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Aristotle - The Organon TOPICA Book 5 Part 8

The point of view of greater and less degrees

1. Next look from the point of view of greater and less degrees, and first (a) for destructive purposes, see if what is more-P fails to be a property of what is more-S: for then neither will what is less-P be a property of what is less-S, nor least-P of least-S, nor most-P of most-S, nor P simply of S simply. Thus (e.g.) inasmuch as being more highly coloured is not a property of what is more a body, neither could being less highly coloured be a property of what is less a body, nor being coloured be a property of body at all. For constructive purposes, on the other hand, see if what is more-P is a property of what is more-S: for then also what is less-P will be a property of what is less S, and least-P of least-S, and most-P of most-S, and P simply of S simply. Thus (e.g.) inasmuch as a higher degree of sensation is a property of a higher degree of life, a lower degree of sensation also would be a property of a lower degree of life, and the highest of the highest and the lowest of the lowest degree, and sensation simply of life simply.

2. Also you should look at the argument from a simple predication to the same qualified types of predication, and see, for destructive purposes, if P simply fails to be a property of S simply; for then neither will more-P be a property of more-S, nor less-P of less-S, nor most-P of most-S, nor least-P of least-S. Thus (e.g.) inasmuch as 'virtuous' is not a property of 'man', neither could 'more virtuous' be a property of what is 'more human'. For constructive purposes, on the other hand, see if P simply is a property of S simply: for then more P also will be a property of more-S, and less-P of less-S, and least-P of least-S, and most-P of most-S. Thus (e.g.) a tendency to move upwards by nature is a property of fire, and so also a greater tendency to move upwards by nature would be a property of what is more fiery. In the same way too one should look at all these matters from the point of view of the others as well.

3. Secondly (b) for destructive purposes, see if the more likely property fails to be a property of the more likely subject: for then neither will the less likely property be a property of the less likely subject. Thus (e.g.) inasmuch as 'perceiving' is more likely to be a property of 'animal' than 'knowing' of 'man', and 'perceiving' is not a property of 'animal', 'knowing' could not be a property of 'man'. For constructive purposes, on the other hand, see if the less likely property is a property of the less likely subject; for then too the more likely property will be a property of the more likely subject. Thus (e.g.) inasmuch as 'to be naturally civilized' is less likely to be a property of man than 'to live' of an animal, and it is a property of man to be naturally civilized, it would be a property of animal to live.

4. Thirdly (c) for destructive purposes, see if the predicate fails to be a property of that of which it is more likely to be a property: for then neither will it be a property of that of which it is less likely to be a property: while if it is a property of the former, it will not be a property of the latter. Thus (e.g.) inasmuch as 'to be coloured' is more likely to be a property of a 'surface' than of a 'body', and it is not a property of a surface, 'to be coloured' could not be a property of 'body'; while if it is a property of a 'surface', it could not be a property of a 'body'. For constructive purposes, on the other hand, this commonplace rule is not of any use: for it is impossible for the same thing to be a property of more than one thing.

5. Fourthly (d) for destructive purposes, see if what is more likely to be a property of a given subject fails to be its property: for then neither will what is less likely to be a property of it be its property. Thus (e.g.) inasmuch as 'sensible' is more likely than 'divisible' to be a property of 'animal', and 'sensible' is not a property of animal, 'divisible' could not be a property of animal. For constructive purposes, on the other hand, see if what is less likely to be a property of it is a property; for then what is more likely to be a property of it will be a property as well. Thus, for example, inasmuch as 'sensation' is less likely to be a property of 'animal' than 'life', and 'sensation' is a property of animal, 'life' would be a property of animal.

