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Aristotle - The Organon ANALYTICA PRIORIA Book 1 Part 32

Reducing syllogisms to the figures

1. Our next business is to state how we can reduce syllogisms to the aforementioned figures: for this part of the inquiry still remains. If we should investigate the production of the syllogisms and had the power of discovering them, and further if we could resolve the syllogisms produced into the aforementioned figures, our original problem would be brought to a conclusion. It will happen at the same time that what has been already said will be confirmed and its truth made clearer by what we are about to say. For everything that is true must in every respect agree with itself First then we must attempt to select the two premisses of the syllogism (for it is easier to divide into large parts than into small, and the composite parts are larger than the elements out of which they are made); next we must inquire which are universal and which particular, and if both premisses have not been stated, we must ourselves assume the one which is missing. For sometimes men put forward the universal premiss, but do not posit the premiss which is contained in it, either in writing or in discussion: or men put forward the premisses of the principal syllogism, but omit those through which they are inferred, and invite the concession of others to no purpose. We must inquire then whether anything unnecessary has been assumed, or anything necessary has been omitted, and we must posit the one and take away the other, until we have reached the two premisses: for unless we have these, we cannot reduce arguments put forward in the way described. In some arguments it is easy to see what is wanting, but some escape us, and appear to be syllogisms, because something necessary results from what has been laid down, e.g. if the assumptions were made that substance is not annihilated by the annihilation of what is not substance, and that if the elements out of which a thing is made are annihilated, then that which is made out of them is destroyed: these propositions being laid down, it is necessary that any part of substance is substance; this has not however been drawn by syllogism from the propositions assumed, but premisses are wanting. Again if it is necessary that animal should exist, if man does, and that substance should exist, if animal does, it is necessary that substance should exist if man does: but as yet the conclusion has not been drawn syllogistically: for the premisses are not in the shape we required. We are deceived in such cases because something necessary results from what is assumed, since the syllogism also is necessary. But that which is necessary is wider than the syllogism: for every syllogism is necessary, but not everything which is necessary is a syllogism. Consequently, though something results when certain propositions are assumed, we must not try to reduce it directly, but must first state the two premisses, then divide them into their terms. We must take that term as middle which is stated in both the remisses: for it is necessary that the middle should be found in both premisses in all the figures.

2. If then the middle term is a predicate and a subject of predication, or if it is a predicate, and something else is denied of it, we shall have the first figure: if it both is a predicate and is denied of something, the middle figure: if other things are predicated of it, or one is denied, the other predicated, the last figure. For it was thus that we found the middle term placed in each figure. It is placed similarly too if the premisses are not universal: for the middle term is determined in the same way. Clearly then, if the same term is not stated more than once in the course of an argument, a syllogism cannot be made: for a middle term has not been taken. Since we know what sort of thesis is established in each figure, and in which the universal, in what sort the particular is described, clearly we must not look for all the figures, but for that which is appropriate to the thesis in hand. If the thesis is established in more figures than one, we shall recognize the figure by the position of the middle term.


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