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Aristotle - The Organon ANALYTICA PRIORIA Book 1 Part 36

Relations between the terms in a syllogism

1. That the first term belongs to the middle, and the middle to the extreme, must not be understood in the sense that they can always be predicated of one another or that the first term will be predicated of the middle in the same way as the middle is predicated of the last term. The same holds if the premisses are negative. But we must suppose the verb 'to belong' to have as many meanings as the senses in which the verb 'to be' is used, and in which the assertion that a thing 'is' may be said to be true. Take for example the statement that there is a single science of contraries. Let A stand for 'there being a single science', and B for things which are contrary to one another. Then A belongs to B, not in the sense that contraries are the fact of there being a single science of them, but in the sense that it is true to say of the contraries that there is a single science of them.

2. It happens sometimes that the first term is stated of the middle, but the middle is not stated of the third term, e.g. if wisdom is knowledge, and wisdom is of the good, the conclusion is that there is knowledge of the good. The good then is not knowledge, though wisdom is knowledge. Sometimes the middle term is stated of the third, but the first is not stated of the middle, e.g. if there is a science of everything that has a quality, or is a contrary, and the good both is a contrary and has a quality, the conclusion is that there is a science of the good, but the good is not science, nor is that which has a quality or is a contrary, though the good is both of these. Sometimes neither the first term is stated of the middle, nor the middle of the third, while the first is sometimes stated of the third, and sometimes not: e.g. if there is a genus of that of which there is a science, and if there is a science of the good, we conclude that there is a genus of the good. But nothing is predicated of anything. And if that of which there is a science is a genus, and if there is a science of the good, we conclude that the good is a genus. The first term then is predicated of the extreme, but in the premisses one thing is not stated of another.

3. The same holds good where the relation is negative. For 'that does not belong to this' does not always mean that 'this is not that', but sometimes that 'this is not of that' or 'for that', e.g. 'there is not a motion of a motion or a becoming of a becoming, but there is a becoming of pleasure: so pleasure is not a becoming.' Or again it may be said that there is a sign of laughter, but there is not a sign of a sign, consequently laughter is not a sign. This holds in the other cases too, in which the thesis is refuted because the genus is asserted in a particular way, in relation to the terms of the thesis. Again take the inference 'opportunity is not the right time: for opportunity belongs to God, but the right time does not, since nothing is useful to God'. We must take as terms opportunity - right time - God: but the premiss must be understood according to the case of the noun. For we state this universally without qualification, that the terms ought always to be stated in the nominative, e.g. man, good, contraries, not in oblique cases, e.g. of man, of a good, of contraries, but the premisses ought to be understood with reference to the cases of each term - either the dative, e.g. 'equal to this', or the genitive, e.g. 'double of this', or the accusative, e.g. 'that which strikes or sees this', or the nominative, e.g. 'man is an animal', or in whatever other way the word falls in the premiss.


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