Theory and History of Ontology
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Theory and History of Ontology by Raul Corazzon | e-mail: rc
Ackrill, John Lloyd, ed. 1963. Aristotle's Categories and De interpretatione. Oxford: Clarendon Press
Translated with notes and glossary by John Lloyd Ackrill.
Contents: Translations. Categories 3; De Interpretatione 43; Notes. Introductory Note 69; Categories 71; De Interpretatione 113; Note on Further Reading 156; Glossary 159; Index of Subjects 161-162.
Chapter I-V are reprinted in: J. M. E. Moravcsik (ed.), Aristotle. A Collection of Critical Essays, Garden City (NY): Doubleday, pp. 3-12 (translation) and 71-91 (notes).
"The Categories divides into three parts. Chapters 1-3 make certain preliminary points and explanations. Chapters 4-9 treat of the doctrine of categories and discuss some categories at length. Chapters 10-15 deal with a variety of topics, such as opposites, priority, and change.
The second part fades out in Chapter 9, and the passage serving as a transition to the third part (11b10-16) is certainly not genuine Aristotle. The third part itself (the Postpraedicamenta) has only a loose connexion with what precedes. There is no reason to doubt its authenticity, but probably it was not a part of the original Categories but was tacked on by an editor.
The concept of categories plays an important part in many of Aristotle's works, specially the Metaphysics. But it undergoes developments and refinements as Aristotle's thought develops. So the study of the Categories is only a first step in an investigation of Aristotle's ideas about categories." (pp. 69-70)
———. 1972. "Aristotle on "Good" and the Categories." In Islamic Philosophy and the Classical Tradition. Essays Presented by His Friends and Pupils to Richard Walzer on His Seventieth Birthday, edited by Stern, S.M., Hourani, Albert and Brown, Vivian, 17-25. London: Bruno Cassirer
"in the Nicomachean Ethics 1.6. 1096a23-29 Aristotle argues that goodness is not a single common universal: if it were it would be “said” in only one category, whereas in fact it is, like being, “said” in all the categories.
Aristotle discusses in many places the transcategorial character of ον and of εν, but most of his accounts of types of goodness or senses of “good” do not rest upon the point about categories — a point which is, however, taken up in the traditional treatment of bonum along with ens and unum as categorially unclassifiable. The Ethics passage is therefore of considerable interest, and it has not, I think, received sufficient attention or final elucidation from the commentators. The present discussion will be far from exhaustive, but it may raise some questions worth further examination." (p. 17)
Allen, Reginald E. 1969. "Individual Properties in Aristotle's Categories." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 14:31-39
"At Categories 1 a 23-29, (1) Aristotle marks off a set of items which are present in but not predicable of a subject. Thus, for example, a certain knowledge of grammar (ή τις γραμματική) is present in a subject, the soul, and a certain white (το τι λευκόν) present in a subject, the body; but neither is predicable of a subject." (p. 31)
What is present in a subject as individual and one in number is incapable of existing apart from the particular subject it is in; for at 1 a 24-25, Aristotle defines presence as follows: "By present in a subject I mean what is in something, not as a part, but as incapable of existing separately from what it is in." It would seem to follow from this that an item present in an individual subject is itself individual, and numerically distinct from items present in other individual subjects.
Suppose this is so. Then if there are two pieces of chalk, A and B, and if they are of the same determinate shade of color, say, white, there will be a particular instance of white in A and a particular instance of white in B. Call those instances respectively s and t. Then s and t are the same in that they are instances of the same shade of color.
But they are different in that they are themselves numerically different individuals, and this difference is to be explained by the fact that they are present in numerically different subjects: s is the white of A, and t is the white of B. Thus s and t are different members of the same species, the given shade of white, in a way precisely analogous to the way in in which A and B are members of the same species, chalk. This situation will obtain generally in categories other than substance; that is, it will obtain, not only for qualities such as colors, but for sizes, shapes, places, times, and so on for any items present in but not predicable of a subject.
At least in outline, the foregoing interpretation of particular properties in the Categories has been widely accepted.4 But it has recently been challenged by Professor Owen.(5)" (p. 32)
"Professor Owen's interpretation has the virtue of simplifying the ontology of the Categories by doing away with the cloud of particulars that most readers have found in categories other than substance. A world which can dispense with these extraneous particulars is a neater, and therefore a better world than one which cannot: entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. Supposing that Professor Owen's interpretation is mistaken, it remains worth asking why Aristotle should have been led to multiply particulars with so lavish a hand." (p. 38)
(1) 1 Line numbers cited from the Oxford text of L. Minio-Paluello.
See, for example: W. D. Ross, Aristotle, London, 1923, p. 24, n. 1; G. E. M. Anscombe, Three Philosophers, Oxford, 1963, pp. 8-10; J. L. Ackrill, op. cit., [Aristotle's Categories and De Interpretatione, Oxford, 1963] pp. 74-75; K. von Fritz, Phronesis ii (1958), pp. 72-3.
6 G. E. L. Owen, "Inherence", Phronesis x (1965), pp. 97-105.
———. 1973. "Substance and Predication in Aristotle's Categories." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy:362-373
Supplementary vol. I: E. N. Lee, A. P. D. Mourelatos, R. M. Rorty (eds.), Exegesis and Argument. Studies in Greek Philosophy presented to Gregory Vlastos, Assen: Van Gorcum.
Abstract: "It is a characteristic common to every substance not to be in a subject. For a primary substance is neither said of a subject nor in a subject. And as for secondary substances, it is obvious at once that they are not in a subject. For man is said of the individual man as subject but is not in a subject: man is not in the individual man. Similarly, animal also is said of the individual man as subject but animal is not in the individual man. Further, while there is nothing to prevent the name of what is in a subject from being sometimes predicated of the subject, it is impossible for the definition to be predicated. But the definition of the secondary substance, as well as the name, is predicated of the subject: you will predicate the definition of man of the individual man, and also that of animal. No substance, therefore, is in a subject.(1)"
(1) Categories 3a7-21, of. 2al9-34, la20-22, trans. J. L. Ackrill, Aristotle's Categories and De Interpretatione (Oxford, 1963). I should like to acknowledge my debt in what follows to Professor Ackrill's admirable translation and notes; textual references to the Categories are to the edition of L. Minio-Paluello.
