Kosman, Aryeh. Virtues of Thought: Essays on Plato and Aristotle

By Biondi, Paolo C. | The Review of Metaphysics, March 2015 | Go to article overview

Kosman, Aryeh. Virtues of Thought: Essays on Plato and Aristotle


Biondi, Paolo C., The Review of Metaphysics


KOSMAN, Aryeh. Virtues of Thought: Essays on Plato and Aristotle. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2014. 336 pp. Cloth, $49.95--Aryeh Kosman, emeritus professor at Haverford College, has spent his career largely researching Plato and Aristotle. This volume gathers together a number of his essays written on the two Greek philosophers.

Twelve of the essays have previously appeared in print, and three are previously unpublished writings. For the most part they are presented in order of publication: the first essay discusses understanding, explanation, and insight in Aristotle's Posterior Analytics-, the second is about Platonic love; the third examines Aristotle's account of perceiving that we perceive in De Anima 3.2; the fourth looks at Aristotle's Ethics and what it means to be properly affected with respect to virtues and feelings; the fifth presents Kosman's analysis of necessity and explanation in Aristotle's Analytics-, the sixth is on drama as the mimesis of praxis-, the seventh seeks an answer to the question, "what does the maker mind make"; the eighth considers realism and instrumentalism in Aristotle's theory of science and how his theory could be said to save the phenomena; the ninth is about Aristotle's views on the desirability of friends; the tenth considers Plato's understanding of justice and virtue by means of the Republic's inquiry into proper difference; the eleventh examines the roles of the male and female principles of generation in Aristotle's Generation of Animals-, the twelfth is about self-knowledge and self-control (sophrosune) in Plato's Charmides; the thirteenth reflects on the concepts of beauty and the good, and their relation to each other in the ancient Greek notion of to kalon; the fourteenth offers us a reflection on the act of translation by focusing on the history of translating the key Aristotelian term ousia; and finally, the fifteenth studies Aristotle's treatment of the virtues of thought in Nicomachean Ethics, book 6.

The author admits "that there is not a great deal of thematic unity to this collection." Topics vary from science to love, ethics to perception, drama to animal generation. Despite this diversity, however, most of the essays in the volume explore what Plato and Aristotle have to say about modes of human thought. As Kosman stipulates, thought is understood in the broad sense of awareness or consciousness. Bearing this in mind, Kosman's main concern throughout most essays is to reveal awareness "as a necessary constituent in an account of perceiving, thinking, or any other mode of human cognitive activity."

Given the centrality of awareness, the third essay provides the key to understanding Kosman's explanation of awareness or consciousness. …

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