Journal article

A Micro-Intertextual Approach to Ancient Thought : The Case of the Torpedo Fish from Plato to Galen


  • 2016
Published in:
  • Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal. - Charlottesville, Philosophy Documentation Center, 2016. - 2016, vol. 37, no. 1, p. 15-48
English The torpedo (or electric ray, or crampfish) is known for causing numbness to the fishermen’s hands when captured by into their nets. This essay reconstructs a line of discussions concerning the nature of this fish’s power at a time where “electricity” did not exist. By following selected occurrences of the animal from Plato to Galen (including Aristotle, Theophrastus, Clearchus of Soli, Strato of Lampsacus, Hero of Alexandria, Pliny the Elder, and Plutarch of Chaeronea) and by comparing the relevant passages at a small-scale level with previous, contemporary, or subsequent documents, a certain approach to doing history of ideas is suggested. On the basis of this case study, the article reflects on what interpretation is, and it illustrates what kind of philosophical interest a study of outmoded questions and texts can have.
Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines
Département de Philosophie
  • English
Philosophy, psychology
License undefined
Open access status
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