Parmenides Publishing

Titles By Patricia Curd

One and Many
in Aristotle’s

The Central Books

356 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).

       The problem of the one and the many is central to ancient Greek philosophy, but surprisingly little attention has been paid to Aristotle’s treatment of it in the Metaphysics. This omission is all the more surprising because the Metaphysics is one of our principal sources for thinking that the problem is central and for the views of other ancient philosophers on it.

       The Central Books of the Metaphysics are widely recognized as the most difficult portion of a most difficult work. Halper uses the problem of the one and the many as a lens through which to examine the Central Books. What he sees is an extraordinary degree of doctrinal cogency and argumentative coherence in a work that almost everyone else supposes to be some sort of patchwork. Rather than trying to elucidate Aristotle’s doctrines—most of which have little explicitly to do with the problem, Halper holds that the problem of the one and the many, in various formulations, is the key problematic from which Aristotle begins and with which he constructs his arguments.

       Thus, exploring the problem of the one and the many turns out to be a way to reconstruct Aristotle’s arguments in the Metaphysics. Armed with the arguments, Halper is able to see Aristotle’s characteristic doctrines as conclusions. These latter are, for the most part, supported by showing that they resolve otherwise insoluble problems. Moreover, having Aristotle’s arguments enables Halper to delimit those doctrines and to resolve the apparent contradiction in Aristotle’s account of primary ousia, the classic problem of the Central Books. Although there is no way to make the Metaphysics easy, this very thorough treatment of the text succeeds in making it surprisingly intelligible.

Halper's One and Many in Aristotle's Metaphysics: The Central Books was originally published in 1989 by Ohio State University Press. The reprint of this work includes a new Introduction by the author.

The Central Books is part of a Trilogy whose two other as of yet unpublished works Alpha—Delta and Iota—Nu will be released by Parmenides Publishing in 2008 and in 2014 respectively.

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"Parmenides Publishing has reprinted Halper’s 1989 work with a new introduction by the author. As the body of the text consists in a close textual reading of books 6–9 of the Metaphysics, not every reader was able to persevere to the end, and the new introduction greatly facilitates an understanding of the author’s claims and an appreciation of his method. . . No student of these texts should miss this commentary."
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—Patrick Madigan
The Heythrop Journal

"This is the second volume (though the first to appear) of a three-volume study of one and many in Aristotle's Metaphysics. It covers Metaphysics 6, 7, 8, and 9. Chapter 4 summarizes the results of the textual analysis. Halper argues against three interpretations of form. (1) Against the view that form is individual, he presents texts showing the universality and knowability of form. Form is universal because it is one in formula. (2) Against the view that form is a kind of universal (a species-form or lowest-level universal), he presents texts which insist on the numerical unity of form. Form is individual because it is numerically one. (3) The view that form is neither universal nor individual does not square with the requirement that form be the cause of unity in a thing."
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—Arthur Madigan
Boston College

“Halper is an authority I respect. He manages to combine originality of thinking and accuracy of interpretation. His One and the Many in Aristotle’s 'Metaphysics' is a must read for any serious student of Aristotle.” 
—May Sim
College of the Holy Cross

"This brilliant book should be welcomed as a major contribution to Aristotle scholarship. Halper offers a lucid interpretation of Books VI-IX of the Metaphysics. His interpretive key is the thesis that for Aristotle the measure of being is unity; hence the search for being in the primary sense is an inquiry into what is itself most one and, in turn, the cause of unity in other things. Halper brings this thesis to bear on every chapter of the central books, and the results are deep and exciting."
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—Mitchell Miller
Vassar College

“Ed Halper’s book on Aristotle’s Metaphysics is beyond question the outstanding major study of that work that has appeared in the last fifty years. Halper understands that the Metaphysics is a one and not a many, not a didactic exposition but a single sustained inquiry into the deepest questions about things. Aristotle challenges his readers to reopen all the piecemeal assumptions on which our ordinary thinking and questioning rests; Halper accepts that radical demand as few scholars do, and he guides us along an intricate and exhilarating journey.”
—Joe Sachs
St. John’s College,
Annapolis, Maryland