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The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy) 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521422949
ISBN-10: 0521422949
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This lively collection serves its purpose well." Ethics

"...a clear, concise, well organized, comprehensive treatment of Aristotle's philosophy." Howard J. Curzer, Canadian Philosophical Review

"The book is above all an inspring and informative guide for philosophically ambitious students of Aristotle, but even a more advanced reader finds much of interest and pleasure in it." Bryn Mawr Classical Review

""The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle is a must read for any Aristotelian scholar, but it is also beneficial to a reader with little knowledge of ancient thought. This is a great value for anyone's library." Steve W. Lamke, The Theological Educator

Book Description

Aristotle is one of the greatest thinkers in the Western tradition as well as one of the most difficult to understand. Contributors to this volume do not attempt to disguise the nature of that difficulty in the course of offering a clear exposition of the central philosophical concerns in his work.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Companions to Philosophy
  • Paperback: 434 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1st edition (January 27, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521422949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521422949
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Louie Kin Yip on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
The work of Aristotle is difficult, wide-ranging and dry. As Joanathan Barnes explained in the introduction in this book, this is probably because Aristotle's work is an unauthorized collection of lecture notes. Therefore, an introduction to the main themes in his work is an invaluable help to approaching the master's work. The Cambridge guide has chapters on metaphysics, logic, ethics, philosophy of science, science, psychology, politics, rhetoric. It also contains a massive bibliography. The essays concentrates on explaining the content of Aristotle's work, but it also introduce readers to modern controveries in interpretating Aristotle. The essay of Barnes on the very confusing work Metaphysics is pure gold. Other essays are excellent too.
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The 'Cambridge Companion' to philosophy series has put out some great products. In my opinion this may be the best. Absolutely splendid articles that help the reader understand Aristotle rather than some philosopher's interpretation of him. For such a polymath as Aristotle, the authors did a good job of focusing on key facets of his philosopy that adequately prepare and stimulate the reader to investigate other of Aristotle's writings, which the Companion could not cover for lack of space. The bibliography and subject guides to the secondary liturature are well done.
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Format: Paperback
This is the best introduction to one of the most - if not the most - important philosophers in human history.

Aristotle's body of work is extremely wide-ranging as well as dense in detail, and often extremely complex and subtle. This Cambridge Companion simplifies and explains - without the loss of fidelity to the complex and subtle and innovative nature of his teachings - the most important of his teachings.

This Cambridge Companion to Aristotle has essays by preeminent scholars in the field. The book focuses on the most important and influential of Aristotle's philosophical thinking.

It includes essays on Aristotle's logic, metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of science and science generally, and psychology, poetics, rhetoric, and politics. These are the core subjects in Aristotle's canon. It is generally believed among scholars that most all of the work of Aristotle that has survived and come down to us today, consists of copies of lecture notes that his students took at his school (known as the Lyceum). Thus, much of his "writings" - though copied for generations and then edited by translators - often seems disjointed or unnecessarily complex in terms of its clarity and organization.

If you are new to studying philosophy, I suggest you start with this Cambridge Companion or the one on Plato. If you start with the one on Aristotle, I suggest you read this Companion and then either at the same time or right after, begin reading the primary texts. You can read all the secondary and ancillary texts you want on philosophers and philosophy, but they are never a substitute for the primary texts. The primary texts are infinitely more rewarding, provided you are able to understand them - and that is where guides like this one come in hand.
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I really appreciate Robin Smith's summary. I find that Barnes, who wrote several sections, comments negatively (pointing out what he thinks are flaws) in the midst of what I think should be summary. I really think he should share commentary after he shares a summary. Also, I don't find Barnes to offer a balanced view, but an overly-negative one. His work on Aristotle's Rhetoric, for example, finds all kinds of things he doesn't like, but does not acknowledge the fantastically useful stuff.

Again, I find Robin Smith's work useful and dispassionate, and I thank the cambridge companion for making me aware of him; I have since picked up his translation of Topics (Books 1 & 8) and his translation of Prior Analytics.
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Barnes likes highlighting all of the problems that arise in Aristotle's works. In addition, he highlights how impossible it is to get at Aristotle's philosophy at all since it comes down to us through mysterious sources. Of course that is fine, but for newcomers to Aristotle it seems that criticism should be placed aside to begin with so that we can understand basically what was claimed. I was particularly put off by the fact that he wrote three of the essays in this work himself and claims that Aristotle's work "Metaphysics" has nothing unifying it at all. This is not a majority position among Aristotle scholars, indeed it is a radical and extremely skeptical claim. For a more charitable view of Aristotle for newcomers I recommend Joe Sachs' prefaces to his translations of Aristotle.
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