Friday, November 03, 2017


But Do We Really Know This?

Editorial Board, "AJP Today," American Journal of Philology 108.3 (Autumn, 1987) vii-x (at x):
[A]ll of us who are engaged in scholarly work should have the courage, when necessary, to confess our ignorance or, at least, our uncertainty. It is useful to ask, now and then, the simple question: "But do we really know this?" The tendency today is to rely on a system, a theory, a 'synthesis,' which seems to provide all the answers and to claim an authority which will, almost inevitably, be challenged by the next generation. It is often tempting to write: "As X (or Y or Z) has shown conclusively, ...", but the question remains: "Has he really shown anything?" There are very few certainties in this business, and our ignorance is great, but there is comfort and truth in Grotius' reminder: etiam quaedam nescire magna scientia est.

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