Jacques Maritain Center : A History of Western Philosophy Vol. I / by Ralph McInerny

Part II: The Classical Period

Chapter III


A. The Man and his Work

Aristotle was born in Stagira, an Ionian colony in northern Greece, in 384 B.C. We know very little about his life, but certain bare facts seem beyond dispute. His father, Nicomachus, was a physician who died when Aristotle was still a boy; it is said that Nicomachus was both friend and physician of Amyntas II, king of Macedonia. Since his father belonged to the Asclepiad society, it is conjectured that Aristotle's interest in biology can be traced to a period when he watched his father at work. At the age of eighteen (367-6 B.C.), Aristotle came to the Academy of Plato, although perhaps the master was engaged in Syracusan business when he arrived. Aristotle remained at the Academy until Plato's death in 348, when he left for Assos where, under the patronage of the tyrant Hermeias, some students of the Academy had formed a school; indeed Hermeias himself is thought to have been a former student at the Academy. Aristotle stayed at Assos for a few years, perhaps three, married the niece of Hermeias, Pythias, and had by her a daughter of the same name. After her death, he had a son, Nicomachus, by a common-law wife. When Hermeias was executed by the Persians -- with whose help he had gained power -- because of a correspondence with Philip of Macedon, Aristotle fled to Mitylene on the isle of Lesbos. Some of Aristotle's biological investigation depends on specimens peculiar to Assos and Lesbos. In 343-2, Aristotle was invited by Philip of Macedon to educate his son Alexander, then a boy of thirteen. There has been much conjecture about this incident which is, of course, an extremely provocative one, but there seems to be little evidence that Aristotle exercised much influence on the future conquerer of the world. In fact he seems to have had little more than three years in the post; at the most he could have had six: Alexander became king at the age of nineteen. His friendship with Antipater, an extremely valuable one for Aristotle, must be traced from this period. In 335-4, Aristotle returned to Athens and began his own school, the Lyceum or Peripatos (named after a covered loggia where Aristotle lectured) under the patronage of Antipater. We are told that he lectured on difficult matters in the morning (logic and first philosophy) and gave public lectures in the afternoon on ethical and political subjects. When Alexander died in 323, Aristotle fled Athens; feeling against the Macedonian empire was high and Aristotle is said to have feared lest the Athenians should sin twice against philosophy. He went to Chalcis where in 323 he died at the age of sixty-three.

These few facts and connected conjectures are all we know of Aristotle's life. The dearth of information does not matter. The only Aristotle who can be truly meaningful for us is to be found in the writings that have come down to us; in them we find Plato's greatest pupil, the culmination of all the philosophy that had gone before him. The fact that he himself is inclined to point this out should not dissuade us from seeing that it is the case. Above all we must guard against thinking in terms of two autonomous abstractions, Platonism and Aristotelianism; to do so is to leave oneself open to "discoveries" of many points of contact between the two which in turn leads to the most breathtaking discovery of all, namely that the man who spent nearly twenty years in the Academy had a Platonist period! Aristotle himself has dwelt on his differences with Platonism, but so too, in a sense, did Plato himself. It is difficult to think of arguments more devastating to the doctrine of Forms than those set forth in the Parmenides; where Aristotle differs from Plato is in taking them to be conclusive enough to indicate that another direction is desirable.

Without minimizing this difference it must be said that there are countless instances where Aristotle simply takes over Platonic doctrine and builds from it, that, generally speaking, without Plato there could have been no Aristotle. It is a fact of no small importance that Aristotle looked upon himself as the true heir of Plato and had little sympathy with Speusippus and Xenocrates, the successors of Plato at the Academy. Aristotle himself had a keen sense of the way in which philosophy developes and we shall merely be employing something of that sense if we see his thought as an outgrowth of Plato's. It is only when we look on a man's philosophy as his biography that such commingling suggests the diminution of personality.

We have said that the important Aristotle for us is the author of the writings which have been handed down as his. As it happens, however, these writings present something of a problem and Aristotelian studies since the second decade of this century have been largely concerned with that problem and with the hypothesis that it can be, if not solved, made explicable enough to live with by seeing the writings as containing layers indicating different stages of their author's intellectual history. What we must imagine is an attitude somewhat like this. The Platonic dialogues present us with a thinker who, over a long period of time, undergoes a number of shifts in his basic attitude: Stenzel for example would have us see a Plato who was moving inexorably towards an interest in natural science.{33} On the other hand, we have Aristotle whose "system" came to him whole as if, as someone has suggested, he was able to sit down and write it out in the sequence in which it appears in the Bekker edition. The corpus aristotelicum contains Aristotelianism, of course, which is opposed to Platonism. There is a class of writings of Aristotle which disturb this picture, the dialogues, which were famous in antiquity, praised by Cicero and Quintilian for their style, but which exist today only in fragments. The strange thing is that several of these exhibit a doctrine which is much closer to that of the dialogues of Plato than to the "Aristotelian" writings. At one time, the reaction was to reject them as not Aristotle's at all. A much different approach was suggested by the most influential Aristotelian of our century, Werner Jaeger.{34} The dialogues suggested to him that Aristotle, as a member of the Academy, was won over to Plato's doctrine and wrote dialogues in imitation of those of the master and only gradually came to doctrines peculiarly his own. Moreover, this transition is not simply a matter of the character of the Aristotelian dialogues on the one hand and the treatises on the other; Jaeger began to see that some passages, indeed books, of Aristotle's Metaphysics were Platonic, some Aristotelian, and others a curious melange of both which suggested that Aristotle had tried unsuccessfully to smooth over the change in his mind with later additions. it is no overstatement to say that this approach caused a revolution in Aristotelian studies. Where the earlier view that the works of Aristotle form a well-wrought whole had dictated that apparently incompatible passages be reconciled, the tendency now became to assign such passages to different periods. One by one the works of Aristotle turned from literary wholes into patchworks of disparate and irreconcilable elements. And, even when the analysis of particular evolutions were called into question, critics were hasty to add that the overriding assertion was not thereby struck down -- as if the notion of an evolution in Aristotle's thought were somehow an a priori certainty and not an induction from the texts. More recently there seems to be growing doubt concerning the fruitfulness of the shelves of scholarly works Jaeger's suggestion has produced. Randall, Barker, Allen and many others feel, as Mure{35} had long before, that the feverish efforts of the philologists were perhaps somewhat irrelevant; Barker indeed went the whole distance and asserted that any genetic approach was basically subjective. While it is difficult to see any wholesale repudiation of Jaeger's approach just over the horizon, the problem which prompted that approach remains. There are the dialogues, after all, and we must say something about them here. As to the supposed evolution within the treatises, there is no point in making any generalization; we have suggested that the general theory is only as good as particular interpretations of troublesome texts. Accordingly, we shall infrequently make allusions to those interpretations in the exposition which follows. We can say now that Jaeger's opinion that Aristotle moved from a metaphysical period in the manner of Plato to empiricism not only suggests a quite different picture of the Plato Aristotle would have known from that given by Stenzel, but seems unable to account for the detailed interest in nature exhibited during the Assos and Lesbos periods. Moreover, Theophrastus, Aristotle's successor as head of the Lyceum, is concerned with metaphysics; and this does not suggest that Aristotle had become disenchanted with such pursuits. Finally of course, all other things being equal, it can scarcely matter to us at what stage of his life Aristotle was occupied with one science or the other; if a given treatise presents a unified doctrine, that will be sufficient reason for its engaging our philosophical interest. We have drawn consolation from the fact that the genetic approach to Aristotle has not prevented the appearance of efforts to grasp Aristotle's thought as a whole in works written by men fully aware of the new approach to Aristotle and far more competent than we are to assess its validity.

Dialogues. The foregoing indicates that the writings of Aristotle must initially be divided into two main groups (we shall exclude the lists of Olympic winners and other factual data he is said to have collected, but feel constrained to mention that of the 153 constitutions of Greek and barbarian cities collected under his direction, only that of Athens is extant): first of all there are the works Aristotle referred to as exoteric. These works were destined for general publication and the dialogues must be placed under this heading. Secondly, there are acroamatic or lecture treatises, the writings for which Aristotle is principally known and which formed the basis of his instruction in the Lyceum. The exoteric writings have been lost and what we possess of them are fragments gleaned from ancient writings and, more recently, from Arabian authors. One will appreciate that Jaeger's theory has increased interest in these writings; his own speculation was based primarily on an edition of the fragments made by V. Rose, an editor who never believed the fragments to represent genuine works of Aristotle. Nevertheless, Rose grouped the fragments under the titles listed by Diogenes Laertius; since that time and largely under the impetus of Jaeger's work a great amount of scholarly literature has been devoted to the fragments, new editions have appeared, notably one by Ross. Quite recently, there has been doubt cast on the methods hitherto followed to collect the fragments of the lost works and it becomes clear that a good deal of work must yet be done before we can speak confidently of the relation between the fragments and the treatises.{36} What we have to say about the lost works is based on Ross's edition of the fragments.

