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The Basic Works of Aristotle (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – September 11, 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Preserved by Arabic mathematicians and canonized by Christian scholars, Aristotle's works have shaped Western thought, science, and religion for nearly two thousand years. Richard McKeon's The Basic Works of Aristotle-constituted out of the definitive Oxford translation and in print as a Random House hardcover for sixty years-has long been considered the best available one-volume Aristotle. Appearing in paperback at long last, this edition includes selections from the Organon, On the Heavens, The Short Physical Treatises, Rhetoric, among others, and On the Soul, On Generation and Corruption, Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, and Poetics in their entirety.
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 1520 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (September 11, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375757996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375757990
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is the best one-volume selection of Aristotle's works out there. Your other choices are either the two-volume complete works of Aristotle (ISBN: 069101650X and 0691016518), choppy and ragged selections of the overall books, or buying the individual books. This books facilitates study of Aristotle's comprehensive and coherent philosophy.
This edition has Organon, Physics, On The Heavens, On generation And Corruption, On The Soul, Short Physical Treaties, the Three Animals Treaties, Metaphysics, Ethics, Politics, Rhetoric, and Poetics. You have all of the standards that a student would need, plus the lesser-known works. Therefore, this book has achieved the Aristotelian "mean." It is in perfect balance.
The selection is superb, but the translation is moderate. Being done in the 1940's, it sounds tinny. The "old school" translation is full of Latinisms, archaisms, and is stuffy. All this means that it is unclear, which is deadly to a translation.
The Philosophy of Aristotle (ISBN: 0451528875), on the other hand, is a lively and vibrant. And above all, a clear translation.
I recommend getting the hardcover edition. The paper is sturdy, and not the newsprint like tin the soft cover. Furthermore, it is a high-quality binding, and even comes in a protecting box. This book is made to last, to endure, and to be used.
8 Comments 106 of 113 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on May 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
Not everyone who is interested in reading Aristotle will want to buy the two volumes of the Oxford translation of Aristotle's complete works. If you're someone who is studying Aristotle for a college course or simply want to become acquainted with what he wrote, then I recommend this book. As other reviewers have said it has complete versions of all of the most famous works of Aristotle e.g. Nichomachean Ethics,Politics,Metaphysics and Physics and also the complete Categories and De Interpretatione from the Organon. As for the translations, these are taken from the original Oxford translation published in 12 volumes in the 1920's. They may not be quite as up to date as the translations in the present Oxford translation but they're perfectly acceptable and correct. As it says on the back cover of the book, this is the best one volume edition of Aristotle's works that you can buy.
Comment 41 of 43 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Of Aristotle's works, I offer no critique; what could I say that has not been said more clearly and elegantly by reviewers more expert than I on the subject? Beyond the incredible historical and cultural import of the works, the fact that the writings of a scientist and philosopher who lived some 2300+ years ago resonate so clearly with the modern reader speaks to their brilliance--even in the cases where philosophical and scientific advances made some ideas outdated. Instead, I critique this particular volume, which in my mind has several strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths: As others have noticed, this is the best one-volume compilation of Aristotle's works. In terms of cost and convenience that makes this an attractive work. For someone interested in the full scope of Aristotle's works, this would be a nice version to have.

Weaknesses: I cannot read the original Greek to compare the translation to the original, but in English, the translation can come off as a bit dry, dated, and uninspired. For me, I also missed the lack of introductory material or other commentary on the works, which are quite difficult for the general reader. In retrospect, as I was interested in gaining in-depth exposure to some of Aristotle's "greatest hits" rather than the entire magnitude of his works, I probably would've been better off buying a smaller number of works separately. Greater cost would've been outweighed by the greater commentary which separate works could've provided. For people reading this material as part of a class, this might not be an important weakness, but it is important for readers like me attempting to gain some insight to the wisdom of Aristotle through independent study.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm only just starting to read Aristotle's works, but already I wish I got the 2-volume Oxford set. Compare the line 20 of the first book (translated by Edghill) from Basic Works:

"Of things themselves some are predicable of a subject, and are never present in a subject. Thus 'man' is predicable of the individual man, and is never present in a subject."

to the corresponding line from the Oxford (translated by Ackrill):

"Of things there are (a) some are *said* of a subject but are not *in* any subject. For example, man is said of a subject, the individual man, but is not in any subject."

The Oxford seems to be a smoother translation, and perhaps a little clearer.

Also some of the works in Basic Works are abridged. For example, Chapters 4-33 are omitted from On Sophistical Refutations.

UPDATE 2010-12-13 -----------------

I found the Oxford translation hard going - too hard, really. Note that the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy page on Aristotle mentions that while the Oxford texts are the standard, Irwin and Fine's "Aristotle: Selections" is an "excellent translation", so I wish I got that instead. Really though, what I needed was Adler's "Aristotle for Everybody" - I am reading that now and construct no impediment to its luminous flood.
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