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Any suggestions on sections of Aristotle to read? I struggled through is "Logical treaties", but I feel I haven't gotten much out of them. I am looking for some "gems", some good sections which illustrate his genius. I only have this summer for free time, so...., help!

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Any suggestions on sections of Aristotle to read? I struggled through is "Logical treaties", but I feel I haven't gotten much out of them. I am looking for some "gems", some good sections which illustrate his genius. I only have this summer for free time, so...., help!

Aristotle's most accessible work is the Nicomachean Ethics, and it certainly has many gems. I recommend the Joe Sachs translation in particular.

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I've never read Aristotle so cant give you any recommendations, but have you considered purchasing a 'best of Aristotle' book that contains important extracts from various works, rather than full texts? I sometimes find these quite useful for approaching philosophers who dont seem to have an obvious starting point.

Edited by Hal

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Any suggestions on sections of Aristotle to read? I struggled through is "Logical treaties", but I feel I haven't gotten much out of them. I am looking for some "gems", some good sections which illustrate his genius. I only have this summer for free time, so...., help!

You need to provide more information. For example, why do you want to read anything of Aristotle, gems or otherwise? Is such reading a key step in achieving your central purpose in life (CPL)?

Further, at what level do you intend to read -- casually merely to get an "impression" of his work overall, or at a full abstract-integrative level? The latter is very time-consuming. Reading all of Aristotle's works at that level would require years of study -- as that approach would for reading Ayn Rand's major works.

Are you aware that most of Aristotle's writings to have survived were not meant for a wide reading public, but, most likely, were lecture notes of one sort or another? That makes them very difficult to read.

My suggestion, if you want the most important passages of Aristotle's surviving works, is to follow Hal's suggestion: Read an anthology. I recommend Aristotle: Selections, translated with an Introduction, Notes, and Glossary by Terence Irwin and Gail Fine. It is available in paperback. If you are willing to invest time into slow, thoughtful reading, then it is the place to start for a survey of Aristotle's works.

Have you audited Dr. Robert Mayhew's lecture on reading Aristotle? He addresses the very problem you have raised: Why does reading Aristotle by laymen seem so difficult and unrewarding? Look for it in The Ayn Rand Bookstore.

Further, if you have a particular interest in a particular field of study -- perhaps as part of your own CPL -- then read Aristotle's work on that subject. For example, if your CPL involves politics, then read his Politics. Likewise for all his major works: Physics; various works on biology; psychology (De anima, On the Soul); Metaphysics; Ethics; Politics; Poetics (art); and Rhetoric. Find an edition that has a clear translation and lots of notes. Also look for a commentary on that work to help guide you through it. (Irwin and Fine's anthology provides such notes, in brief form.)

Aristotle is not for casual readers. Be prepared for a lot of work.

BTW, I would say his six treatises on logic show his genius at its best. When you were reading them, did you remind yourself that Aristotle in effect created logic as an art and science?

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You need to provide more information. For example, why do you want to read anything of Aristotle, gems or otherwise? Is such reading a key step in achieving your central purpose in life (CPL)?

AR called him the greatest philosopher in history, and I want to know why.

Further, at what level do you intend to read -- casually merely to get an "impression" of his work overall, or at a full abstract-integrative level? The latter is very time-consuming. Reading all of Aristotle's works at that level would require years of study -- as that approach would for reading Ayn Rand's major works.
I was hoping causually, but I realize that that is near to impossible to do.

Are you aware that most of Aristotle's writings to have survived were not meant for a wide reading public, but, most likely, were lecture notes of one sort or another? That makes them very difficult to read.

I am aware of that.

My suggestion, if you want the most important passages of Aristotle's surviving works, is to follow Hal's suggestion: Read an anthology. I recommend Aristotle: Selections, translated with an Introduction, Notes, and Glossary by Terence Irwin and Gail Fine. It is available in paperback. If you are willing to invest time into slow, thoughtful reading, then it is the place to start for a survey of Aristotle's works.