Perhaps the three most important lost works, certainly the three on which we can form an opinion most easily, are the Eudemus or On Soul; the Protrepticus and On Philosophy. The fragments of the Eudemus appear to be little more than the assertion by Aristotle of views familiar to us from the Platonic dialogues. Thus, death is the return of the soul to its home (Fr. 10); the immortality of the soul is in fact the immortality of reason and can be proved in three ways, by appeal to the doctrine of recollection (anamnesis), from the definition of the soul as self-moved and from the soul's likeness to God. (fr. 2) Aristotle is said to have spoken of the state of the soul prior to its descent to body as well as after its return (fr. 4) and he explains why the descent entails the forgetting of what it had hitherto known. (fr. 5) Moreover, the arguments of the Phaedo against the conception of the soul as a harmony are also said to have been given in the Eudemus. In short, testimony on the contents of the dialogue indicates that in it Aristotle held views which are either quite different from those in the acroamatic works or which do not enter into the treatises at all. The commentator Elias suggests that in the dialogue Aristotle contents himself with probable -- we might say, popular, literary, mythical -- arguments, reserving conclusive arguments for the treatises. Such a view is prompted by a disinclination to find a serious difference between the exoteric and acroamatic works; while this attitude is generally repudiated today, Elias' remark does prompt us to recognize that while it is Plato's popular works that we possess intact and his lectures which are known to us only on the testimony of others, the exact reverse is the situation with respect to Aristotle. There is no evidence, however, that the doctrine of Forms was something Plato put out only for popular consumption; Aristotle makes it clear that Plato held firmly to this doctrine. Thus, while Elias' interpretation should not be dismissed summarily, the prima facie evidence does not favor its accuracy. As with the other dialogues, it is extremely fruitful to ask whether the initial impression that Aristotle is simply repeating what we can find in Plato is in fact true; moreover, since the affinities are with the Phaedo, a dialogue presumably written well before Aristotle's entry into the Academy, we must ask with which Plato Aristotle is in agreement or disagreement.

The Protrepticus, an exhortation to the study of philosophy, was addressed to Themison, a prince of Cyprus, about whom we know nothing. The assumption of the work is one with which we are familiar from Plato, namely that it is in the study of philosophy that a man will achieve his proper perfection and thus happiness. The implication seems to be that there is a link between moral perfection and intellectual contemplation such that, in some sense of the phrase, knowledge is virtue. Jaeger argued (Aristotle, p. 81) that Aristotle had found this link in the conception of phronesis. Once more, while the echoes of Plato are quite distinct in the fragments of the Protrepticus, the doctrine of the acroamatic works is also foreshadowed. There is some controversy as to the extent of the Platonism exhibited in the Protrepticus.{37} The dialogue On Philosophy is noteworthy for its rejection of Idea-Numbers and for its assertion of the Prime Mover.

More than this we can not say about Aristotle's early writings; we have already indicated the increased interest in them and it would be impossible in a work of this nature to indicate the direction or directions in which contemporary research is leading. Something however had to be said of the fragments since, if certain estimates of the stages of Aristotle's development represented by this lost dialogue or that be accepted, and if we should find close affinity between fragments of a dialogue and portions of an acroamatic work, we may find ourselves led in the direction Jaeger himself took. In other words, we may begin to despair of the possibility of finding a single, coherent doctrine in the Aristotelian treatises. Needless to say we feel no such despair. There is much to be learned from studies of Aristotle's fragments; there is infinitely more to be learned from the treatises. That the treatises present difficulties is neither news nor surprising, but the difficulties are not such as to dissuade us from sharing the optimism of those who from antiquity to the present day feel that the treatises contain a coherent and intelligible doctrine.

Treatises. The works we shall now mention were not intended for popular publication; they were rather written works which circulated among members of Aristotle's school. Their language and style and the frequent cross-references among them are sufficient indication that they were intended for the initiate. We shall mention these works under headings which will later be justified as in accordance with Aristotle's own views. First, there are logical works: Categories, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics, Topics and Sophistical Refutations. The natural works are: Physics, On the Heaven, On Generation and Corruption and the Meteorologica, On the Soul and the Parva Naturalia, the latter including works on sensation, memory and reminiscence, sleep and so forth. There are also the History of Animals, the Parts of Animals, the Motion of Animals, the Progression of Animals and the Generation of Animals. In moral philosophy the Eudemian Ethics as well as the Nicomachian Ethics seems to be genuine work of Aristotle. There is the Politics as well; we can also mention here the Rhetoric and Poetics. Finally there is the Metaphysics.

B. The Nature and Division of Philosophy

We can attain a preliminary understanding of what philosophy is for Aristotle by asking what non-philosophy might be. This is not as negative as it may sound, because Aristotle shows what philosophy has in common with that from which he would distinguish it. In the Theaetetus Plato had traced the genesis of philosophy to wonder; so too in the first book of the Metaphysics (982b12) Aristotle says that it is because of wonder that, now and in the beginning, men begin to philosophize, the objects of their wonder varying from obvious matters to celestial phenomena. The idea here is that wonder is a concomitant of our observing an event without understanding why it has taken place; the impetus to grasp the "why" of the event is the impetus towards philosophy. Philosophy is the flight from puzzlement and wonder. Aristotle adds that the lover of myth (philomythos) is in a way a philosopher (philosophos) because the myth is made up of wonders. (982b18-9) We might wonder just wherein the similarity alluded to is supposed to lie, asking ourselves if myth and philosophy are alike in that both attempt to dispel the ignorance which is productive of wonder, or whether Aristotle means that, whereas the philosopher attempts to dispel wonder, the mythmaker strives to produce it by creating stories that elicit our awe and amazement. In other words, we may be puzzled by the ambiguity of our word "wonder." Sometimes we wonder what the explanation of an event is, sometimes we wonder in the sense that we stand in awe of a certain happening. Now it may be argued that these are connected uses of the same term, but they are different enough to make us doubtful of the similarity Aristotle is suggesting. Fortunately, we can apply to Aristotle himself for an elucidation of the matter.

Let us first consider the term "myth" (mythos). It is possible to trace the history of this word in such a way that a special use of it made by Aristotle in the Poetics can cast light on the difficulty just posed. From signifying speech as opposed to action, the word came to signify advice, a command, and then purpose or plan. Finally it meant a story which was distinguished from a merely historical narrative. We have here a use of the term that answers to many instances of its use by Plato; moreover, it is the meaning of the term present in the Poetics of Aristotle on which he founds his peculiar use of it to mean what we translate as plot. (Cf. Else, Aristotle's Poetics, pp. 242ff.) The tragedian takes the old stories (mythoi) and imposes a plot (mythos) on them. (1451b24 ff.) The myth or plot of the play is the principle of intelligibility of the actions depicted; what is more, the plot not only explains the sequence but causes admiration and awe in the spectator. We have here the root of Aristotle's famous comparison of history and poetry according to which poetry is more philosophical and serious than history. (cf. 1451b1 ff.) Poetry is not simply a narrative of what has happened; rather it involves a kind of generalization of a type of occurence. This entails that poetry is more explanatory than history. Now what we have done is to move from a comparison of myth and philosophy to the use of the term "myth" in the Poetics of Aristotle, a movement which suggests not only a link between myth and poetry, but a similarity between poetry and philosophy in terms of universality and consequent explanatory power. That is, while we began by seeking the meaning of philosophy by asking what philosophy is not, we have actually arrived at a rough indication of what Aristotle thought philosophy is.

Aristotle derived the notion that philosophy arises from wonder from Plato. Let us now ask if he would assent to Plato's assertion that there is an ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry. The answer to this question is going to involve an odd consequence; not only does Aristotle agree with Plato that poetry is one thing and philosophy another, he accuses Plato of being too poetic in his explanations. The way in which Aristotle speaks of the oposition between myth and philosophy is genetic in the sense that he sees philosophy arising out of a background of myth. We can see this in his criticism of Hesiod and the other poetic theologians. These men would explain immortality in terms of the consumption of nectar and ambrosia, an explanation Aristotle finds quite over his head. Aristotle concludes that it is not worthwhile to examine seriously mythical sophistries; he will only concern himself with those who speak apodictically, who use the language of proof or demonstration. (lOOOal8ff.) What is the sense of this opposition between mythical and demonstrative language? If we look at Aristotle's criticism of Plato's language, the meaning becomes clear. Aristotle says that to hold the Platonic view that all things are from the Forms, that they share in or participate in them, is to speak idly and in poetic metaphors (991a20). Mythical language as opposed to philosophical language thus emerges as metaphorical language. Now to speak metaphorically, for Aristotle, is to speak of one thing in terms of something else (1457b6-7), incapable of manifesting the proper causes of that which is to be explained. We might say that Aristotle is here contrasting literal and fanciful language, that philosophy for him is not the concoction of a tale but the formulation of an explanation in terms of the things to be explained. This contrast, coupled with the criticism of Plato, leads us to expect that Aristotle will have much to say about what constitutes an argument and about the nature of philosophical language. Neither expectation will be disappointed.

Philosophy is like poetry in that both attempt to dispel wonder, both attempt to explain a puzzling fact, but the two differ in the kind of language each uses. Let us now seek a more positive description of philosophy. Aristotle takes seriously the etymology of the term "philosophy": love of wisdom. For him the phrase indicates not only the efficacious desire that is a prerequisite for learning philosophy, but as well has significance in terms of his division of the sciences. When we have identified the meaning of "wisdom" for Aristotle and gone on to see the division of philosophical sciences it implies we will be able to give an interpretation of "love" in the etymological definition which will free it from emotional overtones.

