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Aristotle - The Organon ANALYTICA PRIORIA Book 1 Part 27

How to reach the principles relative to the problem

1. We must now state how we may ourselves always have a supply of syllogisms in reference to the problem proposed and by what road we may reach the principles relative to the problem: for perhaps we ought not only to investigate the construction of syllogisms, but also to have the power of making them.

2. Of all the things which exist some are such that they cannot be predicated of anything else truly and universally, e.g. Cleon and Callias, i.e. the individual and sensible, but other things may be predicated of them (for each of these is both man and animal); and some things are themselves predicated of others, but nothing prior is predicated of them; and some are predicated of others, and yet others of them, e.g. man of Callias and animal of man. It is clear then that some things are naturally not stated of anything: for as a rule each sensible thing is such that it cannot be predicated of anything, save incidentally: for we sometimes say that that white object is Socrates, or that that which approaches is Callias. We shall explain in another place that there is an upward limit also to the process of predicating: for the present we must assume this. Of these ultimate predicates it is not possible to demonstrate another predicate, save as a matter of opinion, but these may be predicated of other things. Neither can individuals be predicated of other things, though other things can be predicated of them. Whatever lies between these limits can be spoken of in both ways: they may be stated of others, and others stated of them. And as a rule arguments and inquiries are concerned with these things.

3. We must select the premisses suitable to each problem in this manner: first we must lay down the subject and the definitions and the properties of the thing; next we must lay down those attributes which follow the thing, and again those which the thing follows, and those which cannot belong to it. But those to which it cannot belong need not be selected, because the negative statement implied above is convertible. Of the attributes which follow we must distinguish those which fall within the definition, those which are predicated as properties, and those which are predicated as accidents, and of the latter those which apparently and those which really belong. The larger the supply a man has of these, the more quickly will he reach a conclusion; and in proportion as he apprehends those which are truer, the more cogently will he demonstrate. But he must select not those which follow some particular but those which follow the thing as a whole, e.g. not what follows a particular man but what follows every man: for the syllogism proceeds through universal premisses. If the statement is indefinite, it is uncertain whether the premiss is universal, but if the statement is definite, the matter is clear. Similarly one must select those attributes which the subject follows as wholes, for the reason given. But that which follows one must not suppose to follow as a whole, e.g. that every animal follows man or every science music, but only that it follows, without qualification, and indeed we state it in a proposition: for the other statement is useless and impossible, e.g. that every man is every animal or justice is all good. But that which something follows receives the mark 'every'. Whenever the subject, for which we must obtain the attributes that follow, is contained by something else, what follows or does not follow the highest term universally must not be selected in dealing with the subordinate term (for these attributes have been taken in dealing with the superior term; for what follows animal also follows man, and what does not belong to animal does not belong to man); but we must choose those attributes which are peculiar to each subject. For some things are peculiar to the species as distinct from the genus; for species being distinct there must be attributes peculiar to each. Nor must we take as things which the superior term follows, those things which the inferior term follows, e.g. take as subjects of the predicate 'animal' what are really subjects of the predicate 'man'. It is necessary indeed, if animal follows man, that it should follow all these also. But these belong more properly to the choice of what concerns man. One must apprehend also normal consequents and normal antecedents -, for propositions which obtain normally are established syllogistically from premisses which obtain normally, some if not all of them having this character of normality. For the conclusion of each syllogism resembles its principles. We must not however choose attributes which are consequent upon all the terms: for no syllogism can be made out of such premisses. The reason why this is so will be clear in the sequel.


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