Angelelli, Ignacio. 1967. Studies in Gottlob Frege and Traditional Philosophy. Dordrecht: Reidel
On Aristotle's Categories see: 1. Ontology 9; 1.1 Contemporary logic and ontology 10; 1.2 The ontological square (Categoriae, 1a, 20-1b, 10) 11; 1.3 Universal-singular, substance-accident in other works of Aristotle 15; 1.4 Universal-singular, substance-accident in the philosophical tradition 16; 1.41 Middle Ages and Renaissance 16; 1.42 Descartes, Port-Royal, Locke, Reid 18; 1.43 Leibniz-Russell 19; 1.44 'Parallelism' of singular-universal, substance-accident 21; 1.45 Husserl. Pseudo-properties of properties: Carnap, Ingarden, F. Kaufmann 22; 1.46 Frege 24; References 26-36.
"The ontological square ('Categoriae', 1a, 20-1b, 10).
This passage of Categoriae is traditionally understood as making a distinction between universal substances, particular substances, universal accidents and particular accidents. The history of commentaries on the Organon provides an extensive number of paraphrases and presentations of this text. Boethius' text and other ancient commentators illustrate our, quoted passage by means of a diagram similar to ours above: a square in each of whose vertices one of the four classes of entities is located. The Aristotelian text explicitly states that this is a classification of entities, but it is of course contrary to traditional Aristotelianism to call universals entities simpliciter. In fact, Ioannes a Sancto Thoma elegantly modifies the formulation(17). Still, universals do enjoy an objective being, and ens rationis falls under ens communissime sumptum.
The classification of entities into four classes is achieved by means of two relations: to be in a subject and to be said of a subject." (pp. 12-13)
(17) Ioannes a Sto. Thoma, Cursus philosophicus thomisticus. Tomus primus (ed. Reiser), Marietti, Torino 1930, p. 476: "Atque ita in hoc tertio antepraedicamento distinguit Aristoteles duplex genus entium, scilicet substantiam et accidens, et duplex genus intentionum, scilicet universalitatis et singularitatis."
Annas, Julia. 1974. "Individuals in Aristotle's Categories: Two Queries." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 19:146-152
"Mr. Barrington Jones, in his recent article in Phronesis,(1) has suggested a new way of solving the standing debate about the nature of non-substance individuals in the Categories. Mr. Jones' article suggests some exciting new approaches to the Categories, but I would like to put forward two difficulties I find with the way he proposes to cut through the main problem.
In the Categories, but nowhere else, there seem to be individuals in non-substance categories, corresponding to primary substances. What sort of thing are these non-substance individuals? According to Ackrill (2) they are non-repeatable individual instances of (for example) a property. An example would be the particular instance of white exhibited by this paper: it is peculiar to this piece of paper and will perish when it does. According to Owen (3) they are the most specific types of (for example) a property. The white exhibited by this piece of paper and all the paper in the same batch would be an example: it can continue to exist when this piece of paper perishes, as long as some other piece of paper from the batch continues to exhibit it.
I shall not go into the controversy that has arisen over these differing interpretations of Aristotle. I have the more limited objective of examining the way Jones proposes to restate the terms of the debate.
If Jones is right the alternatives just sketched represent a false dichotomy: the new solution supersedes them both. It is merely the proffered new solution that is my concern." (p. 146)
(1) "Individuals in Aristotle's Categories", Phronesis XVII (1972) 107-123.
(2) In his notes on the Categories and De Interpretatione, Oxford 1963.
(3) "Inherence", Phronesis X (1965) 97-105.
Anscombe, Elizabeth G. M. 1961. "Aristotle: The Search for Substance." In Three Philosophers, edited by Anscombe, Elizabeth G. M. and Geach, Peter Thomas, 1-63. Oxford: Basil Blackwell
Contents: Analytical Table of Contents VI-XX; G. E. M. Anscombe: Aristotle: The Search for Substance 1; P. T. Geach: Aquinas 65; P. T. Geach: Frege 127-162.
"The doctrine of his Categories is very straightforward. First substance is introduced, and explained in the first place as what neither is asserted of nor exists in a subject: the examples offered are ' such-and-such a man ‘ such-and-such a horse ’. A ' first substance ’ then is what is designated by a proper name such as the name of a man or of a horse, or again, if one cared to give it a proper name, of a cabbage. .A proper name is never, qua proper name, a predicate. Thus what a proper name stands for is not asserted of a subject.
Aristotle explains the second point, that first substance does not exist in a subject, by giving as an example of what is ' in ' a subject: ‘ such-and-such grammarianship. He means that an individual occurrence of grammatical science, such as a particular man’s knowledge of grammar, while not being asserted of a subject, exists in a subject. The example is slightly obscure to us; ' such-and-such a surface ' would perhaps be a better one. If we think of a particular surface, such as the surface of my wedding ring, this is not something that is asserted of a subject, but it exists in a subject—namely, the ring. (He explains that when he speaks of things being in a subject, he is not speaking of parts, such as arms and legs which are parts of a man.) Thus, we can see that when he speaks of ‘ first substance ’ Aristotle is talking about what modern philosophers discuss under the name ' particulars ’ or ‘ individuals ’. But his doctrine has features not found in modern treatments. The most notable of these are, first the distinction we have just noticed between individuals that do, and individuals, or particulars, that do not, exist in subjects (though Aristotle rarely calls what exists in something else an individual, using that term mostly for substances); and second, that he speaks of ' first substance ' and ' second substance '. Second substances, he says, are the kinds to which belong the first substances, such as man, horse, cabbage.
