A New Year’s Resolution: Following Up On A Comment Of Thomas Jefferson
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In 1819 Thomas Jefferson wrote, as part of his letter to William Short:
I have sometimes thought of translating Epictetus (for he has never been tolerably translated into English) by adding the genuine doctrines of Epicurus from the Syntagma of Gassendi….,
I have to date not been able to find an English translation of Gassendi’s “Syntagma Philosophiae Epicuri”, and I am beginning to wonder if, as with the reference to Epictetus, a “tolerable” English translation of Gassendi’s work exists. I see translations of other Gassendi works on Google books, but not of this specific work on Epicurus. The only version on Google books is a scan of the original version in Latin.
Does anyone know if an English translation exists? There appears to be a translation of at least a part by Paul Johnson, but that appears to be a dissertation, and only covering a part of the entire work.
If anyone is aware of an English translation of Gassendi’s complete work, I would appreciate your letting me know!
In the meantime, in an awful, terrible, and inexcusably poor translation from Latin to English, here is my rendering of the Table of Contents of Gassendi’s work. I have included a number of question marks where my translation is particularly poor, but don’t let those fool you – the entire translation is awful! However, it’s enough to at least identify that the First and Third parts of Gassendi’s work are of particular interest:
Syntagma Philosophiae Epicuri – The System Of the Philosophy of Epicurus
Editor’s Preface and Life and Death of Gassendi
On the Philosophy as a Whole
PART FIRST, Which is Canonics, Or, On the Criterias
Chapter I – On Truth, Illustrating the Criteria
Chapter II, The Canonics of the senses as the first Criteria
Canon I – The Senses Never Fail……
Canon II – Opinion is a consequence of the sense, and Sensation is the ____ in which Truth And Falsehood Falls
Canon III – That opinion is true which is supported by, and not contradicted by, the evidence of the senses
Canon IV – That Opinion is false which is neither opposed nor supported by the evidence of the senses.
Chapter III, The Canons of The Prenotions, Anticipations as the Force of the Other Criteria
Canon I – All which is in the mind as Anticipation, or Prenotion, depends on the senses, and that either by incursion, or proportion, or similarity, or by composition ??
Canon II – An Anticipation is itself a thing of inquiry, and as it were a definition, the limit beyond which anything to question, to doubt, to speculate and indeed to name is not allowed.
Canon III – It is the Anticipation in all reasoning principle, as it were indeed, which attends and brings about that one is the same, or different, or connected, or disconnected from others.??
Canon IV – That which is against the evidence, or that which is from an evident thing, should be demonstrated by an Anticipation
Chapter IV – The Canon of the Affections, or the Passions, the Last of the Criteria
Canon I – That which is Pleasurable, which in no way has annexed trouble, is to be embraced.
Canon II – That which is troubling, which has no pleasure annexed, is to be fled.
Canon III – That which is pleasurable, but either a greater pleasure impedes, or a greater trouble begets, is to be fled
Canon IV – That which is troubling, but which either a greater trouble averts, or an abundant pleasure creates, is to be embraced.
Chapter V – The Canons Concerning the Use of the Voice
Canon I – When you Speak, select common words, and evident; not those which are unfamiliar or veiled, or frustrate timely comprehension.
Canon II – When you listen, strive toward it so that you grasp the subject in words, do not allow the force to lie hidden in obscurity, indeed by ambiguity they are deceived.
PART SECOND of the Philosophy, Which is Physics, or On Nature
First Section – On the Universe, Or On The Nature of Things
Chapter I – The Universe Consists of That Which is Corporal, and That Which is Void, or Space
– The Objection of Epicurus to the Immortality of the Spirit Refuted; which from the first passes over his assertion that there is nothing else incorporeal admitted than void
– How the Sense of the Appearance is by which we Apprehend God; where second we pass over the preceding assertions of Epicurus
Chapter II – The Universe is Infinite, Unalterable, Unchanging
Observation I – Can it be that this world is the only such one in the Universe?
Observation II – Is God the Author, or the Cause Producing the World?
Observation III – Is God the Director, or the Cause governing the World?
Chapter III – On The Divinity of the Natural Universe
Observation – In what way is god perfectly understanding.
Observation II – Given that among the causes one is first of all; or that which is, is God
Observation III – On the Use of the Parts in the Spirits ???
Observation IV – To manage God in special care of Human kind (????)
Chapter IV – On the Basic Material, Or on the Principles of the Formation of the Universe
Chapter V – Given in Nature of things are atoms, what are the formation of the first principles.
Observation – That which exists, and which is by necessity the principle material; the first materials examined
Chapter VI – On the Atoms’ properties, and first magnitudes
Chapter VI – On the shapes of the atoms
Chapter VIII – On the Gravity, or Weight, and multiple motions of the Atoms
Chapter IX – Atoms, not common Elements, or “Like-partedness” are the first principles of things.
Chapter X – On the First, and on the Radical Compacting Cause; this is, by Agency, or by Effect
Chapter XI – On the motion, indeed with Action, is effected; and on Fortune, Fate, Ends, and Similar Things, and on Opposing Causes
Chapter XII – On the coming together of things and the qualities borne.