My parents bought me this ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...20125?v=glance) Aristotle, and it has been rotting on my shelf for about a year now.

Have you audited Dr. Robert Mayhew's lecture on reading Aristotle? He addresses the very problem you have raised: Why does reading Aristotle by laymen seem so difficult and unrewarding? Look for it in The Ayn Rand Bookstore.
No, I will check it out.

Further, if you have a particular interest in a particular field of study -- perhaps as part of your own CPL -- then read Aristotle's work on that subject. For example, if your CPL involves politics, then read his Politics. Likewise for all his major works: Physics; various works on biology; psychology (De anima, On the Soul); Metaphysics; Ethics; Politics; Poetics (art); and Rhetoric. Find an edition that has a clear translation and lots of notes. Also look for a commentary on that work to help guide you through it. (Irwin and Fine's anthology provides such notes, in brief form.)

Good suggestions. I essentially want to understand his ideas on metaphysics (A=A, which by the way, did he ever actually say that?) knowledge, and art. When I tried on reading metaphysics, it wasn't what I had hoped for. It was more a discussion on epistemology then reality.

Aristotle is not for casual readers. Be prepared for a lot of work.
I gather that know.

BTW, I would say his six treatises on logic show his genius at its best. When you were reading them, did you remind yourself that Aristotle in effect created logic as an art and science?

Sort of. But they are incredibly dry!

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My parents bought me this ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...20125?v=glance) Aristotle, and it has been rotting on my shelf for about a year now.
That isnt a selection, its a book containing the full text of several of his works. Try to find something that just has some of the more 'important' passages, like this (not a recommendation, just an example of the kind of thing I'd go for).

No, I will check it out.

Good suggestions. I essentially want to understand his ideas on metaphysics (A=A, which by the way, did he ever actually say that?)

Afaik, no. He did however say "The identity of subject and object must not be equivocal."

If you just want a general understanding of his philosophy, you could try reading secondary literature instead. Maybe get a good book about Aristotle rather than a book by Aristotle, and then if any particular aspect of his philosophy interests you, read the relevant primary source.

Edited by softwareNerd

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That isnt a selection, its a book containing the full text of several of his works.
I do have books that are just selections, but I have no idea what parts they cut out, which bugs me.

If you just want a general understanding of his philosophy, you could try reading secondary literature instead. Maybe get a good book about Aristotle rather than a book by Aristotle, and then if any particular aspect of his philosophy interests you, read the relevant primary source.

Good point.

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(A=A, which by the way, did he ever actually say that?

First of all, the law of identity is not a mathematical equality (nor any kind of relationship or comparison) and should be written (for example): A is A, or a thing is what it is. Aristotle did not formulate the law of identity, but his formulation of the law of noncontradiction is most of the way there. I've forgotten the name of the Medieval scholastic who was the first to formulate the law of identity.

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First of all, the law of identity is not a mathematical equality (nor any kind of relationship or comparison) and should be written (for example): A is A, or a thing is what it is. Aristotle did not formulate the law of identity, but his formulation of the law of noncontradiction is most of the way there. I've forgotten the name of the Medieval scholastic who was the first to formulate the law of identity.

I'm curious as to who first formulated it, if you remember, can you post it please? I mean the actual law of identity as Ayn Rand used it (to be is to be a certain something), not meaningless statements like "a thing is identical to itself" (was that Leibniz?)

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Have you ever heard of the book called "The Story of Philosophy" by Will Durant? It offers not only a (comprehendible) summation of Aristotle's philosophy, but also of all of the major philosophers in their chronological order. From Plato to Dewey. You can learn why to hate Plato, Kant, Hegel and Schopenhauer instead of just getting second-hand information from Ayn Rand.

Just a suggestion.

