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Aristotle - The Organon ANALYTICA POSTERIORA Book 1 Part 12

There are distinctively scientific questions

1. If a syllogistic question is equivalent to a proposition embodying one of the two sides of a contradiction, and if each science has its peculiar propositions from which its peculiar conclusion is developed, then there is such a thing as a distinctively scientific question, and it is the interrogative form of the premisses from which the 'appropriate' conclusion of each science is developed. Hence it is clear that not every question will be relevant to geometry, nor to medicine, nor to any other science: only those questions will be geometrical which form premisses for the proof of the theorems of geometry or of any other science, such as optics, which uses the same basic truths as geometry. Of the other sciences the like is true. Of these questions the geometer is bound to give his account, using the basic truths of geometry in conjunction with his previous conclusions; of the basic truths the geometer, as such, is not bound to give any account. The like is true of the other sciences. There is a limit, then, to the questions which we may put to each man of science; nor is each man of science bound to answer all inquiries on each several subject, but only such as fall within the defined field of his own science. If, then, in controversy with a geometer qua geometer the disputant confines himself to geometry and proves anything from geometrical premisses, he is clearly to be applauded; if he goes outside these he will be at fault, and obviously cannot even refute the geometer except accidentally. One should therefore not discuss geometry among those who are not geometers, for in such a company an unsound argument will pass unnoticed. This is correspondingly true in the other sciences.

2. Since there are 'geometrical' questions, does it follow that there are also distinctively 'ungeometrical' questions? Further, in each special science - geometry for instance - what kind of error is it that may vitiate questions, and yet not exclude them from that science? Again, is the erroneous conclusion one constructed from premisses opposite to the true premisses, or is it formal fallacy though drawn from geometrical premisses? Or, perhaps, the erroneous conclusion is due to the drawing of premisses from another science; e.g. in a geometrical controversy a musical question is distinctively ungeometrical, whereas the notion that parallels meet is in one sense geometrical, being ungeometrical in a different fashion: the reason being that 'ungeometrical', like 'unrhythmical', is equivocal, meaning in the one case not geometry at all, in the other bad geometry? It is this error, i.e. error based on premisses of this kind - 'of' the science but false - that is the contrary of science. In mathematics the formal fallacy is not so common, because it is the middle term in which the ambiguity lies, since the major is predicated of the whole of the middle and the middle of the whole of the minor (the predicate of course never has the prefix 'all'); and in mathematics one can, so to speak, see these middle terms with an intellectual vision, while in dialectic the ambiguity may escape detection. E.g. 'Is every circle a figure?' A diagram shows that this is so, but the minor premiss 'Are epics circles?' is shown by the diagram to be false.

3. If a proof has an inductive minor premiss, one should not bring an 'objection' against it. For since every premiss must be applicable to a number of cases (otherwise it will not be true in every instance, which, since the syllogism proceeds from universals, it must be), then assuredly the same is true of an 'objection'; since premisses and 'objections' are so far the same that anything which can be validly advanced as an 'objection' must be such that it could take the form of a premiss, either demonstrative or dialectical. On the other hand, arguments formally illogical do sometimes occur through taking as middles mere attributes of the major and minor terms. An instance of this is Caeneus' proof that fire increases in geometrical proportion: 'Fire', he argues, 'increases rapidly, and so does geometrical proportion'. There is no syllogism so, but there is a syllogism if the most rapidly increasing proportion is geometrical and the most rapidly increasing proportion is attributable to fire in its motion. Sometimes, no doubt, it is impossible to reason from premisses predicating mere attributes: but sometimes it is possible, though the possibility is overlooked. If false premisses could never give true conclusions 'resolution' would be easy, for premisses and conclusion would in that case inevitably reciprocate. I might then argue thus: let A be an existing fact; let the existence of A imply such and such facts actually known to me to exist, which we may call B. I can now, since they reciprocate, infer A from B.

4. Reciprocation of premisses and conclusion is more frequent in mathematics, because mathematics takes definitions, but never an accident, for its premisses - a second characteristic distinguishing mathematical reasoning from dialectical disputations.

5. A science expands not by the interposition of fresh middle terms, but by the apposition of fresh extreme terms. E.g. A is predicated of B, B of C, C of D, and so indefinitely. Or the expansion may be lateral: e.g. one major A, may be proved of two minors, C and E. Thus let A represent number - a number or number taken indeterminately; B determinate odd number; C any particular odd number. We can then predicate A of C. Next let D represent determinate even number, and E even number. Then A is predicable of E.


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