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Posted January 24, 2011
It's been said somewhere, don't remember by whom, that all of western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato and Aristotle. This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the fact remains that these two seminal figures of western thought have left at least an indirect mark on all of the subsequent thinkers. And yet, it's been my experience that Plato is much more widely read and studied, in college courses and otherwise, than his equally famous erstwhile disciple. This probably has to do a lot with the style: Plato's "Socratic dialogs" have been written in a form that makes them instantly accessible to readers of all ages, and tends to belie the complexities and subtleties of the underlying ideas. Aristotle's style is much more pedantic and scholarly. One could easily see his writings appearing in peer-reviewed journals.
In part due to the above considerations, it took me a while to finally pick up a book of Aristotle's writings and try to go through at least some of them. This volume brings a few of his works in their entirety, but for most part only more important excerpts are given. Reading it requires some effort on the part of the reader, especially if you are not used to the style and substance of ancient Greek thought. However, the effort was worthwhile, and I've come away from reading this work with renewed and deepened appreciation for Aristotle. In terms of the sheer breadth of his inquiry, there has not been anyone quite like him before or since.