The Physics is a most remarkable work, and profoundly influenced Medieval Philosophers. Thomas Aquinas wrote a detailed, impressive commentary. This essay studies in particular the composition of the Physics as Thomas saw it, his thorough study of Aristotle’s way of arguing and the important distinction he made between disputative arguments, which are only partially true, and arguments which determine the truth. Aristotle frequently uses proofs which are wrong when one considers the proper nature of bodies, but possible considering their common (...) nature. Thomas accepts proofs in the field of physics but discards those related to a certain mathematization of nature. Aristotle holds the unlimited possibility of movements becoming faster or slower, but according to Aquinas he is considering things in general : when we consider specific bodies there is a fastest movement. Thomas speaks of a way of reading a text which is according the intention of Aristotle, and proposes an understanding of particular texts based on the general doctrine of the Stagirite. Sometimes he goes beyond the text, as when defending the unity of time as dependent on the unity of the First Mover. The essay shows that in the commentary a coherent philosophy of nature shaping up. In some places Aquinas brings in God’s causality: nature is nothing else but the plan of divine art, placed within things. The study of nature shows that there is a first principle of the whole nature which is above everything, sc. God who gives being to things. (shrink)
Metaphysics, formerly the queen of science, fell into oblivion under the onslaught of empiricism and positivism and its very possibllity came to be denied. Professor Elders traces the history of this process and shows how St. Thomas innovated in determining both the subject of metaphysics and the manner in which one enters this science, particularly in the framework of his Aristotle commentaries. The work then considers being and its properties, its divisions into being in act and being in potency, into (...) the act of being essence, and into substance and the accidents. Finally the causes of being are considered. The work also introduces and surveys the extensive literature of Thomas interpretation of the past 50 years. (shrink)
This is an important book. It consists of twenty-one essays, sixteen of which have not been published before, and sheds light on two of the most difficult points in the Poetics, imitation and catharsis. The order in which the papers are presented has been carefully chosen, so that the overall impression is that of a certain unity of interpretation. In this review we can only bring out a few of the more salient statements of the book.
In the introductory first chapter the author states his conviction that Aristotle’s theory of learning, at the center of which stands the apodeictic syllogism, is inadequate because partial. Chapter 2 is a balanced survey of Aristotle’s syllogistic, which does not serve the purpose of discovery, but is intended to turn into science knowledge already acquired. All learning proceeds from preexisting knowledge which is structured by demonstration. Next Bauman turns to Plato’s theory of learning as present in the Meno: learning is (...) remembering. His account of the Socratic method of making a disciple see the truth by pertinent questions is excellent. He warns us to avoid extreme interpretations of ἀνάμνησις. According to Aristotle, Plato confounded the process of remembering with induction. The process of learning consists in the passing from opinion to knowledge. Aristotle’s theory as explained in the Posterior Analytics widely differs from Plato’s. In chapter 5, Bauman examines whether the syllogism based on a universal major is a petitio principii, a charge laid against it ever since antiquity and repeated by John Stuart Mill. For Mill, induction is the only form of real inference, but Bauman shows that Mill’s position is not correct. Aristotle sets up a method which allows us to understand why things are the way they are and to pass on knowledge. In chapter 6, Bauman compares Aristotle’s method with what teachers usually do and with how textbook authors conceive the passing on of knowledge. Some previous knowledge is necessary for all teaching. Aristotle focused on how the sciences should be taught, showing how conclusions are implicitly contained in principles or can be deduced from them. Bauman thinks that this is restricting learning far too much and remains unsatisfactory. He disagrees with Aristotle’s statement that all scientific knowledge is expressible in propositions in the indicative mood. The syllogism cannot be the only mode for all teaching. This difficulty, however, can be solved when one keeps in mind what strictly scientific knowledge in the Aristotelian sense is, and that there are other forms of knowledge such as opinion, factual knowledge, and dialectic. Furthermore one should also consider that the syllogism is basic to all forms of reasoning, even if there are syllogisms of different types. A printing mistake on page 191, line 13 should be corrected.—Leo J. Elders, Institute for Philosophy, “Rolduc,” Kerkrade, The Netherlands. (shrink)
