Top positive review
20 people found this helpful
Right next to the ROT for my purposes.
on August 24, 2012
I'll spare you my thoughts on the Nicomachean Ethics. I'll spare you my thoughts on Aristotle. If you've gotten this far in your search for a copy of the text, then you probably don't need to be told how wonderful Aristotle is. I'll just assume for the sake of my review that you're looking at various translations, perhaps because you don't read Greek and can't do your own. The revised Oxford translation is preferred by many of my colleagues. The Hackett, which was my first edition of the Nicomachean Ethics, seems to be generally regarded as inferior to the ROT. I still have a soft spot for aspects of Irwin's translation, but I don't use it when I'm writing and I don't use it to check my own translations. There are a couple of other newer translations floating around (Broadie and Rowe, Bartlett and Collins) but I have very limited experience with them.
Crisp has done a wonderful job here, I think. The translation is very readable and he only rarely follows the general trend of trying to inject debatably anachronistic philosophy into the text (I was a bit disappointed to see Crisp opt for "supervene" in X, but basically everyone does...so perhaps he can't be faulted). It really seems to me that "follows on" does the same work without the philosophical baggage...but, hey, why not do your own translation, right? Aristotle's arguments, especially in the later books, are often paragraph-long syllogisms and Crisp keeps things focused and as manageable as possible.
I purchased this for a two-person reading group. We were using the ROT as our baseline and I was reading the Crisp as a supplement and for the sake of checking spots that seemed particularly sticky. I think we agreed that depending on what you're hoping to find in the reading, you might prefer one translation over the other for purposes of supporting a particular line of argument, etc. If you're just reading the EN for the first time, or reading it for a seminar, I doubt you will find much to quibble with here.
Overall there were just as many times over the course of the group that we felt Crisp bested the ROT as there were times the opposite was true.
Not for the totally uninitiated, in my opinion. Crisp's Cambridge edition does not include notes. The recent Brown revision of the ROT has very useful notes and won't let you down for most purposes.
I'm trying to think of a nice way to sum things up...chances are if you're buying this one of the following is the case:
a) it's been assigned for a class and this was the specified edition. If so, great, I don't think you're being led in the wrong direction and you'll find Crisp very readable.
b) you're doing some research on Aristotle, Aristotle's ethics, or virtue ethics in general. Unless you're reading Aristotle's philosophy for the first time, you can probably get by without any notes...so this edition would serve you well.
c) you're just awesome all on your own and want to read Aristotle and, in particular, one of the most important and best works of philosophy ever written (oops, looks like I ended up gushing in my review after all). This is a really fine edition and I wouldn't steer anyone away from it. However, if you haven't read much philosophy you might really like having notes on difficult passages and technical terms (Crisp does have a brief glossary here, but no notes). If so, I would suggest Brown's revision of the ROT.
d) you're a graduate student and you want to compare various available translations, or compare various existing translations against your own. I think having Crisp alongside the ROT is a great combination. Then again, if this is you, you probably don't need my recommendation.
UPDATE: The other participant in my reading group reminded me of one other important (missing) feature in the Crisp edition: Crisp has included Bekker page numbers and columns, but no line numbers. At times this made getting to the same line a small hassle. It doesn't change my rating, but it is worth noting.