Aristotle - The Organon ANALYTICA POSTERIORA Book 1 Part 23

Some corollaries

1. It is an evident corollary of these conclusions that if the same attribute A inheres in two terms C and D predicable either not at all, or not of all instances, of one another, it does not always belong to them in virtue of a common middle term. Isosceles and scalene possess the attribute of having their angles equal to two right angles in virtue of a common middle; for they possess it in so far as they are both a certain kind of figure, and not in so far as they differ from one another. But this is not always the case: for, were it so, if we take B as the common middle in virtue of which A inheres in C and D, clearly B would inhere in C and D through a second common middle, and this in turn would inhere in C and D through a third, so that between two terms an infinity of intermediates would fall - an impossibility. Thus it need not always be in virtue of a common middle term that a single attribute inheres in several subjects, since there must be immediate intervals. Yet if the attribute to be proved common to two subjects is to be one of their essential attributes, the middle terms involved must be within one subject genus and be derived from the same group of immediate premisses; for we have seen that processes of proof cannot pass from one genus to another.

2. It is also clear that when A inheres in B, this can be demonstrated if there is a middle term. Further, the 'elements' of such a conclusion are the premisses containing the middle in question, and they are identical in number with the middle terms, seeing that the immediate propositions - or at least such immediate propositions as are universal - are the 'elements'. If, on the other hand, there is no middle term, demonstration ceases to be possible: we are on the way to the basic truths. Similarly if A does not inhere in B, this can be demonstrated if there is a middle term or a term prior to B in which A does not inhere: otherwise there is no demonstration and a basic truth is reached. There are, moreover, as many 'elements' of the demonstrated conclusion as there are middle terms, since it is propositions containing these middle terms that are the basic premisses on which the demonstration rests; and as there are some indemonstrable basic truths asserting that 'this is that' or that 'this inheres in that', so there are others denying that 'this is that' or that 'this inheres in that' - in fact some basic truths will affirm and some will deny being.

3. When we are to prove a conclusion, we must take a primary essential predicate - suppose it C - of the subject B, and then suppose A similarly predicable of C. If we proceed in this manner, no proposition or attribute which falls beyond A is admitted in the proof: the interval is constantly condensed until subject and predicate become indivisible, i.e. one. We have our unit when the premiss becomes immediate, since the immediate premiss alone is a single premiss in the unqualified sense of 'single'. And as in other spheres the basic element is simple but not identical in all - in a system of weight it is the mina, in music the quarter-tone, and so on - so in syllogism the unit is an immediate premiss, and in the knowledge that demonstration gives it is an intuition. In syllogisms, then, which prove the inherence of an attribute, nothing falls outside the major term. In the case of negative syllogisms on the other hand, (1) in the first figure nothing falls outside the major term whose inherence is in question; e.g. to prove through a middle C that A does not inhere in B the premisses required are, all B is C, no C is A. Then if it has to be proved that no C is A, a middle must be found between and C; and this procedure will never vary.

4. (2) If we have to show that E is not D by means of the premisses, all D is C; no E, or not all E, is C; then the middle will never fall beyond E, and E is the subject of which D is to be denied in the conclusion.

5. (3) In the third figure the middle will never fall beyond the limits of the subject and the attribute denied of it.

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