In previous issues of The Review of Metaphysics attention has been drawn to the project of Professor Richard Sorabji to publish the English translations of the ancient Greek commentators of Aristotle. We are happy to present a new volume of this series which contains the English translation of the commentary by Alexander of Aphrodisias on Aristotle’s Prior Analytics, I, chapters 8–13. In his preface Professor Sorabji underlines the importance of Alexander’s commentary on these chapters, in which Aristotle invented modal syllogistic. (...) This volume comprises the commentary on chapters 8 to 13. Chapters 1, 2, and 4 to 7 contain Aristotle’s assertoric syllogistic. For Alexander’s commentary on these chapters the translators refer to the excellent edition of Jonathon Barnes, et al. In chapters 8 to 13 Aristotle studies syllogisms which consist of two necessary propositions and those which are composed of one necessary proposition and a second which is modally unqualified. The central question is which modal syllogisms, analogous to assertoric syllogisms of the first figure, are true syllogisms. The translators have added Alexander’s commentary on chapter 17, where it is argued that a privative contingent proposition cannot be converted into a syllogism of the first figure. (shrink)
This carefully edited book, complete with notes, a bibliography, and indexes, contains fourteen papers selected from those read at the yearly meeting of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy. The essays are divided into three groups dealing with logic, metaphysics, and the soul. John P. Anton argues that the categories do not mean predicates but fundamental types of attribution formulated in accordance with the ontology of first substance. D. Morrison points out that they stand for classes of being in the (...) universe. The question of why Plotinus dispensed with some of the categories is the subject of C. Evangeliou's paper: Plotinus tended to reduce even quantity and quality to relations and made action and passion species of motion, whereas Aristotle never referred to motion as a category. A. Urbanas presents a valuable study of the meaning of ὅπερ. (shrink)
A study of Aristotle's use of the "prior" and the "posterior" is most welcome, since it is likely to shed some light on his position with regard to Platonism. Nicomachean Ethics 1096a17-19 intimates that in Plato's view the pair "prior and posterior" belongs to the world of becoming and mutually dependent things. Cleary believes that its use by Aristotle is closely related to the latter's philosophical development. He hopes to discover, in the course of his study, the original set of (...) circumstances which made Aristotle embark upon his theory of these terms. To this effect Cleary examines the main texts of the Aristotelian corpus in which they occur. (shrink)
The sixteen essays of this book attempt to make recent scholarly conclusions on Socrates readily available. In his introduction the editor gives a survey of the Socratic problem. The next essay examines the precise meaning of the charges leveled against Socrates; not accepting the traditional gods comes foremost. Charles H. Kahn argues in favor of moving the Laches, Charmides, Lysis and Euthrypho from their traditional place before the Gorgias to the group of later dialogues because of their Platonic content--J. Beversluis (...) proves the obvious, namely, that Socrates makes use of examples in his search of definitions. Socrates' critique of his interlocutors' answers to the "what-is-F-ness?" questions is examined by Hugh Benson. Laches and others failed to grasp that there is only one universal essence corresponding to each question. Gregory Vlastos argues that Plato was the first to assume that the movement of the planets could be explained by a number of homocentric circular revolutions into different directions. Plato would have advanced from a dialectical examination of problems to a more mathematical method. According to T. H. Irwin, Socrates upheld the view that to be happy requires that one adapt his desires and be flexible. K. McTighe thinks that Plato understood the Socratic paradox in this way: wrongdoers are always ignorant of the harm their actions cause or of the fact that their actions are unjust. (shrink)
