Aristotle - The Organon ANALYTICA PRIORIA Book 1 Part 30

On method, in relation to choice of premisses

1. The method is the same in all cases, in philosophy, in any art or study. We must look for the attributes and the subjects of both our terms, and we must supply ourselves with as many of these as possible, and consider them by means of the three terms, refuting statements in one way, confirming them in another, in the pursuit of truth starting from premisses in which the arrangement of the terms is in accordance with truth, while if we look for dialectical syllogisms we must start from probable premisses. The principles of syllogisms have been stated in general terms, both how they are characterized and how we must hunt for them, so as not to look to everything that is said about the terms of the problem or to the same points whether we are confirming or refuting, or again whether we are confirming of all or of some, and whether we are refuting of all or some. we must look to fewer points and they must be definite. We have also stated how we must select with reference to everything that is, e.g. about good or knowledge. But in each science the principles which are peculiar are the most numerous. Consequently it is the business of experience to give the principles which belong to each subject. I mean for example that astronomical experience supplies the principles of astronomical science: for once the phenomena were adequately apprehended, the demonstrations of astronomy were discovered. Similarly with any other art or science. Consequently, if the attributes of the thing are apprehended, our business will then be to exhibit readily the demonstrations. For if none of the true attributes of things had been omitted in the historical survey, we should be able to discover the proof and demonstrate everything which admitted of proof, and to make that clear, whose nature does not admit of proof.

2. In general then we have explained fairly well how we must select premisses: we have discussed the matter accurately in the treatise concerning dialectic.

UPHOME HTML edition © RBJ created 1996/11/25 modified 2009/04/26