Outline of Aristotle’s Metaphysics

Outline of Aristotle’s Metaphysics

Aristotle’s Metaphysics consists of fourteen (14) books of various lengths, often without any obvious order or relation to prior books. The books are referred to by either Arabic numerals or Greek letters–something rather confusing to new students of the Metaphysics. The confusion is made worse by the fact that Book One is “Big Alpha” and Book Two is “Little Alpha” so that the numbers don’t correspond directly to what one might assume to be the Greek letters. Here is a brief outline:

1, “Big” Alpha – “first philosophy” as the science of the first principles or causes of things

2, “Little” Alpha – method and rejection of infinite regresses

3, Beta – list of metaphysical “aporiai” or puzzles

4, Gamma – logical assumption of the Principle of Non-Contradiction and the Principle of the Excluded Middle

5, Delta – Aristotle’s Dictionary of Terms (just remember “delta” does with “dictionary”)

6, Epsilon – Metaphysics is the study of being as being and thus it is Theology (study of God/gods), because the highest substance (God) is the Principle of all Being.

7, Zeta – Aristotle lists four candidates for being/ousia/substance as 1) subject, 2) universal, 3) genus, and 4) essence.

8, Eta

9, Theta

10, Iota – One and many, sameness and difference.

11, Kappa – Review of things said already and of things stated in Aristotle’s Physics.

12, Lambda – The “Theology” Book. Aristotle examines the first principles or “gods”. Aristotle discusses the unmoved mover(s).

13, Mu – Mathematics and numbers

14, Nu – Mathematics and numbers continued

About the Author

Taylor Marshall is the Adjunct Instructor in Philosophy at the University of Dallas.