It will help us to understand this if we remember, and see the mistake in, Locke’s doctrine that there is no ‘ nominal essence ’ of individuals. Locke said that if you take a proper name, ‘A’, you can only discover whether A is, say, a man or again a cassowary, by looking to see if A has the properties of man or a cassowary. This presupposes that, having grasped the assignment of the proper name ‘A you can know when to use it again, without its being already determined whether ‘A’ is the proper name of, say, a man, or a cassowary: as if there were such a thing as being the same without being the same such-and-such. This is clearly false. Aristotle’s ‘ second substance ’ is indicated by the predicate, whatever it is, say ‘ X that is so associated with the proper name of an individual that the proper name has the same reference when it is used to refer to the same X: with the restriction that the individual is not such as to exist in a subject, like an individual surface." (pp. 7-8)
Anton, John Peter. 1957. Aristotle's Theory of Contrariety. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul
Contents: Preface VII; Acknowledgments IX; Chapter I. Approaching Aristotle 1; Chapter II: The Ontological foundations of Contrariety and Its Relation to Substance as Nature 19; Chapter III. From the Cosmological to the Ontological Use of the Principle of Contrariety 32; Chapter IV. Contrariety in the Locus of Process and in the Categories 49; Chapter V. The Prime Contrariety and the Ontological Analysis of Determinate or Linear Processes 69; Chapter VI. Contrariety in the Theory of Opposition in Language as as the Foundation for the Law of Non-Contradiction 85; Chapter VII. Process and the Principle of Soul 104; Chapter VIII. Being and the Range of Knowledge 136; Chapter IX. Contrariety and the Range of Conduct 171; Epilogue 200; Appendix 203; Bibliography 242; Index of Subjects; 247; Index of Names 253-253.
Preface: "The present volume is the result of several years of research in ancient philosophy. It began with the main purpose of elucidating the theme of contrariety and the role it played in the Aristotelian treatises. But the many vexing problems which made their appearance as my inquiry progressed led me to extend my studies of this theme and look into its pre-Aristotelian history. A number of valuable ideas came to light as a result of the investigations into the concept of contrariety and its place in the various types of philosophical thinking from the early pre-Socratics down to Aristotle. This work in no wise claims to be an exhaustive study of contrariety in all ancient Greek thought, for a task of this kind would doubtlessly require the space of many volumes. The bulk of this work is centred around the philosophy of Aristotle with whom the principle of contrariety received, I believe, its most clear and classical formulation. The discussion on the pre-Aristotelian uses of this principle is so designed as to throw only what historical light was required for the full appreciation of the main theme. At the same time I have tried to avoid doing injustice to Aristotle’s predecessors by paying as close attention as possible to their own original writings, fragmentary as they are."
"The very fact that contrariety is necessarily joined with process, change, and development imposes the demand that it cannot occur in all the categories. Thus, contrariety is present only in those genera of categoriae which imply change: (35) substance, quantity, quality, and place. Within each of these four categories, there are two distinguishable termini which form the extremities of a distinct and inclusive categorical contrariety: (36) (1) in substance it is form-privation; (2) in quantity it is completeness-incompleteness; 3) in place it is up-down; and (4) in quality it presents no exhaustive general extremities; instead it yields a variety of contrarieties, such as white-black, hot-cold, (37) etc.
Each categorical contrariety when developmentally conceived stands for two directions or types of change characteristic of each category, as subsequent analysis will show." (p. 61)
(36) Phys. 201a 3-9; Phys. I, ch. 6, 189a 13.
(37) The qualitative pairs of contraries were hypostatized by Anaxagoras, who made them the ultimate constituents of the universe. See Diels, Die Frag. der Vors.. (Anaxagoras), B 6; B 12.
———. 1968. "The Aristotelian Doctrine of 'Homonyma' in the Categories and Its Platonic Antecedents." Journal of the History of Philosophy no. 6:315-326
Reprinted as Chapter 4 in: J. P. Anton, Categories and Experience. Essays on Aristotelian Themes, Oakdale, N.Y.: Dowling College Press, 1996, pp. 87-114.
"The Aristotelian doctrine of homonyma is of particular historical interest at least for the following reasons: (1) It appears that the meaning of homonyma was seriously debated in Aristotle's times and that his own formulation was but one among many others. Evidently, there were other platonizing thinkers in the Academy who had formulated their own variants. According to ancient testimonies, the definition which Speusippus propounded proved to be quite influential in later times.(2) The fact that Aristotle chose to open the Categories with a discussion, brief as it is, on the meaning of homonyma, synonyma, and paronyma, attests to the significance he attached to this preliminary chapter. Furthermore, there is general agreement among all the commentators on the relevance of the first chapter of the Categories to the doctrine of the categories. (3) The corpus affords ample internal evidence that the doctrine of homonyma figures largely in Aristotle's various discussions on the nature of first principles and his method of metaphysical analysis. This being the case, it is clear that Aristotle considered this part of his logical theory to have applications beyond the limited scope of what is said in the Categories.
Since we do not know the actual order of Aristotle's writings it is next to the impossible to decide which formulation came first. It remains a fact that Aristotle discusses cases of homonyma and their causes as early as the Sophistici Elenchi. Special mention of the cause of homonyma is made in the very first chapter of this work. Wc find it again in the Topics, de Interpretatione, the Analytics and the other logical treatises. He opens the Sophistici Elenchi with a general distinction between genuine and apparent reasonings and refutations, and then proceeds to explain why some refutations fail to reach their goal, that is, establish the contradictory of the given conclusion.(3)" (pp. 87-88)
(2) See De Speusippi Academici scriptis, ed. P. Lang (Bonn, 1911), frag, 32. Simplicius comments that Speusippus defended this formulation and remarks that once the definition is granted, it could be shown that homonyma are also synonyma, and vice versa (In Aristotelis Categorias Commentarium, ed. C. Kalbfleisch, Commentaria in Aristotelis Graeca, VIII [Berlin, 1907] 29, 5-6).
(3) "It is impossible in a discussion to bring in the actual things discussed: we use their names as symbols instead of them; and, therefore, we oppose that what follows in the names, follows in the things as well, just as people who calculate suppose in regard to their counters. But the two cases (names and things) are not alike. For names are finite and so is the sum-total of formulae, while things are infinite in number. Inevitably, then, the same formulae, and a single name, have a number of meanings. Accordingly just as, in counting, those who are not clever in manipulating theirs counters are taken in by the experts, in the same way in arguments too those who are not well acquainted with the force of names misreason both in their own discussions and when they listen to others. For this reason, then, and for others to be mentioned later, there exists both reasoning and refutation that is apparent but not real” (165a 5-20, Oxford trans.).