6. Next, look from the point of view of the attributes that belong in a like manner, and

7. first (a) for destructive purposes, see if what is as much a property fails to be a property of that of which it is as much a property: for then neither will that which is as much a property as it be a property of that of which it is as much a property. Thus (e.g.) inasmuch as 'desiring' is as much a property of the faculty of desire as 'reasoning' is a property of the faculty of reason, and desiring is not a property of the faculty of desire, reasoning could not be a property of the faculty of reason. For constructive purposes, on the other hand, see if what is as much a property is a property of that of which it is as much a property: for then also what is as much a property as it will be a property of that of which it is as much a property. Thus (e.g.) inasmuch as it is as much a property of 'the faculty of reason' to be 'the primary seat of wisdom' as it is of 'the faculty of desire' to be 'the primary seat of temperance', and it is a property of the faculty of reason to be the primary seat of wisdom, it would be a property of the faculty of desire to be the primary seat of temperance.

8. Secondly (b) for destructive purposes, see if what is as much a property of anything fails to be a property of it: for then neither will what is as much a property be a property of it. Thus (e.g.) inasmuch as 'seeing' is as much a property of man as 'hearing', and 'seeing' is not a property of man, 'hearing' could not be a property of man. For constructive purposes, on the other hand, see if what is as much a property of it is its property: for then what is as much a property of it as the former will be its property as well. Thus (e.g.) it is as much a property of the soul to be the primary possessor of a part that desires as of a part that reasons, and it is a property of the soul to be the primary possessor of a part that desires, and so it be a property of the soul to be the primary possessor of a part that reasons.

9. Thirdly (c) for destructive purposes, see if it fails to be a property of that of which it is as much a property: for then neither will it be a property of that of which it is as much a property as of the former, while if it be a property of the former, it will not be a property of the other. Thus (e.g.) inasmuch as 'to burn' is as much a property of 'flame' as of 'live coals', and 'to burn' is not a property of flame, 'to burn' could not be a property of live coals: while if it is a property of flame, it could not be a property of live coals. For constructive purposes, on the other hand, this commonplace rule is of no use.

10. The rule based on things that are 'in a like relation' differs from the rule based on attributes that belong 'in a like manner,' because the former point is secured by analogy, not from reflection on the belonging of any attribute, while the latter is judged by a comparison based on the fact that an attribute belongs.

11. Next, for destructive purposes, see if in rendering the property potentially, he has also through that potentiality rendered the property relatively to something that does not exist, when the potentiality in question cannot belong to what does not exist: for then what is stated to be a property will not be a property. Thus (e.g.) he who has said that 'breathable' is a property of 'air' has, on the one hand, rendered the property potentially (for that is 'breathable' which is such as can be breathed), and on the other hand has also rendered the property relatively to what does not exist: - for while air may exist, even though there exist no animal so constituted as to breathe the air, it is not possible to breathe it if no animal exist: so that it will not, either, be a property of air to be such as can be breathed at a time when there exists no animal such as to breathe it and so it follows that 'breathable' could not be a property of air.

12. For constructive purposes, see if in rendering the property potentially he renders the property either relatively to something that exists, or to something that does not exist, when the potentiality in question can belong to what does not exist: for then what has been stated not to be a property will be a property. Thus e.g.) he who renders it as a property of 'being' to be 'capable of being acted upon or of acting', in rendering the property potentially, has rendered the property relatively to something that exists: for when 'being' exists, it will also be capable of being acted upon or of acting in a certain way: so that to be 'capable of being acted upon or of acting' would be a property of 'being'.

13. Next, for destructive purposes, see if he has stated the property in the superlative: for then what has been stated to be a property will not be a property. For people who render the property in that way find that of the object of which the description is true, the name is not true as well: for though the object perish the description will continue in being none the less; for it belongs most nearly to something that is in being. An example would be supposing any one were to render 'the lightest body' as a property of 'fire': for, though fire perish, there eh re will still be some form of body that is the lightest, so that 'the lightest body' could not be a property of fire. For constructive purposes, on the other hand, see if he has avoided rendering the property in the superlative: for then the property will in this respect have been property of man has not rendered the property correctly stated. Thus (e.g.) inasmuch as he in the superlative, the property would in who states 'a naturally civilized animal' as a this respect have been correctly stated.


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