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on 26 September 2017
Aristotle's Metaphysics is a deeply complicated and truly amazing treatise. Despite reading the book, I still ask the question what is metaphysics? It seems the early philosopers, including Aristotle, believed it was a serious science, comparable to physics or mathematics, but I think time has told that metaphysics is simply a branch of philosophy. In the 4th century BC context, however, the book is truly remarkable. Aristotle investigates being qua being, or being in so far as it is being, as well as the principles and causes of things that exist, also species and genus, substance (which turns to be the form of species), in fact the central doctrine of the Metaphysics, is that the foundation of the world is natural substance and not some separate and ideal entity, whether mathematical or other. A recurring phrase in the inquiry is what-it-was-to-be-that-thing? This also turns out to be substance. Essence is also discussed, as well as accident, potentiality and actuality, form and matter, the existence of mathematical objects, and a prime-mover God. There's a lot more to metaphysics than simply listing the main subjects, but for a layman that's about all I can explain. As the book is very complicated I would only recommend it to very advanced readers, for example, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), one of the greatest Medieval Islamic philosophers, said that he had read the Metaphysics of Aristotle forty times, but still did not understand it.
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on 2 August 2010
Firstly, this review - obviously - is not a review of the Metaphysics itself, but of this particular edition. Hugh Lawson-Tancred, as well as translating the work for Penguin, has also supplied commentary and an Introduction.

The Introduction is most interesting. Whilst not precisely a `scrapbook', the books and chapters of the Metaphysics were written at different times, and thus do not always result in the same answers to the questions posed. Aristotle's thought was a great deal more undogmatic and investigative than would be suggested by those who, misled by the systematic nature of Aristotle's works, presented his philosophy as a once-and-for-all block. At the same time, the work has an intelligible structure and Lawson-Tancred ably puts forward his case that this structure may go back to Aristotle himself (though I am personally not convinced on this point).

However, whatever the merits of the translator's Introduction, in the end it is the translation itself that matters. Here, the translator has attempted to make the text more readable, even conversational, and the result is not entirely successful. Thus, the last portion of Metaphysics 1093b is translated by Lawson-Tancred as follows (the capital letters are in the original):

OK. OK. Enough examples of what happens on this theory. Many more could be marshalled, but enough. The endless, endless difficulties about production, the total non-obtaining of any mode of schematizing, which afflict Form numbers are surely plausibly construed as a sign. They are a sign that MATHEMATICAL ENTITIES DO NOT EXIST IN SEPARATION FROM PERCEPTIBLE OBJECTS (as widely advertised) and that PRINCIPLES OF THIS KIND GIBT ES NICHT.

Compare this with W. D. Ross' peerless translation of the same passage:

These, then, are the results of the theory, and yet more might be brought together. The fact that our opponents have much trouble with the generation of numbers and can in no way make a system of them, seems to indicate that the objects of mathematics are not separable from sensible things, as some say, and that they are not the first principles.

Placing these side by side, one might indeed feel that Lawson-Tancred's `translation' is more a paraphrase. However, one must here enter a caveat. A *literal* translation of the Metaphysics would be virtually unreadable - the Greek is difficult enough. To this extent, *every* translation is to *some* degree a paraphrase.

Nevertheless, I think Lawson-Tancred's is a paraphrase too far. Its attempt at a sort of chummy, colloquial style I find rather grating, and I don't think it is even as clear as Ross' translation.

So, by all means borrow the Lawson-Tancred (Penguin) edition for the Introduction, but the serious student should really get a better translation. Unfortunately, it seems that it isn't so easy to find a decent, reasonably priced, single volume edition of the Metaphysics. One option, however, might be to fork out for the Basic Works of Aristotle (Modern Library), which, as well as including the complete Ross translation of the Metaphysics, also contains absolutely everything else you'll need of Aristotle's writings unless you become a truly specialist scholar. On the other hand, it is, perhaps, not quite so easy to read the Metaphysics when it is just part of a much larger volume.

If you do want to go for a one volume edition of the Metaphysics, then I would recommend John Warrington's translation in the Everyman series. One can find second hand copies for sale on Amazon; for example at the time of writing there are copies for sale here: Metaphysics. Edited and tr. by John Warrington. Introduction by D. Ross. [Everyman's Library, no. 1000]. Dent. 1956 - though this book has a number of separate listings. Not that this volume is perfect. Warrington chooses to re-arrange the books of the Metaphysics, and dispenses with the standard ('Bekker') reference numbers, but the translation is impressive in combining fluency with fidelity to the original.
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on 7 October 2008
This is not a good translation. As a newcomer to the study of philosophy I expect some texts to be difficult, but this isn't difficult it's silly. Side by side with the Oxford University Press edition, translated by W.D. Ross, the difference is clear. Sometimes it seems as though they used Babelfish, the words are there but the sense is all gone. If you're looking to study Aristotle don't choose this translation.
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on 29 May 1999
I bought this, but will toss it in the trash as soon as I find a better translation. Billed as a "new" translation, here is a sample: "But science and art result unto men by means of experience; for experience,indeed, as Polus saith, has produced art, but inexperience chance." "unto" "saith"??? does that sound like a new translation to you? If it really is new, the translator can't write worth beans. Aristotle is transcendently clear, not muddy. The Modern Library Introduction to Aristotle has a much better translation, but only reprints excerpts. I'm still looking for an good edition that is both affordable and complete.
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on 7 December 2015
Good, clean edition.
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on 1 January 2007
A good cheap and decent translation from Penguin. Ignore the 1 star. I`m writing to give it a 5. How dare he. One of the essential 25 texts of Philosophy and pre me writing it scores a 3. Pure essential Aristotle. This and his Ethics are core to Western Civilisation and Philosophy as we know it. From the man who gave us the term Metaphysics. Here`s the first real thoughts of the subject.
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on 23 March 1999
Aristotle's Metaphysics cannot be underestimated as a fundamental in Western thought. While sometimes a plodding read (compared to Plato's Dialogues), the substance of Aristotle's work is far more rewarding to the serious reader. This book is an required component of any collection on philosophy.
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on 11 June 2015
A classic, hard to follow at times but a classic for the academic study and library
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on 17 February 2015
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