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Aristotle - The Organon ANALYTICA PRIORIA Book 1 Part 17

Second figure, both premisses problematic

1. In the second figure whenever both premisses are problematic, no syllogism is possible, whether the premisses are affirmative or negative, universal or particular. But when one premiss is assertoric, the other problematic, if the affirmative is assertoric no syllogism is possible, but if the universal negative is assertoric a conclusion can always be drawn. Similarly when one premiss is necessary, the other problematic. Here also we must understand the term 'possible' in the conclusion, in the same sense as before.

2. First we must point out that the negative problematic proposition is not convertible, e.g. if A may belong to no B, it does not follow that B may belong to no A. For suppose it to follow and assume that B may belong to no A. Since then problematic affirmations are convertible with negations, whether they are contraries or contradictories, and since B may belong to no A, it is clear that B may belong to all A. But this is false: for if all this can be that, it does not follow that all that can be this: consequently the negative proposition is not convertible. Further, these propositions are not incompatible, 'A may belong to no B', 'B necessarily does not belong to some of the As'; e.g. it is possible that no man should be white (for it is also possible that every man should be white), but it is not true to say that it is possible that no white thing should be a man: for many white things are necessarily not men, and the necessary (as we saw) other than the possible.

3. Moreover it is not possible to prove the convertibility of these propositions by a reductio ad absurdum, i.e. by claiming assent to the following argument: 'since it is false that B may belong to no A, it is true that it cannot belong to no A, for the one statement is the contradictory of the other. But if this is so, it is true that B necessarily belongs to some of the As: consequently A necessarily belongs to some of the Bs. But this is impossible.' The argument cannot be admitted, for it does not follow that some A is necessarily B, if it is not possible that no A should be B. For the latter expression is used in two senses, one if A some is necessarily B, another if some A is necessarily not B. For it is not true to say that that which necessarily does not belong to some of the As may possibly not belong to any A, just as it is not true to say that what necessarily belongs to some A may possibly belong to all A. If any one then should claim that because it is not possible for C to belong to all D, it necessarily does not belong to some D, he would make a false assumption: for it does belong to all D, but because in some cases it belongs necessarily, therefore we say that it is not possible for it to belong to all. Hence both the propositions 'A necessarily belongs to some B' and 'A necessarily does not belong to some B' are opposed to the proposition 'A belongs to all B'. Similarly also they are opposed to the proposition 'A may belong to no B'. It is clear then that in relation to what is possible and not possible, in the sense originally defined, we must assume, not that A necessarily belongs to some B, but that A necessarily does not belong to some B. But if this is assumed, no absurdity results: consequently no syllogism. It is clear from what has been said that the negative proposition is not convertible.

4. This being proved, suppose it possible that A may belong to no B and to all C. By means of conversion no syllogism will result: for the major premiss, as has been said, is not convertible. Nor can a proof be obtained by a reductio ad absurdum: for if it is assumed that B can belong to all C, no false consequence results: for A may belong both to all C and to no C. In general, if there is a syllogism, it is clear that its conclusion will be problematic because neither of the premisses is assertoric; and this must be either affirmative or negative. But neither is possible. Suppose the conclusion is affirmative: it will be proved by an example that the predicate cannot belong to the subject. Suppose the conclusion is negative: it will be proved that it is not problematic but necessary. Let A be white, B man, C horse. It is possible then for A to belong to all of the one and to none of the other. But it is not possible for B to belong nor not to belong to C. That it is not possible for it to belong, is clear. For no horse is a man. Neither is it possible for it not to belong. For it is necessary that no horse should be a man, but the necessary we found to be different from the possible. No syllogism then results. A similar proof can be given if the major premiss is negative, the minor affirmative, or if both are affirmative or negative. The demonstration can be made by means of the same terms. And whenever one premiss is universal, the other particular, or both are particular or indefinite, or in whatever other way the premisses can be altered, the proof will always proceed through the same terms. Clearly then, if both the premisses are problematic, no syllogism results.


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