Aristotle's Metaphysics Book K in Paul Natorp's Neokantian Perspective

Lisa Bressan


In the modern age, the particular fact that qualifies book K of Aristotle’s Metaphysics as the only text in which the object of the science of being qua being is identified with the object of theology made the scholars to doubt its authenticity. The most important stance in this regard is that of P. Natorp, who, in the famous essay of 1888 Über Aristoteles’ Metaphysics 1-8 K, 1065 a 26, recovering and studying in the light of the Neokantian philosophical perspective some observations of the leading scholars of Aristotle, such as V. Rose, L. Spengel, F. Überweg and W. Christ, tried to demonstrate its inauthenticity. For Natorp, since the ὂν ἁνλῶς or ᾗ ὄν and the ὄν τι καὶ γένος τι are opposite entities, and since the one excludes the other, a science dealing with being in general is superior to all those sciences treating a particular field of being and cannot be identified with any of them, not even with the most important one. As a matter of fact, Aristotle genuine conception about the structure and meaning of metaphysics is that the πρώτη φιλοσοφία must also deal with the unmovable and immaterial being, but not only with it. On the contrary, this reading should be considered as the result of the interpolations made in the text by one of the compilers of the Metaphysics. Natorp observes that the most significant among these interpolations concerns the whole book K, which, according to the scholar, should lead to expunge the work of Aristotle (cf. P. Natorp, “Thema und der Disposition aristotelischen Metaphysik”, Philosophical Monatshefte, 24, 1888, pp. 37-65, 540-574).

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