- Paperback: 314 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (January 30, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 041587212X
- ISBN-13: 978-0415872126
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #967,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Real Essentialism (Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy, Vol. 11) 1st Edition
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'[Real Essentialism] presents vigorous and wide-ranging arguments in defense of an Aristotelian metaphysical scheme … This book puts forward many unfashionable views. But it argues for them with vigor and erudition.' – Crawford L. Elder, Analysis Reviews
'Oderberg … exemplifies the unfortunately rare combination in analytical philosophy of rigorous and historically informed argumentation …This book places hylomorphism squarely on the table for discussion.' – Sebastian Rehnman, Review of Metaphysics
'a major intellectual achievement....I can particularly recommend, for those interested in such matters--as many metaphysicians presently are--his very well informed discussion of powers and laws of nature, which raises important objections to many current accounts of these.' -E.J. Lowe, The Philosophical Quarterly
"...there can be no doubt that this learned and rigorous work deserves a wide readership."--Edward Feser, Faith and Philosophy
From the Author
Real Essentialism sets out a system of realist metaphysics in the Aristotelian tradition, applying it to fundamental metaphysical and scientific problems. First, the theory is contrasted with the contemporary essentialism of Saul Kripke, Hilary Putnam, and their followers, which is shown to be inadequate to the task of justifying real, objective, knowable essences. Next, the book criticizes the anti-essentialism of Locke, Quine, Wittgenstein, and Popper. After a further defence of the reality and knowability of essence, the system of real essentialism is laid out, beginning with a defence of hylemorphism - prime matter and substantial form as the foundation of essence. There follows an account of substance, classification, individuation, and identity. Essence and existence, powers, and laws of nature are then analyzed, followed by properties, artefacts, and origins. The book concludes by applying real essentialism in great depth to three central problems at the interface of science and metaphysics: the nature of life, the reality of biological species, and the essence of the person.
Real Essentialism has as its underlying idea the view that traditional metaphysics is relevant to contemporary philosophy and science. It is not an outmoded relic of pre-Enlightenment thinking, but a vital and reasonable way of solving perennial philosophical problems as well as many of the foundational and methodological questions thrown up by contemporary science. Hylemorphism, long discarded as an Aristotelian relic, is again brought to the forefront of metaphysical thinking. In particular, the doctrine of substantial forms, for centuries rejected outright by the overwhelming majority of philosophers, is rehabilitated. Hylemorphism may have been tossed aside, but for no good reason other than historical prejudice. Its critics can be answered, as can anti-essentialists in general. The system of Aristotelian taxonomy, never fully abandoned by scientists but long suspected of inadequacy, especially in biology, is defended in a way that has not been done for a long time. Real Essentialism puts traditional metaphysics back in its rightful place at the centre of philosophical and scientific thinking. It will be of interest to professional philosophers and scientists alike, especially those working in metaphysics and biology. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
That being said, someone like me who is only a lowly amateur scholastic was able to get much out of this book. Oderberg defines and defends the AT view of real essentialism; that is, he defends the proposition that things have real essences which are knowable (though not exhaustively) by us. As mentioned above, he critiques other forms of essentialism or those ideas associated with essentialism, such as "other worlds" and the view that the essence of something is simply a collection of properties (the so-called bundle theory). Chapter 3 is especially helpful, as in this chapter Oderberg gives the most robust positive defense of real essentialism, arguing why such a philosophy is necessary as well as how we can know essences. Other chapters are devoted to interacting with much of modern science and modern objections to essentialism. For example, Oderberg spends an entire chapter discussing whether or not evolution and modern biology undermine essentialism (hint: they don't). He takes the time to look at common views of the phylogenetic tree and show the philosophical shortcomings of the modern (reductionist) way of determining whether two animals are of the same species. Please note this is not a criticism of biology or evolution, but a criticism of the philosophy of determining when we ought to consider two animals of the same species.Oderberg finishes the book by defending "hylomorphic dualistic" view of the human person. In other words, he discusses the implications of real essentialism to the human person.
This is an essential book for those wishing to defend and hold to AT metaphysics. What is especially helpful about this book is the fact that it is true to the metaphysics of Aquinas, yet it uses those meatphysical principles to interact with modern objections based on new discoveries like human evolution. This is not the book to begin studying AT metaphysics, as texts by Feser would be better suited for the beginner. But with a decent knowledge under your belt of AT metaphysics, this book is a must read.
Professor Oderberg's book presents a serious, erudite, rigorously argued, very well-documented and detailed contemporary defense and explanation of the Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics.
If you think (like I did, some time ago) that the metaphysical ideas of Aristotle and Aquinas are a silly and naive product of the scientific ignorance of the times of their writings, then you'll discover (after close reading Oderberg's book) how much ill-informed you are. When I read this book, I already knew that most criticisms of the Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics were based on misunderstandings of the critics. But after I read it, I confirmed that the case for an Aristotlian-Thomistic metaphysics is very hard to refute indeed; and certainly, the common and well-known criticisms against it don't affect it at all, as you can judge by yourself.
Dr.Oderberg's command of the relevant metaphysical literature on contemporary analytic philosophy and his knowledge of Aristotelian Thomistic philosophy, makes this book a philosophical masterpiece.
I'd dare to say this book is one of the best books on philosophy that I've ever read, and probably the best book defending the Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics in print.
If you're a serious truth-seeker, philosopher or student of philosophy, you have to read and STUDY Dr.Oderberg's excellent book.
You won't be dissapointed.