Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Bruell, Christopher. Aristotle as Teacher: His Introduction to a Philosophic Science

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Bruell, Christopher. Aristotle as Teacher: His Introduction to a Philosophic Science

Article excerpt

Bruell, Christopher. Aristotle as Teacher: His Introduction to a Philosophic Science. South Bend, Ind.: St. Augustine's Press, 2014. vii + 268 pp.--Today, the majority of intellectuals across the disciplines believe that philosophy and science are not the same. These same intellectuals may be hard pressed to state what philosophy is exactly, but they are sure it is not science. One of the benefits of an intensive study of Aristotle's Metaphysics is that it provides a check against this modernist presumption that philosophy and science must be separate. A careful reading of the Metaphysics reveals that "whatever other purposes it may serve, it is intended also to introduce its readers to science and the problem of science." This will be a presentation of science different from the vision of science defined in the wake of Bacon, Hobbes, and Mill, according to whom science is enumeration, description, and prediction. For Aristotle, science (episteme) means something more comprehensive because science grasps first principles and causes. Science is necessary and universal knowledge of causes in their relation to substance. Since philosophy is the discovery of the causes that make such universal and necessary knowledge possible, philosophy and science signify the same habit of mind.

To make evident Aristotle's achievement, Bruell provides a detailed commentary, virtually a paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the chapters of each book of the Metaphysics, including M and N. It is remarkable that he can accomplish this task in 268 pages. But he is able to do so because he never loses sight of his objective. His commentary, while comprehensive, is single-minded, never shifting focus away from determining what Aristotle means by science. His study also contributes to the literature on Aristotle in that it tries to determine Aristotle's meaning in a particular passage by evaluating along the way competing manuscript sources of Aristotle's text. Bruell often compares and contrasts different sources in order to show the reader why he prefers one translation or interpretation to another. He relies on sources such as Werner Jaeger and W. D. Ross, but he also mentions more historically distant sources too, such as Alexander of Aphrodisias and the commentary of Thomas Aquinas. Use of these references, however, would be easier for the reader if Bruell had supplied a bibliography. In addition, the reader would benefit from an index.

With deliberation and purpose, Bruell advances his commentary by reminding the reader that Aristotle's text develops as it does because the Stagirite is (1) a dialectical thinker, (2) an aporetic philosopher, and (3) a historian of science. That is to say, his strategy is to be in conversation, to overcome perplexities (aporiai), and to define his own philosophy as the culmination of the Greek quest for science. …

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