The term "wisdom" is discussed by Aristotle in a number of places, notably in the opening chapters of book one of the Metaphysics, and he uses it in such a way that we can see a continuity between his extended usage and Homer's use of it to signify the art of carpentery. A reading of the chapters just cited will reveal this and give one an unforgettable taste of Aristotle's mode of procedure. He begins with a sweeping generality: all men naturally want to know. There is no need to ready the example of the boy who despised geometry; Aristotle turns immediately to sensation. Everybody likes to have a look at things, even when no action is contemplated. We know immediately what Aristotle means; what he says can be verified by the shopper who tells the clerk he is "just looking" or by the person watching the sun set. However, Aristotle is beginning with the obvious in order to arrive at something quite obscure. His choice of sight is important, since it is the verb signifying this type of activity which is extended to mean intellectual activity as well; we have become familiar with this analogy in Plato and saw that it underlay the terms "Idea" and "Form." Moreover, Aristotle at the very outset of the passage is suggesting the distinction between the practical and speculative (notice once more the connection with sight in "speculative" and "theoretical") -- even when we have no further end in view, we enjoy looking. Notice as well the way in which Aristotle moves from the most elementary and indisputable type of knowledge, that of the external senses, through the collating of various memories in what he calls experience, to intellectual knowledge. A sign of the difference between knowledge and experience is that one who has the former can teach another whereas the man of experience cannot properly teach. The man of experience knows that a particular potion cures a given illness; the man with knowledge knows why it does. It is typical of Aristotle's good sense that he should point out that, where results are wanted, the man of experience is to be preferred over the man who has knowledge but no experience, e.g. the old midwife to the bright young intern. Nevertheless, it is the one who knows why who is called wise. Aristotle now moves from knowledge to wisdom. Even more deserving of the appellation "wise" is the one who knows the causes of many particular operations which he directs to an end unknown by those who have knowledge of a particular operation. His example is the master builder, the architect, what we would call today the project manager. He must direct the carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, etc., so that a powerhouse, say, will result. Only the manager can truly be said to know how to build a powerhouse. Wisdom then is the knowledge of the first causes, the ultimate principles, in any given area, whether in the realm of production or in the realm of things knowledge of which is sought for its own sake.

Aristotle goes on to enumerate several characteristics of the wise man and shows that they are saved preeminently by a certain kind of theoretical knowledge. The wise man is he who knows all things insofar as this is possible, who knows things which are extremely difficult to learn. This is the kind of knowledge God has and it will be an approximation of divine knowledge to know everything in its ultimate why: that is just the wisdom involved when we say that philosophy is the love of wisdom. Philosophy is the progressive conquering of wonder and ignorance which will culminate in the acquisition of this kind of wisdom.

Speculative and Practical. In the text of the Metaphysics just referred to, Aristotle distinguished knowledge sought for a utilitarian purpose (e.g., learning how to build a house) from that which is sought for its own sake (e.g., wanting to know what man is or what is or what an eclipse is). It may be well to examine somewhat more closely this distinction, for it is fundamental to an understanding of the doctrine of Aristotle.

It would be more accurate to say that Aristotle divides philosophy into the practical and speculative or theoretical than to say he divides knowledge this way. He gives us a threefold division of knowledge: theoretical, practical and productive. (Metaphysics, 1025b25) We shall be seeing more of the difference between the practical and productive later; for the moment it will suffice to indicate the difference by way of examples. Productive knowledge is exemplified by carpentery; practical knowledge by discussions of how justice can be saved in such-and-such circumstances. As for the practical and speculative, one way of distinguishing them is by their respective en or goals. The end of theoretical knowledge is truth, that of practical knowledge action. (Metaphysics, 993b19; Soul, 433a14). The difference in end suggests a difference in the objects considered by theoretical and practical philosophy. Truth, Aristotle suggests, is of the changeless; action and the knowledge concerned with it are of the changeable and relative. In the Metaphysics (1025b19) Aristotle says that when the artist wants to shape a material (think of the shoemaker), or when a man makes a moral decision, the principle of what they do is within them. The artisan has an idea he wants to realize in matter; the moral agent has his own assessment of the situation in which he must act and his reason and will are principles of what he does. The object of theoretical concern, on the, other hand, is such that it has the princip1es of its movement within itself. Aristotle is here speaking of physics and, as we shall see, is employing the notion of nature which he will manifest in his natural doctrine in just this way by opposition to art. To express, his point somewhat differently, in practical philosophy we are concerned with things of which we are the principle; in theoretical philosophy we are dealing with things which are not products of our making or doing and our only cognitive relation to them is to know what they are. For example, we don't study human nature as something that can be produced by us, but with a view to knowing what man is.

It follows, further, that there will be a different method in these two branches of philosophy. In theoretical philosophy we will try to analyse things into their causes. In practical philosophy we will begin from causes and study how something can be brought about, whether it be a right action or an artifact.

Actually, then, there are three criteria for distinguishing speculative from practical philosqphy: the end, the object and the method. Among the many difficulties which arise from this doctrine, we can entertain the following. Sometimes we study things which we could do, but our purpose is not to do them -- at least not while we are studying them. For example, an examination of just actions in an ethics class is not the same as the consideration which precedes immediately the performing of a just act. We will encounter this difficulty when we examine Aristotle's ethical doctrine, but for the moment we can suggest a distinction between our purpose and the purpose of a given kind of knowledge. In terms of our purpose, many practical considerations are in a sense theoretical. However, what is most basic in the distinction between theoretical and practical philosophy is the object. When what we are considering is something of which we can be the principal even if our purpose, and indeed even our method of studying it, is theoretical.

Division of Theoretical Philosophy. Not only did Aristotle distinguish between theoretical and practical philosophy, he also distinguished several theoretical sciences. In order to see that his division is not arbitrary nor simply the product of historical observation, it is important to see what the principles of this further division are. We have already seen that the object of theoretical know exists independently of our doing or making. Let us call it the theoretical object. As such it has two characteristics, one that is due to the faculty with which we grasp it, our intellect, the other due to the determination or perfection of the faculty as it bears on the theoretical object. We shall see later Aristotle's argument to the effect that the operation of intellection is immaterial; given this, its object too must be immaterial. Moreover, Aristotle teaches that science is concerned with what is necessary (Posterior Analytics, 74b5-75a17) The two characteristics of the theoretical object then are immateriality and unchangeability. That is to say, in order for something to be an object of speculative science, it must be removed from matter and motion. Insofar as there can be differences among theoretical objects with respect to these two characteristics we can speak of different theoretical sciences.

Aristotle exhibits the variation in terms of these characteristics in a manner which makes his point easily grasped. Let us consider snub and curve. In order to define snub, a material must be mentioned, since snubness is always of something, namely nose. So too, Aristotle suggests, with water, man, plant or horse: in order to grasp what these things are, we must include sensible matter in their definition. All of the objects of natural science, physics or philosophy of nature are of this kind. Of course, it is not this nose which is included in the definition of snub, but simply nose. In defining curve, on the other hand we do not allude to sensible matter. For example, take a straight line AB with C a point on the line between A and B, and on the same plane with the original line and points. Any line on the same plane which passes through A and B but does not pass through C is a curved line. We can thus arrive at what is meant by curve without speaking of hot or cold, smooth or rough, heavy or light, etc. Where are the lines we study in geometry? Any lines which exist in the full sense of the term are the edges of physical bodies, like the contour of the nose. But of course the mathematician is not concerned with existent line -- nor do such lines have the properties of the lines he studies, The fact that such things as lines can be defined without including sensible matter is enough for there to be a science of mathematics.

There is a third possible kind of theoretical object, one which would not only be defined without reference to sensible matter but which, unlike mathematical entities, also exists apart from matter. If indeed there are such objects, there is need for a science other than physics and mathematics. (Metaphysics, 1026a10) The science concerned with such objects is wisdom or First Philosophy, what has come to be called metaphysics.

The bases for this division of theoretical philosophy into three sciences are extremely difficult and we will return to them in subsequent discussions. A preliminary statement of the doctrine serves not only to familiarize us with matters of extreme importance in the philosophy of Aristotle, but as well to give a foundation for the divisions of our own subsequent presentation.

Division of Practical Philosophy. Aristotle will also speak of different sciences in practical philosophy, but the principle of division here will not be the same as in the theoretical or speculative order. We have seen that the practical differs from the theoretical because its end is different, operation and not truth. But operations or actions are performed with a view to attaining a certain good, and insofar as we can distinguish a difference in the goods to which actions refer we can speak of different practical sciences. This mode of distinguishing is taken from Plato who spoke in the Republic of the virtues of the state and of the individual soul, which we saw to mean the virtues of man insofar as he is a citizen and insofar as he is a private individual. So too, for Aristotle, it is the difference between the good of the individual, his private good, and the good he shares with others as a member of the family, and the good he shares with others as a member of the political community which underlies the division of practical philosophy into ethics, economics and politics. (Eudemian Ethics, 1218b13)

The Order Among the Philosophical Sciences. We have accepted love of wisdom as a sufficient indication of what philosophy is for Aristotle. Wisdom, as we have seen, can mean many things, but in this context it must be taken to be First Philosophy, the theoretical science beyond physics and mathematics. In other words, philosophizing is the activity whereby we acquire various sciences with a view to acquiring the ultimate in the order of theoretical science, First Philosophy, wisdom, metaphysics. When Aristotle calls this First Philosophy, he means first in the order of importance and desirability, not the science which is or could be first learned by us. As a matter of fact, not only does Aristotle hold that we should learn this science last, he seems also to suggest the order in which the other philosophical sciences should be learned if the term of wisdom is to be reached and reached more or less easily.

