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Book description

Traditionally, Aristotle is held to believe that philosophical contemplation is valuable for its own sake, but ultimately useless. In this volume, Matthew D. Walker offers a fresh, systematic account of Aristotle's views on contemplation's place in the human good. The book situates Aristotle's views against the background of his wider philosophy, and examines the complete range of available textual evidence (including neglected passages from Aristotle's Protrepticus). On this basis, Walker argues that contemplation also benefits humans as perishable living organisms by actively guiding human life activity, including human self-maintenance. Aristotle's views on contemplation's place in the human good thus cohere with his broader thinking about how living organisms live well. A novel exploration of Aristotle's views on theory and practice, this volume will interest scholars and students of both ancient Greek ethics and natural philosophy. It will also appeal to those working in other disciplines including classics, ethics, and political theory.


'This is an important book. It represents a key challenge to the view that Aristotle's ethics can adequately be understood apart from its biological and wider metaphysical background. In particular, it challenges the widespread view - widespread at least in the Anglophone world - that Aristotle is not a theist, or (more modestly) that his theism does not significantly inform his ethical theory … In this rigorous, highly detailed and elegantly written monograph, Matthew Walker demonstrates the untenability of this myth, while simultaneously demonstrating how Aristotle's theism is deeply implicated in his metaphysical biology.'

Tom Angier Source: Notre Dame Philosophical Review

'[Walker's] discussion of contemplation differs substantially from most approaches to the subject and thus represents a noteworthy contribution to the literature … [T]hroughout the monograph he shows himself to be a careful reader of Aristotle and a philosophically nuanced writer. Most importantly, he has offered a novel way of considering the value and the role of contemplation in Aristotle, which will surely spur a new and productive discussion on the subject.'

R. Kathleen Harbin Source: The Classical Review

'Walker illuminates tricky and neglected texts such as the Protrepticus, and draws surprising parallels to various Platonic dialogs. These parts of the book are intrinsically interesting, yet as they forward the book’s main argument, they are also useful. This book is clear and straightforward enough to be painlessly perusable, yet deep enough to repay long study. It is both a quick read (as scholarly commentaries go), and a must-read'

Howard J. Curzer Source: Polis, The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought

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