This edition of Michael Scot’s Latin translation of Aristotle’s De partibus animalium is part of a vast project, under the supervision of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, to publish the Syriac, Arabic, and Hebrew translations of Aristotle’s works, of the Latin translations of these works, and of the medieval paraphrases and commentaries made in the context of this translation tradition. After a general introduction, the Latin text is presented, followed by a good number of excellent notes, an (...) Index latino-arabus, an Index of proper names of animals and an Index arabo-latinus. This is followed by an Index of the Greek names of plants and animals. (shrink)
In this volume Mueller and Gould present the translation of Alexander’s commentary on chapters 14–22 of the first book of the Prior Analytics. These chapters deal with modal logic as applied to contingent propositions and to combinations of unqualified premises and of one assertoric proposition. In the 58 page introduction Professor Mueller presents first a survey of Aristotle’s assertoric syllogistic to turn next to combinations with a contingent premise in the three figures. He then passes to modal syllogistic without contingency. (...) Modal syllogistic can be understood as an extension of assertoric syllogistic. Aristotle seeks to determine which modal propositions related to first figure assertoric syllogisms are true syllogisms. The translation of Alexander’s text is excellent. (shrink)
This learned book is a study of the fifteen questions of the first part of Aquinas’s Summa theologiae which deal with man as composed of body and soul, his faculties, and place in the universe. In twelve chapters Pasnau takes us from the theme of body and soul and the immateriality of the soul to closing pages on life after death. His philosophical approach of texts of a theological work have their justification in that “the real heart of Aquinas’s theological (...) project corresponds quite closely with what we consider the project of philosophy”, a claim which, although substantially correct, might be worded better, because the heart of Aquinas’s theology lies way beyond philosophy. Pasnau tries to explain Thomas’s texts acutely, raising the difficulties a modern reader would experience when hearing of these doctrines for the first time. The book is lively and stimulating, displaying acquaintance with many issues. (shrink)
In seven chapters and an epilogue, McCool gives a fairly complete and well-documented survey of the history of the Thomistic movement in Catholic philosophy from the early nineteenth century until the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. After a summary of Aquinas' main doctrines, McCool presents a fine account of the Thomistic revival during the nineteenth century. Chapters 3 and 4 deal with the discussions concerning Blondel and Bergson and the Thomism of Maritain and Gardeil. McCool insists on the importance (...) of Maritain's distinction between experiential and conceptual knowledge. (shrink)
Dr. Oguejiofor argues that Aquinas’s philosophical anthropology “is not much more than his philosophy of the human soul.” In his well-documented book he first gives a survey of the positions of philosophers on our question during the earlier part of the thirteenth century paying special attention to Albert the Great. Albert hesitated to accept Aristotle’s definition of the soul as the act of the body, believing that it is not compatible with the soul’s immortality. The second chapter explains this definition (...) and stresses the fact that the soul is immaterial and therefore subsistent. The author might have argued from the fact that it does not share its intellectual activity with the body. Surprisingly he thinks that many of M. Kelly’s remarks against the main argument of the mind’s immateriality—the mainstay of Thomas’s theory—are correct. The third, central chapter deals with Aquinas’s proofs of the soul’s immortality. It examines in their chronological order passages from six works of Thomas where they are put forward, paying special attention to chapters 79 to 81 of the Summa contra gentiles, II. The argument from man’s natural desire is linked to the immateriality of intellectual knowledge. The main arguments are: thought is immaterial and therefore the soul as its source also is; the rational soul transcends the contrary qualities responsible for corruption; the natural desire to exist for ever cannot be in vain. (shrink)
