Being, Essence and Substance in Plato and Aristotle
Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005) was one of the outstanding French philosophers of the 20th century and his work is widely read in the English-speaking world. This unique volume comprises the lectures that Ricoeur gave on Plato and Aristotle at the University of Strasbourg in 1953-54.
The aim of these lectures is to analyse the metaphysics of Plato and Aristotle and to discern in their work the ontological foundations of Western philosophy. The relation between Plato and Aristotle is commonly portrayed as a contrast between a philosophy of essence and a philosophy of substance, but Ricoeur shows that this opposition is too simple. Aristotelian ontology is not a simple antithesis to Platonism: the radical ontology of Aristotle stands in a far more subtle relation of continuity and opposition to that of Plato and it is this relation we have to reconstruct and understand.
Ricoeur’s lectures offer a brilliant analysis of the great works of Plato and Aristotle which has withstood the test of time. They also provide a unique insight into the development of Ricoeur’s thinking in the early 1950s, revealing that, even at this early stage of his work, Ricoeur was focused sharply on issues of language and the text.