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Aristotle - The Organon ANALYTICA PRIORIA Book 2 Part 27

Probability

1. A probability and a sign are not identical, but a probability is a generally approved proposition: what men know to happen or not to happen, to be or not to be, for the most part thus and thus, is a probability, e.g. 'the envious hate', 'the beloved show affection'. A sign means a demonstrative proposition necessary or generally approved: for anything such that when it is another thing is, or when it has come into being the other has come into being before or after, is a sign of the other's being or having come into being. Now an enthymeme is a syllogism starting from probabilities or signs, and a sign may be taken in three ways, corresponding to the position of the middle term in the figures. For it may be taken as in the first figure or the second or the third. For example the proof that a woman is with child because she has milk is in the first figure: for to have milk is the middle term. Let A represent to be with child, B to have milk, C woman. The proof that wise men are good, since Pittacus is good, comes through the last figure. Let A stand for good, B for wise men, C for Pittacus. It is true then to affirm both A and B of C: only men do not say the latter, because they know it, though they state the former. The proof that a woman is with child because she is pale is meant to come through the middle figure: for since paleness follows women with child and is a concomitant of this woman, people suppose it has been proved that she is with child. Let A stand for paleness, B for being with child, C for woman. Now if the one proposition is stated, we have only a sign, but if the other is stated as well, a syllogism, e.g. 'Pittacus is generous, since ambitious men are generous and Pittacus is ambitious.' Or again 'Wise men are good, since Pittacus is not only good but wise.' In this way then syllogisms are formed, only that which proceeds through the first figure is irrefutable if it is true (for it is universal), that which proceeds through the last figure is refutable even if the conclusion is true, since the syllogism is not universal nor correlative to the matter in question: for though Pittacus is good, it is not therefore necessary that all other wise men should be good. But the syllogism which proceeds through the middle figure is always refutable in any case: for a syllogism can never be formed when the terms are related in this way: for though a woman with child is pale, and this woman also is pale, it is not necessary that she should be with child. Truth then may be found in signs whatever their kind, but they have the differences we have stated.

2. We must either divide signs in the way stated, and among them designate the middle term as the index (for people call that the index which makes us know, and the middle term above all has this character), or else we must call the arguments derived from the extremes signs, that derived from the middle term the index: for that which is proved through the first figure is most generally accepted and most true.

3. It is possible to infer character from features, if it is granted that the body and the soul are changed together by the natural affections: I say 'natural', for though perhaps by learning music a man has made some change in his soul, this is not one of those affections which are natural to us; rather I refer to passions and desires when I speak of natural emotions. If then this were granted and also that for each change there is a corresponding sign, and we could state the affection and sign proper to each kind of animal, we shall be able to infer character from features. For if there is an affection which belongs properly to an individual kind, e.g. courage to lions, it is necessary that there should be a sign of it: for ex hypothesi body and soul are affected together. Suppose this sign is the possession of large extremities: this may belong to other kinds also though not universally. For the sign is proper in the sense stated, because the affection is proper to the whole kind, though not proper to it alone, according to our usual manner of speaking. The same thing then will be found in another kind, and man may be brave, and some other kinds of animal as well. They will then have the sign: for ex hypothesi there is one sign corresponding to each affection. If then this is so, and we can collect signs of this sort in these animals which have only one affection proper to them - but each affection has its sign, since it is necessary that it should have a single sign - we shall then be able to infer character from features. But if the kind as a whole has two properties, e.g. if the lion is both brave and generous, how shall we know which of the signs which are its proper concomitants is the sign of a particular affection? Perhaps if both belong to some other kind though not to the whole of it, and if, in those kinds in which each is found though not in the whole of their members, some members possess one of the affections and not the other: e.g. if a man is brave but not generous, but possesses, of the two signs, large extremities, it is clear that this is the sign of courage in the lion also. To judge character from features, then, is possible in the first figure if the middle term is convertible with the first extreme, but is wider than the third term and not convertible with it: e.g. let A stand for courage, B for large extremities, and C for lion. B then belongs to everything to which C belongs, but also to others. But A belongs to everything to which B belongs, and to nothing besides, but is convertible with B: otherwise, there would not be a single sign correlative with each affection.


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