A QUESTION that has been argued long and continuously by the most famous philosophers is whether voice has body or is incorporeal; for the word incorporeus has been coined by some of them, corresponding exactly to the Greek ἀσώματος. Now a body is that which is either active or passive: this in Greek is defined as τὸ ἤτοι ποιοῦν ἢ πάσχον, or “that which either acts or is acted upon.” Wishing [p. 429] to reproduce this definition the poet Lucretius wrote: 1
Naught save a body can be touched or touch.The Greeks also define body in another way, as τὸ τριχῆ διάστατον, or “that which has three dimensions.” But the Stoics maintain 2 that voice is a body, and say that it is air which has been struck; Plato, however, thinks that voice is not corporeal: “for,” says he, 3 “not the air which is struck, but the stroke and the blow themselves are voice.” Democritus, and following him Epicurus, declare that voice consists of individual particles, and they call it, to use their own words, ῥεῦμα ἀτόμων, 4 or “a stream of atoms.” When I heard of these and other sophistries, the result of a self-satisfied cleverness combined with lack of employment, and saw in these subtleties no real advantage affecting the conduct of life, and no end to the inquiry, I agreed with Ennius' Neoptolemus, who rightly says: 5
Philosophizing there must be, but by the few;
Since for all men it's not to be desired.