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Aristotle - The Organon ANALYTICA POSTERIORA Book 1 Part 11

Existence of forms, contradiction, excluded middle

1. So demonstration does not necessarily imply the being of Forms nor a One beside a Many, but it does necessarily imply the possibility of truly predicating one of many; since without this possibility we cannot save the universal, and if the universal goes, the middle term goes witb. it, and so demonstration becomes impossible. We conclude, then, that there must be a single identical term unequivocally predicable of a number of individuals.

2. The law that it is impossible to affirm and deny simultaneously the same predicate of the same subject is not expressly posited by any demonstration except when the conclusion also has to be expressed in that form; in which case the proof lays down as its major premiss that the major is truly affirmed of the middle but falsely denied. It makes no difference, however, if we add to the middle, or again to the minor term, the corresponding negative. For grant a minor term of which it is true to predicate man - even if it be also true to predicate not-man of it - still grant simply that man is animal and not not-animal, and the conclusion follows: for it will still be true to say that Callias - even if it be also true to say that not-Callias - is animal and not not-animal. The reason is that the major term is predicable not only of the middle, but of something other than the middle as well, being of wider application; so that the conclusion is not affected even if the middle is extended to cover the original middle term and also what is not the original middle term.

3. The law that every predicate can be either truly affirmed or truly denied of every subject is posited by such demonstration as uses reductio ad impossibile, and then not always universally, but so far as it is requisite; within the limits, that is, of the genus - the genus, I mean (as I have already explained), to which the man of science applies his demonstrations. In virtue of the common elements of demonstration - I mean the common axioms which are used as premisses of demonstration, not the subjects nor the attributes demonstrated as belonging to them - all the sciences have communion with one another, and in communion with them all is dialectic and any science which might attempt a universal proof of axioms such as the law of excluded middle, the law that the subtraction of equals from equals leaves equal remainders, or other axioms of the same kind. Dialectic has no definite sphere of this kind, not being confined to a single genus. Otherwise its method would not be interrogative; for the interrogative method is barred to the demonstrator, who cannot use the opposite facts to prove the same nexus. This was shown in my work on the syllogism.


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