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Aristotle on the Meaning of Man

A Philosophical Response to Idealism, Positivism, and Gnosticism

Peter Jackson

Why was (and is) Aristotle «right» and why are we «wrong»? In other words, why are Aristotle’s philosophical reflections on man and the world full, real, and convincing and why is so much of our modern philosophy partial and false? This work offers a detailed assessment of Aristotle’s thought in response to these questions.

Using «man» as a case study, this work shows how Aristotle philosophically treats «him» as a physical, biological, social, political, ethical, creative, poeticising, and philosophising object in the world. It then continues by laying out his consequent conclusions regarding the necessary capacities of natural objects in the world.

Regarding the modern philosophical approach to «man», this work shows that it flows from several directions into narcissism, nihilism, and a desire to control and manipulate the world and other people. In short, this work considers these approaches and seeks to show that Aristotle’s philosophy is «right», true, and commendable and that our modern philosophy is (often) «wrong», vacuous, and distasteful.

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Bibliography of Classical Resources


Achtenberg, Deborah, Cognition of Value in Aristotle’s Ethics: Promise of Enrichment, Threat of Destruction (New York: SUNY 2002).

—— “Human Being, Beast and God: The Place of Human Happiness According to Aristotle and Some Twentieth-Century Philosophers” in Sim, May, ed., The Crossroads of Norm and Nature: Essays on Aristotle’s Ethics and Metaphysics (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield [orig. 1988] 1995) 29–50 (*).

Annas, Julia, “Aristotle on Inefficient Causes”, The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 32 (1982) 311–326.

—— “Aristotle, Number, and Time”, The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 25 (1975) 97–113.

—— “Aristotle on Pleasure and Goodness” in Rorty, Amélie O., ed., Essays on Aristotle’s Ethics (Berkeley: University of California 1980) 285–300.

—— “Self-Love in Aristotle”, The Southern Journal of Philosophy, Vol. XXVII (1989) 1–18 (*).

Armstrong, J.M., “Aristotle on the Philosophical Nature of Poetry”, The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 48 (1998) 447–455.

Baracchi, Claudia, Aristotle’s Ethics as First Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2008).

Beere, Jonathan, Doing and Being: An Interpretation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics Theta (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2009).

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