The edition of the Complete Works of Aristotle rose from the following realization: the existence of an extremely insufficient number of Portuguese translations of Aristotelian writings (only five were published when the project was launched: Categories, On the Soul, Politics, Rhetoric and Poetics) and, as a consequence, the low level of interest on the part of the Portuguese philosophical community as well as the significant lack of knowledge on the part of the public in general in relation to the work and the thought of this great philosopher.
Accordingly, this edition’s main objective was to ensure that the whole Aristotelian collection would become accessible to Portuguese readers. For this reason, it was designed to include not only the nearly fifty complete treatises that have survived to this day, but also all other texts which, in a more or less fragmentary and/or reliable way, have been traditionally passed on under the name of Aristotle.
In addition to the writings compiled in 1831 by Imanuel Bekker, in the first modern edition of Aristotelian works (which includes both authentic as well as spurious and doubtful treatises), and the later discovered text of the Athenian Constitution, the present edition encompasses therefore the entire fragments attributed to Aristotle’s lost works (once again, authentic, suspicious and pseudepigraphic), as well as the set of apocryphal works that circulated in medieval times under the name of Aristotle, such as the Book of Causes, the Secret of Secrets, or the so-called Aristotle’s Theology.
In proposing to carry out the translation of this complete set of works, the present edition of the Complete Works of Aristotle will thus be the first and, to date, the only one world-wide to encompass the integrality of the Aristotelian legacy, since no other collection includes the latter.
All texts published are translated directly from the original language or languages.
Since this project is aimed at allowing the Portuguese reader to have direct access to Aristotle’s work and thought, thus contributing to increasing the knowledge of both in Portugal and other Portuguese-speaking countries, it has understandingly been decided that all technical demands be minimised, thereby restricting the apparatus to that which simply allows that objective to be achieved in a manner compatible with the quality and accuracy of the translations.
As a consequence, the publications included in the Complete Works of Aristotle comply with a simple and standardised format: an introduction with the historical and philosophical framework of the translated text; the translation of the work; and explanatory notes that allow the reader to follow Aristotle’s thought where it becomes more difficult to grasp, or which the translator needs to include in order to justify his/her options or to alert the reader to the existence of alternative readings which, for whatever reason, were ignored in favour of the one selected in the translation offered.
Hence, the present project does not claim to exhaust once and for all the research on the translated works presented, nor to have the last word on the complicated decisions of interpretation which such works arouse, be they linguistic or philosophical. On the contrary, the intention is that, by making available accurate and trustworthy translations of Aristotle’s integral work, carried out by researchers of indisputable scientific authority in this area, this will promote interest in Aristotle so that soon many others will flourish, desirably better than the ones that will be offered here.
The initiative for this edition was brought about by the Centre of Philosophy of the University of Lisbon, which also ensures its direction and management. However, institutional collaboration of other national scientific institutes soon followed, namely, at the earliest stage, of the Centre for Classical Studies and the Centre of History of the University of Lisbon, the David Lopes Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies, and the Centres of Language, Interpretation and Philosophy and of Classical and Humanistic Studies of the University of Coimbra. It is fair to say that it now mobilizes practically all national researchers in the fields of Ancient Philosophy, Classical Studies and Arab and Islamic Studies, in addition to a growing number of foreign researchers.
This publication would not have been possible also without the high level of understanding that the project undertakers have received from the Imprensa Nacional – Casa da Moeda, which immediately understood its cultural importance, thus assuring from the beginning and until the present moment the publication of the translated volumes.