Explaining an Eclipse

Aristotle's Posterior Analytics 2.1-10
Owen Goldin
An excellent analysis of Aristotle's philosophy of science, logic, and metaphysics


The Posterior Analytics is Aristotle's main account of the nature and structure of scientific explanation. Much of its second book is concerned with scientific explanations of the essences of things. In Explaining an Eclipse, Owen Goldin presents a close analysis and commentary that form the first book-length study devoted to this text in recent times. He shows how Posterior Analytics 2.1-10 sheds light on Aristotle's philosophy of science, logic, and metaphysics.

In the standard interpretation of these chapters, Aristotle is chiefly concerned with showing how scientific research moves from a partial understanding of some natural kind to a scientifically adequate understanding of that kind. Goldin argues against this, showing instead that Aristotle's main project is the deepening and elaboration of the theory of scientific explanation that is presented in the first book of the Posterior Analytics.

Goldin shows how Aristotle indicates that, among the kinds that are the concern of a given science, there are going to be certain kinds that this science will not consider inherent in any other subject. The sciences consider these kinds to be ultimate subjects: for such kinds there are first principles by which existence and essence are assumed. Goldin argues that those predicates studied by the sciences that are not among these kinds are the "per se incidentals."

Explaining an Eclipse will be of interest to scholars and students of ancient philosophy and classical studies, and philosophers and historians of science.

Owen Goldin is Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Marquette University.

Praise / Awards

  • ""For those . . . who have experienced the frustration of trying to work through these chapters of the Posterior Analytics, Goldin's analysis is rewarding. . . . For those who persevere . . . Goldin offers a way of unifying these unusually obscure chapters into Aristotle's larger project in the Posterior Analytics."
    --Ancient Philosophy
  • ". . . this will be a useful book for anyone attempting to come to terms with one of Aristotle's most difficult works."
    --Philosophy in Review
  • ". . . Goldin makes a strong case for an interpretation that perhaps deserves best to be called 'traditional.' He argues convincingly for the extension of Aristotle's framework for scientific demonstration to objects other than substances where essence is demonstrable. He makes some reasonable and incisive criticisms of alternative interpretations proposed in recent years. This book does not break new ground, but it is a useful restatement of an important interpretation. It testifies to the continued validity of Aristotle's technical writings."
    --Philosophy in Review/Comptes rendus philosophiques

Look Inside



1. A Problem in Aristotle's Theory of Scientific Demonstration-1
2. Aristotle on the Objects of Explanation-15
3. Epistemic Substances and Assumptions of Existence-41
4. The Aporiai-79
5. Inquiry and Exploitation: Posterior Analytics 2.8-101
6. On Demonstrating  καθ' αντα ονμβεβηκοτα Propositions-137
Works Cited-157
Index of Names-163
Index Locorum-165

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 184pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1996
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10596-0

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  • $84.95 U.S.