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Ethics of Ontology, The

Rethinking an Aristotelian Legacy

Christopher P. Long

Publication Year: 2004

Concerned with the meaning and function of principles in an era that appears to have given up on their possibility altogether, Christopher P. Long traces the paths of Aristotle’s thinking concerning finite being from the Categories, through the Physics, to the Metaphysics, and ultimately into the Nicomachean Ethics. Long argues that a dynamic and open conception of principles emerges in these works that challenges the traditional tendency to seek security in permanent and eternal absolutes. He rethinks the meaning of Aristotle’s notion of principle (arche) and spans the divide of analytic and continental methodological approaches to ancient Greek philosophy, while connecting Aristotle’s thinking to that of Levinas, Gadamer, and Heidegger.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xiii

This book calls into question the privilege that ontology has historically enjoyed over ethics. Ontology, the search for the ultimate principles of reality, has traditionally been said to precede ethics, which concerns itself with the contingency of human character and action. This tradition begins with Aristotle, whose attempt to establish a rigorous “science of being” seems to ...

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1. The Legacy of Ousia

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pp. 1-18

To speak once again, and at this late date, of ousia is surely anachronistic. To once again take up this ancient concept, this foundational principle, here, now, in the wake of the twentieth century, when so many have suffered in the name of ultimates, when the seductive aura of the Archimedean dream has finally begun to wane, this is surely perverse. Yet the decay of the aura of the modern ...

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2. Foundational Thinking and the Categories

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pp. 19-30

Martin Heidegger identifies Aristotle’s Physics as the “hidden and therefore never adequately thought through foundational book of Western philosophy,” because here, for the first time, being-moved (kinēsis) is understood and questioned as a basic mode of being.1 According to Heidegger, by approaching being from the perspective of motion, Aristotle inaugurates a long history of ...

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3. Kinetic Principles and the Hegemony of Form

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pp. 31-48

In her book Grund Und Allgemeinheit, Ute Guzzoni captures the importance of Physics I.7: “[H]ere we have the chance to attend to Aristotle’s teaching concerning the principles of becoming as such in the process of its coming into being.”1 The impetus behind the development of this new teaching is the inability of the foundational economy of principles to account for substantial ...

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4. Prelude to a Safe Passage—Two Aporiae

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pp. 49-58

The foundational economy of principles gives way, in the Physics, to a hylomorphic economy in which form (morphē, eidos) takes on new ontological significance. We have already suggested some of the limitations of ascribing such ontological authority to form. Not only does it fail to account for the complex phenomena surrounding the genetic inheritance of specific traits, it also ...

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5. Toward a Dynamic Ontology

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pp. 59-84

Book VII of Aristotle’s Metaphysics has proven to be one of Western philosophy’s most controversial texts. It has occupied the attention of some of this tradition’s greatest thinkers, and it remains today open to a wide variety of new interpretations. Its hermeneutic fecundity is in large part due to the exploratory nature of the text itself.1 In Metaphysics, Book VII, we find Aristotle ...

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6. The Dynamic Economy of Principles

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pp. 85-110

Together, Metaphysics Books VIII and IX develop a dynamic economy of principles capable of responding to the question that reveals itself at the end of Book VII concerning the ontological grounds of the composite. A passage found at the end of Book VIII suggests the contours of this new economy: “each individual is something one, and that which is in potency and that ...

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7. Knowledge in Actuality and the Ethical Turn

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pp. 111-130

Even with the establishment of the dynamic economy of principles, the universal/ singular aporia remains only partially circumvented. In fact, the forceful argument found in VII.13 that ousia cannot be universal and Aristotle’s insistence in Book VIII that the strict meaning oftode ti is applicable only to the composite suggest that Aristotle has abandoned the attempt to establish ...

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8. Contingent Knowledge: Phronēsis in the Ethics

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pp. 131-152

Our analysis of Metaphysics XIII.10 suggested that there may be a sort of epistēmē of the concrete, composite individual, the very being that was thematized in Metaphysics IX.6–8 in terms of praxis. Although XIII.10 does not establish precisely how actual knowledge of such individuals is possible, it remains of central importance insofar as it points to the possibility of developing ...

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9. The Ethics of Ontology

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pp. 153-166

The transition from the purely ethical to the ontological conception of phronēsis can be accomplished by focusing on the ambiguity of the Greek terms to kath’ hekaston and to eschaton. While these terms clearly indicate that toward which phronēsis is directed, precisely what they are meant to designate is less obvious. John Cooper suggests that in NE VI these terms always refer ...


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pp. 167-208


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pp. 209-216


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pp. 217-220

E-ISBN-13: 9780791484944
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791461198
Print-ISBN-10: 079146119X

Page Count: 220
Publication Year: 2004