Aristotle - The Organon TOPICA Book 1 Part 6

Remarks made in criticism of definitions

1. We must not fail to observe that all remarks made in criticism of a 'property' and 'genus' and 'accident' will be applicable to 'definitions' as well. For when we have shown that the attribute in question fails to belong only to the term defined, as we do also in the case of a property, or that the genus rendered in the definition is not the true genus, or that any of the things mentioned in the phrase used does not belong, as would be remarked also in the case of an accident, we shall have demolished the definition; so that, to use the phrase previously employed, all the points we have enumerated might in a certain sense be called 'definitory'. But we must not on this account expect to find a single line of inquiry which will apply universally to them all: for this is not an easy thing to find, and, even were one found, it would be very obscure indeed, and of little service for the treatise before us. Rather, a special plan of inquiry must be laid down for each of the classes we have distinguished, and then, starting from the rules that are appropriate in each case, it will probably be easier to make our way right through the task before us. So then, as was said before, we must outline a division of our subject, and other questions we must relegate each to the particular branch to which it most naturally belongs, speaking of them as 'definitory' and 'generic' questions. The questions I mean have practically been already assigned to their several branches.

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