Monday, September 25, 2017
Review of Leroi’s The Lagoon
My review of Armand Marie Leroi’s excellent book The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science appears in the September issue of Isis: Journal of the History of Science Society.
The link takes you to just the first page of the review, but as it happens there are only a few further sentences on the page that follow it. So when you’re done reading what you see at the link, come back here for the rest of the review. Here it is:
Commenting on Aristotle’s view that function is so central to a thing’s nature that a corpse is not strictly speaking a man at all, Leroi writes, “From this point of view, a male cuttlefish who copulates with a dead female is not only wasting his time but making a serious philosophical mistake” (p. 159).
The book’s chief deficiency is that Leroi does not afford certain other thinkers the charitable reading he insists that Aristotle get. In particular, he is too hard on Aristotle’s predecessor, Plato, and on his successors, the Scholastics. While demolishing the clichés that surround Aristotle, he perpetuates those obscuring our view of these other writers. It is as if Leroi thinks he cannot defend his hero without finding someone else to beat up on.
But this is a book about Aristotle and not about them, so this weakness does little harm. Perhaps correcting it could give Leroi material for a sequel.