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Aristotle: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – January 18, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0192854087 ISBN-10: 0192854089

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 18, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192854089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192854087
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.5 x 4.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"A short, sweet, and selective commentary and analysis of Aristotle's works and ideas. A fine adjunct to the reading of the translated texts. A highly recommended aid to the student meeting Aristotle ab initio. Boy, what a book!"--Steven C. Fleishman, University of Maryland


"No other work on Aristotle accomplishes so much in such brief compass; its author's care for and knowledge of Aristotle's achievements are evident on every page."--Tom Cunningham, Grand Valley State College


"One of the finest critical introductions to Aristotle ever written. Clear, concise, and intelligible."--Religious Studies Review


"As an introduction to Aristotle, I find Barnes' book ideal....his book presents the basics in an understandable manner for beginners."--Rose Maries Surwilo, College of St. Francis


"There is something here for everyone with a nose for philosophy and its history...Barnes has provided a description which does justice to the grandeur and breadth of its subject."--Sarah Waterlow, Times Literary Supplement


About the Author


Jonathan Barnes taught at Oxford for 25 years, being a Fellow first of Oriel and then of Balliol. He then spent eight years at the University of Geneva, before becoming Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the Sorbonne. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His many publications include The Ontological Argument (Macmillan, 1972); Aristotle's Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Press, 2nd edition 1993); Aristotle (OUP, 1982); The Complete Works of Aristotle (Princeton UP, 1984); Truth, etc. (Clarendon Press, 2007); and Method and Metaphysics: Essays in Ancient Philosophy I (OUP, 2011); with J. Annas, The Modes of Scepticism (CUP, 1985); Early Greek Philosophy (Penguin, 1987); The Toils of Scepticism (CUP, 1990); The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle (CUP, 1995); Porphyry: Introduction (Clarendon Press, 2003).

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Customer Reviews

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This book provides the reader with and exceptional tool to engage Aristotle philosophy for the first time.
Jorgesp
I have tried to approach Aristotle in two ways; reading his works directly, or reading criticisms or synopses of them.
Michael Strassberg
So, if you are looking for a book that will explain Aristotle's philosophy in detail, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Gregory J. Casteel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Michael Strassberg on December 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have tried to approach Aristotle in two ways; reading his works directly, or reading criticisms or synopses of them. I had been stymied in both approaches. The original texts are very opaque and difficult to follow, and many of the expositors assume a greater knowledge than a novice will have. This book solves the problem. Written by an emminent Aristotelian scholar, it puts in plain, understandable language the basics of Aristotles philosophy. Barnes tries to give a unified presentation of Aristotle, so he chooses the original works by the philosopher to follow in a sequence which builds to a unified whole. A great place to start Aristotle for the beginner.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Ian Halloran on March 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
For someone who is looking for the spark to engage them in Aristotle's thought, or someone who just wants to know a bit about Aristotle, this would be a good choice. There are a couple other really good introductions as well, one is 'Aristotle the Philosopher' by J.L Ackrill, which is a bit more detailed, another is 'Aristotle' by Sir David Ross which is a quite a bit more in depth. Both of these are good as well.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Barnes tells the story of Aristotle's life briefly,and then discusses his contributions in various areas of intellectual life. The first and great impulse of Aristotle is the desire to know and Barnes makes it clear how Aristotle for over one- thousand years was ' the master of all those who know'. He seemed to take interest in every area of study, and his researches in the physical world were for centuries at the forefront of human knowledge. Barnes makes it clear that the Aristotelian view of the world scientifically was ' exploded' by the scientific revolution. No one teaches Aristotle's biology or physics today, and no one uses his methods. On the other hand in other areas, such as ethics and aesthetics his ideas still have a power and voice. The love of knowledge in Aristotle as Barnes makes clear was combined with his understanding of the human being as ' social animals'. Therefore no matter how high a value he placed on the contemplative life ( and this as the key to eudaemonia or happiness in Aristotle's thought) he understand the social, and political aspect of life as human necessity. Barnes outlines Aristotle's political theory, his perhaps too optimistic a view of the role of the state, his exclusion of whole human groups which we today consider rightfully entitled to participate in the ruling of society.

Barnes too makes an interesting analysis of the written style of Aristotle's work, taking it to be dry, factual, and without the poetic and imaginative elegance of Aristotle's great teacher, Plato. He shows how for Aristotle the chief value is in the transmitting of knowledge and that language is thus treated not as an end in itself, but as instrument.

One cannot help noting the great irony in Aristotle's story.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Marvin D. Pipher on March 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In reading most any non-fiction book, it's awfully easy to end up critiquing the material presented rather than the book itself. In this instance, that would be easier than most; for much of that which is presented was written over two thousand years ago. But this book's author critiques it for us; and that's not what we should be doing anyway. So we're left to critique only the book and how its material is imparted to the reader. In my case, that presents a ticklish problem for in reading the book I almost concluded that it should never even have been proposed or written in the first place.

I say that because there is no way that the works of Aristotle could possibly be captured in such a brief enterprise; a book of only 141 pages. He simply did too much, wrote too much, and theorized and hypothesized too much about too many subjects over too long a time to even begin to capture him in this way; unless, of course, the book is intended for those who already know and understand his many works. There is simply too much material presented here for the uninitiated to even begin to grasp it at such a pace --- including works on logic and language; the arts; ethics, politics and law; constitutional and intellectual history; psychology and physiology; zoology, biology, and botany; chemistry; astronomy; mechanics, and mathematics, metaphysics and the theory of knowledge; and the philosophy of science and the nature of motion, space and time.

All this isn't to say that this book's author didn't produce a meaningful volume. He certainly did, and I'm sure he did as well as anyone else could possibly have done considering the scope of his undertaking. But, still, it's difficult to discern who the intended audience for such a book as this might be.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jakian Thomist on October 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
This informative introduction to Aristotle is bursting with interesting facts and provides a nice summary of Aristotle's works with a very good description of Aristotle's emphasis on teleology.

The author is very fond of Aristotle and refers to him repeatedly as a "philosophical scientist"(p. 35) and never ceases attempting to wrap Aristotle in a lab-coat. I sensed however, that this emphasis on Aristotle as empiricist undercut Aristotle's lasting contribution as a realist philosopher and reveals Barnes' subtle anti-ontological slant that pervades the book.

This is such a pity, because when Barnes suggests that "Aristotle ought to have taken scepticism more seriously"(p. 96) he undermines the means Aristotle uses to defend objective knowledge in the Metaphysics, which Barnes views as an "obscure work" (p. 64).

I was impressed to see some coverage of the Meterologica and On the Heavens although Barnes excludes examples that clearly show that Aristotle fails to live to his dictum that "observation always has priority over theory". (p. 113) Aristotle hardly had observation in mind when he states in 'On the Heavens (273b)' that a body with twice the mass of another will fall twice as fast.

It would also have been helpful had Barnes explored the influence of Socrates and paganism on Aristotle's writings. Had Barnes done so he may have found the answer to his question "why did Aristotle not develop a decent chemistry or an adequate physics?" (p. 110) That for Aristotle, the "objects of astronomy are not perishable but eternal" (p. 57) may provide a clue towards the answer.

These minor criticisms aside, Barnes has written a worthy treatise on The Philosopher and should whet one's appetite for further reading.
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