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Aristotle - The Organon TOPICA Book 4 Part 2

Species falling under more than one genus

1. Look and see, also, if there be any other genus of the given species which neither embraces the genus rendered nor yet falls under it, e.g. suppose any one were to lay down that 'knowledge' is the genus of justice. For virtue is its genus as well, and neither of these genera embraces the remaining one, so that knowledge could not be the genus of justice: for it is generally accepted that whenever one species falls under two genera, the one is embraced by the other. Yet a principle of this kind gives rise to a difficulty in some cases. For some people hold that prudence is both virtue and knowledge, and that neither of its genera is embraced by the other: although certainly not everybody admits that prudence is knowledge. If, however, any one were to admit the truth of this assertion, yet it would still be generally agreed to be necessary that the genera of the same object must at any rate be subordinate either the one to the other or both to the same, as actually is the case with virtue and knowledge. For both fall under the same genus; for each of them is a state and a disposition. You should look, therefore, and see whether neither of these things is true of the genus rendered; for if the genera be subordinate neither the one to the other nor both to the same, then what is rendered could not be the true genus.

2. Look, also, at the genus of the genus rendered, and so continually at the next higher genus, and see whether all are predicated of the species, and predicated in the category of essence: for all the higher genera should be predicated of the species in the category of essence. If, then, there be anywhere a discrepancy, clearly what is rendered is not the true genus. [Again, see whether either the genus itself, or one of its higher genera, partakes of the species: for the higher genus does not partake of any of the lower.] If, then, you are overthrowing a view, follow the rule as given: if establishing one, then - suppose that what has been named as genus be admitted to belong to the species, only it be disputed whether it belongs as genus - it is enough to show that one of its higher genera is predicated of the species in the category of essence. For if one of them be predicated in the category of essence, all of them, both higher and lower than this one, if predicated at all of the species, will be predicated of it in the category of essence: so that what has been rendered as genus is also predicated in the category of essence. The premiss that when one genus is predicated in the category of essence, all the rest, if predicated at all, will be predicated in the category of essence, should be secured by induction. Supposing, however, that it be disputed whether what has been rendered as genus belongs at all, it is not enough to show that one of the higher genera is predicated of the species in the category of essence: e.g. if any one has rendered 'locomotion' as the genus of walking, it is not enough to show that walking is 'motion' in order to show that it is 'locomotion', seeing that there are other forms of motion as well; but one must show in addition that walking does not partake of any of the species of motion produced by the same division except locomotion. For of necessity what partakes of the genus partakes also of one of the species produced by the first division of the genus. If, therefore, walking does not partake either of increase or decrease or of the other kinds of motion, clearly it would partake of locomotion, so that locomotion would be the genus of walking.

3. Again, look among the things of which the given species is predicated as genus, and see if what is rendered as its genus be also predicated in the category of essence of the very things of which the species is so predicated, and likewise if all the genera higher than this genus are so predicated as well. For if there be anywhere a discrepancy, clearly what has been rendered is not the true genus: for had it been the genus, then both the genera higher than it, and it itself, would all have been predicated in the category of essence of those objects of which the species too is predicated in the category of essence. If, then, you are overthrowing a view, it is useful to see whether the genus fails to be predicated in the category of essence of those things of which the species too is predicated. If establishing a view, it is useful to see whether it is predicated in the category of essence: for if so, the result will be that the genus and the species will be predicated of the same object in the category of essence, so that the same object falls under two genera: the genera must therefore of necessity be subordinate one to the other, and therefore if it be shown that the one we wish to establish as genus is not subordinate to the species, clearly the species would be subordinate to it, so that you may take it as shown that it is the genus.

4. Look, also, at the definitions of the genera, and see whether they apply both to the given species and to the objects which partake of the species. For of necessity the definitions of its genera must be predicated of the species and of the objects which partake of the species: if, then, there be anywhere a discrepancy, clearly what has been rendered is not the genus.

5. Again, see if he has rendered the differentia as the genus, e.g. 'immortal' as the genus of 'God'. For 'immortal' is a differentia of 'living being', seeing that of living beings some are mortal and others immortal. Clearly, then, a bad mistake has been made; for the differentia of a thing is never its genus. And that this is true is clear: for a thing's differentia never signifies its essence, but rather some quality, as do 'walking' and 'biped'.

6. Also, see whether he has placed the differentia inside the genus, e.g. by taking 'odd' as a 'number'. For 'odd' is a differentia of number, not a species. Nor is the differentia generally thought to partake of the genus: for what partakes of the genus is always either a species or an individual, whereas the differentia is neither a species nor an individual. Clearly, therefore, the differentia does not partake of the genus, so that 'odd' too is no species but a differentia, seeing that it does not partake of the genus.

7. Moreover, see whether he has placed the genus inside the species, e.g. by taking 'contact' to be a 'juncture', or 'mixture' a 'fusion', or, as in Plato's definition, 'locomotion' to be the same as 'carriage'. For there is no necessity that contact should be juncture: rather, conversely, juncture must be contact: for what is in contact is not always joined, though what is joined is always in contact. Likewise, also, in the remaining instances: for mixture is not always a 'fusion' (for to mix dry things does not fuse them), nor is locomotion always 'carriage'. For walking is not generally thought to be carriage: for 'carriage' is mostly used of things that change one place for another involuntarily, as happens in the case of inanimate things. Clearly, also, the species, in the instances given, has a wider denotation than the genus, whereas it ought to be vice versa.

8. Again, see whether he has placed the differentia inside the species, by taking (e.g.) 'immortal' to be 'a god'. For the result will be that the species has an equal or wider denotation: and this cannot be, for always the differentia has an equal or a wider denotation than the species. Moreover, see whether he has placed the genus inside the differentia, by making 'colour' (e.g.) to be a thing that 'pierces', or 'number' a thing that is 'odd'. Also, see if he has mentioned the genus as differentia: for it is possible for a man to bring forward a statement of this kind as well, e.g. that 'mixture' is the differentia of 'fusion', or that change of place' is the differentia of 'carriage'. All such cases should be examined by means of the same principles: for they depend upon common rules: for the genus should have a wider denotation that its differentia, and also should not partake of its differentia; whereas, if it be rendered in this manner, neither of the aforesaid requirements can be satisfied: for the genus will both have a narrower denotation than its differentia, and will partake of it.

9. Again, if no differentia belonging to the genus be predicated of the given species, neither will the genus be predicated of it; e.g. of 'soul' neither 'odd' nor 'even' is predicated: neither therefore is 'number'. Moreover, see whether the species is naturally prior and abolishes the genus along with itself: for the contrary is the general view. Moreover, if it be possible for the genus stated, or for its differentia, to be absent from the alleged species, e.g. for 'movement' to be absent from the 'soul', or 'truth and falsehood' from 'opinion', then neither of the terms stated could be its genus or its differentia: for the general view is that the genus and the differentia accompany the species, as long as it exists.


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