Edited by studentofobjectivism

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Have you ever heard of the book called "The Story of Philosophy" by Will Durant? It offers not only a (comprehendible) summation of Aristotle's philosophy, but also of all of the major philosophers in their chronological order. From Plato to Dewey. You can learn why to hate Plato, Kant, Hegel and Schopenhauer instead of just getting second-hand information from Ayn Rand.

Just a suggestion.

But wouldn't reading the book be "second hand information"? Does he have substanative quotes, or just one liners? That brings up a good point. Can I ever comment on a philosopher without having read their works? Can second hand information suffice? For instance, a lot of Objectivists I have talked to claim Aristotle to be a genius, but have only read excerpts from his work. Is that correct?

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Have you ever heard of the book called "The Story of Philosophy" by Will Durant? It offers not only a (comprehendible) summation of Aristotle's philosophy, but also of all of the major philosophers in their chronological order. From Plato to Dewey. You can learn why to hate Plato, Kant, Hegel and Schopenhauer instead of just getting second-hand information from Ayn Rand.

Just a suggestion.

I hope you're not saying that the purpose of reading philosophers is to learn why to hate them.

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But wouldn't reading the book be "second hand information"? Does he have substanative quotes, or just one liners? That brings up a good point. Can I ever comment on a philosopher without having read their works? Can second hand information suffice? For instance, a lot of Objectivists I have talked to claim Aristotle to be a genius, but have only read excerpts from his work. Is that correct?

Secondary sources have a proper and an improper use. As long as you are clear what you do and do know not after reading secondary sources, there is no problem. In particular, secondary sources are useful in describing the dominant interpretation of a philosopher, which can give you a good idea of their actual influence.

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Any suggestions on sections of Aristotle to read? I struggled through is "Logical treaties", but I feel I haven't gotten much out of them. I am looking for some "gems", some good sections which illustrate his genius. I only have this summer for free time, so...., help!

Now that you have provided a little more information about why and at what level you want to read Aristotle, I can make an additional suggestion for the top of the list:

W. T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy: The Classical Mind, second edition, New York, Harcourt, 1970. (This is volume I of a five volume series that covers all of the history of philosophy.)

I highly recommend this text for your needs. Jones not only provides substantial selections from Aristotle's writings, but explains them and provides enough historical information so that you can see Aristotle's accomplishments and his differences with his predecessors (especially Plato). This book is the best combination of selected texts and commentary available anywhere.

Jones has a big section on Aristotle. You can choose to read about the other philosophers before and after Aristotle, if you want, but the Aristotle section alone is worth the price of the book, especially if you get it used and in paperback.

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Secondary sources have a proper and an improper use. As long as you are clear what you do and do know not after reading secondary sources, there is no problem. In particular, secondary sources are useful in describing the dominant interpretation of a philosopher, which can give you a good idea of their actual influence.

I still am confused. I can see, on one hand, the purpose of reading primary documents, and then supplementing that with secondhand information, but the idea that one can completely trust another person's interpretation, without having seen the full context of the material cited, strikes me as a bit ignorant. A person can take sections of Aristotle out of context, as with any philosopher, and make wild assertions. My question, restated, goes something like this. To a person that has had (for the sake of our example) no previous exposure to (again, for the sake of our example) Aristotle, how can one find a source of secondhand information is objective and true? Please tell me if that makes little sense.

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W. T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy: The Classical Mind, second edition, New York, Harcourt, 1970. (This is volume I of a five volume series that covers all of the history of philosophy.)

I highly recommend this text for your needs.

I have heard about that series, but I am more seeking, like you suggested, a primary source on Aristotle with running commentary. I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday and couldn't find the F and W you suggested.

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A person can take sections of Aristotle out of context, as with any philosopher, and make wild assertions.

You can find out pretty easily how reputable the author of the book is. If he made wild assertions, it will probably have been pointed out somewhere. Also, WT Jones quotes at some serious length--for pages upon pages.

I didn't say to "trust" the author, though, or to take him on faith. The key is to use a secondary source, in cases where you are ignorant about the subject, as a means to learning about the philosopher's influence or legacy, not as a second-hand means of interpreting the philosopher.

