In This Article Aristotle's Categories

  • Introduction

Classics Aristotle's Categories
by
Laura M. Castelli
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0347

Introduction

If there are one text and one doctrine which have been integral to Western philosophy almost without interruption, be it in the form of endorsement and defense or in the form of criticism, those are a short treatise, ascribed to Aristotle and usually known under the title Categories, and the doctrine of a primitive division of being into highest genera: the categories. Since the “rediscovery” of Aristotle’s writings and their organization in a corpus in the wave of enthusiasm for classical Greek philosophy in the 1st BCE, all aspects of this work have been the object of debate. Controversies concern the very authenticity of the work, its title, its general philosophical scope, and all sorts of more specific issues emerging from the single chapters. It is difficult to tell what factors exactly determined the extraordinary historical and philosophical relevance of this short text over the centuries. One feature of it which certainly played some role is that the Categories looks like an introduction to philosophy, to the inquiry into what there is and to the reflection about the way in which we think and speak about reality—or, at least, this is the impression it gave to many generations of philosophers. In fact, the Categories came to occupy a particular place in the curriculum of philosophical studies not only for those interested in Aristotelian or Peripatetic philosophy, but, more generally, for all those interested in philosophy. This place within the history of philosophy explains the enormous amount of literature devoted to this work in the last two thousand years. This bibliography is meant to provide initial orientation with respect to the main issues raised by this relatively well known and at the same time puzzling and fascinating little text. The bibliography is divided into two main parts: the first part includes the references to general works (critical editions, translations, bibliographies, commentaries, and collections of essays), whereas the second part provides references to the literature on more specific topics (authenticity, title, early reception, and specific issues concerning the single chapters or groups of chapters). In compiling select bibliographies one must, by definition, make some choices. This bibliography aims at some balance between classic studies and more recent contributions, which also include bibliographical references to the earlier literature.

General

This part of the bibliography includes the references to critical editions of the Greek text, standard translations in modern languages, bibliographies, commentaries (ancient and modern), and collections of essays.

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