Aristotle - The Organon TOPICA Book 6 Part 13

Product and sum


1. See also whether in defining anything a man has defined it as an 'A and B', or as a 'product of A and B' or as an 'A+B'. If he defines it as 'A and B', the definition will be true of both and yet of neither of them; suppose, e.g. justice to be defined as 'temperance and courage.' For if of two persons each has one of the two only, both and yet neither will be just: for both together have justice, and yet each singly fails to have it. Even if the situation here described does not so far appear very absurd because of the occurrence of this kind of thing in other cases also (for it is quite possible for two men to have a mina between them, though neither of them has it by himself), yet least that they should have contrary attributes surely seems quite absurd; and yet this will follow if the one be temperate and yet a coward, and the other, though brave, be a profligate; for then both will exhibit both justice and injustice: for if justice be temperance and bravery, then injustice will be cowardice and profligacy. In general, too, all the ways of showing that the whole is not the same as the sum of its parts are useful in meeting the type just described; for a man who defines in this way seems to assert that the parts are the same as the whole. The arguments are particularly appropriate in cases where the process of putting the parts together is obvious, as in a house and other things of that sort: for there, clearly, you may have the parts and yet not have the whole, so that parts and whole cannot be the same.

2. If, however, he has said that the term being defined is not 'A and B' but the 'product of A and B', look and see in the first place if A and B cannot in the nature of things have a single product: for some things are so related to one another that nothing can come of them, e.g. a line and a number. Moreover, see if the term that has been defined is in the nature of things found primarily in some single subject, whereas the things which he has said produce it are not found primarily in any single subject, but each in a separate one. If so, clearly that term could not be the product of these things: for the whole is bound to be in the same things wherein its parts are, so that the whole will then be found primarily not in one subject only, but in a number of them. If, on the other hand, both parts and whole are found primarily in some single subject, see if that medium is not the same, but one thing in the case of the whole and another in that of the parts. Again, see whether the parts perish together with the whole: for it ought to happen, vice versa, that the whole perishes when the parts perish; when the whole perishes, there is no necessity that the parts should perish too. Or again, see if the whole be good or evil, and the parts neither, or, vice versa, if the parts be good or evil and the whole neither. For it is impossible either for a neutral thing to produce something good or bad, or for things good or bad to produce a neutral thing. Or again, see if the one thing is more distinctly good than the other is evil, and yet the product be no more good than evil, e.g. suppose shamelessness be defined as 'the product of courage and false opinion': here the goodness of courage exceeds the evil of false opinion; accordingly the product of these ought to have corresponded to this excess, and to be either good without qualification, or at least more good than evil. Or it may be that this does not necessarily follow, unless each be in itself good or bad; for many things that are productive are not good in themselves, but only in combination; or, per contra, they are good taken singly, and bad or neutral in combination. What has just been said is most clearly illustrated in the case of things that make for health or sickness; for some drugs are such that each taken alone is good, but if they are both administered in a mixture, bad.

3. Again, see whether the whole, as produced from a better and worse, fails to be worse than the better and better than the worse element. This again, however, need not necessarily be the case, unless the elements compounded be in themselves good; if they are not, the whole may very well not be good, as in the cases just instanced.

4. Moreover, see if the whole be synonymous with one of the elements: for it ought not to be, any more than in the case of syllables: for the syllable is not synonymous with any of the letters of which it is made up.

5. Moreover, see if he has failed to state the manner of their composition: for the mere mention of its elements is not enough to make the thing intelligible. For the essence of any compound thing is not merely that it is a product of so-and-so, but that it is a product of them compounded in such and such a way, just as in the case of a house: for here the materials do not make a house irrespective of the way they are put together.

6. If a man has defined an object as 'A+B', the first thing to be said is that 'A+B' means the same either as 'A and B', or as the 'product of A and B.' for 'honey+water' means either the honey and the water, or the 'drink made of honey and water'. If, then, he admits that 'A+B' is the same as either of these two things, the same criticisms will apply as have already been given for meeting each of them. Moreover, distinguish between the different senses in which one thing may be said to be '+' another, and see if there is none of them in which A could be said to exist '+ B.' Thus e.g. supposing the expression to mean that they exist either in some identical thing capable of containing them (as e.g. justice and courage are found in the soul), or else in the same place or in the same time, and if this be in no way true of the A and B in question, clearly the definition rendered could not hold of anything, as there is no possible way in which A can exist '+ B'. If, however, among the various senses above distinguished, it be true that A and B are each found in the same time as the other, look and see if possibly the two are not used in the same relation. Thus e.g. suppose courage to have been defined as 'daring with right reasoning': here it is possible that the person exhibits daring in robbery, and right reasoning in regard to the means of health: but he may have 'the former quality + the latter' at the same time, and not as yet be courageous! Moreover, even though both be used in the same relation as well, e.g. in relation to medical treatment (for a man may exhibit both daring and right reasoning in respect of medical treatment), still, none the less, not even this combination of 'the one + the other' makes him 'courageous'. For the two must not relate to any casual object that is the same, any more than each to a different object; rather, they must relate to the function of courage, e.g. meeting the perils of war, or whatever is more properly speaking its function than this.

7. Some definitions rendered in this form fail to come under the aforesaid division at all, e.g. a definition of anger as 'pain with a consciousness of being slighted'. For what this means to say is that it is because of a consciousness of this sort that the pain occurs; but to occur 'because of' a thing is not the same as to occur '+ a thing' in any of its aforesaid senses.

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