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Ancient Philosophy


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Complete Works of Aristotle, Volume 1 & Complete Works of Aristotle, Volume 2 [sold separately but essentially one work} (Princeton University Press) is by far the preferred compact complete English language edition that allows the student of the philosopher with a ready reference to the surviving corpus.

The Oxford Translation of Aristotle was originally published in 12 volumes between 1912 and 1954. It is universally recognized as the Standard English version of Aristotle.

This revised edition contains the substance of the original translations, sans notes and Greeks texts that have been slightly emended in light of recent scholarship. Three of the original versions have been replaced by new translations (Categories, Interpretation, and Posterior Analytics); and a new and enlarged selection of Fragments has been added.  A useful index in English is available for both volumes in the second volume. The aim of the translation remains the same: to make the surviving works of Aristotle readily accessible to English speaking readers. A must have for any philosopher and anyone wanting a foundation the second half of Classical Greek philosophy and science (the first half being Plato, of course). Aristotle never fails to enlighten and surprise and there are many gems in the less-often consulted scientific works that helps to ground us in the basis of western academic culture. My only reservation about this compilation in such a compact format is without necessary critical apparatus, such as textual notes, conceptual commentaries and a Greek lexicon for certain key terms and passages. The work is a stunning reference but a useless introduction to the thought of the philosopher. A look at the table of contents for both volumes shows just what a gem this work is:

Preface (Jonathan Barnes)
Acknowledgments (Jonathan Barnes)
Note to the Reader (Jonathan Barnes)
De Interpretatione
Prior Analytics
Posterior Analytics
Sophistical Refutations
On the Heavens
On Generation and Corruption
On the Universe**
On the Soul
Sense and Sensibilia
On Memory
On Sleep
On Dreams
On Divination in Sleep
On Length and Shortness of Life
On Youth, Old Age, Life and Death, and Respiration
On Breath**
History of Animals
Parts of Animals
Movement of Animals
Progression of Animals
Generation of Animals
On Colours**
On Things Heard**

Acknowledgments (Jonathan Barnes)
Note to the Reader (Jonathan Barnes)
On Plants**
On Marvellous Things Heard**
On Indivisible Lines**
The Situations and the Names of Winds**
On Melissus, Xenophanes, and Gorgias**
Nicomachean Ethics
Magna Moralia*
Eudemian Ethics
On Virtues and Vices**
Rhetoric to Alexander**
Constitution of Athens
Index of Names
General Index

* - Denotes an item the authenticity of which is under debate.
** - Denotes an item regarded today as spurious, although in the past scholars may have thought it written by Aristotle, and hence it is included here.

In these introductions to Aristotle works guidance is necessary for nearly anyone reading the philosopher with reflective. Our choice of useful general commentaries about the philosopher in general follows:

The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle HARDCOVER (Cambridge University Press) serves as a reference for new readers, students, and non-specialists. As in all the Cambridge Companion series, this volumes acts as a comprehensive guide to Aristotle giving a summary recent developments in the interpretation of the philosopher. The works of Aristotle are analytical, encyclopedic and expository. As editor Jonathan Barnes explains in his introduction, this is probably because Aristotle's work is an unauthorized collection of lecture notes taken by students. This volume offers chapters on metaphysics, logic, ethics, philosophy of science, science, psychology, politics, and rhetoric. It also contains a massive bibliography of recent work about the philosopher. The essays concentrate on introducing the necessary conceptual schemes for understanding the content of Aristotle's work. It also introduces readers to modern controversies in the interpretation Aristotle. This volume is the best place to start reading the philosopher.

Now it is possible that some of you will not want to read everything by the philosopher (time does seem to be finite), so then how to approach this encyclopedic foundation-setting philosopher? Usually professors of philosophy in whose courses we enroll decide this for us. And given the contingency of grades and the near infinite variety of approaches imaginable, it would be hard to second-guess such practical motives. Still it is our job to provide you with knowledge of some of the better currently available works by and about the philosopher and in this introductory page (other pages will deal with topics and works in the Aristotelian tradition) a couple of anthologies follow that seem especially apt in providing a conceptual and historical grounding in the philosophers approach to explaining reality.

The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy is an exceptional general introduction that in many ways shows how Aristotle used his philosophic past to create his own critical philosophy. Given that much of what we know about the so-called presocratics is preserved in Aristotle’s musings, (as are also critical reflections upon Plato’s idealism), this work offers essential background for reading the philosopher. All these Greek presocratic thinkers are discussed in this volume both as individuals and collectively in chapters on rational theology, epistemology, psychology, rhetoric and relativism, justice, and poetics. Assuming no knowledge of Greek or prior knowledge of the subject this volume provides new readers with the most convenient and accessible guide to early Greek philosophy available. Advanced students and specialists will find synthesis of recent developments in the interpretation of early Greek thought.

1; The scope of early Greek philosophy; A. A. Long; 2; Sources;`Jaap Mansfeld; 3; The Beginnings of Cosmology; Keimpe Algra; 4; The Pythagorean tradition; Carl A. Huffman; 5; Heraclitus; Edward Hussey; 6;
Parmenides and Melissus; David Sedley; 7; Zeno; Richard D. McKirahan Jr.; 8;Empedocles and Anaxagoras: Responses to Parmenides; Daniel W. Graham; 9; The Atomists; C. C. W. Taylor; 10; Rational Theology; Sarah Broadie; 11; Early Interest in Knowledge; J. H. Lesher; 12; Soul, sensation, and thought; Andre De Laks; 13; Culpability, responsibility, cause: philosophy, historiography and medicine in the fifth century; Mario Vegetti; 14; Rhetoric and Relativism: Protagoras and Gorgias; Paul Woodruff; 15; Protagoras and Antiphon: Sophistic
debates on justice; Fernanda De Cleva Caizzi; 16; The Poetics of Early Greek Philosophy; Glenn W. Most; Bibliography.

A workhorse of an anthology that is especially conceptually attuned to Aristotle is A New Aristotle Reader
edited by J.L. Ackrill (Princeton University Press). Ackrill is the acclaimed translator of Aristotle's Categories and De Interpretatione (Clarendon Aristotle Series Oxford University Press) and an exceptionally close reader of classical philosophy. His Essays on Plato and Aristotle (Clarendon Aristotle Series Oxford University Press) deserves a detailed review in our pages. In A New Aristotle Reader Ackrill selects key passages from the philosopher’s works to provides a grounding in the most important general Aristotelian concepts and themes. Highly recommended.


See the neoplatonic commentaries on Aristotle for how Aristotle was read in late antiquity.

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