Arthur Madigan presents a clear, accurate new translation of the third book (Beta) of Aristotle's Metaphysics, together with two related chapters from the eleventh book (Kappa). Madigan's accompanying commentary gives detailed guidance to these texts, in which Aristotle sets out what he takesto be the main problems of metaphysics or 'first philosophy' and assesses possible solutions to them.
The term "metaphysics" should not mislead the twenty-first-century reader. Unlike Plato, Aristotle exhibited no trace of mysticism in his surviving works, including this one. In this treatise Aristotle explored the fundamentals of being and of the logic of being. He approached these questions from a philosophical rather than from what we would now call a scientific perspective. Aristotle addressed scientific matters in many other treatises, including his Physics (which is properly translated as "physical nature" rather than that branch of science that is now called "physics"). Metaphysics, for Aristotle, was the study of first principles, of being qua being. Although modern science makes Aristotle's concepts unfamiliar to us, this work sets forth some of the architectonic principles of scientific thinking, including Aristotle's famous principle of contradiction (or noncontradiction): A thing cannot both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect.