The Longest Now

The Desire to Understand
Wednesday July 09th 2003, 10:59 am
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320  pages of froth reduced to paragraphs for you.

Review:  Jonathan Lear has spent his life reading Aristotle [A], as professor at Cambridge and now at Yale.  I imagine he is a clever man and a fine teacher.  This is a book of excerpts from A (few and far between) with discussion and occasional synthesis by Lear.  I love A, even though he is often confidently wrong, because there are many universal truths woven into his writing and his perception of the world.  This book dwells on each thing Aristotle wrote (about understanding human nature and understanding) as if all were equally valid and worth repeating, and connects his many writings with logical narrative as if all were perfectly consistent. 
      This makes for dull and fruitless reading, but Lear has certainly read his full of A, and provides a good mesh of A’s writings on his chosen topic.  I picked up this book imagining the proportion of direct A quotes would be a magnitude greater, and below reduce the text to what of Lear’s analysis and extensive narrative I found worth saving.

A:  “All men by nature desire to know” – men have capacity to know and learn, [childlike] curiosity, a propensity for explanations[myths], and this leads to metaphysics and theology.

… we prefer sight to almost everything else”

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