There seems little doubt that Aristotle held that logic should be learned first. (Metaphysics, 995a12) Notice that Aristotle is not speaking historically of the order in which what he argues are different sciences may have been discovered; he is not maintaining the absurd thesis that logic was the first concern of man when he had the leisure to pursue study. He is speaking of one in the advantageous position of being helped by a teacher along the path to wisdom, a teacher who has gone this road himself. The reason that logic should be learned first is that it teaches the method to be observed if one is to acquire science, and one cannot simultaneously learn the method and use it. Indeed, unless one first knows what the logical demands of science are, he will not possess the common methodology or procedure which must be followed if science is to be acquired. Obviously this position does not preclude the use of philosophical examples by the logician, nor exclude a familiarity on the part of the student with some such discipline as mathematics, a familiarity which will not be equivalent to scientific knowledge.

Why was no mention made of logic when we discussed the divisions of philosophy? Is logic a part of philosophy? If so, is it theoretical or practical? These are good questions; unfortunately, Aristotle neither asks nor answers them. They will form a basis for controversy between Stoics and later Peripatetics, a controversy which will be carried into the Middle Ages by way of Boethius' commentaries on Porphyry's Introduction to Aristotle's Categories.

Given that one has studied logic, what should he study next? Aristotle's answer seems clear -- mathematics. This science, he observes, can be learned even by the young, whereas moral philosophy, the philosophy of nature and metaphysics cannot. (Nichomachean Ethics, 1142a13-23) For reasons which will soon become clear, it is the philosophy of nature which should next be learned. The order to be followed in the study of nature is set forth at the outset of the Physics; Aristotle teaches that the study of living things, and hence psychology, is a part of the philosophy of nature. (On the Soul, 403a27) That moral philosophy should be learned after the philosophy of nature seems suggested by two remarks by Aristotle. The first, that one must be quite mature before engaging in ethical studies (Nichomachean Ethics 1095a1-11); the other, which is somewhat more conclusive, that moral philosophy presupposes psychology. (1102a14-29) A general reason for studying metaphysics last is that, in its character as wisdom, it has the function of defending the other philosophical sciences against attacks on their principles. This the particular science cannot do, since it would have to argue from the principles in question. We can see one indication of this in the remarks Aristotle makes about Parmenides in the first book of the Physics. The special dependence of First Philosophy on the philosophy of nature in the order of learning philosophy is clear from the fact that, if we did not have demonstrative knowledge of immaterial or separated substance there would be no grounds for supposing a theoretical object different from those of physics or mathematics. As Aristotle remarks if there were no substances other than natural ones, physics would be First Philosophy. (Metaphysics, 1026a28-9).

We find in Aristotle a view of philosophy which presents an ordered whole of sciences, both theoretical and practical, a fact which may make his writings seem unduly formidable. Indeed, we may tend to think of it as a "system", a body of doctrine with that perfection Aristotle demands of the good tragedy, namely, that it have a beginning, a middle and an end. This notion of system is of fairly recent origin, connoting not only finality but also personal ownership; it is much easier to verify in Hegel than in any Greek. It could be argued that Parmenides and perhaps Heraclitus were confident that they had said nearly all there was to say, but it is a monumental blunder to look on the efforts of Plato and Aristotle as systems in our latter-day sense. Of course both men saw earlier philosophy as reaching fruition or rejection in their own efforts, and each of them had a quite justified sense of accomplishment. But even if Plato or Aristotle had thought they had done all the philosophy there was to do, they would not have taken this as any indication that there would be no further need for philosophers. Neither man was writing an autobiography or contemplating his own navel; rather each was striving to understand the way things are, and this is a task passed from one generation of philosophers to the next. It would be a melancholy thought if all that was passed on were the task; solutions to problems are also transmitted, and these are the property neither of their discoverer nor of the one who learns them. They are common goods. Nowadays we deplore systems largely, it would seem, as an attempted check on the expansion of our own personality. Aristotle's system is as much program as accomplishment, but both can best be understood in terms of what he took philosophy to be about and how its efforts can be broken up in terms of various subject matters. In what follows we shall be concentrating on what Aristotle accomplished, leaving it to the good sense of the reader to see what he did not do and how what has been done since his time can profitably be thought of in terms of his delineation of the basic structure of philosophy.

C. Aristotle's Logic

The logical works of Aristotle which have come down to us are known as the Organon, that is, instrument or tool. The term seems to have been applied to logic first by Alexander of Aphrodisias and came to be applied to logical works generally in the sixth century of our era.{38} We have already indicated that a controversy arose on this matter insofar as some held that logic was not a part of philosophy, but only its instrument. The Stoic division of philosophy, as we shall see, was threefold: logic, physics, ethics. That controversy does not interest us now, but a difficulty we must face is this: Aristotle does not himself use the term "logic" to cover what is under discussion in those books of his we call logical ones. If then we make statements about Aristotelian logic, we shall be referring to the contents of what we call the logical works and not to the way in which Aristotle used the Greek term logike from which we get our "logic."

The following works constitute the Organon: Categories, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics, Topics and Sophistical Refutations. It became the view of at least one eminent Aristotelian of the Middle Ages that the Rhetoric and Poetics also belong to logic; we shall attempt to say something of the nature of Aristotelian logic as exhibited in the books which are undisputed candidates for membership in the Organon.

Nature and Subject Matter of Logic. Presumably something other than historical accident explains the plurality of works which make up the Organon, just as we should expect that, despite their differences, these works have something in common. We want now to see if there is some principle dividing these works; then we shall ask what all of them are concerned with and what significance there is in the traditional ordering of these works. After these points have been discussed, we can profitably turn to a brief analysis of important features of the contents of the works.

In the Categories, we find a distinction between complex and incomplex expressions (chap. 2, 1a16-19). Examples of the former are "the man runs" and "the man wins," of the latter, "man," "ox," "runs" and "wins." In the first chapter of On Interpretation we find a distinction made between thoughts which do not involve truth or falsity and those which must be either true or false. What are called simple or incomplex expressions in the Categories are not true or false; however, it is not just any complex expression which is either true or false, but only the enunciation or proposition. In the Prior Analytics, the syllogism is defined as a discourse (logos) in which if certain things be maintained, something else necesssarily follows. (24b18-20)

What these distinctions and definitions indicate is that there is an ascending order from incomplex terms, of themselves neither true nor false, to complex expressions which are such that they must be either true or false, to discourse or reasoning which involves several propositions ordered in a rather special manner. Moreoever, it seems that the Categories is concerned with incomplex terms, On Interpretation with sentences which are true or false, and the Prior Analytics and all other works of the Organon with discourse. The very title of the Categories indicates that things which are expressed incomplexly or simply are viewed in that work from the point of view of their being possible predicates (kategoriai). Indeed, it is just in this light that the list of categories in introduced.

Expressions which are in no way composite signify substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, position, state, action or affection. To sketch my meaning roughly, examples of substance are "man" or "the horse," of quantity, such terms as "two cubits long" or "three cubits long," of quality, such attributes as "white," "grammatical." "Double," "half," "greater" fall under the category of relation; "in the market place," "in the lyceum," under that of place; "yesterday," "last year," under that of time. "Lying," "sitting," are terms indicating position; "shod," "armed," state; "to lance," "to cauterize," action; "to be lanced," "to be cauterized," affection. No one of these terms, in and by itself, involves an affirmation. It is by combination of such terms that positive or negative statements arise. For every assertion must, as is admitted, be either true or false, whereas expressions which are not in any way composite, such as "man," "white," "runs," "wins," cannot be either true or false. (1b25-2a10)

The Categories, then, appears to contain discussions necessary for the treatment of true and false expressions in On Interpretation. By the same token, as we shall see, the analysis of the syllogism into term and premiss points back to the two works just mentioned.

If we should now say that the Categories is concerned with simple terms, the elements of assertions, On Interpretation with propositions which are either true or false, and the Analytics and subsequent works with reasoning or discourse, would this enable us to say what these different books have in common? At the outset of On Interpretation, Aristotle refers to On the Soul when he is distinguishing between thoughts which do and thoughts which do not involve truth and falsity. The passage he has in mind seems to be this.

The thinking then of the simple objects of thought is found in those cases where falsehood is impossible: where the alternative of true or false applies, there we always find a putting together of objects of thought in a quasi-unity . . . For falsehood always involves a synthesis; for even if you assert that what is white is not white you have included non-white in a synthesis. It is possible also to call all these cases division as well as combination (430a26-430b3)

Now this reference to a work on soul and to a distinction between the mental act of conceiving, on the one hand, and that of judging, on the other, can make it appear that what is being discussed in the books of the Organon is psychological activity.

There is a first reason why such an interpretation seems wrong. We have already seen that the discussions in On the Soul form part of the philosophy of nature. Apart from their lacking the principles of natural things, the matters of the Organon seem presupposed by natural philosophy as by any theoretical discipline. Aristotle, we have seen, argues that one must first be trained in the art of argumentation for it is absurd to seek knowledge and the mode of attaining it at the same time. (Metaphysics, 995a12-14) Secondly, there is the very manner of reference in On Interpretation. The distinction alluded to is said to belong "to an undertaking distinct from the present one." (16a8-9) That is, we are told as clearly as possible that the psychological doctrine is quite another matter than that of On Interpretation. To generalize, the logical works do not have psychological acts as their object of concern. This is not to say, of course, that these works are indifferent to distinctions made elsewhere, particularly in the study of the soul; the reference we have been discussing seems clearly to indicate that the psychological doctrine is presupposed.

