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The Metaphysics (Penguin Classics) New Ed Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 860-1300101927
ISBN-10: 0140446192
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Aristotle was born in 384BC. For twenty years he studied at Athens at the Academy of Plato, on whose death in 347 he left, and some time later became tutor to Alexander the Great. On Alexander's succession to the throne of Macedonia in 336, Aristotle returned to Athens and established his school and research institute, the Lyceum. After Alexander's death he was driven out of Athens and fled to Chalcis in Euboea where he died in 322. His writings profoundly affected the whole course of ancient and medieval philosophy. 

Hugh Lawson-Tancred was born in 1955 and educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. He is a Departmental Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at Birkbeck College in the University of London. He has published extensively on Aristotle and Plato and is currently engaged in research in computational linguistics. He translates widely from the Slavonic and Scandinavian languages. He is married with a daughter and two sons and lives in North London and Somerset.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140446192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140446197
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 20, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazon.com, for reasons best known to themselves, have put my review of the Prometheus books translation of Metaphysics under the Penguin books translation (see below). Just to make things perfectly clear, the Prometheus books translation is bad, the Penguin books translation is good. Now, no matter where they put this, the truth will out.
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Format: Paperback
This translation of Aristotle's Metaphysics is published by NuVision Publications, which says that they are "specializing in rare, out-of-print books still in demand." The translator is W. D. Ross, and the translation was first published by Oxford University Press in the early nineteen thirties. It was later republished by Random House under the editorship of Richard McKeon. It seems that the translation is now in the public domain since the title page has no data on copyright. NuVision is to be commended for making available classics that are out of print. But they have hardly done justice to W. D. Ross. I have only made my way through Book III (out of XIV)of the Metaphysics, but I am distressed by too frequent errors of punctuation, omission of words, change of word order, and a total mangling of the last paragraph of Book III that makes it altogther unintelligible. Aristotle deserves better, and so does the reputation of W. D. Ross.
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"After 'The Physics'" is the suitably opaque title for Aristotle's exploration of the fundamental nature of existence. It is not about religion as such, nor mysticism or magic; you can put those meanings of the word aside. It has been called by this title ever since a first-century B.C. editor decided to place it *after* Aristotle's "Physica" (On Nature). Aristotle seems to have called it "First Philosophy," which now suggests something introductory, as well as of first importance. Aristotle also sometimes describes it as "Theology," which is also rather misleading, although he does talk about a concept of what he considers divinity. The concept has little connection to most people's way of regarding religion, although Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Aristotelians all did their best to reconcile it with their ideas of what "theology" should be, sometimes with help from Neo-Platonist interpretations.

No valid presentation is going to make it easy to understand, and Richard Hope's half-century old translation is not for the faint of heart. Part of the problem, however, is not the (admitted) depth of Aristotle's thought, but the fact that he was thinking in an ancient language, an issue that Hope confronts, and, through his presentation, largely overcomes. The book looks cluttered, but a little use shows how functional it is.

Hope's translation has an elaborate apparatus making clear how Aristotle's own choice of words underlies his English version. It shows, without argumentative commentary, how what in our language are discrete concepts fall together quite naturally in the Greek text. The same cross-references show that some ideas we would class together are kept apart in Greek, so Aristotle is not being obtuse in failing to notice how they fit.
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I agree with Ian Slater's view that Hugh Lawson-Tancred's Penguin translation comes with an excellent Introduction. It also has very informative notes introducing the chapters. However, Lawson-Tancred's translation is way too literal for my liking and therefore very tedious to follow. Richard Hope's translation is more readable by far and takes the reader straight to the meaning of Aristotle's writings - which is what I want. To give credit to Lawson-Tancred, I read his chapter notes prior to reading each chapter in Hope's version. I find this to be a very satisfying compromise.
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Format: Paperback
You should first note that, when choosing a volume such as this, the quality of the translation is of primary importance. In my experience, one of three publishers who consistently offer outstanding translations of classic philosophical and literary texts is Penguin Classics. To avoid poor translations, please notice reviewer complaints about volumes offered by certain other publishers.
In this work, Aristotle first exposes what he finds to be the logical errors of earlier thinkers. Although he recurrently trains his fire even on his old teacher, Plato, Aristotle's system of thought does not finally escape Platonism. This volume presents several major undertakings, [1] Aristotle's logic, [2] his systematic definitions and arguments as to the nature and priority of "substance", relative aspects of actuality, potentiality, process, differentia, unity and multiplicity, and [3] his theology (First Philosophy). From Book Gamma: "There must be some one science that gives an account of all... and that also gives an account of substance... of that which is one qua that which is one and of that which is qua that which is... The shortcoming of current examinations of these topics is not their failure to be philosophy, but the priority of substance, on which the current philosophical consensus has no view. There are affections peculiar to [quantification as being quantification]... in the same way there are peculiarities of that which is just qua that which is. And it is the truth about these that the philosopher is after." While Aristotle is often said to be the ideological godfather of so-called positivism (a particularly dogmatic species of materialism), he would reject the title. So-called positivists tend to proudly insist that they reject metaphysics.
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