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Being, Essence and Substance in Plato and Aristotle,9780745660547
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Being, Essence and Substance in Plato and Aristotle



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Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005) was one of the outstanding French philosophers of the 20th century and his work is widely read in the English-speaking world. This unique volume comprises the lectures that Ricoeur gave on Plato and Aristotle at the University of Strasbourg in 1953-54.

The aim of these lectures is to analyse the metaphysics of Plato and Aristotle and to discern in their work the ontological foundations of Western philosophy. The relation between Plato and Aristotle is commonly portrayed as a contrast between a philosophy of essence and a philosophy of substance, but Ricoeur shows that this opposition is too simple. Aristotelian ontology is not a simple antithesis to Platonism: the radical ontology of Aristotle stands in a far more subtle relation of continuity and opposition to that of Plato and it is this relation we have to reconstruct and understand.

Ricoeur’s lectures offer a brilliant analysis of the great works of Plato and Aristotle which has withstood the test of time. They also provide a unique insight into the development of Ricoeur’s thinking in the early 1950s, revealing that, even at this early stage of his work, Ricoeur was focused sharply on issues of language and the text.

Author Biography

Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005) is widely recognized as one of the most distinguished philosophers of the twentieth century. He taught for many years at the University of Chicago. His many works include Freud and Philosophy, Time and Narrative and Oneself as Another.

Table of Contents

  • Editor’s Introduction
  • The Goal and Plan of the Course
  • I. Plato
  • Part I: “True Being” or the Idea
  • Introduction to Plato, Part I
  • Chapter 1: The Meaning of the Platonic “Eidos”
  • Chapter 2: Essence and Language
  • Chapter 3: Science and Essence
  • I. “Opinion” as the Negative of Science
  • Chapter 4: Science and Essence
  • II. Right Opinion as “Intermediary”
  • Chapter 5: Science and Essence
  • III. The Mathematical “Intermediary”
  • Chapter 6: Science and Essence (Conclusion)
  • IV. The “Terminus” of Science: Contemplation
  • Part II: The Idea of Being and Non-Being
  • Introduction to Plato, Part II
  • Chapter 1: The Question of Being in the Parmenides
  • Chapter 2: The Success and Failures of Platonism in the Sophist
  • Chapter 3: The Genesis of the Sensible in the Timaeus
  • Part III: Being and the “Divine”
  • Introduction to Plato, Part III
  • Chapter 1: The Problem of the “Divine” and pre-Socratic Philosophy
  • Chapter 2: The “Divine” in Plato
  • II. Aristotle
  • Introduction to Aristotle
  • Part I: Being as Being
  • Chapter 1: The “Genetic” Interpretation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics
  • Chapter 2: Philosophy: Its Intention and Its Memory
  • Chapter 3: Philosophy and Its “Aporias”
  • Chapter 4: The Object of “First Philosophy”
  • Part II: Being and Substance
  • Introduction to Aristotle, Part II
  • Chapter 1: Sensible Substance: Substance as Substrate
  • Chapter 2: Sensible Substance (continued): Substance as Form
  • Chapter 3: Substance and the Individual
  • Chapter 4: “Separated” Substance

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