This poses a problem. If logic is to be learned before any other discipline and if logic presupposes psychology, aren't we moving in a vicious circle? The answer is no. Aristotle has pointed out that the pupil must trust his master (Sophistical Refutations, 165b3), must accept things not directly involved in what he is being taught. One who teaches the doctrine of the Organon must know the disciplines of which logic is the instrument, and he will make use of a number of things which will be learned later by the aspiring philosopher. The latter, in being taught logic, accepts on trust matters drawn from psychology which he will learn later.

If it is clear that the works of the Organon are not concerned with psychological activity, it may appear that they are concerned with language and grammar. The constant occurence of "incomplex expressions," "sentences," etc., seems to fortify this interpretation. It is of course a highly subtle matter to contend that logic, for Aristotle, has as its concern grammar and language. We do not have a definition of logic given by Aristotle and it is questionable that grammar, even in the ancient sense, had developed by the time of Aristotle. In the Topics (142b33-4) Aristotle entertains, as a definition of grammar, knowledge of writing and reading. Now this surely does not cover what is being discussed in the books of the Organon. Nevertheless, it is certainly true that these books are concerned with the nature of language. That concern, however, although it presupposes grammar, is not itself a grammatical one. The justification of this assertion will be given later.

Thus far, we have tried to indicate that the logical works of Aristotle do not have as their subject matter either psychological activity or language understood as grammar. A third possible interpretation is that the concern of the works of the Organon is with things "out there." This position might take its rise from the opening sentence of the Aristotelian corpus. "Things are said to be named equivocally which have a common name but the definition signified by the name differs for each." This seems clearly to be a statement about things. So too, in the second chapter of the Categories, beginning a highly important division for what is to follow, Aristotle writes, "Of things themselves, some are predicable of a subject and are never present in a subject." Predicability, it would seem, is something of things themselves (ton onton). And, still with reference to this book, are not substance, quantity, quality, etc. designations of things "out there"? The demonstrative syllogism discussed in the Posteriora seems also to involve things out there in a special way. Does logic then concern itself with things? Or should we, as many today seem inclined to do, reject the Categories and Posteriora, denying that they are logical works at all? In order to do so it would seem that we must already know what Aristotelian meaning can be assigned to the term "logic," since it is of little help towards an understanding of Aristotle to be told that some works in the Organon contain no logic in our sense of the term.

What is logic for Aristotle and with what is it concerned? Logic is not as such concerned with things in themselves. As we have already indicated, this assertion is not a denial that the books of the Organon presupose Aristotle's psychology and are unintelligible without it. Nor are we saying that the logic of Aristotle has nothing to say about things. This last remark can be understood in two ways. Aristotle's logic presupposes that, in reality, there is a distinction between substance and accident: this is not a logical doctrine although it has ramifications in logic. It is also true that logical entities, though distinct from natural entities, things-out-there, are defined and discussed with oblique reference to things out there, for the reason that they have an indirect dependence on natural things. Logic, we shall see, is concerned with natural things from the point of view of what happens to them when we know then, and this in a fashion different from psychology.

Perhaps the most economical way to illustrate the nature of logical entities is to consider a problem which will loom large in the history of medieval thought, that of universals.

The universal as universal does not exist. This is Aristotle's constant rebuke of the Platonists. What does he mean? The universal is not a substance. "Substance, in the truest and primary and most definite sense of the word, is that which is neither predicable of a subject nor present in a subject; for instance, the individual man or horse." (Categories, 2a11-14) By "present in a subject," Aristotle means the mode of being of accidents such as "white," moving," "six feet tall." (1a24-5) Not only is substance in the primary sense not an accident of a subject, it is not the species "man" or "horse." Nevertheless, the species and genus can be called substance. "But in a secondary sense those things are called substance within which, as species the primary substances are included; also those which, as genera, include the species." (2a14-16) In this extended sense of the word, "man" and "animal" can be called substance. When, in the seventh book of the Metaphysics, Chapter Thirteen, Aristotle denies that the universal is a substance, he is denying that it is substance in the first and primary sense, that is, man in general does not exist and cannot exist in the way in which Socrates does. "Further, substance means that which is not predicable of a subject, but the universal is predicable of some subject always." (1038b15) "Man" expresses the substance of Socrates and yet Socrates is most properly an instance of substance whereas Man is not. Why is this so? "Man" expresses what Socrates is in such a way that it can be predicated of many, e.g., of Socrates, Plato, etc. For the moment we need not go into what justifies this situation. But it is this predicability of many that is meant by calling Man a universal. "But the universal is common, since that is called universal which is such as to belong to more than one thing." (1038b11-12) The universal is one and it can be predicated of many. Socrates is one and he can be predicated of nothing else. Socrates is not a universal; he is substance in the strictest sense. Man is a universal. Does this mean that predicability of many is part of the definition of Man? Certainly not, for then Man could not be predicated of Socrates. Universality is something that happens to what Socrates is as a result of our knowing that whatness. It is a relation between the nature as grasped by our mind and the individuals whose nature it is, e.g., Socrates. This relation of predicability is something following upon our knowing a thing, not part of what is known, the concept which terminates the mental act. The relation of universality, of predicability is precisely the sort of thing which concerns logic. This universality may be that of species (what is predicable of many differing in number, e.g. Man of Plato and Socrates, etc.), or genus (what is predicable of many differing specifically; e.g., Animal of man and beast). Such relations, consequent upon our mode of knowing, are examples of the subject matter of logic.

We can see now that logic, although it is not directly concerned with things out there, is indirectly concerned with them. The mental image is an image of what exists out there, e.g. what Socrates is. This nature, as known by us, becomes the subject of logical relations, e.g., it can be called a species, a predicate in an assertion, a term in a syllogism, etc. These are quite accidental to the nature itself (not part of its definition) and accrue to it thanks to its existence in our mind. It is only because we know real things that the relations which concern the logician are there to be studied. Though only in directly dependent on the real thing, the thing "out there," logical relations can never be severed from this indirect dependence. It is certainly not Aristotle's task, in logic, to examine what it is in things which permits their abstracted nature to be suject of a given logical relation; but logic, as he envisages it, assumes and anticipates this natural (or metaphysical) enquiry. Not just any conceived nature can become the subject of the relation of species, for example; but, again, it is assuredly not the task of logic to decide which ones can and which cannot. Aristotle has a knack for picking effective examples in his logical works, relying sometimes on common sense, often on received philosophical opinion and sometimes, finally, on his own philosophical doctrines.

Some of these points can be illustrated by alluding to a text introduced earlier as a possible corroboration for another interpretation of Aristotle's position on the subject matter of logic. The Categories begins with the remark that things are said to be named equivocally if they share a common name but that name has different definitions as used of each. What Aristotle has in mind is the way in which the cow in the pasture and the figure in a picture on the wall can both be called animal. These two things are equivocal: they receive a common name, but the definition corresponding to the name differs in each case. Let us say that, when speaking of the cow in the pasture we take "animal" to mean a living thing having senses. In calling an arrangement of paint on canvas an animal we would want to alter the definition and say it is an image or likeness of a living thing having senses. Now when we say things are equivocal, we do not mean that, taken by themselves they have equivocation as a property in the way both may have the same color. Their color would be known by us, but would not be attributed to them because they are known by us. But when we call things equivocals we are saying that they are named equivocally and we are certainly attributing something to them which is consequent upon our knowing and naming them. Unknown and unnamed things simply are not equivocals. When things are said to be equivocals, or species, or genera or middle terms, etc., we are speaking of things, not as "out there," but insofar as when known by us they take on certain relations. That is why universality is not a property of any existing thing as such, why Aristotle says the universal does not exist.

This discussion of the subject matter of logic and our aside on universals will stand us in good stead when we consider Aristotle's criticism of Plato's doctrine of Forms. We can now summarize any light the foregoing may have cast on the Categories after which we will go on to discuss the other logical works. We have seen that the Categories is concerned with incomplex things, that is, things which can be so expressed that neither truth nor falsity is involved in the expression. The discussion seems thought of as preliminary to that of On Interpretation where expressions involving truth and falsity are composed of such incomplex things as are discussed in the Categories. The latter work came to be thought of as divided into three parts: antepredicaments, predicaments, postpredicaments. The first three chapters discuss things presupposed by the doctrine of categories: equivocity, univocity, denomination; the distinction of simple from complex expressions; the notion of predicability. The heart of the Categories is the discussion of substance (Chap. 5), quantity (Chap. 6), relation (Chap. 7), quality (Chap. 8) and action and passion (Chap. 9). What are called postpredicaments are discussed in Chapters Ten through Fifteen, the discussions of opposites and particularly of contrariety being most important.

On Interpretation. We have a preliminary idea of what this work is about from the foregoing; our procedure now will be to analyse in some little detail the first half of the work, Chapters One through Seven, and then indicate more sketchily the nature of the sequel.

At the outset of the work, Aristotle tells us that he wants to talk about the nature of the noun and verb, about negation and affirmation, and about the proposition and "speech." He will go on to indicate the order of treatment, but first he says a few things on the nature of signification. Words, generally, are signs of what is in the mind and written words are signs of spoken words. Just as written language differs from one people to another, so does the spoken, but that of which both are signs, namely what is grasped by the mind, is the same for all men. Moreover, what is in the mind is significative of things, something discussed in natural philosophy, in On the Soul. Mental states or concepts are the first or immediate signs, referring directly to things. Spoken or written signs, on the other hand, refer to things through our concepts of them. Concepts are taken to signify things naturally as opposed to the conventional manner in which language signifies. As has already been indicated, Aristotle is not here concerned with discussing the relationship between concept and thing; he assumes that doctrine from natural philosophy. Given this view on the nature of such signs, he compares them with conventional signs, the nature of which he takes to be sufficiently manifest. We know there are different languages; hence there is no natural relation between this spoken or written word and the concept it is taken to signify. If "man" stands for what we know of certain things, "homo" and "anthropos" could do and have done just as well.

