Parmenides Publishing

Titles By Patricia Curd

One and Many
in Aristotle’s Metaphysics


566 pages • 6 3/4 x 9 1/2 • Hardcover
Edward C. Halper


graduated from the University of Chicago, and went on to receive his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He is the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Georgia, and author of Form and Reason: Essays in Metaphysics (1993), One and Many in Aristotle's Metaphysics: The Central Books (1989, 2005), and One and Many in Aristotle's Metaphysics: Iota-Nu (forthcoming, 2014).

Edward Halper’s three volume One and Many in Aristotle’s 'Metaphysics' contends that Aristotle argues for his central metaphysical doctrines by showing that they alone resolve various versions of what is known as “the problem of the one and the many.” The present volume, Alpha–Delta, argues that these books constitute the first stage of Aristotle’s inquiry, his case for the existence of metaphysics. Halper shows that the possibility of metaphysics turns on its having a subject matter with a sufficient degree of unity to be known by one science. Although books Alpha–Delta address the problem that occupied Aristotle’s predecessors, they also prepare the way for—and are consistent with—the second stage, the inquiry into principles in the central books. Along the way Halper argues for unique interpretations of “being qua being,” the source of the aporiai, the method of “saving the phenomena,” “said in many ways,” the principle of non-contradiction, and the significance of book Delta.
.."it should be stated that this reader finds the general thesis Halper is advancing both stimulating and worthy of deeper study. In addition to the originality of its broad interpretive theme, Halper's work provides textual analyses that are close and illuminating, executed in a highly accessible style that will prove a resource both to specialists and advanced students working in Aristotle's theory of language as well as his metaphysics. Overall, the present volume will be considered a welcome addition to the recent scholarly literature on the Metaphysics.'
—Julie K. Ward
Department of Philosophy
Loyola University

Reviewed in Jun 2009.

This book is the second installment (Books Alpha-Delta) of a three-volume study of Aristotle's Metaphysics. As in the first installment (Central Books, 1989), Halper (U. Georgia) argues that, contrary to mainstream interpretations, Aristotle's Metaphysics contains an integrated set of arguments and theories about the nature of being whose goal is to resolve antinomies arising from the ancient pre-Socratic one/many problem. Halper shows that these first books elucidate a conception of being more general than the narrower categorial conception of the central books. This noncategorial being is "barely a real entity that admits of minimal knowledge," but through the application of the one/many problem, Aristotle shows the unity of this concept and that from it all beings can have essences, per se attributes, and be subject to the principle of noncontradiction. Given that the one/many problem perhaps represents the most general question of human inquiry, it is not implausible that one could read Aristotle's Metaphysics through its lens and thereby supply a unity to Aristotle's text. Halper's study is a meticulous and scholarly, albeit at times prolix, attempt toward this goal. Good bibliography and partial index.

Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and researchers/faculty.

Reprinted with permission from CHOICE, copyright by the American Library Association.

—P. A. Streveler
emeritus, West Chester
University of Pennsylvania


"This book deserves to become a kind of reference point interpretation for contempomry Scholarship precisely because it is a comprehensive reading that reasserts the integrity of Aristotle's Metaphysics. Halper attends meticulously but not tediously to Aristotle's text, and he defends a plausible reading that remains philosophically rich while preserving Aristotle from confusion and contradiction. Indeed, Halper's lone substantive criticism is that Aristotle has not adequately shown that only his doctrines solve the aporiai. Halper displays a familiar ease with the style of Aristotelian thinking and elliptical argumentation. Perhaps no book is wholly persuasive, but the careful attention Halper gives to Aristotle merits scholarly engagement. He is generous with clear expressions of his plan and with frequent summaries of sections of arguments."

—Danlel P. Maher
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Assumption College

Halper's project in the One and Many trilogy is to offer a comprehensive reading of the Metaphysics as a whole. This means not just all parts of the Metaphysics but the Metaphysics as carefully constructed and systematically unfolding whole. Halper argues that Aristotle presents a sustained and unified investigation of the problem of ousia that extends throughout the work. He finds its unifying thread in what he calls the problem of the one and the many. On Halper's reading, each of the major stages of the Metaphysics-he identifies three in all, hence the trilogy- represents a different stage of the investigation and solution to the problem of the one and the many.
—William Wians
Department of Philosophy
Merrimack College

When the present book, the long-awaited follow-up to Halper’s 1989 volume on the central books of the Metaphysics, is joined by the concluding volume on books iota-nu that we may hope to appear as promised in 2011, the three volumes together will surely constitute the most important and welcome event in Aristotle scholarship since the publication of Joseph Owens’ The Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics in 1978.

