The Calculus of Variants: An Essay on Textual Criticism by W. W. Greg

By W. W. Greg

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442) that where an error could not be definitely located it was to be assigned to all possible groups. A further limitation arises from the fact that a manuscript may be very independent in minor matters, and therefore appear of small evidential value, and yet be a trustworthy guide in more'important readings. Of course, it may happen that the 53 This completes the present sketch of the Calculus of Variants. Its scope is admittedly restricted, since, without the notion of originality, which has to be imported from outside, it can lead to no definite result~ Moreover, the introduction of this notion of originality is attended with very great logical difficulties.

1 Hence the importance of an occasionally available manuscript. 2 The chances, in such a case, will generally be in favour of ~. This is due to the fact that xA'CDEF may very likely be an immediate transcript of xA'BCDEF, whereas between the latter and the extant B there probably intervene a number of potential manuscripts. But a series of transcriptions is always likely to introduce more variation than a single transcription, and ~ has therefore a better chance at being original than B. This is the grain of truth that lies behind the fallacy of constant variation (see Note C).

But, of course, B may be as old as xA'CDEF. 55 NOTE A--On Collateral Groups 54 The Calculus Of Variants few cases sporadically, we need to do so in every instance of certain given classes. 1 But if in every case we can determine by inspection which reading is original, the relation of the manuscripts ceases to be of any interest whatever. This means that the reconstruction of the text of an archetype can never be certain, but is always at best a matter of greater or less probability. This may be, and I suppose universally is, admitted; but the admission does not appear to afford any ground for rejecting the help of a rigorous logic so far as it can be made available.

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