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Aristotle - The Organon TOPICA Book 3 Part 5

Comparative degrees and amounts

1. The commonplace rules relating to comparative degrees and amounts ought to be taken in the most general possible form: for when so taken they are likely to be useful in a larger number of instances. It is possible to render some of the actual rules given above more universal by a slight alteration of the expression, e.g. that what by nature exhibits such and such a quality exhibits that quality in a greater degree than what exhibits it not by nature. Also, if one thing does, and another does not, impart such and such a quality to that which possesses it, or to which it belongs, then whichever does impart it is of that quality in greater degree than the one which does not impart it; and if both impart it, then that one exhibits it in a greater degree which imparts it in a greater degree.

2. Moreover, if in any character one thing exceeds and another falls short of the same standard; also, if the one exceeds something which exceeds a given standard, while the other does not reach that standard, then clearly the first-named thing exhibits that character in a greater degree. Moreover, you should judge by means of addition, and see if A when added to the same thing as B imparts to the whole such and such a character in a more marked degree than B, or if, when added to a thing which exhibits that character in a less degree, it imparts that character to the whole in a greater degree. Likewise, also, you may judge by means of subtraction: for a thing upon whose subtraction the remainder exhibits such and such a character in a less degree, itself exhibits that character in a greater degree. Also, things exhibit such and such a character in a greater degree if more free from admixture with their contraries; e.g. that is whiter which is more free from admixture with black. Moreover, apart from the rules given above, that has such and such a character in greater degree which admits in a greater degree of the definition proper to the given character; e.g. if the definition of 'white' be 'a colour which pierces the vision', then that is whiter which is in a greater degree a colour that pierces the vision.


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