Drew at Paradoxicon has a very interesting review of David Bradshaw’s Aristotle East and West. I’d like to complement Drew’s thoughtful review with some excerpts from a review of Bradshaw by Augustine Casiday, an Orthodox professor at the University of Wales (Lampeter) and a student of Fr Andrew Louth.
… I often find his claims unpersuasive. Without intending to evaluate Dr Bradshaw’s claims about the reception of Aristotelian philosophy as such, I can say in fairness that argument is cogent, but even so I have reservations about his analysis, which in many ways lacks nuance and, in a few important cases, substance. To put it bluntly, the accounts of particular figures and their beliefs are often crudely executed. I will come to specific examples in due course, but it is striking that, in general, the East is good and the West is bad. That is to say, Eastern thinkers are treated sympathetically and interpreted generously; these passages are richer and fuller than the comparable accounts of Western thinkers … For all the clarity of its evaluation and the discipline with which the analysis is arranged, the basic presuppositions of the book (the unargued beliefs, that is, which support the generalities to which I have been objecting) are by no means self-evidently justified.
The review appeared in a recent issue of Sobornost (28:2). It’s not an entirely negative review, but Dr Casiday does confirm some impressions I’ve had of the book, without being able to put my finger on exactly what bothered me about it. (Of course, Dr Casiday’s judgment must always be suspect because of his first name … just kidding, folks!).
Personally, I wouldn’t dream of attacking Bradshaw from this blog, because (though I’ve studied philosophy) I am not a very good philosopher, and I am scared of his very clever online defenders. The most I can say is that I found his philosophical arguments to be fascinating, but, like Dr Casiday, I am far less impressed with some of his historical judgments.