Beginning Aristotle: A Disclaimer, a Request, a Plan

I am not a trained philosopher, nor do I play one on TV. The length of time from my first post until this post can be explained by two things: I don’t know how to write interestingly about Aristotle’s philosophy in a blog post, and I’m just exploring that philosophy, so I can’t be terribly informative except in the most mundane, “This is what I learned today” way.

For now, I’ve decided my posts on Aristotle will be a student’s thoughts rather than a synopsis or attempt to be profound (although the humor value of an attempt to be profound cannot be discounted, the prepositions would be all wrong (laughing at, vs. with)). Naturally, I welcome any discussion in the comments, but my request is that you would let me know either here or as we go what you might find interesting in a study of Aristotle. Maybe then I can tailor my writing to my audience a bit better.

Grim’s suggested plan of study:
Roughly, the medieval approach for students is:

1) Start by understanding his logical system. Getting a grasp on just what he means by "substance" and "attribute," and just what his categories are and how they work together, is very helpful.

2) Then read the Physics; the relevant article is here. This is a quite difficult work, and almost no one reads it today, but it's fundamental -- and, in fact, asks some very good questions about the nature of reality that our modern physics often elide past rather than engage.

3) Then read De Anima (see here ( and here ( Once you've understood how he thinks the world has to work, from the earlier pieces, this work will help you understand how he thinks human beings relate to the world and understand it.

4) Then read the Metaphysics ... This will explain what Aristotle thinks about the ultimate ends behind reality. If the Physics explains how things are, this work explains why things are as they are.
5) Finally, engage the Ethics and Politics. These should be read together, because the purpose of politics is to provide a state that supports an ethical life -- a life, in Aristotle's terms, in which the pursuit of happiness is most possible.

That's the plan.

1 comment:

douglas said...

Ah, this sounds great. I'm going to have some catching up to do when I get back from being gone next week to Boy Scout Camp (thus no internet).
I'm excited. Watch for late comments from me!