The Basic Works of Aristotle by Richard McKeon


Aristotle focus in “The Basic Works of Aristotle” is that “all men suppose what is called wisdom to deal with the first causes and the principles of things.” These causes and principles are the subject matters referred to as “first philosophy.” Considered to be one of the first true scientists, he created an early version of the scientific method to observe and draw conclusions. The approach begins with reviewing the opinions of others and even the history of thought. 

He drew distinctions between things that are “better known to us” and things that are “better known in themselves,”. He said we start with what is best known to us and then move to things better known in themselves. 

Aristotle’s said “the study of being qua “is frequently and easily misunderstood, because it seems to suggest that there is a single subject matter—being qua being. The subject matter of “being” included within it three things: (1) a study, (2) a subject matter (being), and (3) a way the subject matter is studied (qua being).

Much of Aristotle’s teachings were preserved by Arabic mathematicians and canonized by Christian scholars. His works have shaped Western thought, science, and religion for nearly two thousand years. Richard McKeon’s The Basic Works of Aristotle is the one-volume source for understanding this scholar. 

The books approach is especially useful in comparing him to Plato. Plato's world was one of changeless things assigned for lofty contemplation and for Aristotle, as we are told in the introduction, it was a world for empirical investigation. Aristotle had a fascination with living things.

The contents list a Preface, Introduction, Bibliography, Organon (logical treatises), Physica, DeCaelo, De Generatione, Parva Naturalia, Historia Animalium, De Partibus, De Generatione, Metaphysica, Ethica Nicomachea, Politica, Rhetorica, and De Poetica.

In the preface it tells us that this book is an aid to understanding the man and his thoughts. A study of an ancient writer. The re-discovery and assemblage of useful items of information and knowledge and inquiry into truths whose specifications do not change with time. “The Basic Works of Aristotle by Richard McKeon” is a must-have book to understand and have a useful reference for understanding this important scholar.


“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ” 

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” 

“It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.” 

“The more you know, the more you know you don't know.”