———. 1968. "The Meaning of ‘Ο λόγοσ τῆς οὐσίας in Categories 1a." The Monist no. 52:252-267
Reprinted as Chapter 3 in: J. P. Anton, Categories and Experience. Essays on Aristotelian Themes, Oakdale, N.Y.: Dowling College Press, 1996, 61-85.
"The purpose of this paper is to inquire into the meaning of the troublesome Aristotelian expression ό λόγοσ τῆς οὐσίας; as it occurs at the very opening of Categories 1a 1-2, 7. That the passage has presented serious difficulties to commentators and translators alike can be easily ascertained through a survey and comparison of the relevant literature. It would seem from the disagreements among translators that the passage is either vague in the original Greek or that Aristotle did not have a special doctrine to put across at the very opening such that would require technical formulations that would comply with the ontology presented in this treatise.
The main body of this paper is given to an examination of the diverse difficulties the passage raises in connection with the doctrine of homonymy and the ontology which supports it. On the basis of this analysis, and after consideration of the available evidence, textual and historical, attention is given to the possibility of proving the thesis that ό λόγοσ τῆς οὐσίας; (hereafter abbreviated as L of O, L for logos and O for ousia) has is special doctrinal meaning and is, therefore, free from terminological imprecision. Accordingly, the interpretation defended in this paper advocates a definite reading for logos and for ousia, and one that forbids a strict identification of ousia with the variant meaning of tode ti (individual existents or particular substances),(2) let alone taking liberties with the notion so that it may include in its denotation the symbebetkota (accidental properties). More pointedly, an argument is presented in favor of interpreting ousia to mean substance in the sense of species, on the ground that only in this sense is ousia definable.(3)
The thesis that the expression L of O has a precise and technical meaning can be put as follows: if we admit that ousia can occur as both subject and predicate, and that as ultimate subject it denotes individual substances whereas as predicate it ranges in denotation from infima species to summa genera, it can be shown that Aristotle means to say in this context that ousia must be understood in the sense of being (a) definable and (b) predicable. If so, then, it can only mean secondary substance, with the added restriction that the highest genera be excluded on account of their undefinability. The context of the first chapter is unmistakably one in which homonymy is presented and explained as a topic highly requisite to the exposition of the ontology that undergirds the general doctrine presented in the Categories." (pp. 61-62)
(2) Cat. 3b 10; Post. An. 73b 7, 87b 29.
(3) For infima species, Post. An. esp. passim; 73a 32. It must be remembered that unless ousia means species, infima or otherwise, it cannot be defined. Post. An. 83b 5.
———. 1975. "Some Observations on Aristotle's Theory of Categories." Diotima.Epitheoresis Philosophikes Ereunes no. 3:66-81
Reprinted as Chapter 6 in: J. P. Anton, Categories and Experience. Essays on Aristotelian Themes, Oakdale, N.Y.: Dowling College Press, 1996, 153-174.
"This paper deals with what seems to be a rather small topic but one, as I hope to show, which has significant implications. At many interpreters before me have said, the treatise titled Categories brings together certain basic logical and ontological views of Aristotle. I find myself in agreement with this interpretation but I take it a step further to say that the treatise contains enough evidence to support the view that Aristotle intended and in fact did make a basic distinction between a theory of being and a theory of categories, and even more sharply than has been hitherto recognized.
I will argue that this distinction has been largely overlooked and even ignored by every major interpreter of Aristotle, with the subsequent result that these two basic doctrines as presented in the Categories, instead of being kept apart, have been treated as identical theories. One of the most serious consequences of the tendency to collapse the meanings of the key terms “being” and “category” is not so much that they have been used interchangeably, but more importantly, that their fusion obscures our understanding of that treatise. I propose to show that Aristotle's intent was to correlate the ultimate genera of being, ta gene tou ontos, and the logically fundamental modes of predication, ta schemata tes kategorias. I do not contend that scholars have been remiss to notice the fact that Aristotle has a theory which deals with these modes of predication but only that they have been misled by the prevailing tendency to overlook the difference between the two concepts, “being” and “category.” (pp. 153-154)
———. 1990. "The Unity of Scientific Inquiry and Categorial Theory in Aristotle." In Greek Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science, edited by Nicolacopoulos, Pantelis, 29-43. Dordrecht: Kluwer
"The concept of the unity of the sciences as interrelated domains ofinquiry, aside from its recent setting, had also an Aristotelian setting in antiquity. Its usefulness in the latter period was not to serve as the logical basis to build a system of systems. Although there is much to recommend it as a solution to the communication of 'public' knowledge, it also seems to have functioned as the basis for the continuity between being and the perception of being, between fact and value. There is more to the concept of the unity of the scientific inquiries than the sharing of methodological principles; for instance, the pervasive axioms and the requirement for special theses and hypotheses, as Aristotelian terminology would have it in the concluding chapters of the Posterior Analytics, Book II. There is also the model of the ordered facts, i.e. the conceptual determination of the ultimate facts within a type of subjectmatter: the Aristotelian model of wholes qua ousiai, which constitute the ontological counterparts of the proper subjects of statements. These ontic wholes are the ultimate loci of the fundamental properties of typical facts, they are the irreducible wholes of parts. Thus the articulation of the mode of attribution of properties of facts to the facts as wholes, i.e. the connecting the symbebekota (co-incidentals) to their ousiai, is the function of scientific predication. Language, when it is canonical discourse covering the full span of all subject-matters, serves us well, both in announcing encountered facts and attributing propertiesto facts. Given that universal and near-universal statements can be made in each of the sciences, the explanation of phenomena, the securing of a conclusion in any demonstrative syllogism, is tied to the quest for middle terms, itself in line with the model of wholes and the rules of categorial theory." (p. 29)
———. 1992. "On the Meaning of kategoria in Aristotle's Categories." In Aristotle's Ontology, edited by Preus, Anthony and Anton, John Peter, 3-18. Albany: State University of New York Press
Reprinted as Chapter 7 in: J. P. Anton, Categories and Experience. Essays on Aristotelian Themes, Oakdale, N.Y.: Dowling College Press, 1996, 175-201.
