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Aristotle - The Organon ANALYTICA PRIORIA Book 1 Part 34

Not setting out the terms of the premiss well

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1. Men will frequently fall into fallacies through not setting out the terms of the premiss well, e.g. suppose A to be health, B disease, C man. It is true to say that A cannot belong to any B (for health belongs to no disease) and again that B belongs to every C (for every man is capable of disease). It would seem to follow that health cannot belong to any man. The reason for this is that the terms are not set out well in the statement, since if the things which are in the conditions are substituted, no syllogism can be made, e.g. if 'healthy' is substituted for 'health' and 'diseased' for 'disease'. For it is not true to say that being healthy cannot belong to one who is diseased. But unless this is assumed no conclusion results, save in respect of possibility: but such a conclusion is not impossible: for it is possible that health should belong to no man. Again the fallacy may occur in a similar way in the middle figure: 'it is not possible that health should belong to any disease, but it is possible that health should belong to every man, consequently it is not possible that disease should belong to any man'. In the third figure the fallacy results in reference to possibility. For health and diseae and knowledge and ignorance, and in general contraries, may possibly belong to the same thing, but cannot belong to one another. This is not in agreement with what was said before: for we stated that when several things could belong to the same thing, they could belong to one another.

2. It is evident then that in all these cases the fallacy arises from the setting out of the terms: for if the things that are in the conditions are substituted, no fallacy arises. It is clear then that in such premisses what possesses the condition ought always to be substituted for the condition and taken as the term.


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