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Aristotle - The Organon TOPICA Book 4 Part 6

If the term rendered fails to be the genus of anything

1. Moreover, see whether the term rendered fail to be the genus of anything at all; for then clearly it also fails to be the genus of the species mentioned. Examine the point by seeing whether the objects that partake of the genus fail to be specifically different from one another, e.g. white objects: for these do not differ specifically from one another, whereas of a genus the species are always different, so that 'white' could not be the genus of anything.

2. Again, see whether he has named as genus or differentia some feature that goes with everything: for the number of attributes that follow everything is comparatively large: thus (e.g.) 'Being' and 'Unity' are among the number of attributes that follow everything. If, therefore, he has rendered 'Being' as a genus, clearly it would be the genus of everything, seeing that it is predicated of everything; for the genus is never predicated of anything except of its species. Hence Unity, inter alia, will be a species of Being. The result, therefore, is that of all things of which the genus is predicated, the species is predicated as well, seeing that Being and Unity are predicates of absolutely everything, whereas the predication of the species ought to be of narrower range. If, on the other hand, he has named as differentia some attribute that follows everything, clearly the denotation of the differentia will be equal to, or wider than, that of the genus. For if the genus, too, be some attribute that follows everything, the denotation of the differentia will be equal to its denotation, while if the genus do not follow everything, it will be still wider.

3. Moreover, see if the description 'inherent in S' be used of the genus rendered in relation to its species, as it is used of 'white' in the case of snow, thus showing clearly that it could not be the genus: for 'true of S' is the only description used of the genus in relation to its species. Look and see also if the genus fails to be synonymous with its species. For the genus is always predicated of its species synonymously.

4. Moreover, beware, whenever both species and genus have a contrary, and he places the better of the contraries inside the worse genus: for the result will be that the remaining species will be found in the remaining genus, seeing that contraries are found in contrary genera, so that the better species will be found in the worse genus and the worse in the better: whereas the usual view is that of the better species the genus too is better. Also see if he has placed the species inside the worse and not inside the better genus, when it is at the same time related in like manner to both, as (e.g.) if he has defined the 'soul' as a 'form of motion' or 'a form of moving thing'. For the same soul is usually thought to be a principle alike of rest and of motion, so that, if rest is the better of the two, this is the genus into which the soul should have been put.

5. Moreover, judge by means of greater and less degrees: if overthrowing a view, see whether the genus admits of a greater degree, whereas neither the species itself does so, nor any term that is called after it: e.g. if virtue admits of a greater degree, so too does justice and the just man: for one man is called 'more just than another'. If, therefore, the genus rendered admits of a greater degree, whereas neither the species does so itself nor yet any term called after it, then what has been rendered could not be the genus.

6. Again, if what is more generally, or as generally, thought to be the genus be not so, clearly neither is the genus rendered. The commonplace rule in question is useful especially in cases where the species appears to have several predicates in the category of essence, and where no distinction has been drawn between them, and we cannot say which of them is genus; e.g. both 'pain' and the 'conception of a slight' are usually thought to be predicates of anger in the category of essence: for the angry man is both in pain and also conceives that he is slighted. The same mode of inquiry may be applied also to the case of the species, by comparing it with some other species: for if the one which is more generally, or as generally, thought to be found in the genus rendered be not found therein, then clearly neither could the species rendered be found therein.

7. In demolishing a view, therefore, you should follow the rule as stated. In establishing one, on the other hand, the commonplace rule that you should see if both the genus rendered and the species admit of a greater degree will not serve: for even though both admit it, it is still possible for one not to be the genus of the other. For both 'beautiful' and 'white' admit of a greater degree, and neither is the genus of the other. On the other hand, the comparison of the genera and of the species one with another is of use: e.g. supposing A and B to have a like claim to be genus, then if one be a genus, so also is the other. Likewise, also, if what has less claim be a genus, so also is what has more claim: e.g. if 'capacity' have more claim than 'virtue' to be the genus of self-control, and virtue be the genus, so also is capacity. The same observations will apply also in the case of the species. For instance, supposing A and B to have a like claim to be a species of the genus in question, then if the one be a species, so also is the other: and if that which is less generally thought to be so be a species, so also is that which is more generally thought to be so.

8. Moreover, to establish a view, you should look and see if the genus is predicated in the category of essence of those things of which it has been rendered as the genus, supposing the species rendered to be not one single species but several different ones: for then clearly it will be the genus. If, on the other, the species rendered be single, look and see whether the genus be predicated in the category of essence of other species as well: for then, again, the result will be that it is predicated of several different species.

9. Since some people think that the differentia, too, is a predicate of the various species in the category of essence, you should distinguish the genus from the differentia by employing the aforesaid elementary principles - (a) that the genus has a wider denotation than the differentia; (b) that in rendering the essence of a thing it is more fitting to state the genus than the differentia: for any one who says that 'man' is an 'animal' shows what man is better than he who describes him as 'walking'; also (c) that the differentia always signifies a quality of the genus, whereas the genus does not do this of the differentia: for he who says 'walking' describes an animal of a certain quality, whereas he who says 'animal' describes an animal of a certain quality, whereas he who says 'animal' does not describe a walking thing of a certain quality.

10. The differentia, then, should be distinguished from the genus in this manner. Now seeing it is generally held that if what is musical, in being musical, possesses knowledge in some respect, then also 'music' is a particular kind of 'knowledge'; and also that if what walks is moved in walking, then 'walking' is a particular kind of 'movement'; you should therefore examine in the aforesaid manner any genus in which you want to establish the existence of something; e.g. if you wish to prove that 'knowledge' is a form of 'conviction', see whether the knower in knowing is convinced: for then clearly knowledge would be a particular kind of conviction. You should proceed in the same way also in regard to the other cases of this kind.

11. Moreover, seeing that it is difficult to distinguish whatever always follows along with a thing, and is not convertible with it, from its genus, if A follows B universally, whereas B does not follow A universally - as e.g. 'rest' always follows a 'calm' and 'divisibility' follows 'number', but not conversely (for the divisible is not always a number, nor rest a calm) - you may yourself assume in your treatment of them that the one which always follows is the genus, whenever the other is not convertible with it: if, on the other hand, some one else puts forward the proposition, do not accept it universally. An objection to it is that 'not-being' always follows what is 'coming to be' (for what is coming to be is not) and is not convertible with it (for what is not is not always coming to be), and that still 'not-being' is not the genus of 'coming to be': for 'not-being' has not any species at all. Questions, then, in regard to Genus should be investigated in the ways described.


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