"In a paper written in 1974 and subsequently published in 1975, (1) I argued that the Aristotelian texts, particularly that of the Categories, allow for a parallel yet distinct interpretation to the traditional and prevalent one that takes the categories to be terms, ultimate classes, types, and concepts. (2) My position there was that the primary use of kategoria refers to well-formed statements made according to canons and, to be more precise, to fundamental types of predication conforming to rules sustained by the ways of beings.
In trying to decide how Aristotle uses the term kategoria in the treatise that bears the same name, Categories, (3) provision must be made for the fact that there is nothing in the text to justify the meanings that ancient commentators and also modern writers assigned to it and that found their way both into translations of Aristotle's works and into the corpus of established terminology. (4) The present article is written in the hope that it will contribute in some small measure to understanding why certain distinctions in the treatise Categories should have prevented interpreters from assigning the traditional meaning of "genera of being" to the term category, hence giving it the meaning of "highest predicate" rather than "fundamental type of predication"." (p. 175)
(1) Anton 1975, 67-81.
(2) The paper published here was presented at the December 28, 1983, meeting of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy, Boston, MA.
(3) The title of the treatise was a subject of considerable dispute in antiquity. For a recent survey on this problem see M. Frede 1987b, 11- 28. According to Frede "the question of authenticity is crucially linked to the question of unity" (12). The problem of the unity covers the relation of the early part of the treatise to the part that discusses the postpredicamenta.
(4) There are many surveys of interpretations concerning the categories. I do not plan to offer another survey, for my main interest lies in the investigation into what we can learn about the theory of categories in the Categories. Nor am I concerned with reproducing and commenting on the table of enumeration of the "categories" in Aristotle's works. The list can be readily found in Apelt 1891, conveniently reproduced in Elders 1961, 194-96. One can still raise the question about the intent of the list or lists. If a defense of objections can be made to the reading that makes the list of "categories" refer to classes of being, then we have an alternative before us, which has not been adequately explored, namely whether the list refers not to classes of being or classes of predicates, but to the types of statements that pertain to the attribution of genuine features present in the entity named in the subject position. It is the existence of the concrete individual qua subject that sets the context for the selective lists of relevant types of attribution.
———. 1996. Categories and Experience. Essays on Aristotelian Themes. Oakdale: Dowling College Press
Table of Contents: 1. Introduction 7; 2. Aristotle's Principle of Contradiction: Its Ontological Foundations and Platonic Antecedents (1972) 35; 3. The Meaning of 0 Logos tes Ousias in Categories 1a (1968) 61; 4. The Aristotelian Doctrine of Homonyma (1968) 87; 5. Ancient Interpretations of Aristotle's Homonyma (1969) 115; 6. Observations on Aristotle's Theory of Categories (1975) 153; 7. On the Meaning of Kategoria in Aristotle's Categories (1992) 175; 8. Aristotle's Theory of Categories and Post-Classical Ontologies (1981) 203; 9. The Unity of Scientific Inquiry: The Scope of Ousia (1989) 215; 10. Revolutions and Reforms (1988) 237; 11. Politeia and Paideia: The Structure of Constitutions (1988) 249; 12. Aristotle on Justice and Equity (1989) 279; 13. Ideal Values and Cultural Action (1991) 293; 14. Timely Observations on Aristotle's Architectonic of Politike Techne (1994) 307; Bibliography 325; Index 333; About the Author 337-338.
Asztalos, Monika. 2014. "Qualities in Aristotle's Categories." In PARADEIGMATA. Studies in Honour of Øivind Andersen, edited by Emilsson, Eyjólfur Kjalar, Maravela, Anastasia and Skoie, Mathilde, 155-161. Athens: The Norwegian Institute at Athens
"It is commonly taken for granted that Aristotle’s main concern in Categories is to propose a classification in which each thing occupies one, and only one, place in a hierarchy consisting of genera that are divisible into species. Any passage in this work that seems to contradict this assumption is considered perplexing or even taken as evidence of ‘a weakness in the foundations of Aristotle’s theory of categories’.(1) So strong is this belief that the authenticity of 11a20–38, which comes at the end of the discussion of qualities in chapter 8, has been doubted.(2) The purpose of this contribution is to show that there is indeed a weakness, not, however, in Aristotle’s theory but in the commonly held assumptions about it. A full investigation of all problems involved and of previous research requires much more space than is available on this occasion.
Thus, my main focus will be on chapter 8, and I will refer to the translation and commentary by J. L. Ackrill, a work that has been, and still is, hugely influential on determining how Categories is understood.(3)" (p. 155)
(1) This is the verdict of Ackrill 1963, 109.
(2) One important instance is in Frede 1987, 13.
(3) Günther Patzig’s appreciation has in all likelihood contributed to the influence: ‘Als eine Erklärung des
Textes, die auch Sachfragen erörtet, hat Ackrill’s knappes Buch einen neuen Standard für die Interpretation
antiker philosophischer Text gesetzt.’ Patzig 1996, 105.
Ackrill, John L. (1963) Aristotle’s Categories and De Interpretatione. Translated with Notes. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Frede, Michael. (1987) ‘The Title, Unity, and Authenticity of the Aristotelian Categories’. In Essays in Ancient Philosophy, 11–28. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Patzig, Günther. (1996) ‘Bemerkungen zu den ‘Kategorien’ des Aristoteles’. In Gesammelte Schriften III. Aufsätze zur antiken Philosophie, 93–114. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag.
Aygun, Omer. 2017. The Middle Included: Logos in Aristotle. Evanston: Northwestern University Press
Our attempt to solve the question of logos in Aristotle’s philosophy shall cross six chapters: the first two on his logical works (Categories, On Interpretation), the third and fourth on his work of philosophy of nature (Physics and On the Soul), and the fifth and sixth on his ethical-political works (Nicomachean Ethics and Politics).(93)
Let me give a more concrete outline of the book. In chapter 1, “Being,” we will discuss the function of logos in Aristotle’s Categories. At the very inception of the Categories, logos distinguishes homonymy and synonymy by providing an answer to the question: “What is it for this being to be?” (Cat. 1, 1a2ff.).
