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St. John’s prof charts history of Aristotle

A professor of philosophy at St. John's University recently launched the first phase of a comprehensive Web-based database on Aristotelian scholarship that includes 43,000 articles, book reviews, books and Ph.D. dissertations.

"This intellectual bibliography is the most complete database on Aristotelian scholarship in the world," said Dr. Richard Ingardia, who teaches philosophy at SJU's Staten Island campus. "It has more listings than anything in print, hardbound or electronically. The Philosopher's Index, the standard index used by philosophers, has about 10,000 listings (on Aristotle) total. This has about four times that."

Ingardia said he had chosen to build a database on Aristotle because he was "the most influential philosopher in the world."

"He influenced every area of academic, social, ethics and metaphysics (fields)," said Ingardia. "All of Western civilization is built on Aristotle's thoughts... He is Western civilization."

The database, which is accessible only by subscription, includes 33,000 articles and book reviews, 5,500 books and 1,500 Ph.D. dissertations.

A subscription to the database costs $300 a year for university libraries, $100 a year for individuals, and $200 a year for departments. Libraries can sign up for a free one month trial subscription to evaluate the database.

"We just started in January and we have about 20 inquiries about it already," said Ingardia. "We're expecting the major universities throughout the country and Europe to subscribe to it."

At this point the database does not include immediate access to abstracts of articles or full articles. Ingardia plans on adding annotations and abstracts in phase two of the project, which should be completed in one or two years. In the third phase of the project, he plans on adding full articles.

The database, which was designed primarily by Ingardia in collaboration with a technology company in Atlanta, Ga., costs a few thousand dollars a year to keep up. It is updated every three months.

Ingardia personally invested about $95,000 to create the database, which runs on a "silver platter" electronic vehicle.

So far, Ingardia has not publicized his database, except at the annual convention of the American Philosophical Association, which was held in Philadelphia in December.

"It's specifically intended for university libraries," said Ingardia. "It's a research tool for use by scholars, teachers and students."

Ingardia suggested that anyone interested in studying Aristotle should start by reading two of his primary works, "Metaphysics" and "Nicomachean Ethics."

Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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