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Each month, we ask a different member of our department to select a book on philosophy that has had a lasting impact on them, and to share their thoughts and reflections on why it's such an important read.

Whether you're an expert in philosophy or just starting to explore the subject, we hope that this feature will provide a new avenue for learning and growth.


June Pick | Selected by Dr. Jonas Raab

Aristotle | Metaphysics

Aristotle’s Metaphysics is one of the most important texts in Western philosophy. It is also one of the most difficult texts ever written.

My first meaningful engagement with it was during my first years as a philosophy student—leading to profound puzzlement. This puzzlement seems to increase every time I engage with the text. The Metaphysics itself presents several challenges in content and composition.

Regarding its composition, it remains unclear whether the books comprising the Metaphysics were ever meant to comprise a single treatise. The name ‘metaphysics’ is not one Aristotle uses, but it was provided by some later editor.

Regarding its content, the question of whether or not we are considering one treatise has implications for the interpretation of the work itself; it is unclear how its different parts relate to one another and whether they form a coherent whole.

The Metaphysics in its current edition comprises 14 books, discussing, among others, what metaphysics is, what substance is, whether there is a god and what are god’s properties, and what numbers are.

Despite—or maybe because—of its difficulty, I keep revisiting the Metaphysics. It is one of the few philosophical works even trying to attempt to specify the subject matter of metaphysics, it connects the inquiry to other scientific inquiries and suggests an epistemology. There is just so much to be learned from Aristotle, even if we don’t manage to find an appropriate interpretation for all he’s discussing.


Jonas Raab

IRC Research Fellow in the Dept. of Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin.

Before coming to Trinity, Jonas finished a PhD in philosophy at the University of Manchester (2017-2021). He works on several topics within mainly theoretical philosophy including philosophy of science, philosophy of logic, and the history of analytic philosophy.

Past Favourite Reads