Through a discussion of the questions emerging from its context, I will argue that logos here must mean something like “standard.” For, without this standard, the commonality between an ox and a human being as “animals” will be reduced to a relation between mere namesakes like a “spelling bee” and a “honey bee.” Thus, logos in the sense of “standard” requires a relation between a being and “what it is for it to be.” That a being has such a standard means that it holds on at once to its own being and to its claim concerning what it is for itself to be, without letting one yield, or remain indifferent, to the other. Yet what would such a standard mean if it is not truly inherent to the being in question, but arbitrarily imposed from without? How are we to warrant that a standard is in fact inherent to the being at hand?" (Introduction, p 27)
(93) The reader will notice that the use of logos in the Metaphysics (especially books VII and VIII) is scattered throughout the book.
Bäck, Allan. 2000. Aristotle's Theory of Predication. Leiden: Brill
Table of Contents: Acknowledgments IX; Preface XI, Notation and Conventions XIV; Introduction 1; Chapter One The Linguistic Evidence 11; Chapter Two Aristotle's Precursors 31; Chapter Three Aristotle on the Uses of 'Be' in Greek 59; Chapter Four The Statement 98; Chapter Five The Categories as Predicates 132; Chapter Six Type of Predication 166; Chapter Seven Negations 199; Chapter Eight Inference 228; Chapter Nine Consequences 264; Bibliography 321; Index 339-346.
"In Categories 2 Aristotle presents a fourfold division of beings, known as the ontological square. There he distinguishes substance and accident, and the universal and the singular. The distinctions that he makes parallel distinctions that he makes elsewhere for types of predications: the essential versus the accidental, and, again, the singular versus the universal. Aristotle also uses these distinctions in his various discussions of the ten categories.
In the next chapter I shall discuss the types of predication. Here I wish to investigate the relation between Aristotle's theory of the categories and his views on predication. After all, 'category' ('κατηγορία') means 'predication', and Aristotle has said that the categories are the different ways in which being per se may be said.(1) He even calls the ten ultimate sorts of being, substance (τί εστίν) quantity, relation, ..., "the figures of predication". [Metaph. 1017a23] Above I have claimed that whatever, S, has being per se is such that 'S is' is true, where 'is' means real presence, and can be specified further through certain additional predicates. The categories would then be the types, or figures, of such predicates. In this way, Aristotle's doctrines about being per se in the Metaphysics embody the aspect theory of predication, so I have claimed. Here I shall consider whether what Aristotle says about the various categories agrees with this interpretation. Now Aristotle says too that "being" is divided into the four divisions of the ontological square. So I shall also have to consider the relationship between these two classifications, the one into four, the other into ten divisions." (p. 132)
(1) 'Predication' in the sense that "the kinds of predication define classes or kinds of predicates, namely the classes of those predicates which occur in a statement of a given kind of predication,"[sc., of being per se], as Michael Frede, "Categories in Aristotle," p. 32, says.
He also notes that Aristotle is using 'κατηγορία' in a new way. L. M. De Rijk, "On Ancient and Mediaeval Semantics and Metaphysics: 4. The Categories as Classes of Names," pp. 18-9; 21, notes that 'κατηγορία' here means 'predication', but originally 'accuse', or better 'reveal'.
Barnes, Jonathan. 1971. "Homonymy in Aristotle and Speusippus." Classical Quarterly no. 21:65-80
Reprinted with the title Aristotle and Speusippus on Homonymy, in J. Barnes, Logical Matters: Essays in Ancient Philosophy II, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 284-311.
"1. 'There are important differences between Aristotle's account of homonymy and synonymy on the one hand, and Speusippus' on the other; in particular, Aristotle treated homonymy and synonymy as properties of things, whereas Speusippus treated them as properties of words. Despite this difference, in certain significant passages Aristotle fell under the influence of Speusippus and used the words "homonymous" and "synonymous" in their Speusippean senses.
These sentences are a rough expression of what I shall call the Hambruch thesis. The thesis was advanced by Ernst Hambruch in 1904 in his remarkable monograph on the relation between Academic and early Aristotelian logic. (*)
Hambruch singled out Topics A 15 as peculiarly Speusippean, and he conjectured that it was based on some written work of Speusippus." (p. 65)
(*) Ernst Hambruch, Logische Regeln der platonischen Schule in der aristotelischen Topik, Berlin, 1904, pp. 28-29. [Reprinted with Curt Arpe, Das ti en einai bei Aristoteles (1938), New York: Arno Press, 1976].
———. 2011. "Aristotelian Quantities." In Studi sulle Categorie di Aristotele, edited by Bonelli, Maddalena and Guadalupe Masi, Francesca, 337-370. Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert
"A quantity is usually conceived to be a kind of property. It is thought to be a kind of property that admits of degrees, and which is therefore to be contrasted with those properties which have an all-or-none character (for example being pregnant, or being crimson). According to this conception, objects possess quantities in much the same way as they possess other properties, usually called ‘qualities’(1).
That conception of quantities is Aristotelian:
Of things said without any complexity, each signifies either a substance or a quantum or a quale (...) Roughly speaking, substances are, say, a man, a horse; quanta, say, two-foot, three-foot; qualia, say, white, cultivated [...](2).
(Arist. Cat. 4, lb25-29)
Quanta (or quantities, as they are usually called) form the second of the ten groups of items (or the ten categories, as they are usually called) which Aristotle discusses in the central part of his Categories and to which he not infrequently alludes in his other philosophical writings. The third group of items consists of qualia (or qualities, as they are usually called): quanta stand alongside qualia, and objects are supposed to possess them ‘in much the same way’ as they possess qualia.
Quanta have a chapter to themselves in the Categories, and another in Book Δ of the Metaphysics', and there are remarks scattered elsewhere in the corpus3. But all told, Aristotle says little about quanta (in part perhaps because much of his science was qualitative rather than quantitative); and what he says in the Categories does not always chime with what he says in the Metaphysics. Moreover, the whole business (or so I find) is curiously elusive." (p. 337)
(*) This is a revised version of a paper which I gave at a Colloquium held in Bergamo in December 2010. The paper excited a flurry of criticism, to my great advantage. I thank also, and in particular, Maddalena Bonelli, who both organized and animated the Colloquium.
