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Aristotle - The Organon ANALYTICA POSTERIORA Book 1 Part 13

Knowledge of the fact differs from knowledge of the reasoned fact

1. Knowledge of the fact differs from knowledge of the reasoned fact. To begin with, they differ within the same science and in two ways: (1) when the premisses of the syllogism are not immediate (for then the proximate cause is not contained in them - a necessary condition of knowledge of the reasoned fact): (2) when the premisses are immediate, but instead of the cause the better known of the two reciprocals is taken as the middle; for of two reciprocally predicable terms the one which is not the cause may quite easily be the better known and so become the middle term of the demonstration. Thus (2) (a) you might prove as follows that the planets are near because they do not twinkle: let C be the planets, B not twinkling, A proximity. Then B is predicable of C; for the planets do not twinkle. But A is also predicable of B, since that which does not twinkle is near - we must take this truth as having been reached by induction or sense-perception. Therefore A is a necessary predicate of C; so that we have demonstrated that the planets are near. This syllogism, then, proves not the reasoned fact but only the fact; since they are not near because they do not twinkle, but, because they are near, do not twinkle. The major and middle of the proof, however, may be reversed, and then the demonstration will be of the reasoned fact. Thus: let C be the planets, B proximity, A not twinkling. Then B is an attribute of C, and A - not twinkling - of B. Consequently A is predicable of C, and the syllogism proves the reasoned fact, since its middle term is the proximate cause. Another example is the inference that the moon is spherical from its manner of waxing. Thus: since that which so waxes is spherical, and since the moon so waxes, clearly the moon is spherical. Put in this form, the syllogism turns out to be proof of the fact, but if the middle and major be reversed it is proof of the reasoned fact; since the moon is not spherical because it waxes in a certain manner, but waxes in such a manner because it is spherical. (Let C be the moon, B spherical, and A waxing.) Again (b), in cases where the cause and the effect are not reciprocal and the effect is the better known, the fact is demonstrated but not the reasoned fact. This also occurs (1) when the middle falls outside the major and minor, for here too the strict cause is not given, and so the demonstration is of the fact, not of the reasoned fact. For example, the question 'Why does not a wall breathe?' might be answered, 'Because it is not an animal'; but that answer would not give the strict cause, because if not being an animal causes the absence of respiration, then being an animal should be the cause of respiration, according to the rule that if the negation of causes the non-inherence of y, the affirmation of x causes the inherence of y; e.g. if the disproportion of the hot and cold elements is the cause of ill health, their proportion is the cause of health; and conversely, if the assertion of x causes the inherence of y, the negation of x must cause y's non-inherence. But in the case given this consequence does not result; for not every animal breathes. A syllogism with this kind of cause takes place in the second figure. Thus: let A be animal, B respiration, C wall. Then A is predicable of all B (for all that breathes is animal), but of no C; and consequently B is predicable of no C; that is, the wall does not breathe. Such causes are like far-fetched explanations, which precisely consist in making the cause too remote, as in Anacharsis' account of why the Scythians have no flute-players; namely because they have no vines.

2. Thus, then, do the syllogism of the fact and the syllogism of the reasoned fact differ within one science and according to the position of the middle terms. But there is another way too in which the fact and the reasoned fact differ, and that is when they are investigated respectively by different sciences. This occurs in the case of problems related to one another as subordinate and superior, as when optical problems are subordinated to geometry, mechanical problems to stereometry, harmonic problems to arithmetic, the data of observation to astronomy. (Some of these sciences bear almost the same name; e.g. mathematical and nautical astronomy, mathematical and acoustical harmonics.) Here it is the business of the empirical observers to know the fact, of the mathematicians to know the reasoned fact; for the latter are in possession of the demonstrations giving the causes, and are often ignorant of the fact: just as we have often a clear insight into a universal, but through lack of observation are ignorant of some of its particular instances. These connexions have a perceptible existence though they are manifestations of forms. For the mathematical sciences concern forms: they do not demonstrate properties of a substratum, since, even though the geometrical subjects are predicable as properties of a perceptible substratum, it is not as thus predicable that the mathematician demonstrates properties of them. As optics is related to geometry, so another science is related to optics, namely the theory of the rainbow. Here knowledge of the fact is within the province of the natural philosopher, knowledge of the reasoned fact within that of the optician, either qua optician or qua mathematical optician. Many sciences not standing in this mutual relation enter into it at points; e.g. medicine and geometry: it is the physician's business to know that circular wounds heal more slowly, the geometer's to know the reason why.


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