There are readers of Aquinas’s works, but Penguin’s surpasses all by its sheer size, the very representative choice of texts, the excellent translations, and scholarly, informative introductions. McInerny chose to present his selection in a chronological order, allowing the persevering reader to witness St. Thomas at work in Paris, Italy, again in Paris, and in Naples. In the introduction, the reader finds a survey of Thomas’s life, pertinent remarks on the relationship of philosophy and theology, on Thomas and Aristotelianism, and (...) an enumeration of some key Aristotelian doctrines. “In learning from Aristotle Thomas does not of course think of himself as conforming his mind to another’s, but rather as conforming his mind to the way things are”. McInerny also mentions the controversies after Thomas’s death and the revival of Thomistic studies. (shrink)
White presents an analysis of three ancient conceptions of spatial magnitude, time, and motion, namely, Aristotle's, the Stoics', and the quantum views. The greater part of the book deals with Aristotle, according to whom one cannot get magnitude from points. The alleged mistakes in his theory of motion melt away if one agrees with his ontology. In the second chapter White discusses Aristotle's conception of time and "a time". Despite the lack of adequate mathematical tools Aristotle had an amazing intuitive (...) grasp of the concept of continuous motion. White sees a contrast between Aristotle and modern mathematics insofar as in the latter the concept of infinity is extended and magnitudes are sets of points. This difference of view has metaphysical roots. (shrink)
It is not without a certain emotion that one opens this book devoted to the memory of a great scholar of medieval thought who worked and lived in the certainty that there cannot be a conflict between the Christian faith and science. In a significant essay, Benedict M. Ashley defends the idea of the philosophy of nature as continuous or identical with natural science. Ashley does allow, however, for so many divergences between philosophy of nature and natural science due to (...) later developments in science that this identification must be qualified. Steven E. Baldner points out some of the contradictions of Hartshorne's atomism: Hartshorne denies change and real causality. Anthony J. Celano recalls that Robert Kilwardby was very much aware that happiness as described by Aristotle is quite different from the beatitude promised by the Christian faith. The order of the divine entitative attributes in the Summa theologiae I, qq. 3-11 has baffled many a commentator. Lawrence Dewan connects it with some texts of Aristotle's Metaphysics. Jeremiah Hackett studies Roger Bacon's Moralis philosophia. Dealing with Luther's attitude toward St. Thomas, Denis R. Tanz accepts Erasmus's verdict that the weight given to Thomas in theology was an important factor in propelling Luther out of the Roman Catholic orbit. This opinion, however, confounds appearances with the real reason for leaving, namely, estrangement from several central positions of Catholic doctrine. It is a tribute to the Catholicity of Thomas that after 1519 Luther came to identify the Pope, the Church and all scholastic doctors with the Thomists and said that the Church had become the synagogue of the papists and the Thomists: Thomas had been made the arbiter of heresy. Mark F. Johnson stresses the sapiential character of the sacra doctrina. Mark D. Jordan wrestles with the question why Thomas wrote his Aristotelian commentaries. Arguing in the line of Owens's interpretation he reduces their importance with regard to Thomas's own positions. Jordan seems to think that Thomas's philosophy cannot be formulated without his theology, an explanation which is hardly satisfactory. Armand Maurer submits some reflections on St. Thomas's notion of presence. The question to what extent Albert the Great contributed to Aquinas's treatises of the morality of human acts and of natural law is examined by Ernest J. McCullough. Walter H. Principe points out how, according to Aquinas, food is assimilated into the veritas humanae naturae. Eric A. Reitan retraces Weisheipl's analysis of Aristotle's Physics and of St. Thomas' Commentary: the axiom, "whatever is moved, is moved by another" can be understood only within the context of the general science of nature. In his Liber de causis et processu universitatis Albert came to hold the same position as Thomas on the demonstrability of creation and of its beginning in time. Two final articles concern the difficulties underlying Aristotle's arguments in Physics 7 and 8, and Aquinas and Newton on causality: William Wallace connects Newton's universal gravitation with the axiom that nothing acts on itself. (shrink)
Some twenty-five years ago the ancient controversy about the compatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom came to life again. The relevant papers of those who participated in the debate are scattered over several philosophical reviews. John Fisher has brought them together and added a fifty-page introduction in which he summarizes and evaluates the respective positions.