Continuing to borrow from his treatise on the soul, Aristotle notes that there is a difference between the mental state which does and that which does not involve truth or falsity. Truth or falsity is had when the mind composes or divides things which can be known apart from this synthetic act. Now if language signifies mental states, we can expect to find this same division in the spoken and written word: language sometimes expresses what is neither true nor false and sometimes what must be true or false. The noun and verb are elements of the linguistic expression of truth or falsity. "Man" and "white" are neither true nor false and do not become so until at least is or is not is added to them.

We are now in a position to explain the title of the work as well as the order of things to be discussed. An interpretation is an expression signifying what is true or false. Nouns and verbs are not interpretations, but the proximate elements of interpretations. Thus Aristotle's procedure consists in, moving from the components to the compound which is the subject of his treatise.

We are now faced with a difficulty. If the noun and verb are simply what can enter into the complex which is true or false, shouldn't they have been discussed in the Categories? In defence of Aristotle's procedure, it can be pointed out that to be a noun or verb is something which happens to concepts only in the proposition. These relations are not prior to the proposition but what the proposition can be formally analysed into. For this reason their treatment has been postponed to the present work.

Aristotle defines the noun as a vocal sound which signifies by convention and without reference to time, no part of which signifies alone. The definition of the verb is identical except for the replacement of "without reference to time" by "with reference to time." The first two elements of the definition, vocal sound and signifying by convention, are sufficiently clear from our previous considerations. After discussing the last part of the definition, we will turn to the difference between the noun and verb.

What does it mean to say that no part of the noun or verb signifies separately? If we take the noun "liberty," it is clear enough that no syllable alone means anything in English. But what about "woman" and such compounds as "breakfast"? Obviously Aristotle's restriction does not apply to these, since "break" and "fast" and "man," if not "wo," are significant apart from the original nouns in which they occur. Although this is true, it does not affect the point Aristotle is making. "Man" is a word, but it is not a word insofar as it is taken to be part of "woman;" moreover, it does not signify part of what woman signifies. The same is true of the compound noun. "Break" and "fast" are both words but not precisely insofar as they are parts of "breakfast" nor does either apart signify part of the morning meal. We will see that this part of the definitions of noun and verb is introduced to set them off from that of which they are parts.

Aristotle clarifies the notion of conventional signification in his discussion of the noun. Not every sound that issues from the throat is significant conventionally. Thus a groan, though a vocal sound, is significant not of a concept but of pain. Despite the fact that groans and exclamations may differ from one language and culture to another, the difference between them and those sounds which happen to be used to signify concepts or mental states is clear. We need only consider the difference in the way the word "pain" and a groan signify pain to see what Aristotle is getting at. It might be noted parenthetically that if we want every significant activity, from groans to gestures, to be included under the heading of language, Aristotle's procedure must appear a narrow one. Precisely, since there is an overriding purpose governing what is relevant to the treatise. Aristotle is not engaged in setting down a general theory of signs. We will see more indications of narrowing in this work, but what Aristotle does is always wide enough to attain the end in view.

Aristotle now rejects what he calls the indefinite noun and the cases of the noun as irrelevant. Non-man and not-to-be-running do not signify any one thing; whatever is not a man, e.g., a tree, a horse, an angel, indeed what is nothing at all, is non-man. So too any activity other than running, all non-activity and even nothing at all are signified by not-to-be-running.

The verb is the sign of what is affirmed of another and affirmations involve time. Verbs imply a composition but do not of themselves signify a composition. In this they are like nouns, not being of themselves true or false.

Aristotle now turns to a discussion of discourse or speech (logos); "speech" seems an acceptable translation since we speak of parts of speech. The speech differs from the noun and verb in this that its parts signify separately, although they do not separately signify the true or false. This should be understood as meaning that the phrase or sentence includes nouns and verbs and not that any element of a phrase or sentence signifies in the way the noun and verb do.

Aristotle is not saying that "to," "in," "every," etc., etc., signify concepts. Moreover, not every speech (logos) will be a proposition or interpretation since not every compound of noun and verb signifies what is true or false. We are faced here with another narrowing on the part of Aristotle. As his commentators point out, he is excluding from the scope of the present work questions, pleas, commands, etc. He does not however banish these from logic if we accept the view that the Rhetoric and Poetics are parts of the Organon.

The interpretation or proposition is, in its simplest form, the affirmation of one thing of another. It is not simple in the way a word or definition is. We should not be misled by the fact that in reply to a question a single word may suffice to signify what is true or false. What are you doing? Reading. If "reading" signifies what is true or false here this is only because we understand a composition, e.g. I am reading. A compound proposition will have simple propositions as its components, e.g. "Socrates is white and Plato is tan," or "If you are cold, then you are ill." We might ask if "Socrates, assailed by pangs of hunger and seeing the cupboard was bare, set out, without having put on his coat, for the corner grocery where a sale was in progress" is simple or compound. For Aristotle's purposes, it is simple. The relative and adverbial clauses modify the simple conjunction of Socrates and going to the store.

We have said that the affirmation asserts one thing of another. Whatever can be affirmed can be denied and vice versa. Aristotle calls this opposition of affirmation and negation contradiction. Opposed propositions are those one of which affirms the other of which denies the same predicate of the same subject, e.g., John is white; John is not white. If John is a Negro whose family name is White, we could object that the two propositions are not opposed and we would be right, for we would be understanding them to have different predicates. The question of the opposition of propositions continues to occupy Aristotle in Chapter Seven.

There is an initial distinction between universal and singular things. We have already seen how such a division of things must be understood in a logical work; it is clear that Aristotle is here distinguishing kinds of subjects of propositions. "Man" is an example of a universal, "Callias" of a singular subject. With respect to universal subjects, something can be predicated either universally (e.g., "Every man is white.") or not (e.g. "Some man is white"). When something is not predicated universally of a universal subject, the result is either a particular ("some man is white") or indefinite proposition ("man is white"). It is because of the nature of the universal that we cannot say, "Every man is every animal," for, since Socrates is a man, we would then have to agree that he is every animal.

Confining ourselves to propositions which have a universal subject, we can distinguish a number of oppositions and arrive at what came to be called the square of opposition. First, the opposition of contradiction. This obtains between the universal affirmative and particular negative, on the one hand, and between the universal negative and particular affirmative, on the other. Thus, "some man is white" is the contradictory of "no man is white." To contradict the universal proposition it suffices to adduce one instance in which it does not hold. Obviously it is not necessary to say that every man is white in order to oppose the claim that no man is white. The opposition between "every man is white" and "no man is white" is called contrariety. Like contradictories, contraries cannot be true simultaneously, but, unlike contradictories, it is not necessary that either contrary be true. Thus, in our example, since some men are white and some are not, neither the universal affirmative nor universal negative is true. It is clear that "some man is white" and "some man is not white" are not opposed propositions strictly speaking, since they do not satisfy the condition that one should affirm and the other deny the same predicate of the same subject. These two propositions can be simultaneously true because they have different subjects. Aristotle maintains that a proposition has only one opposite and by this he means contradictory opposite.

Aristotle's doctrine of the opposition of proposition has come in for a good deal of criticism from modern logicians, not all of it relevant. An informative and judicial discussion of this can be seen in P. F. Strawson's Introduction to Logical Theory.{39}

The foregoing presentation gives a good deal of the basic doctrine as well as the flavor of On Interpretation. It is difficult to indicate briefly the remaining doctrine and we must content ourselves with saying that Aristotle goes on to discuss the truth and falsity of propositions having a verb in the future tense, indulging in a lengthy aside on the difficulties which attend future propositions with a singular subject, e.g. "Socrates will arrive tomorrow." Much of this discussion goes far beyond logic and we shall be speaking of it elsewhere. Aristotle discusses a variety of problems consequent on the positions we have examined, and introduces a discussion of modal propositions, i.e. those which qualify the synthesis as possible, impossible, contingent or necessary.

Prior Analytics. -- The opening chapter of this work follows naturally enough on the matters we have just examined. The overriding concern of the Analytics is demonstration, the demonstrative syllogism. We should know that the division of the work into prior and posterior occurred after Aristotle's death,{40} and the opening sentence of the Prior Analytics indicates the continuity of the two parts: the demonstrative syllogism is not discussed until the Posterior Analytics and yet it is mentioned as the subject of interest. We are told that the present treatise is concerned with demonstration, that it is for the sake of demonstrative science. We will see in a moment that the discussions of the Prior Analytics are a common introduction to the Posterior Analytics and Topics.

If our goal is to discuss demonstrative science, we must deal first with premiss, term and syllogism. The term, it soon emerges, is a component of the proposition insofar as the latter is a component of the syllogism which is the genus of demonstrative syllogism. Having determined the presuppositions of the discussion of the demonstrative syllogism, Aristotle will distinguish the perfect from the imperfect syllogism and then say something about the relationship between the terms.