Edward P. Butler
Philosophy in Review
XXX (2010), no. 3

Twenty years after the appearance of the first of his three-volume One and Many in Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Edward Halper has produced his much anticipated prequel commentary on the opening books of the Metaphysics. Readers of the chronologically prior Central Books will not be disappointed here. The analytic detail, the remarkably comprehensive yet deftly critical attention to the vast history of Aristotle scholarship, the clarity and precision of compositional style—all hallmarks of Halper’s earlier work—are here in abundance as he works through his singularly sweeping vision of the unity of Aristotle’s book.

Click here to continue

—Anthony K. Jensen
CUNY / Lehman Colledge
Journal of the History of Philosophy
April 2010

“Halper argues brilliantly for the unity of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Having already established this in the central books, he now turns to the earlier books. Any metaphysics must solve the problem of the one and the many. Halper shows how Aristotle solves it. Luminous and insightful!”

—May Sim
College of the Holy Cross

“This comprehensive book argues convincingly that the Presocratic problem about the one and the many is at the root of Aristotle’s problematic in his metaphysical inquiries. Ed Halper is one of the few scholars who take very seriously the aporetic structure of the dialectical mode of inquiry to be found in Aristotle’s Metaphysics. In an intelligent and systematic way, he shows how Aristotle’s characteristic metaphysical views emerge as solutions to aporiai that are developed through critical conversations with his predecessors. For instance, the question about the very possibility of a single science of metaphysics is addressed through a set of puzzles that are generated from reviewing the opinions of the Eleatics and of Plato about the unity of being. In general, Halper’s book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how Aristotle provides proofs through dialectical argumentation.”

—John Cleary
Boston College

"This is an extremely close and careful reading of Metaphysics Alpha through Delta.  Where some contemporary interpreters read the books of the Metaphysics as relatively freestanding essays in metaphysics, expressing different viewpoints and perhaps even composed at different points in Aristotle’s career, Halper reads the Metaphysics as a carefully articulated whole. At the same time, his Metaphysics is by no means the Metaphysics of scholastic and neo-scholastic interpretation. Its central question and unifying concern is the problem of the one and the many: are all things one or many? The present volume traces the problem of the one and the many through the first five books of the Metaphysics, focusing on how all things can have enough unity to be treated by one science while also being so irreducibly many that they are treated by multiple sciences. (An earlier volume has dealt with the central books. A forthcoming volume will deal with the concluding books.) Halper’s thorough treatment of the aporiai in Metaphysics Beta, which he sees as articulating the problem of the one and the many and laying down the program for subsequent books of the Metaphysics, is particularly notable. So is his reading of the science of being qua being in Metaphysics Gamma. As Halper sees it, the science of being qua being is distinct from, but by no means opposed to, the science of substance in the central books and the science of divinity in Lambda; on the contrary, it is the study of being qua being, i.e., of the most basic features that belong to every being, that discloses the necessity of a metaphysics of substance in general and of the highest substance in particular. This demanding and rewarding study deserves the attention of all who are trying to understand Aristotle’s Metaphysics."

—Arthur Madigan, S.J.
Boston College

“The appearance in 1989 of Edward Halper's study of the central books of Aristotle's Metaphysics was a major event in Aristotle scholarship. The completion of this second volume of his projected three-part study of the whole work is another. Halper's overall title, One and Many in Aristotle's 'Metaphysics,' takes a formulation already ancient in Aristotle's time as the guiding thread of Aristotle's work and of his own. The unity of each thing that is, and of all that is, is what Aristotle was seeking to know; the unity of that knowing is what secures the possibility of metaphysics; and the unity of Aristotle's inquiry is what establishes the Metaphysics as an intelligible whole. Since the unity of Aristotle's text is rarely recognized or understood, the science he was seeking is rarely grasped, and in most of the secondary literature his conclusions cannot be fully appreciated or accurately assessed. The single central argument of the Metaphysics was expounded with unmatched fidelity in Halper's earlier volume. The argument of Books Alpha through Delta, which provides the foundation for the central argument, is even more complex and challenging, and that is what Halper lays out for us in this volume. I know of no commentary that gives the reader a better feel for Aristotle's thinking, in both its main lines and all its intricate detail. The book is an admirable achievement.”

—Joe Sachs
St. John’s College
Annapolis, Maryland