This is an interesting and useful book with essays by Lewis White Beck, Ernst Cassierer, Hermann Cohen, Richard Hönigswald, Hansgeorg Hoppe, Edmund Husserl, Ram Adhar Mall, Jeffrie G. Murphy, Alois Riehl, Wolfgang Stegmüller, Martha E. Williams. All thirteen essays or notes reprinted concern the relationship between Hume and Kant. Its publication follows the 200th anniversary of the appearance of the Kritik der reinen Vernunft. Common to both philosophers is the view that scientific knowledge depends on the knowledge of man. In (...) a long introduction the editor briefly recalls Hume's place in the history of philosophy. Turning to Kant he points out that Kant realized that if we take Hume's view of causality seriously, it cannot but lead to scepticism. Thus he felt obliged to look for a foundation of the sciences in the trans-subjective structure of the human mind. However, Kant never became an empiricist, but still subscribed to what Russell called a "pre-Humean rationalism." Nevertheless there is a convergence between both philosophers: Hume feels that one cannot go beyond the presence of percepts in one's own consciousness. Now Kant is equally convinced that our theoretical knowledge is limited to appearances. What lies beyond the appearances--das Ding an sich--cannot be reached. (shrink)
This attractive but difficult study begins with an avowal: Korff purposively writes against Kierkegaard. His main thesis is that the Danish philosopher beguiled himself in stating his relationship with Regina, the girl he had promised to marry, in terms of his relation to God. Kierkegaard played with her, using her for his poetical endeavors and philosophical reflections. Korff is not slow to point out a certain inversion of the normal in Kierkegaard's conception of love and his incapacity really to love (...) someone. Breaking up his relation with Regina as well as this attempt to transpose it to a spiritual level of a mystical betrothal with God, gave Kierkegaard the feeling of being free again. Korff sharply criticizes Kierkegaard's comparison of his "sacrifice" with the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham : "Kierkegaard is less moved by religious seriousness than by the fascination of his own dialectic". He creates a representation of God according to his subjective feelings and dialectical needs of the moment. (shrink)
This thorough study in the field of the philosophy of history was accepted as a Habilitationsschrift. There is, however, a problem with this type of book: the author is supposed to give a display of his learning and mastery of the entire literature on the subject. As a result, the style and wording may become pedantic.
With commendable zeal Horst Seidl has made a German translation of the integral text of the Posterior Analytics, a treatise which has exercised a considerable influence, not only in classical antiquity and the Middle Ages, but also in the modern period. As William Wallace has shown even Galileo, a scientist, owes a great deal to Aristotle's theory of science.
This book is number 28 in a series of translations of medieval texts published by Marquette University. Together with an edition of the De bono et malo, it is the only English translation available of the works of the important theologian William of Auvergne. The De Trinitate is a key text for William's metaphysics and his theological methodology. The translators deserve praise for having made William's thought more accessible.
In his artful and well-documented study professor De Koninck of the University of Laval, Quebec, takes the reader on a trip through the often appalling deficits of modern Western culture to point out the road to the light. The title exposes one aspect of the situation: an ignorance, branded by Socrates, which made its comeback under different forms. The sciences, considered by many the panacea for all diseases, cannot answer questions outside their respective fields. They create abstractions which are a (...) threat to real culture. A running indictment of the evils of our time follows: self-destruction by drugs, criminality, and self-inflicted diseases, erroneous theories which kill, annoyance which provokes violence, the crisis of education, the impoverishment of knowledge, the ignorance of our economists and our political leaders. Finally, the worst of all, there is nihilism, the ignorance of the end. (shrink)
