Aristotle's Man

2003-08-24

Last night I finished reading Aristotle's Man: Speculations Upon Aristotelian Anthropology by Stephen R.L. Clark. It's been some time since I've read such a hardcore treatment of peripatetic philosophy. Clark's account of Aristotle's views on human nature (usually called "philosophical anthropology" in academic circles) and related topics is sympathetic. At times too sympathetic, if you ask me: there is very little I can respect in notions such as the Prime Mover, since they are so far removed from the evidence of the sciences or even common sense. Aristotle did better in his biological works than in his cosmological speculations, and Clark argues convincingly that there exist important connections between Aristotle's biological investigations and his ethical views. I also enjoyed the comparisons he draws between Aristotelian philosophy and Neo-Confucianism (they must strike most philosophers as exceedingly odd, but my study of Chinese philosophy indicates that there are valid parallels to be drawn here). All in all a stimulating read.


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