Retrieving Aristotle in an Age of Crisis
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: State University of New York Press
Title Page, Copyright
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I am grateful to several generations of Boston University students who allowed me to think through Aristotle’s writings with them. In particular, I would like...
A Note to the Reader
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Like Aristotle, I begin many a sentence with “we.” This pronoun is meant to refer to the reader and myself. I use it on two occasions. First, I often discuss what I take to be experiences we all share. So, for example, we...
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While it took years of study to prepare to write this book, its immediate inspiration came from attending a performance of Tom Stoppard’s play...
Introduction: Why Aristotle Matters.
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Ours is a time of crisis. The future is pregnant with catastrophic possibility. If the bombs go off, human culture as we know it will be wiped out. And if the bombs don’t go off, this will be a first: a tool invented and mass produced, but never used. (Or rather, used but once and then put away...
Chapter One: The Stars Are Eternal.
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In On the Heavens, his cosmological treatise, Aristotle argues that the heavenly bodies (moon, planets, sun, and stars) revolve around the earth on fixed circular paths. They are made of stuff not found here on earth and...
Chapter Two: Nature Is Purpose.
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An Aristotelian science—or better yet, an Aristotelian theory—articulates the “causes” of things. As he puts it, “we say that to know what something...
Chapter Three: Being Is Good.
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Aristotle characterizes the subject of Metaphysics: “There is a kind of knowledge that studies being as being and what belongs to it in virtue of itself. This is not the same as those kinds of knowledge that are said to be...
Chapter Four: Truth Is Easy.
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“Soul” is a word that embarrasses scientists and most contemporary philosophers. Perhaps it conjures up an image from...
Chapter Five: The Theoretical Life Is Divine.
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In On the Psyche, “active mind” is described in what seem like otherworldly terms. It is “separate,” “immortal,” and “eternal” (430a22–23). Because the account of the divine as “thought thinking itself ” in the...
Chapter Six: Enough Is Enough.
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Unbridled growth threatens the world. The Amazon jungle is going up in smoke as farmers clear land to raise ever more cattle to satisfy the endless demand for beef. In the suburbs of every major city it’s known as...
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The story’s over. It began with the stars and ended on earth, where a philosopher living in a peaceful, moderately sized city has the leisure to study the world. Finite and purposive, just like us, Aristotle’s world stands before...
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Page Count: 258
Publication Year: 2012