BOOKS IN BRIEF
The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, 2 vols.
Edited by Jonathan Barnes
Princeton: Princeton University Press/Bollingen Series LXXI-2, 1984
2,487 pp., $75.00
Any translation of Aristotle’s work will prove inadequate if the reader does not approach his subject matter with an Aristotelian spirit. One cannot regard Aristotle as though he were simply an ancient Greek; one must consider that his reflections on nature, human conduct, and politics are every bit as true today as they were when he originally made them. To read him thus is to deny he is the dogmatist most Aristotle scholars make him. And to make this discovery is to become conscious of the wonderful nature of philosophy.
Barnes’s collection contains revisions of such standard translations as Ross’s of the Metaphysics and Nicomachean Ethics,and Jowett’s of the Politics. As Barnes says in the Preface, “The revisions have been slight, more abundant in some treatises than in others but amounting, on the average, to some fifty alterations for each Bekker page of Greek.” He has not attempted to revise the “usually literary” language of the translations to reflect what he aptly terms Aristotle’s “sinewy Greek.”
For example, this Ethics translation replaces Ross’s misleading “political science” for politike with the less-academic “politics” in some places but not throughout. Polis is still improperly translated as “state,” and politeia by “constitution.”Kalon and its variants are usually better translated by “splendid” (or “fine”), and “splendor” rather than “noble” and “nobility.”
The lack of a glossary or substantive notes will limit the translation’s use for scholars and many students. But this is certainly a serviceable volume for most purposes, although one can come up with superior translations of individual texts (e.g., Rackham’s of the Ethics, Apostle’s of the Metaphysics, and Lord’s of the Politics).
Power, Principles and Interests
Edited by Jeffrey Salmon, James P. O’Leary, and
Lexington, Mass.: Ginn Press, 1985
447 pp., $15.95 (paper)
A welcome addition to the otherwise paltry selection of readers for the study of international relations, this exceptional collection of contemporary original and reprinted essays draws the undergraduate into a series of debates over a broad set of enduring international problems by introducing him to the arguments of thoughtful and eminent scholars. It explores in some detail the nature of force in the modern world and the problem of contemporary international politics and treats the student to a lively discussion of the challenges posed to American foreign policy and an intriguing review of the classical understanding of international politics.
While “debate” is an inapt characterization of some of the chapters, the design of the reader, which provides useful pedagogical tools, successfully entreats the student to grapple with fundamental political ideas and several contentious issues. The reader’s value would be immensely enriched with the addition of a comprehensive and integrated section on the nature of Soviet foreign policy, as most students shall look in vain to other texts for a morally penetrating and candid account of Soviet politics. The book’s shining attribute is its immodest attempt to teach students international relations without demanding that they blindly accept the “value-free” assumptions that normally dominate the classroom. Few readers prevail upon students to familiarize themselves with statesmanship and the war of ideas and encourage a prudential understanding of world politics.
U.S.-Soviet Military Balance 1980-1985
John M. Collins
McLean, Virginia: Pergamon-Brassey’s International Defense Publishers, 1985
xxiv + 360 pp., $50.00 (cloth), $29.95 (paper)
Eight Democratic and Republican members of Senate and House armed services committees commissioned this book as a “report” to inform congressional debate on U.S. defense policy and spending. The result is a useful reference work that updates the author’s previous books on the subject (in particular, U.S.-Soviet Military Balance:
Concepts and Capabilities, 1960-1980, which was itself commissioned by Congressmen Bill Chappell and Jack Kemp and published in 1980). More than half the book consists in tables describing and comparing the forces and weapons of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. The remainder is intelligent analysis that strives for impartiality. Apparently with some success:Newsweek reads the book as a brief for the military reformers; Weinberger
retorts that it vindicates the Reagan administration. The analysis and the statistics are well
regimented, and detailed tables of contents provide the reader with ready access to specific areas of interest. If these interests extend to such areas as the unrefueled combat radius of the forth coming Blackjack bomber; the characteristics of Soviet versus American land attack, antiship and ASW missiles; or (Soviet) preparedness for and (American) vulnerability to chemical and biological warfare-then this is a good book to put on the coffee table.