(1) Cf. Ellis 1966, 24.
(2) Τών κατά μηδεμίαν συμπλοκήν λεγομένων έκαστον ήτοι ουσίαν σημαίνει ή ποσύν ή ποιόν ή πρός τι ή ποΐ) ή ποτέ ή κείσθαι ή έχειν ή ποιεΐν ή πάσχειν. έστι δέ ούσία μέν ώς τυπφ είπεϊν οϊον άνθρωπος, ίππος· ποσόν δέ olov δίπηχυ, τρίπηχυ· ποιόν δέ οϊον λευκόν, γραμματικόν [...]
(3) Notably in Book I of the Metaphysics and in the discussions of motion, place and time in the Physics. The following pages largely restrict themselves to the chapters in Cat. and Metaph. Δ - and they touch on only some of the issues which those chapters raise."
B. Ellis, Basic Concepts of Measurement, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1966.
———. 2012. "Aristotle's Categories and Aristotle's 'categories'." In Logical Matters: Essays in Ancient Philosophy II, 187-265. New York: Oxford University Press
Revised English translation of: Les Catégories et les catégories, in Otto Bruun, Lorenzo Corti (éds.), Les Catégories et leur histoire, Paris: Vrin, 2005, pp. 11-80, with an Appendix on the new critical edition by Richard Bodéüs, Aristote. Catégories, Paris: Les Belles Lettres 2001, pp. 258-265.
"The history of Aristotle’s theory of categories is the history of a doctrine and the history of a text — or rather, of a small corpus of texts. For the text which Aristotle himself wrote — the Categories — was abridged and paraphrased and attacked and defended and commented upon and translated, so that its fifteen pages are accompanied by a vast library of secondary literature. The Categories had an extraordinary success, in late antiquity and after, and the doctrine of the categories had an immense influence on the history of philosophy — ancient, medieval, and modern. But if the theory was familiar in all parts of the republic of letters, knowledge of the Aristotelian doctrine did not always carry with it an acquaintance with Aristotle's text. Sometimes it is plain that an author who ‘cites’ the Categories has read no more than an epitome or a doxographer’s report. Often enough, Aristotle’s theory is exploited on the basis of a paraphrase or a commentary. And in any event — what ought to depress but not to astonish — an understanding of the doctrine was always filtered through the secondary literature, and the doctrine took some flavour from the particular filter it passed through.
With hindsight, the triumph of the doctrine may seem inevitable — after all, a glorious future presupposes a distinguished past, and if the past is distinguished, then the future is likely to be rosy. But in reality things were otherwise. The birth of the doctrine (as I have just recalled) was difficult. Its adolescence was neither robust nor promising.
Aristotle’s successors often worked on the same subjects and wrote under the same titles as he had done: they attempted to fill the gaps which he had left (and sometimes indicated), they tried to state more clearly what he had set out obscurely or approximatively, and they sometimes sought to mend his errors." (pp. 198-199)
Barnes, Kenneth T. 1977. "Aristotle on Identity and Its Problems." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 22:48-62
Abstract: "There are certain problematic arguments, collective reference to which is often compressed into the expression, "the problems of identity."
Strictly speaking, of course, there are no problems of identity. But there are problems, if only apparent, for a certain view about identity, namely, the view that identicals are indiscernible. In light of the seeming freshness of these philosophical problems, it is remarkable that we find in Aristotle's early writings what seems to be a formulation of the view that identicals are indiscernible, as well as a confrontation with certain arguments that raise apparent difficulties for that view. Philosophers have not always been clear about these arguments, and some have taken them to prove the need to qualify the view that identicals are indiscernible. Aristotle is among those who have drawn such a conclusion, but so are some contemporary philosophers. In this paper I examine Aristotle's solution to certain problems of identity. I attempt to state the solution clearly and indicate the mixture of insight and error that influenced it."
Baumer, Michael R. 1993. "Chasing Aristotle's Categories Down the Tree of Grammar." Journal of Philosophical Research no. 18:341-349
Abstract: "This paper addresses the problem of the origin and principle of Aristotle's distinctions among the categories. It explores the possibilities of reformulating and reviving the 'grammatical' theory, generally ascribed first to Trendelenburg. the paper brings two new perspectives to the grammatical theory: that of Aristotle's own theory of syntax and that of contemporary linguistic syntax and semantics. I put forth a provisional theory of Aristotle's categories in which (1) I propose that the categories sets forth a theory of lexical structure, with the ten categories emerging as lexical or semantic categories, and (2) I suggest conceptual links, both in Aristotle's writings and in actuality, between these semantic categories and certain grammatical inflections."
Benson, Hugh. 1988. "Universals as Sortals in the Categories." Pacific Philosophical Quarterly no. 69:282-306
"In his essay Individuals in Aristotle,(1) Michael Frede suggests that in the Categories Aristotle attempts to maintain the independence of the Platonic distinction between universals and particulars on the one hand, and his new distinction between properties and objects, on the other. Thus, according to Frede, in the Categories there are universal objects and particular objects as well as universal properties and particular properties.
As a result, Frede thinks we must reject, at least in the context of the Categories, what might be called the traditional analysis of the universal.
In this essay I want to defend this suggestion at greater length.(2)"
"First, I will briefly explain the distinction between the traditional analysis of the universal, (TA), and what I will call the sortal system analysis, (SA). The former is traditional in that it is commonly accepted as Aristotle’s analysis of the universal/particular distinction. The latter may be equivalent to Frede’s subjective part analysis.(3) Second, I will defend the claim that in the Categories Aristotle is committed to the existence of particular properties, (A). This is a corollary of the suggestion that Aristotle took the universal/particular and property/object distinctions to be independent. Third, I will explain why such a commitment leads us to reject the traditional analysis, and why the sortal analysis is an appropriate replacement. Finally, I will sketch how an appeal to such an analysis might solve one of the more traditional problems of the middle books of the Metaphysics." (pp. 282-283)
(1) Frede (1978), first appeared as 'Individuen bei Aristotles’ in Antike and Abendland.
