Aristotle’s Way by Edith Hall review – ancient wisdom as self-help

The philosopher was preoccupied with the question of how we live in relation to others, and sensibly resistant to imposing grand or rigid schemes on the world

It’s hard to imagine, at this distance, how it must have been to be Aristotle in his own time: cutting-edge rather than foundational. We see him standing at the beginning of western philosophy and surveying something like virgin territory. Did it feel like that at the time? He didn’t know, obviously, that he was an Ancient – at the start of things, as we now see it, rather than, say, at their end. He was interdisciplinary before there were really disciplines to worry about. Look at him, romping across the territory of possible human knowledge like a big dog snapping at butterflies, or Theresa May running through a field of wheat. One moment he invents literary theory. At another he formulates the rules ...