Terence IRWIN : Aristotle’s First Principles

Publication Information : Book Title : Aristotle’s First Principles. Contributors : Terence Irwin – author. Publisher : Clarendon Press. Place of Publication : Oxford. Publication Year : 1990.


On 5 October 1971, I wrote a short paper on Metaphysics 1004b25-6, for a tutorial with G. E. L. Owen at Harvard. Since then I have intermittently pursued some lines of inquiry connected with that passage ; the current result of them is this book. The first chapter gives a survey of its contents, and some idea of the main argument. I try to explore some connexions between different areas of Aristotle’s philosophy, and to suggest how issues and doctrines in one area may affect his views in another. Whether or not the main thesis of this book is found convincing, I hope it will seem profitable to examine some of the connexions I discuss, and to see how they affect our views about the coherence and plausibility of Aristotle’s doctrines.

While I would like to have formed original and convincing views on all the questions I discuss, I cannot claim to have done this. On many points I rely on views that other people have made quite familiar (though hardly standard, given the extent of healthy disagreement in the study of Aristotle). On the other hand, though I cover more topics than are usually covered in a single book on Aristotle, this book is not a general survey ; it is quite selective, and it does not attempt to give a balanced impression of Aristotle as a whole. Still, I hope I have provided enough detail to give the uninitiated reader some idea of the main questions, and of some of the main approaches to them, and also to give both the less advanced and the more advanced student some idea of the reasons for my conclusions. While this is not an introductory book, I hope it will be accessible to reasonably persistent readers who have not read much about Aristotle, but are willing to read Aristotle fairly closely ; in the main text I try not to presuppose familiarity with the present state of scholarly and philosophical discussion.

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