Notes on “Aristotle: a very short introduction”

Saturday, 10th January, 2015

book details

Aristotle: a very short introduction
Jonathan Barnes
Oxford University Press


I found this a very pleasant, readable overview of Aristotle’s philosophy. It is sensitive to his context and to his distance from our own culture and perspectives.

Before reading this I knew little about Aristotle. I’d read his Nicomachean Ethics and Jonathan Lear’s “Aristotle: The Desire to Understand”.

Three points stood out for me:


Aristotle’s Prior Analytics and Posterior Analytics are the foundation works of the study of formal logic. The roots of formal logic are in Aristotle the empirical scientist, the explorer, the man of the world — not e.g. in Plato the idealist.

I don’t think I need to read Aristotle’s logical works, but it might be interesting to explore how his more formal thought related to his more exploratory work (e.g. biology, politics).


For Aristotle, change seems to be fundamental — at least to things in the sublunary world. That’s interesting to me given my interest in Hegel and Marx.

Reading: Physics, which Barnes thinks is “one of the best places to start reading Aristotle.”


Bodies in the superlunary world are not subject to change, and Aristotle’s work on the heavens contain some of his speculations on divine creatures and on the source of change: the creator.

Reading: On the heavens; Metaphysics I & XII.


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