College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
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Recommended Readings

Peripatetic -PhilosophyPeripatetic Philosophy, 200 BC to AD 200:  An Introduction and Collection of Sources in Translation

by R. W. Sharples, Cambridge University Press, 2010

Reviewed by Tiberiu Popa

I put off reading Major Pettigrew's Last Stand since it looked like a mere romance novel.

The roughly four centuries of Peripatetic tradition covered by Sharples' recent book have been somewhat of a blank spot on the map of ancient philosophy. While a considerable number of articles have dealt with particular figures pertaining to late Peripatetic philosophy, there have been few attempts at providing a comprehensive view of this fascinating, if complicated, landscape, and Sharples' contribution may just be the most helpful and substantial outline of this kind.

All the passages were translated by Sharples, some of these translations from Greek and Latin having been published previously. They are grouped in four main sections - 'Individuals', 'Logic and Ontology', 'Ethics', and 'Physics' - subdivided into twenty-seven shorter thematic segments; the one on 'Physics', for example, includes subsections on the nature of time and place, the eternity of the world, fate, soul etc. Each of the twenty-seven sets of translations is followed by a discussion which provides some essential background, explicates the central arguments in each passage, and places those texts in a larger context that helps us to make connections between cognate philosophical topics or to follow the history of some exegesis.

Sharples' book assumes that its readers are rather familiar with Aristotle. This being said, anyone interested in ancient philosophy and particularly in the Aristotelian tradition, in the impact of ancient interpretations on our own understanding of Aristotle and in the intellectual history between roughly 200 BC and AD 200 will find this to be an extremely helpful guide.

- Tiberiu Popa is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Butler University.