A New Aristotle Reader

A New Aristotle Reader - J. L. Ackrill (Editor),  Aristotle Aristotle was a prolific writer and has approximately 40 written works credited to him (even more if you include the ones historically attributed to him but disagreed by those who claim themselves some authority). Well over two dozen of these writings fall into discussions regarding either Natural Philosophy or Logic.

It’s for that reason I read A New Aristotle Reader. The first half of the book is devoted to selected excerpts of some of the major Physics and Logic works. Quite frankly, unless one wishes to read with pen in hand, and chart out the logical progressions presented in Prior Analytics and Posterior Analytics there probably is little to be gained for the casual reader of his Logic works. Many arguments can be followed tenuously simply by following along, but the real goal of the work seems to dedicate the reader to breaking down arguments into components for logical analysis. Think of it like a classic Greek workbook for the LSAT.

Additionally, the substantial works under the category Natural Philosophy will probably yield little to most modern readers as well. Aristotle is praised for his contributions to the systemization of scientific thought. But I’m not sure what that leaves for the reader today other than historical trivia. His conclusions on the mechanism of the heavens, dreams, animal reproduction, aging and many other natural phenomena are presented throughout his prolific writings. Of course, in light of what we know today, he’s wrong. His taxonomic tendencies were probably unparalleled in the ancient world, but it’s somewhat disheartening to read the numerous works relying on theory which lead to such an excessive collection of conclusions disproved by empirical evidence.

It makes one pause when considering how such thinking can lead astray when dealing with unprovables such as ethics, metaphysics and politics.

I abandoned A New Aristotle Reader after reading the selections on Logic and Natural Philosophy. Given that more weight is given today to his Metaphysics and Practical Philosophy categories, it seemed more appropriate to read unabridged versions of Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, Eudemian Ethics, Politics and Poetics. However, the excerpts provided in A New Aristotle Reader has given me a taste of Aristotle’s efforts in the scientific realm even if I am left without a full appreciation of his contributions.