Chapter XIII – On the qualities of Atoms and their apparent accompanying substance; and their separation from the void
(Chapter Fourteen is missing from this scan)
Chapter XV — On the Qualities of Atoms – Apparent Secondary Properties of Combinations
Chapter XVI – On those Qualities which are had through the Events of things or are present for a time
Chapter XVII (missing)
Chapter XVIII- On those things on account of the beginnings, the body in certain this is born, and discerned from certain things
Second Section – On the World
Chapter I, On the Form and Figure of the World
Chapter II – On the Newness of the World
Chapter III – On the Cause of the World
Chapter IV – On the Coming Forth of the World
Chapter V – On the Death and Change of the World
Chapter VI – In Passing, On Spirits and Demons
Pierre Gassendi Refutation: That which the sense of divinity, or preconception of future things by pure fortune
Chapter VII – On the End, or The Perishing of the World
Chapter VIII – On the Infinity of the Universe
Third Section – On Things Humble, or Worldly
Chapter I – On the World in the Middle of the universe consisting
Chapter II – On the Worlds’ motion, or passing of the eternal fire
Chapter III – On Seas, Rivers, Fountains, and the Flooding of the Nile
Chapter IV – On Water’s Occasional properties, and on Glaciers
Chapter V – On The World and Inanimate things
Chapter VI – On Magnets special properties
Chapter VII – On the generation of Animals
Chapter VIII – On the Use of the Spiritual Part
Chapter IX – On the Spirit, From which animals are formed or studied
Chapter X – On Sense, which is of the Spirit as if Spirit, universally
Chapter XI – On Vision, and On Images in themselves occurring
Chapter XII – On the Completion of Vision and the intercession of Images
Chapter XIII – On Hearing
Chapter XIV – On Smelling
Chapter XV – On Tasting
Chapter XVI – On Touching
Chapter XVII – On the Spirit, And Intellect, the Mind, and the Residence of Reasoning
Chapter XVIII – Nothing reflects on the Spirit unless through images incurring
Chapter XIX – On the Affections, or the Passions of the Spirit
Chapter XX – On Voluntary Motions, and in particular on the imposition of names and speech
Chapter XXI – On Sleep, and _______
Chapter XXII – On Death
Fourth Section- On Threshold Things, On Celestial Things, and Those in the Air
Chapter I – On Lesser Things, and On the Variety of The Stars
Chapter II – On the Size and Shape of the Stars
Chapter III – On the Motions ____ of the Stars
Chapter IV – On The Rising and Setting of the Stars, and —————-
Chapter V – On The Light of the Stars —- and the Moon
Chapter VI – On the Eclipses of the Stars ____________
Chapter VII – On the Precession of the Stars
Chapter VIII – On Comets, __________________
Chapter IX – On Clouds
Chapter X – On The Winds, and Waterspouts
Chapter XI – On Rivers
Chapter XII – On Lightning and Thunder
Chapter XIII – On Rain and Due
Chapter XIV – On Hail, Snow, and Frost
Chapter XV – On Rainbows and Halos
Chapter XVI – On Hell
Chapter XVII – On Pestilence
PART THIRD – On Ethics, and On Morals
Chapter I – On Happiness, or the end of goods things, and how far toward this man is capable.
Chapter II – Pleasure without which notion happiness is nothing, the thing which is nature’s good.
Chapter III – The Whole of Happiness consists in Pleasure
Chapter IV – Pleasure, In Which Place Happiness is, To Be Freedom From Pain of the Body and Tranquility of Mind
Chapter V – Of Those things In which Happiness and Pleasure are borne, so with first Virtues are.
Chapter VI – From The Guidance of Reason, and from Free Judgment, all praise of Virtue is
Chapter VII – On Virtues Generally
Chapter VIII – On Prudence Generally
Chapter IX – On Prudence In Private
Caput X – On Domestic Prudence
Chapter XI – On Civil Prudence
Chapter XII – On Temperance as a Whole
Chapter XIII – On Sobriety against Appetite
Chapter XIV – On Moderation against Excess
Chapter XV – On Gentleness Against Anger
Chapter XVI – On Restraint Against Ambition
Chapter XVII – On Moderation Against Avarice
Chapter XVIII – On Moderation against Hope and hopelessness against the future
Chapter XIX – On Courage In general
Chapter XX – On Courage as it concerns fear of the Gods
Chapter XXI – On Courage as it concerns fear of death
Chapter XXII – On Courage Against Pain of the Body
Chapter XXIII – On Courage Against Disease of the Spirit
Chapter XXIV – On Justice in General
Chapter XXV – On Justice, and in what Justice is said to Consist
Chapter XXVI – On the origin of Law, and Justice
Chapter XXVII – That which is against the law, and the changing of Justice
Chapter XXVIII – That which deserves by law to be honored as Just
Chapter XXIX – On Beneficence, Gratitude, Piety, and Observances
Chapter XXX – On Friendship