Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Aristotle and the Metaphysics

By Vasilis Politis | Go to book overview

3

ARISTOTLE'S METHOD IN METAPHYSICS

(Book III)

1

Aristotle's method of searching in metaphysics The method based on aporiai

Book III is vital for the understanding of the whole of the Metaphysics. For here Aristotle asks what in general provides the motivation, direction and goal of metaphysical inquiry, and he argues that puzzlement (aporia) and particular puzzles (aporiai) are what motivates, directs, and provides a goal for this inquiry-the search for the nature of being. This is clearly and memorably stated in chapter 1 of book III, which contains Aristotle's central reflections on method in metaphysics-the method that he intends to follow in the remainder of the work. But to these brief but crucial methodological reflections he adds, in the remainder of book III, a list of fifteen particular aporiai in and about metaphysics, which it is his aim to engage with and eventually to answer. So book III contains, on the one hand, Aristotle's statement of his method in metaphysics, i.e. of what we may call the aporia-based method, while on the other hand it contains also a plan for how this method specifically is to be carried out.

Book III opens with the claim that the engagement with aporiai is essential to metaphysics and to the very characterization of metaphysics, 'the science that we are seeking' (995a24-25). This is because:

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