Comparative Textbook Review
Book Details: J. L. Ackrill, A New Aristotle Reader (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), xiv + 580 pp.
Book Details: T. Irwin & G. Fine, Aristotle: Introductory Readings (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1996), xviii + 359 pp.
Ackrill's collection offers a substantial range of texts from all parts of the Aristotelian corpus. The only works under-represented are the biological ones, as one would expect in this sort of collection. Texts well-represented include the first half of the Physics, On the Soul, the Metaphysics, and the Nicomachean Ethics. Editorial material is slim, comprising of a brief introduction and glossary. There is a reasonable bibliography, arranged topically.
Irwin & Fine offer a very similar set of texts. However their selections are generally shorter and they tend not to draw upon more minor works (such as On the Heavens, Generation of Animals, or the Eudemian Ethics, all of which appear in Ackrill). It should be noted, however, that this volume is based upon a larger selection by the same editors entitled Aristotle: Selections (Hackett, 1995), although even this has slightly less than Ackrill. The introduction and bibliography are both brief, but helpful, while the glossary is more substantial.
With fairly limited editorial material in both of these volumes, the principal issue to consider is the range of excerpted texts. If one's choice is made according to this criterion alone then Ackrill is the winner.
It might also be worth bearing in mind that Cohen, Curd, & Reeve's general anthology contains a reasonable selection of Aristotelian texts; less than either of the two collections discussed here but nevertheless plently for a student meeting Aristotle for the first time. Their collection also has a range of Presocratic and Platonic texts, including the complete text of the Republic. Thus this might be an appropriate choice if it includes texts that students can use in other ancient philosophy courses as well.
This site was created by Dr John Sellars for the PRS-LTSN, 2002.