend überzeugende Argumente" (p. 18/19). Some more diligent work on the sources would have been useful as well. For example Lorenzo Valla, who is mentioned twice by Melanchthon is referred to in the notes diffusely as the author of "De vero falsoque bono" (p. 35 and p. 73) not indicating the exact reference of the first mentioning (ed. Maristella de Panizza Lorch, Bari 1970, p. 64) and without noticing, that the second is not refering to this but to another work of Valla, namely his "De libero arbitrio" (ed. Maria Anfossi, Florence 1934, p. 41ss.).
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Author1: Melanchthon, Philipp Author2: Frank, GŁnter (ed. & trans.) Author3: Beyer, Michael (coed.) main Title: Ethicae Doctrinae Elementa et Enarratio Libri quinti Ethicorum place of publ.: Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt publisher: frommann-holzboog year: 2008 no of pages etc.: XLII, 271 pp. ISBN: 978-3-7728-2372-5 currency: EUR price: 186