Aristotle in Outline

Aristotle in Outline

Aristotle in Outline

Aristotle in Outline

Synopsis

"Robinson's book is an extremely lucid and engaging overview of Aristotle's entire system of thought.... Accessible to beginning students." -- Richard Kraut, Northwestern University

Excerpt

In 1978, Mortimer Adler published a book entitled Aristotle for Everybody. Whatever its other merits or demerits, I think the title is misleading. In my opinion, Aristotle is not for everybody. To help you decide whether Aristotle is for you, let me go over the things that a study of Aristotle is good for. If you're reading this not by choice but because it was assigned, these same considerations may help reconcile you to what I know is going to be a strenuous task.

Aristotle is a very systematic philosopher. "Systematic" can mean different things. In Aristotle's case, it means that ideas developed in one area of investigation often find applications in other areas. As a result, his treatment of one topic may not be fully clear until you have examined his discussions of other topics which form a basis for that one. While a work on ethics, for example, can be read with profit by itself, it only becomes fully understandable when you are aware of its presuppositions, some of which are to be found in Aristotle's psychology. And to fully appreciate his reasoning in psychology--reasoning about human nature and about the nature of other organisms--you need to be familiar with his ideas about nature in general, as expounded in his physics. By studying Aristotle, you can learn one of the ways in which a philosophic system can be fitted together. This is worth knowing even if you are not a philosopher but a "general reader." It is worth knowing because of a fact of which many general readers are unaware, namely, that some of our most important beliefs are accepted (or rejected) not by directly testing them against the facts, but by considering the roles they play in systems of belief, only some parts of which can be tested directly against the facts. One reason for accepting a particular system of beliefs is that it pans out at the points where it can be directly tested. But there are . . .

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