Let me concretize. Suppose you read about Kant in the WT Jones history of philosophy, and someone starts to praise Kant in a conversation. You can say, in response, "Well, I've never read Kant directly, but I know his legacy and..."

By the way, reading Aristotle directly would not necessarily ennable you to make any more of an objective interpretation. Aristotle wrote many works, and if you read one or two of them alone, you would, in a sense, not have the context for those two works, not having read all of Aristotle's other works. Secondary sources are actually useful in providing that context, since experts HAVE read all or most of Aristotle's extant works.

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I hope you're not saying that the purpose of reading philosophers is to learn why to hate them.

Not directly. I am suggesting that instead of just reading a passing comment about Kant in one of Ayn Rand's works, you can learn why he is evil. However, I hope that you are not suggesting that to hate these evil men is evil in itself. It is not evil to pass judgment.

"Judge, and be prepared to be judged." - Ayn Rand

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Not directly. I am suggesting that instead of just reading a passing comment about Kant in one of Ayn Rand's works, you can learn why he is evil. However, I hope that you are not suggesting that to hate these evil men is evil in itself. It is not evil to pass judgment.

"Judge, and be prepared to be judged." - Ayn Rand

I was not suggesting that at all. But I certainly would say, among other things, that studying philosophers with the mindset that you are looking for things to hate will DOOM your ability to approach that philosopher objectively. I would also say that learning why Kant or other philosophers are evil is among the least important reasons to study them.

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I was not suggesting that at all. But I certainly would say, among other things, that studying philosophers with the mindset that you are looking for things to hate will DOOM your ability to approach that philosopher objectively. I would also say that learning why Kant or other philosophers are evil is among the least important reasons to study them.

But, from an Objectivist's percpective, who hears Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff continually talk about the most "evil philosophers" who ever existed, to find out what they actually stand for (Kant really is evil by the way - he believes that actions are only good if they are done altruistically - and even then one should not find joy in helping others, for that is selfish :P ) and then eventually to find out why they are evil.

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I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday and couldn't find the F and W you suggested.

What was the "F and W" I recommended? Apparently I am losing track of my own recommendations. Further, did you order it online instead of at your local bookstore?

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I still am confused. I can see, on one hand, the purpose of reading primary documents, and then supplementing that with secondhand information, but the idea that one can completely trust another person's interpretation, without having seen the full context of the material cited, strikes me as a bit ignorant.

Interpretations, in secondary sources (and in commentaries too) are not the only problem. If you are focusing on a primary source from Greek philosophy, how will you know the translation is reliable? That is, unless you read Classical Greek yourself.

To a person that has had [...]no previous exposure to [...] Aristotle, how can one find a source of secondhand information is objective and true? Please tell me if that makes little sense.

Your question makes a lot of sense. The answer, in short form, is: The same way you approach anything known initially through others. For example, you can gather testimony about the interpreter of the primary source. Do his critics say he is honest or dishonest? Then you sample the primary source and check your own interpretation against his. Do they match? If not, why not? And so on in a spiral of questions and gradually accumulating knowledge. You may never reach certainty -- unless you make it your profession and devote full-time effort to the problem.

What I still don't understand -- perhaps I missed it -- is why you in particular would want to invest so much time into such a project. If it is not connected to your central purpose in life, or is not a long-term, passionately held leisure activity, then is it really worth the investment of hundreds of hours of your time?

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If you are focusing on a primary source from Greek philosophy, how will you know the translation is reliable? That is, unless you read Classical Greek yourself.

Good point. And as someone who has translated portions of Aristotle in preparation for some of my college papers, I can tell you that I would have been misled several times by my translations if I did not check the Greek.

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What was the "F and W" I recommended? Apparently I am losing track of my own recommendations. Further, did you order it online instead of at your local bookstore?

Sorry, I got it completely wrong. I meant "Terence Irwin and Gail Fine", or I and F

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