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Aristotle (Very Short Introductions #32)

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  244 ratings  ·  21 reviews

The influence of Aristotle, the prince of philosophers, on the intellectual history of the West is second to none. In this book, Jonathan Barnes examines Aristotle's scientific researches, his discoveries in logic and his metaphysical theories, his work in psychology and in ethics and politics, and his ideas about art and poetry, placing his teachings in their historical c

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Published January 1st 2000 by NetLibrary, Incorporated (first published 1982)
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Riku Sayuj

On Approaching Aristotle

I enjoyed this VSI. What was most valuable was that it gave me a good frame of reference to tackle Aristotle — by letting me prepare for Aristotle in relation to Plato. Of course, Jonathan Barnesmostly assumes that the the reader has already taken the trouble to read Plato. That is the trouble with inviting such a distinguished scholar to write a basic introduction.

This was just what I needed as I prepare to take my first tentative steps towards a fuller reading of Aris
(3.5 stars, but I’ll round up to 4.)

Aristotle has proven to be one of the most difficult philosophers for me to come to grips with. For lack of a better phrase, I just don’t get it.

His writings are some of the most dry, disorganized, and tedious works that I’ve made myself read. This, of course, is due to their being lecture notes, not finished works. Even so, I’m usually at a loss to understand how these lecture notes could have played such a decisive role in the history of Western thought. Muc
An excellent introduction to the life and work of Aristotle, written by someone who is an obvious authority on the man. Concise and intelligible, the book is ideal for beginners, accomplishing a surprising amount in a limited space. Barnes is clearly an admirer of his subject, but he doesn't let that admiration hold him back from offering fair-minded criticism at various stages of the book.

The first couple of chapters provide useful context by detailing the main stages of Aristotle's life and t
Mike W
This is a good introduction to Aristotle's thought. It summarizes the great thinker's philosophical and scientific contributions competently and well.

As the author (a leading translator of Aristotle's works) reminds us, Aristotle "bestrode antiquity like an intellectual colossus." No one in history contributed as much to as many different fields, from logic and biology to literary theory and ethics. So Aristotle's work is well worth studying, and this book serves as a useful preface to that wor
I expected a much simpler text from a book titled 'A Very Short Introduction'. Perhaps, it was my fault; to expect a 'simple' introduction to 'Aristotle'.

This book does a good job of explaining the context of Aristotle's life, his works and the Philosophy scene in Greece during his time. However, when it comes to explaining the man's teachings, the author falters a little. The author seems to have a very good understanding of Aristotle. But it doesn't come out in a way simple enough for an Arist
Michael Dorais
I've been going through a CD course from The Great Courses titled "Tools of Thinking". It covers logic among many other topics. The section on logic covered Aristotelian logic and recommended readings included Prior Analytics by Aristotle. I read through the first part of the Oraganon, Categories, and On Interpretation. I tried to make it through Prior Analytics but just couldn't. I used this book to get an overview of Aristotle. I'm glad to get additional exposure to Aristotle beyond what I got ...more
Greg Hovanesian
Aristotle was known through the ages as the Great Philosopher. This book illustrates why it isn't necessarily his theories on philosophy that make him so important (while those theories were, and still are, important). What made Aristotle so incredibly important was that he was the the most influential academic of all-time. He single-handedly invented the science of Biology as we know it today (taking cues from his teacher, Plato, on how to label and organize all organisms with a system of speci ...more

Despite the fact that I technically have BA in Philosophy (Concentrating in Religious Studies), I find Philosophy to be incredibly challenging.

I actually picked this up when some friends were discussing Summa Theologica by Aquinas, Saint Thomas. One friend suggested reading up on Aristotle before tackling Summa Theologica and so I went ahead and got this recommended book.

There was a lot to digest in this book and reading slowly was all I could do. The chapter on the structure of the sci
Jeroen Berndsen
NBD|Biblion: [return]Er is de laatste jaren een grote belangstelling gekomen voor Griekse filosofie: die komt tot uitdrukking door het verschijnen van vertalingen van bekende, maar ook minder bekende teksten, vaak met uitvoerige toelichting. In deze golf past ook de vertaling van een deskundige inleiding tot het moeilijke werk van Aristoteles (384-322 v. Chr.), Plato's grootste leerling. De inleiding is die van John Barnes, een expert van naam, en stamt uit 1982. De vertaling (uit het Engels) is ...more
Daniel Wright
A quite accessible introduction to an almost unbelievably influential man. If you want an overall survey of the magisterially broad writing of the one who was known for many centuries afterwards simply as "the Philosopher", this is an excellent place to start.

On the other hand, Barnes does come across as somewhat defensive at times, not unjustly. Aristotle made mistakes, of course, like the next man, and it is no blame to him that these mistakes were then set in stone for so many years, such tha
Marcus Vinicius
This volume of the Very Short Introduction series, written by an Aristotle's scholar, provides a good overview of his works and describes the position he has in the history of philosophy. Jonathan Barnes exposed the main concepts of Aristotle's thought and his most importants works. Some interpretations of Aristotle's assertions are rebutted in favor of rival conceptions. The author himself gave his understandings about Aristotle's works. Reading this small book, one has a pretty decent view abo ...more
A great introduction that covers all of the bases. As a Classics grad student, I picked this up for a fun quick read, but discovered a book that attacks big philosophical issues in clear, precise language. My biggest complaint is that the illustrations aren't adequately explained or lack their own subtitles. Other volumes in this series use their illustrations better.
This is a really helpful overview of Aristotle's thought. At least I hope it is, because my understanding of Aristotle was pretty elementary before reading it, so I'm taking Barnes' word for it.
Andrew Olsen
Jonathan Barnes book on Aristotle is clear and unbiased. He shows how the criticisms of Aristotle were either due to the limitations of the science of the time or just not relevant to the ideas of Aristotle. He places Aristotle as a Greek Philosopher in the 4th century B.C.E. And is thus subject to the prejudices and limitations of his own time. Aristotle's scientific and philosophical works set the stage for the scientific revolution and still influence the structure, form, and pursuit of knowl ...more
Cain S. Pinto
Breezy, and fun in its contemporary rendering of some of Aristotle's legendarily terse arguments, but surely not an exhaustive source.
These books are all much of a muchness. More of a potential launch pad for further reading than a comprehensive account.
Benjamin J.
concise and clear. A great value.
Steve Mitchell
Not only does this book do exactly what it sets out as its target on the cover, but I think it would make a good introduction to the volume on Logic from the same series.
A very useful book for help with Aristotle's more difficult concepts. Information is provided topically, making it very easy to reference.
Craig J.
Aristotle: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Jonathan Barnes (2001)
Bill Gordon
Dullsville. I didn't understand one word of this book.
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“The doctrine of the mean (the epithet 'golden' is un-Aristotelian) regularly occurs in later writers as a piece of moral advice -- a recipe or rule reminding us to 'observe the mean', to be moderate in all things and to avoid excess and deciciency. (If the doctrine urges us not to drink too much wine, it equally urges us not to drink too little -- but that is something which the moralizers usually find it prudent to ignore.)” 2 likes
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