PHI6710 Aristotle


This module will examine some major themes in Aristotle’s metaphysics. There will be an introduction to, and a sustained discussion of, such central Aristotelian notions as nature, form, matter, substance, actuality and potentiality. Students will read selected material extracted from a range of Aristotelian works: Categories; Physics books 1, 2 and 3; Generation and Corruption books 1, 2; de Anima (On the Soul) book 2; Metaphysics books Δ, Z, H and Θ. The aim of the module is to encourage students to read important yet difficult Aristotelian texts, to engage critically with the ideas and arguments contained therein, and to provide some appreciation of Aristotle’s place in the ancient philosophical world and his contribution to contemporary metaphysical debate.

A sub-theme of the module will be the use of commentary as a means of creative philosophical reflection. I have tried to include a range of different styles of commentary on Aristotle, ranging from the ancient (eg Alexander of Aphrodisias, flourished c.200 CE) through the medieval (eg Aquinas 1225-1274) to the contemporary (eg contributors to the Clarendon Aristotle Series). The idea is that trying to make coherent sense of someone else’s ideas is an interesting way of honing your own thoughts, and is particularly relevant in a module on ancient philosophy which is very textually based.