Modern versions of utilitarianism have been called consequentialism: in order to evaluate the goodness or badness of human actions one must consider—in one way or in another—their consequences. This consequentialism appears to be opposed on many counts to traditional natural law ethics: norms such as one should never kill innocent persons and never commit adultery stand in conflict with a view which holds that in some cases good results may outweigh the bad consequences of such and other actions. In the (...) years of the Second Vatican Council and the following period, several moralists began to use a somewhat weakened form of consequentialism called proportionalism, which came to be accepted by a good number of authors. It aims at determining the moral rightness or wrongness of actions not by their “material character” but by considering circumstances, intentions, and results, presenting itself as a revolutionary revision of natural law ethics since, in situations of conflict, it wants to free us from “the tyranny” of the “material object” of our actions. Proportionalism distinguishes between premoral disvalues or evil and moral values. The former are the things we want to do for our well-being or convenience and, as proportionalists assert, have no absolute character, while the latter are the ends we pursue in given circumstances. If there is a proportion between the premoral disvalues of our acts and the ends or consequences achieved, the acts are good. (shrink)
Many years after the translation by Richard Robinson of books 3 and 4 of Aristotle’s Politics, Professor David Keyt now presents a translation with an extensive commentary of books 5 and 6, the main topics of which are equality, democracy, oligarchy, tyranny, and revolution. The text attempts to describe these different political regimes and the causes of their disintegration. According to Keyt books 4, 5, and 6 form a unit and discuss less ideal constitutions and political instability. Keyt defends the (...) traditional order of the books instead of switching around 5 and 6 as some editors have done. He acknowledges nevertheless that the logical order is to place 7 and 8 before 4, 5, and 6. For his translation he used the Greek edition by A. Dreizehnter. Reading the text in a clear and pleasant translation makes us admire the sharpness of Aristotle’s insight and the actuality of what he says. Besides indicating the lines of the Bekker edition, Keyt divided the text into mostly short paragraphs, which make consultation easy. The commentary on Book V runs from page 55 to 190, on VI from 191 to 239, followed by a concise bibliography, a glossary, an index locorum, and a general index. Keyt is very consistent in his translation of Greek terms. He anticipates the difficulty some readers might experience with his translation of στάσις by “faction” and στασιᾳζειν by “to split into factions.” In 1308b20 it is better to translate “who bring about a new order because of their private lives” than “who seek a new order.” Likewise, one should perhaps translate ἐν ταῖς ἀρχαῖς by “in leading positions.” In a few places, for instance at 1308b40, Keyt adds a clarifying phrase such as “if one could insure that offices are not a source of profit.”. (shrink)
In the past fifty years a number of studies on Aristotle’s biology have appeared in English. The proceedings of a symposium held in Germany are a welcome contribution to our knowledge of Aristotle’s work in this field.
This book purposes to study Ibn Rushd in his historic context. The introduction depicts the doctrinal and cultural background of the Muslim world of southern Spain in the time of Averroes to consider next the philosopher's life. It was Averroes' intention to construct a coherent system and to determine how far reason can take us in the analysis of reality. His disgrace resulted from the desire of the Almohad rulers to win over the masses by a political gesture.
Dr. Barraza submits a detailed study of utilitarianism and its offspring, consequentialism, and purports to show why it is not an acceptable moral system. As G. Anscombe pointed out, it arose when ethics was no longer based on the virtues and people looked for a way to evaluate moral actions in conformity with the predominant technological outlook. Consequentialism holds that the criterion of morality is that of the best overall result possible, whereas for utilitarianists it is the greatest amount of (...) pleasure, satisfaction, or happiness. John Stewart Mill’s utilitarianism is examined in great detail. Mill felt that the criterion of morality cannot be something intuitively known, but has to be easily recognizable, as, for instance, the consequences of our acts, namely the greatest happiness proper to man as a human being. Mill experienced some difficulties when trying to integrate duties with regard to others. His answers to eight objections raised against his theory are seen as insufficient by Barraza, as is Mill’s justification of the principle of “the greatest happiness.” Mill’s ethics is profoundly marked by the spirit of the Enlightenment, that is, by a type of rationalism related to the empirical sciences; everything was to be explained by one simple principle, without any reference to religion. Important points in the system are the stress on freedom and equality, freedom being the primary value. Mill seeks to secure the greatest possible space for personal freedom, which, however, is limited by the interests of others. Equality results from impartiality which demands that the happiness of the agent is not placed above that of others. Furthermore, Mill’s ethics is characterized by its optimism and its social orientation, aiming as it does at the well-being of the greatest number. However, despite a semblance of coherence Mill’s work is full of ambiguities. A glaring difficulty is that the intention of the agent has nothing to do with the results and their evaluation. (shrink)
