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Routledge Philosophy GuideBook to Aristotle and the Metaphysics (Routledge Philosophy Guidebooks) Paperback – 19 Feb 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (19 Feb. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415251486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415251488
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 12.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,147,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

"The Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Aristotle and the "Metaphysics is well-written and philosophically acute. It will prove a most worthwhile addition to your series, and will be helpful for final year undergraduates and graduates taking options in Aristotle's metaphysics."-David Charles, Oxford University

About the Author

Vasilis Politis is lecturer of philosophy at Trinity College Dublin.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
By now this must be almost a standard introduction to a very tricky work, Aristotle's Metaphysics. However hard he tries to help,even this attempt at clarification some times needs a slow second read. But all in all, a great help and good value.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better is Likely Available 19 Dec. 2008
By Reader From Aurora - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
`Aristotle and the Metaphysics `by Vasilis Politis is an installment in the Routledge Philosophy Guidebook series. I have used this series on several previous occasions, and, have found it to be helpful - concise, accessible and relatively low-cost. This contribution, however, is disappointing.

The Metaphysics is an important work in classical philosophy and can be difficult without a guide. At the outset, Politis does a solid job of situating the work within the Western philosophical tradition and highlighting the issue that Aristotle is addressing- namely the nature of being. These types of commentaries are normally structured either thematically or chapter by chapter; Politis takes the thematic approach.

From a substantive perspective, I have little argument with the author's assessment; indeed, he seems a knowledgeable commentator. My criticisms are largely stylistic - while occasionally lucid, his writing is often rambling, repetitive and cumbersome. His frequent verbatim repetition caused me on several occasions to flip back and check to see if some pages had been accidently reprinted. Certainly, repetition can sometimes be a useful rhetorical tool helping to summarize or add emphasis - in this case, it was overuse and detracting. Unfortunately, such stylistic limitations have the effect of making the material more difficult and discouraging all but the most determined reader. A prime example is his handling of the Principle of Non-Contradiction (PNC). To follow the metaphysics, it is important to consider how Aristotle understands the PNC, i.e. whether it is in a limited logical/linguistic sense, or in a broader ontological sense. An interesting point worthy of discussion - but not for thirty plus pages - it is not that difficult or controversial.

The discussion of universals and particulars is equally frustrating. Watching Politis struggle to find words to discuss these notions (granted they can be difficult), the uninitiated reader would almost think that the author is breaking new ground, rather than participating in a dialogue that is over two thousand years old. At one point he labors to find a term to describe an unqualified particular, why not use `bare particular' or `unqualified particular". Perhaps I miss his intention with respect to this particular point, however, the overall impression is of someone flailing away in the brush to break a trail, when an effective and well trodden path already exists.

Glancing at my review, perhaps my comments are a bit harsh. This is not a terrible book and the author is likely a capable scholar, however, his limitations as a writer, at least in this case, prevent him from communicating his knowledge in an effective manner. I wonder how many students will simply put this aside after a few chapters. Although I have no specific recommendations I would look elsewhere for a commentary on the Metaphysics.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful 24 Oct. 2011
By James G. Archer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I used this book as a supplement while taking a course on the Metaphysics, and found it extremely helpful. It is lucidly written, and presented concepts in a manner I usually found easy to grasp. It challenged me to think more deeply about Aristotle's positions, and vastly improved my enjoyment of the course. Where scholarly interpretations of Aristotle's meaning differ, it included brief explanations for the alternative approach. It made the difference between " getting through" the subject, and enjoying the reading.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally clear 9 Dec. 2008
By Thomas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is remarkably clear and well written. It is an introductory text to the Metaphysics (Aristotle's text is exceedingly difficult so a good guide is essential); it can be read without also systematically reading the actual text of the Metaphysics (such as the most difficult sections of book VII-Z), but Vasilis Politis is constantly highlighting the key Greek terms (like 'to hupokeimenon' as the "ultimate subject of predication") so I found it necessary to read sections of the Metaphysics in translation or in Greek at perseus.tufts.edu, to be able to really understand the explanations.
Politis also explains the ongoing controversy about the meaning of Aristotle's "essence": some think that it refers to universals that are kinds or species, like "Socrates'" essence would be: "human being". Others, and Politis holds this view, argue that essences are strictly of particulars.
Finally in section 7.5.ix: "Is the essence and the form of each particular thing a universal, a particular of both?", Politis argues for an intermediate position that I find very convincing: "the essence and form is both a particular and a universal". The idea is that the essences of both "Socrates" and "Plato" are that they are each this particular human being, but that this mode of explanation, if repeated indefinitely for each particular human, leads to a concept of a universal after all.
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