The premiss is defined as a statement in which one thing is affirmed or denied of another and which is either universal, indefinite or particular. The division of the premiss excludes the singular proposition for reasons which will become clear. The division recalls doctrine with which we are familiar from On Interpretation. The division of the premiss into demonstrative and dialectical is something quite new. First of all, we are referred to contradictory opposition. (1) "Every man is risible" is the contradictory of (2) "Some man is not risible." As we have seen, one of these must be true, the other false. The demonstrative premiss is such that one who proceeds from it knows it to be true. The dialectical premiss, is understood somewhat like this: either (1) or (2) is true and if (1) is true, (2) is false and vice versa. Let us take (1) to be true and see what can be inferred. Aristotle says that the premiss can be settled on dialectically in one of two ways. By question, as: which do you think is true, (1) or (2)? Given one or the other, we proceed. Or: (1) may simply be asserted, not because it is known to be true, but because the majority (either of the learned or simply the majority) holds it. The important thing at this point, however, is not to achieve absolute clarity in understanding this distinction, since it is not now formally under discussion; the present point is not so much how we achieve our premisses, but how we proceed from them. "But this will make no difference to the production of a syllogism in either case; for both the demonstrator and the dialectician argue syllogistically after stating that something does nor does not belong to something else." (24a26 If.) This tells us something rather important about the nature of the Prior Analytics. When Aristotle says that he has made clear the difference between the syllogistic, demonstrative and dialectical premisses, he is not speaking of three species of premisses. Both the demonstrative and dialectical premisses are syllogistic ones and Aristotle proposes that we teleologically forget their differences and consider only what they have in common. Thus "syllogistic premiss" is, as it were, the genus of demonstrative and dialectical premisses. Indeed, the logic of the Prior Analytics, came to be called formal, that of the Posterior Analytics and Topics material for just this reason. After this discussion of premisses, Aristotle says that terms are parts of premisses, i.e. the predicate and that of which it is predicated. With these matters behind him, Aristotle can now define syllogism.

"A syllogism is discourse in which, certain things being stated, something other than what is stated follows of necessity from their being so." (24b18-20) "Discourse" (logos) implies here at least the complexity of the proposition; as it turns out, it involves several statements. In this discourse which is the syllogism it is the case that certain things being stated, or certain statements being made, something else, another statement, follows necessarily from their being so. Much of the sequel will concern itself with the order of terms in the original statements which necessitates that another statement should follow from them. Aristotle explains this necessity by adding (24b20) that he has in mind the necessity of the consequence being drawn or recognized; he is not saying that what the syllogism is about is always necessary.

This series of definitions with which the Prior Analytics begins is extremely difficult to understand. This is only to be expected; Aristotle is in effect setting forth a program to be developed in what follows and in the subsequent discussions the enigmatic pronouncements with which he begins are gradually clarified. If we look now at the final remarks of Chapter One, we will be able to give a better idea of what he means by syllogism and can then indicate what he endeavors to do in the rest of the work.

The final remark has to do with the relation of terms. If A is said of all B, it must be said of everything of which B is said. So too, if A is said of no B, it is said of nothing of which B is said. These definitions of what it means to be said of all and to be said of none enable us to flesh out the definition of syllogism. An example of syllogism is usually stated in this manner: Every A is B, Every C is A, therefore every C is B. Aristotle would not put it just that way and he would express and explain the above as follows. If B is said of all A and A is said of all C then, with necessity of consequence given the meaning of "to be said of all," B is said of all C. The definitions of "to be said of all" and "to be said of none" are the principles on which syllogism is based. Given these principles as well as the division of propositions into affirmative and negative, and into universal, indefinite and particular, Aristotle goes on to develop the logic of syllogism. It would be impossible to find a logician who does not accept the logic of syllogism, although it is often a matter of doubt whether every logician means by this what Aristotle would have meant by the phrase. In any case, no elementary logic course fails to acquaint the student with the doctrine of syllogism; there is justification, then, for giving the most summary statement of the remainder of the Prior Analytics, while at the same time impressing on the interested reader that no modern account of syllogism or what Aristotle taught on this matter should be taken to do away with the need for a careful study of the Prior Analytics. Only such a study will enable him to assess the anachronistic analyses of logicians who may have a radically different view of their discipline than Aristotle had.

The subject and predicate of the conclusion of the syllogism occur in the premisses together with another term which serves to connect them. Since in the conclusion the predicate is said of the subject, in the premisses we may find the predicate said of the third term and the third term said of the subject. This distribution of terms is the first figure of the syllogism and it enables us to see why the predicate of the conclusion is called the major term, the third term the middle, and the subject of the conclusion the minor term. These comparatives have to do with universality and the principle of "to be said of all" makes us see that the major must be said of the minor. Different moods of this figure of the syllogism can be had by varying the premisses in terms of affirmation and negation, universality and particularity, although not every combination turns out to be valid. There are two other figures of the syllogism, each of which has many moods. If the middle term is in the predicate position in both premisses or in the subject position in both we have figures different from the first. Since these figures are less obvious than the first, Aristotle is concerned to show how, by means of such devices as the conversion of terms, discussed in Chapters Two and Three of Book One, they can be reduced to the first. It will be appreciated that we cannot have a syllogism in which the middle would be predicated of the major, and the minor of the middle; this does not serve to link them, as the definition of "to be said of all" makes clear. A good deal of Aristotle's discussion concerns syllogism involving modal propositions. After lengthy and complex discussions relating to the syllogism, Aristotle, at the end of the second book of the Prior Analytics, discusses arguments akin to syllogism among them induction and argument from example.

Posterior Analytics. We have already seen that demonstration involves a syllogism whose premisses must be of a definite sort, a point Aristotle made by contrasting them with dialectical premisses. Let us see how Aristotle elaborates the notion of demonstrative or scientific syllogism.

"All instruction given or received by way of argument proceeds from pre-existent knowledge." (71a1) Aristotle establishes the truth of this assertion by means of an induction. This is the case in the mathematical and other science; it is the case as well in dialectical arguments whether syllogistic or inductive; finally, it is involved in the use of enthymemes (Cf. Prior Analytics, II, 27) and examples. Appeal is always made to what is already manifest when new knowledge is to be acquired. It should be noted that Aristotle's statement is not that all knowledge, not even all intellectual knowledge, comes from previous knowledge. He is concerned only with intellectual knowledge got by reasoning or argumentation.

The foreknowledge referred to is of two kinds, Aristotle continues; either it is knowledge of a fact or knowledge of the meaning of a word. Sometimes both types of foreknowledge of the same thing are assumed. In order to understand this distinction, we have to keep in mind that Aristotle is here speaking of the demonstrative syllogism and the syllogism, generally, is a discourse by means of which, given the premisses, the conclusion follows. Thus, in order to arrive at knowledge of the conclusion, we must first know the premisses and the facts and meanings therein involved. Now, in the conclusion, we affirm something of something else and, according to the distribution of terms in the syllogism, the predicate and subject of the conclusion first appear in the premisses. Thus, since we know the premisses prior to the conclusion, we must have some kind of prior knowledge of the terms of the conclusion; and, since the subject and predicate are simple terms, we will have one kind of foreknowledge of them insofar as we know the propositions in which they occur are true. Of the premisses as such we know not what they are (since they are complex in a way defined things are not), but that they are true. The example Aristotle gives of what must be known to be true is extremely general, namely that every predicate can be truly affirmed or denied of any subject. (Later he will show that such a principle, because of its generality, is never a premiss of a demonstration.) Of the predicate of the conclusion we must know beforehand what its name means, i.e. have a nominal definition of it. Aristotle gives the example of triangle which is a predicate in the demonstration whereby a triangle is constructed on a line. Of the line or unity, which are not predicated of other subjects (clearly triangle can be both a predicate and a subject of which something is proved), we must know both what the words signify and that they are. As is made clear in the second book, this is tantamount to saying that we must have a real definition of the subject. Before deciding whether or not something exists, we must know what its name means; if something in reality answers to what the name means we either have or can seek its definition, although the definition itself does not include any assertion that such a thing exists. With respect to that which in the conclusion is shown to belong to the subject, we do not know beforehand both what the word means and that it exists, since the fact that for it to be, is for it to be in the subject, is precisely what we learn in the conclusion of the demonstration strictly so called. Aristotle hints in Chapter Two (71b 16) and makes explicit later in Chapter Thirteen that "science" and consequently "scientific or demonstrative syllogism" are equivocal, but equivocal by design. (This will be discussed later.) Thus, he will first discuss the demonstrative syllogism in the most proper sense of the term and go on to discuss less rigorous demonstration.

We can say by way of conclusion to these remarks on foreknowledge that a demonstration presupposes that we first know the truth of the premisses, have a real definition of the subject and a nominal definition of the predicate of the conclusion. Aristotle makes it clear that it is not always temporal priority that is involved in such foreknowledge. Thus, one may assent simultaneously to one of the premisses and to the conclusion, but knowledge of the premiss will always be prior in the sense that it grounds the conclusion.

If there are certain things which must already be known if the conclusion is to be drawn, we can also ask if there is any way in which the conclusion itself might be said to be known before it is demonstrated. Aristotle has in mind here Plato's doctrine of recollection. Prior to its being demonstrated, the conclusion may be said to be known and not known. Absolutely speaking, it is not known, but in another way, since we must already know that from which the conclusion follows, we may be said to know the conclusion potentially. Thus, when we come to know the conclusion thanks to demonstration, we are not learning what we already knew in the same sense: what beforehand we knew only potentially, we now know actually. In Chapter Two of the first book of the Posterior Analytics, Aristotle sets out to define the demonstrative syllogism; his procedure is of the utmost importance.