David Bostock revisits Aristotle’s theory of matter which was already discussed in some papers of volume 1. He warns the reader that Aristotle would have been surprised by the explanations some propose of his doctrine. Prime matter is, in the first place, the stuff the four elements are made of ; the elements function in their turn as matter for still higher things. Bostock believes that there are several ultimate kinds of matter which cannot change into one another. The atoms (...) would be the basic elements of the bodies, a function fulfilled by matter according to Aristotle. Obviously Bostock does not distinguish between substantial and accidental reality. In a fine paper Gottfried Heinemann explains the sense of such terms as “nature,” “matter,” and “craft” in Aristotle. He attempts to approach matter not from the ontological point of view as a potential component of being, but as that which is used in artifacts. From there it comes to mean what underlies the coming-to-being of natural things. (shrink)
Urbanas's intention is to clarify the status and function of the accident in Aristotle's logic and metaphysics. Given the importance of the accidental and the accident and the variety of ways in which the term is used in Aristotle's works, this is a most welcome study.
In his detailed and well-argued study of the De interpretatione, Whitaker shows that the treatise is a coherent whole and is closely linked to the Topics and the Sophistici Elenchi, rather than to the Categories and the Prior Analytics as tradition has it. Convinced of the dialectical character of the book he rejects the title as spurious. It should be περὶ ἀντιφάσεως. In the first chapter Whitaker defends the reading πρώτων in 16a8 and explains that falsehood is stating as one (...) things which are in reality separated from each other, or as separate things which are one. Next he deals with the analysis of nouns and verbs. Departing from Alexander, he is right in holding that only man has speech. Animals can show something but do not signify it. The difficult sentence “being by itself is nothing” is understood as follows: being represents the combination of subject and predicate in an assertion. By itself it is nothing, but when used as a copula it gets an additional signification. However, I do not think that this understanding of προσημαίνειν is correct. In the interpretation of Whitaker, the text should simply say “it gets a meaning” without the “additional.” On this point one may usefully compare the commentary by St. Thomas Aquinas, In I Perihermeneias, lesson 5, which reviews the various options. The verb “to be” alone does not signify that something is, but it denotes pure actuality. (shrink)
The author sees his scholarly book as a contribution to the “remarkable resurgence of interest in Aristotle’s moral and political philosophy.” Despite the difficulty of integrating the various parts of the Nicomachean Ethics into a harmonious doctrine, Tessitore defends the cogency of the text. In five chapters he deals with several of the main topics studied by Aristotle. The Ethics is addressed to morally serious persons. The second chapter discusses the virtues treated in books 2–7. Special attention is paid to (...) equity and prudence. Tessitore sees book 7 as a new beginning, namely, the study of human behavior from the point of view of opposites. Human beings sometimes act in ways they know to be wrong. Tessitore speaks of a “continuous war between right principle and pleasure,” but Aristotle would say that the really virtuous person is no longer attracted by the lower pleasures. So when the author writes that book 7 is disconcerting: “the activity of God is wholly given over to pleasure”, we answer that it all depends on the sort of pleasure we are speaking about. Chapter 4 deals with friendship, which holds society together and is an important element of human happiness. Human activity is increased when one shares one’s life and experiences with others. Tessitore explains in which sense right self-love is the proper basis for friendship and social life. He considers books 8 and 9 an introduction to the best way of life. Book 10 brings a new description of pleasure which is now said to perfect or complete activity. Contemplation is presented as the supreme form of happiness, a conclusion which is “oddly out of step with the rest of Aristotle’s study”. Tessitore explains this: in the previous books of his treatise, Aristotle has kept this argument in the background, but he now shows that ethical excellence must somehow come together with philosophical contemplation. (shrink)