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Although some people have questioned the value of Aristotle, his theory of essences shaped philosophy, theology, and science until the late nineteenth century, and those works cannot be understood without first understanding Aristotle's theory of essences. That theory is developed in Metaphysics Z and H, which is the topic of Loux's book. Aristotle's essences of physical objects are now explained as DNA (for living things) and molecular structure (for minerals), and the essential forms of artifacts are still regarded as designs in the mind, as Aristotle said. But Aristotle's theory extended beyond natural sciences to include God and the soul, and these remain live topics. More to the ponit, his objective was to identify the primary ousia, the basic reality. That remains a live question, and Aristotle's answer to it remains a live and challenging option, yet philosophers remain divided in their interpretation of it. Prof. Loux has provided a helpful explanation of the whole topic.
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Michael Loux is a faculty member of the philosophy department of the University of Notre Dame, which is near South Bend, Indiana, USA. On 4 August 1879 Pope Leo XIII issued an encyclical titled "Aeterni Patris", which mandated that Roman Catholic schools teach Thomism. This mandate still has a recognizably residual influence in the University of Notre Dame's philosophy department.
In my personal experience as a graduate student in the Notre Dame philosophy department I found that the Notre Dame philosophers abhor new ideas including notably those of the ascendant contemporary pragmatism. I therefore concluded that their philosophers do not just study the past, but are cultural atavisms that intellectually live in it. For many of them Saint Thomas Aquinas is their New Testament and Aristotle is their Old Testament. And I see Loux as one of their Old Testament philosophers.
Philosophy has come a long way since Aristotle. I doubt that a contemporary philosopher reading this book will find value for contributing to the future advancement of twenty-first-century philosophy. The Victorian English aristocracy built edifices on their manorial estates that were quaint but useless, and that were called "follies." Loux's book may interest the resolute antiquarian, but for contemporary philosophers including the opinion of this reviewer it is an academic "folly."
Furthermore quite apart from Aristotle's anachronistic philosophy, there are also philological problems. In the 1960's I wrote a commentary on Aristotle's semantical work, "De Interpretatione." I relied on three different English translations, and given the discrepancies among them I found none of the translations to be uniformly adequate.Read more ›