What is the point of reading Aristotle's Metaphysics? Pleasure? Can I approach it as a study guide or should I simply brute into it and see how it goes?
is essentially the placement of this collection compared to what had followed. For example, a previous work of his entitled Categories
went extensively into the examination of natural things. In this particular area (natural things) and subsequent sub-topics such as generation, Metaphysics
covers the subjects in a more precise and ontological way. So when you get to Metaphysics
, Book Zeta, section 7-9, you get into earlier examinations in Categories.
You really need the substantial foundations in Categories
to get the arguments in Metaphysics
(at least in some areas).
As I have understood it though, the major point in reading Metaphysics
is that it rounds off the areas in which Aristotle primarily covered. He covered topics such as ethics, logic, and physika (natural philosophy) before he set about his metaphysical examinations. Within the metaphysical examinations, he covered everything from first philosophy (like wisdom or the things that the wise person knows first), theology (the study of god, especially in Metaphysics
Book Lambda), as well as the science of being qua being (being as in so far as being). Within this subsection is what Aristotle really gets deep to within the context of MetaphysicsMetaphysics Metaphysics
1. Not all copies of Aristotle's Metaphysics
are created equal. Some copies are translated better than others while others are more complicated than they should be. I'm sure you have seen some Ancient Greek philosophy books which give you the Greek translation without the English phonetically derived word. This in my opinion is utter BS because if I did understand the word, I would be reading it in ancient Greek to begin with. Hypokeimenon is a difficult word as it is let alone identifying it as a jumble of Greek letters. To that end, here are two extremely good translations. The first is Metaphysics by David Bostock
. Bostock is fantastic in translation, and if you read Categories
by this author, you will retain the fundamental meanings of the words he translates. That being said, translations are rarely interchangeable and difficult to adapt, so if you do plan on reading various books by Aristotle, get books by the same author. Another book is Metaphysics by Richard Hope
. Also very good, but if I had a choice, I would go Bostock.
In fact, if you want to get a taste of David Bostock's quality, head on over to this thread;
I had intended to make it a long term textual analysis thread and I would post the remaining pages as we got farther along, but it just died out. Darn that ADOFD (attention deficit on forum's disorder).
2. Unless you are taking a class on Aristotle's Metaphysics
, you will need a companion book. You can get a Cambridge companion guide. But the guide is just as difficult to get as the book itself. Not to mention, you then run into the same problem that you get with applying different translations together. Seriously, it can become a mess. To that end, you need to find specific and strategic articles that will help you out with the book. Here are a few I used in my senior thesis (mostly around Zeta) but there are a few that are applied to other books in Metaphysics
. If you need articles on other books, let me know and I'll investigate.
[BLACK BOLD] =
[Blue Italics] = Article name
[regular type] = Author
Good guide for Book Beta: The Origin of Aristotles Metaphysical Aporiai
by Edward Halper.
Good guide for Book Zeta: Aristotle: Essence and Accident
by Alan Code
Good guide for Aristotle and Substance
: Aristotle on Matter
by Kit Fine
Good guide for understanding the meaning of "being" for Aristotle (and a good guide for Zeta): The Verb "to be" and the Concept of Being
by Charles Kahn
Good guide for finite definitions for Aristotle: Aristotle on Definition
by J.M. Le Blond
Good guide for the context of sub-physica: Aristotle on the Difference between Mathematics and Physics and First Philosophy
by D.K.W. Modrak
Excellent article on the context of metaphysics: Metaphysics
by Jonathan Barnes
Good guide for alternate views of standard translation: Aristotle's Metaphysics Reconsidered
by Mary Louise Gill
Another good basic guide to the fundamental metaphysics: Aristotle's Discovery of Metaphysics
by T.H. Irwin.
Essential explanation of the principle of Non-Contradiction: Aristotles investigation of a basic Logical Principle- Which science investigates the principle of non-contradiction
by Alan Code
Great contextual article on Book Alpha/Alpha Lesser: Aristotle's Review of the Presocratics: Is Aristotle Finally a Historian of Philosophy
by Catherine Collobert
Great guide to Zeta and Eta (especially context for Zeta 7-9): The Relationship Between Books Zeta and Eta of Aristotle's Metaphysics
by Daniel Devereux
Fantastic guide to Book Alpha: The Structure and Subject of Metaphysics Alpha
by Helen Lang.
Another good guide for Aristotle and Substance:Substance in Aristotle's Metaphysics
by R. Frede
Guide for Aristotle's logic: Aristotle's Epistemology
by C.C.W. Taylor
Great guide for Book lambda and Zeta: Theology and Ontology in Aristotle's Metaphysics
by G. Patzig
Essential guide to the end of Zeta-beginning of Eta and hylomorphism: Hylomorphism in Aristotle
by Charlotte Witt.