Contemporary Aristotelian Metaphysics cover art
The Contemporary Aristotelian Metaphysics volume, which you’ve no doubt heard about by now, has been available worldwide since mid-January or so. You can now get it from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Barnes & Noble, Play.com, The Book Depository, Powell’s Books, Akateeminen Kirjakauppa (Finland), and dozens of other online book shops. I’m sorry to say that the pricing is pretty steep, especially in the US, but you may be able to find a decent deal if you look around. Try Google’s List of Retailers to find the best deal. Note that the book is also available as a Kindle edition as well as a Mobipocket eBook and Adobe eBook — these are all somewhat cheaper than the hardback. If your institution subscribes to Cambridge Books Online, you can access the book there too.
Here is the Table of Contents:
Introduction — Tuomas E. Tahko
1 What is metaphysics? — Kit Fine
2 In defence of Aristotelian metaphysics — Tuomas E. Tahko
3 Existence and quantification reconsidered — Tim Crane
4 Identity, quantification, and number — Eric T. Olson
5 Ontological categories — Gary Rosenkrantz
6 Are any kinds ontologically fundamental? — Alexander Bird
7 Are four categories two too many? — John Heil
8 Four categories – and more — Peter Simons
9 Neo-Aristotelianism and substance — Joshua Hoffman
10 Developmental potential — Louis M. Guenin
11 The origin of life and the definition of life — Storrs McCall
12 Essence, necessity, and explanation — Kathrin Koslicki
13 No potency without actuality: the case of graph theory — David S. Oderberg
14 A neo-Aristotelian substance ontology: neither relational nor constituent — E. J. Lowe
Note that although the book was already out in 2011, the official publication date is 2012 — use that date when you refer to the book. This is apparently a standard practice for CUP books published in November or December. You can find penultimate versions of individual articles from the book at the various websites of the contributors, including my own chapter, as well as the introduction. See also the Google Preview. Of course, I do encourage you to buy the book! Many libraries already have the book, including The Library of Congress, The Open Library, and a number of university libraries. Ironically, neither my home institution (Helsinki) or my Alma Mater (Durham) have acquired a copy yet.
I received my personal hard copies a while ago (sorry, they’ve all gone to family & friends already!), and I think Cambridge did a pretty good job with the book. I should note that there is a paperback coming out eventually, but you may not want to wait for it, as CUP is planning to release it 18 months after the initial publication — you can expect to see the paperback some time around mid-2013.
Contemporary Aristotelian Metaphysics in the flesh!
Sales for the book have started very well, as the volume is already in Cambridge’s Top Ten Bestsellers in Epistemology and Metaphysics. No reviews have emerged yet, although I expect that some will soon — I’ll be sure to mention them as soon as they do. However, there is some discussion about the book in the blogosphere already, for instance at Ed Feser’s blog. I might take the opportunity to clarify a couple of things that emerged in discussion there.
Firstly, the book’s cover has been interpreted in interestingly varied ways. Thomas Hofweber jokingly suggested to me that the cover must describe the setting sun of Aristotelian Metaphysics out of the way of the Quinean desert landscape, whereas Ed Feser interprets it quite differently: “A new days dawns as the sunlight of sound metaphysics illuminates the barren wasteland of modern philosophy.” Well, I’ll leave it up to each one of you to interpret the symbolism (or lack thereof) of the cover, but I’d certainly be interested in hearing your reactions!
Secondly, an anonymous reader of Ed Feser’s blog comments that his TA’s reaction to the (title of the) book was as follows: “Aristotle is ancient. He is not contemporary and philosophy has long since evolved past him. So the title is an oxymoron.” I was a little bit concerned about people interpreting the title — which was my own idea — too historically, because there is very little actual historical content in the book. But that’s exactly why I included the word ‘contemporary’. It’s not as if the book, or any of the contributors, attempt to re-introduce historical Aristotelian metaphysics into contemporary philosophy. Rather, the methodology and some of the themes are inspired by Aristotle, as I quite clearly describe already in the blurb of the book and also in the introduction and my own chapter. Anyway, the point of the seemingly oxymoronic title is of course to alert the reader to this very thing, and I’m frankly quite puzzled how anyone could miss that!
Thirdly, a couple of comments to Ed’s post raise very relevant questions regarding the views of the different contributors. There’s a question about whether all of the contributors identify themselves as ‘neo-Aristotelians’, and another about whether the contributors are mostly “analytic” philosophers. An obvious follow-up is: are the two mutually exclusive? Regarding ‘neo-Aristotelianism’: not all the contributors would be happy with that label, although some of them certainly use that label themselves. I don’t really want to attribute the label to any of the contributors, or even to myself, because I don’t think that it is a sufficiently well-defined position, but I’d be happy to say that I’m sympathetic to a lot (although certainly not all) of philosophy which is done under this label. As to “analytic”: all of the contributors are, broadly speaking, in the Anglo-American “analytic” tradition, although I’m not particularly happy with the notorious analytic/continental distinction. Anyway, this is not in any tension with ‘neo-Aristotelian’, since the way “analytic” is commonly used now just means rigorous argumentation, often (but not always) from clear premises to a conclusion, and sometimes by using formal methods.
That just about sums it up. If you have any further questions or queries about the volume, the comments field below is where to ask them!