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Being, Essence and Substance in Plato and Aristotle

Being, Essence and Substance in Plato and Aristotle

Paul Ricoeur

ISBN: 978-0-745-66054-7

Sep 2013

260 pages

In Stock



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.

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

  • Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005) was one of the most distinguished philosophers of the 20th century.
  • This is his outstanding analysis of the works of two of the most influential philosophers of all time - Plato and Aristotle.
  • By looking closely at the nature of ‘being’ and ‘essence’ in their respective philosophies, Ricoeur draws out the subtle relation of continuity and opposition that exists between them, in contrast to what is generally believed.
  • This importance of this text has endured and reveals that Ricoeur’s renowned focus on language and the text was already apparent in the early 1950s.