We suppose ourselves to possess unqualified scientific knowledge of a thing, as opposed to knowing it in the accidental way in which the sophist knows, when we think that we know the cause on which the fact depends, as the cause of that fact and of no other, and further, that the fact could not be other than it is. (71b9-12)

Aristotle states here what he thinks anyone would mean when he says he knows, really knows, that something is so. In other words, he is proceeding from a nominal definition. Whether or not a person actually has knowledge of something when he claims to have it, he thinks he knows why the thing is as it is, the cause of its being so; and, given that cause, the thing cannot be otherwise than it is. We have such knowledge, Aristotle says, only as the result of a demonstrative syllogism. What is the nature of this syllogism?

First of all, and repetitiously, it is that syllogism which enables us to have the kind of knowledge anyone thinks he has when, rightly or wrongly he says he knows. The point is to discuss what sort of syllogism can produce such knowledge. Its premisses, Aristotle asserts, must be true, primary, immediate, better known than and prior to the conclusion which is related to them as effect to cause. A syllogism can be had without such premisses, but only with premisses like these can we get the knowledge defined at the outset. Before examining these characteristics of the premisses of the demonstrative syllogism, something can here be said of the division of logic into formal and material.

There is, first of all, a way in which logic in general is formal to any matter we may reason about. Secondly, we can distinguish in the syllogism a form and matter, that is, the terms are material, their proper distribution formal. Neither of these distinctions is the one whereby we speak of formal and material logic; the first is not, because it distinguishes logic from that about which we hope to be logical; formal and material logic is presumably a distinction within logic. So too the second distinction is one which lies on the side of formal logic in the sense we are trying to determine. We said earlier that the Prior Analytics proceeds on a common or abstract level because it discusses syllogism apart from its division into demonstrative and dialectical. This suggests that what makes a syllogism demonstrative, for example, is a less abstract, more material consideration. In the text we have just been considering, the characteristics of the premisses of the demonstrative syllogism indicate how material logic goes beyond formal logic of syllogism. The discussion presupposes the doctrine of the syllogism and adds to it something which goes beyond the notion of necessity of consequence. These additions do not take us out of the realm of logic; we are still discussing the method to be pursued in seeking knowledge, a method which, despite the many references to geometry in the Posterior Analytics, is not the method of some particular science. In that sense, material logic, like all logic, is formal with respect to the objects we might reason about.

To return to the nature of the premisses of the demonstrative syllogism; they must be true. It is possible to conclude something from false premisses, but if we want to know something in the sense defined above, we must proceed from true premisses. Moreover, the premisses must be first and immediate. "First" suggests a relation of order and "immediate" the basis for the order. Immediate propositions are those in which the connection of predicate and subject is evident without appeal to something else, to some mean which justifies the connection. Such propositions are prior to those which require a mean, of course, but we may understand "first" in a further sense. The premisses of any demonstration need not be immediate in the full sense, for they may have been demonstrated in their turn; yet this must be considered to be accidental to their role in the demonstration in which they are premisses. If referred to prior premisses, however, they will be mediate; ultimately, Aristotle is saying, the demonstration must be reducible to immediate propositions. Thus, though not every demonstration in geometry proceeds from immediate or indemonstrable propositions, all demonstrations are reducible to such propositions which are first in that order.

Moreover, the premisses must express the cause of what is expressed in the conclusion; for this reason the premisses are prior and better known than the conclusion. The priority and greater knowability is not to be equated with what is most obvious and familiar to us, but rather with that which in the nature of things is prior. It may happen that these two orders coincide, but Aristotle is here speaking of a priority of nature, as causes are always prior to their effects.

After this initial explication, Aristotle returns to the notion of immediate propositions which are such that nothing is prior to them in the way that they are prior to mediate or demonstrable propositions. The proposition is one side of a contradiction, Aristotle says, recalling here the distinction made in the Prior Analytics between dialectical and demonstrative premisses. The demonstrator knows that his premisses are true and that their contradictories are false. With respect to immediate propositions, Aristotle makes a number of divisions. Some immediate propositions are such that anyone will assent to them once they are stated, so much so that disagreement with them is merely verbal and self-defeating. (Cf. Metaphysics IV, 3-8) These immediate propositions, known to all, are called axioms and no demonstrator need worry about their acceptance. Other propositions, though immediate in the sense of indemonstrable, are not so commonly recognized. With these it is necessary to explicate their terms in order that their indemonstrability be manifest. Some propositions, further, may be called immediate because they are indemonstrable in a given order, although they can be proved elsewhere. Aristotle has in mind the notion of a subalternated science: something may be proved of natural things by appeal to geometrical truths which are indemonstrable in natural philosophy.

Aristotle goes on to speak of theses which are either suppositions (hypotheses) or definitions. Suppositions seem to be the immediate propositions already discussed; only in the third case would we have a supposition or hypothesis in a sense close to our use of the term, but even there, propositions borrowed from another science are not considered to be of doubtful truth, simply the rules of a game. The introduction of definition here may seem strange. We have been discussing immediate propositions and it is clear enough that the definition is immediate in the sense that it cannot be proved (although, in the second book, Aristotle will present a very nuanced qualification of this assertion) that plus the fact that it is a principle of demonstration seems to explain its mention here.

What we have done thus far is to present the doctrine contained in the first two chapters of Book One of the Posterior Analytics; in Chapter Three Aristotle argues that circular demonstration is impossible, i.e., that we cannot first prove the conclusion from the premisses and then a premiss from the conclusion. This is another way of establishing the need for first and immediate propositions. The rest of the first book falls into two parts: the discussion of the conditions of demonstrative science (Chapters 4-23). Chapter Four is particularly important; the commensurately universal property there described is necessary if the notion of knowledge set down at the beginning is to be attained. Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen indicate that there is a less perfect kind of demonstrative syllogism than that hitherto described. The next major part comprises Chapters Twenty-four through Thirty-four where demonstrations are compared from various points of view. The second book can be divided into two parts: the first (Chapters 1-18) discusses the middle term of demonstration; the second (Chapter 19) concerns the knowledge of the first principles from which demonstration proceeds.

Topics. Let us listen to Aristotle's description of what this work is about.

Our treatise proposes to find a line of inquiry whereby we shall be able to reason from opinions that are generally accepted about every problem propounded to us, and also shall ourselves, when standing up to an argument, avoid saying anything that will obstruct us. First, then, we must say what reasoning is, and what its varieties are, in order to grasp dialectical reasoning: for this is the object of our search in the treatise before us. (100a18)

To the kinds of syllogism mentioned at the outset of the Prior Analytics, Aristotle here adds the contentious, fallacious or apparent argument. This will be his concern in his Sophistical Refutations. To carry out the program outlined will provide us with something useful for three things: intellectual training, casual encounters, and the philosophical sciences. (cf. 101a25) This last point is developed in a way which enables us to appreciate Aristotle's procedure in his treatises.

For the study of the philosophical sciences it is useful, because the ability to raise searching difficulties on both sides of a subject will make us detect more easily the truth and error about the several points that arise. It has a further use in relation to the ultimate bases of the principles used in the several sciences. For it is impossible to discuss them all from the principles proper to the particular science in hand, seeing that the principles are the prius of everything else: it is through the opinions generally held on the particular points that these have to be discussed, and this task belongs properly, or most appropriately, to dialectic: for dialectic is a process of criticism wherein lies the path to the principles of all inquiries. (101a34 if.)

Noting that problems arise with respect to genus, property or accident, Aristotle sets the stage for the subsequent development. In Books Two and Three he discusses problems respecting accident; in Book Four those involving the genus; in Book Five, property; in Book Six, definition. Book Seven concerns the question of identity and definition and, in Book Eight, Aristotle discusses the use of dialectic. The Refutations discusses the origin of fallacies and how they may be solved.

{33} Julius Stenzel, Plato's Method of Dialectic (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940).

{34} W. Jaeger, Aristotle, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1948).

{35} See Sir Ernest Barker's edition of Aristotle's Politics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1948); J. H. Randall, Aristotle (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960); D. J. Allen The Philosophy of Aristotle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952); G. R. G. Mure, Aristotle (London: E. Benn Ltd., 1932). The following works contain invaluable surveys of the problem. Joseph Owens, The Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics (Toronto: Pontifical Inst. of Medieval Studies, 2nd. ed., 1957); S. Gomez-Nogales, Horizonte de la Metafisica Aristotelica (Madrid: Facultades de Teologia y de Filosofia del Colegio Maxima S. I. de Ona, 1955).

{36} Cf. Paul Wilpert, "The Fragments of Aristotle's Lost Writings," in ARISTOTLE AND PLATO IN THE MID-FOURTH CENTURY, edited by I. During and G. E. L. Owen (Goteborg; Almgrist and Wiksell, 1960) pp. 257-264. This collection of the papers of the Symposium Aristotelicum held at Oxford in 1957 is of the highest importance.

{37} For one of the best analyses, see the essay by S. Mansion, "Contemplation and Action in Aristotle's Protrepticus," in During and Owen, op. cit.

{38}See W. D, Ross, Aristotle (London: Methuen & Co., 1930).

{39} (London: Methauen, 1952).

{40} W. D. Ross, Aristotle's Prior and Posterior Analytics, (London: Oxford Univ. Press), p.1.

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