Anscombe (1967) also suggests the independence of these distinctions when she discusses the two ‘most notable’ features of Aristotle’s doctrine not found in modern treatments (p. 8).
(2) As we will see, this should not be taken as suggesting that I agree with either his position concerning the trope controversy (cf. n. 24 below) nor with his position concerning his resolution to one of the traditional difficulties of the central books of Metaphysics.
(3) Cf. n. 15 below.
Anscombe, G.E.M. (1967), “Aristotle” in G.E.M. Anscombe and P. T. Geach, Three Philosophers, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Frede, M. (1978), “Individuals in Aristotle” in Essays in Ancient Philosophy, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 49-71.
Benveniste, Émile. 1971. "Categories of Thought and Language." In Problems in General Linguistics, 55-64. Coral Gables: University of Miami Press
English translation by Mary E. Meek of Catégories de pensée et catégories de langue (1958).
"We must enter into a concrete historical situation, and study the categories of a specific thought and a specific language. Only on this condition will we avoid arbitrary stands and speculative solutions. Now, we are fortunate to have at our disposal data which one would say were ready for our examination, already worked out and stated objectively within a well-known system: the Aristotle's categories. In the examination of these categories, we may dispense with philosophical technicalities. We will consider them simply as an inventory of properties which a Greek thinker thought could be predicated of a subject and, consequently, as the list of a priori concepts which, according to him, organize experience. It is a document of great value for our purpose.
Let us recall at first the fundamental text, which gives the most complete list of these properties, ten in all (Categories 4, 1)
Aristotle thus posits the totality of predications that may be made about a being, and he aims to define the logical status of each one of them. Now it seems to us-and we shall try to show-that these distinctions are primarily categories of language and that, in fact, Aristotle, reasoning in the absolute, is simply identifying certain fundamental categories of the language in which he thought. Even a cursory look at the statement of the categories and the examples that illustrate them, will easily verify this interpretation, which apparently has not been proposed before." (p. 57)
"In working out this table of "categories," Aristotle intended to list all the possible predications for a proposition, with the condition that each term be meaningful in isolation, not engaged in a συμπλοκή, or, as we would say, in a syntagm. Unconsciously he took as a criterion the empirical necessity of a distinct expression for each of his predications. He was thus bound to reflect unconsciously the distinctions which the language itself showed among the main classes of forms, since it is through their differences that these forms and these classes have a linguistic meaning. He thought he was defining the attributes of objects but he was really setting up linguistic entities; it is the language which, thanks to its own categories, makes them to be recognized and specified.
We have thus an answer to the question raised in the beginning which led us to this analysis. We asked ourselves what was the nature of the relationship between categories of thought and categories of language. No matter how much validity Aristotle's categories have as categories of thought, they turn out to be transposed from categories of language. It is what one can say which delimits and organizes what one can think. Language provides the fundamental configuration of the properties of things as recognized by the mind. This table of predications informs us above all about the class structure of a particular language.
It follows that what Aristotle gave us as a table of general and permanent conditions is only a conceptual projection of a given linguistic state." (pp. 60-61)
Blackwell, Richard J. 1957. "The Methodological Function of the Categories in Aristotle." The New Scholasticism no. 31:526-537
"It is a curious fact that the ten categories are listed in only two places in the writings of Aristotle.(1) In the majority of cases only five or less categories are listed.(2) Furthermore Aristotle unlike St. Thomas does not designate the categories by the definite number" ten" but rather merely gives a listing, usually a partial one, of the individual categories.
This situation, plus the lack of any explicit statement by Aristotle as to how the individual categories are established, has led to a complicated controversy among modern scholars regarding the nature and origin of the doctrine of the categories.
Most of the literature on this problem centers around the question of how Aristotle arrived at the listing of the ten categories which have become a permanent part of the Aristotelian tradition. The results have by no means been conclusive.
The controversy began with F . A. Trendelenburg's position that the categories are derived from the distinction of the various grammatical parts of speech. H. Bonitz disagreed with this interpretation, claiming that the categories indicate the different determinations in which the notion of being is predicated.(4)" (p. 526)
(1) Categories, 1 b 26, and Topics, 103 b 22.
:(2) For a complete catalogue of the listing of the categories in Aristotle and the Greek terms used in each case, see Otto Apelt, "Kategorenlehre des Aristoteles," Beiträge zur Geschichte der Griechischen Philosophie (Leipzig, 1891) pp. 140-41.
(3) Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg, "Geschichte der Kategorienlehre," Historischer Beiträge zur Philosophie (Leipzig, 1846) I, 23 ff., 194 ff.
(4) H. Bonitz, Ueber die Kategorien des Aristoteles (Wien, 1853).
Block, Irving. 1978. "Predication in Aristotle." Philosophical Inquiry no. 1:53-57
Abstract: "This article traces briefly the development of Aristotle's thoughts on predication as this progressed from the Categories to the Posterior Analytics with the Topics coming somewhere in between. In the Categories predication is only of essential attributes and the subject of a predicating statement need not be a substance. In the Posterior Analytics, predication is the attribution of either essential or accidental attributes and the subject must be a substance, otherwise it is not predication in the true sense. The Topics represents a half-way house in between as it makes no mention of the predication-inherence distinction of the Categories on the one hand, and on the other gives no predominance to the notion of substance when discussing the subject of predication, as we find in Posterior Analytics."
Bolton, Robert. 2013. "Two Doctrines of Categories in Aristotle: Topics, Categories, and Metaphysics." In Aristotle on Method and Metaphysics, edited by Feser, Edward, 68-101. New York: Palgrave Macmillan
"Introduction. The aim of this chapter is to offer support for the view – one contrary to the main tradition represented by Alexander and most more recent commentators – that there are, in fact, two different sets and two different, and incompatible, doctrines of categories in Aristotle. I do not have in mind here any difference between the Categories, or the Organon, and the Metaphysics. Rather, both doctrines are present in the Organon and even in a single chapter of the Organon, Topics I.9. The proper explanation for this striking fact is not, as some would suggest, historical or developmental – that one doctrine came earlier in Aristotle’s thinking, the other later. Nor is it, as others have suggested, that both doctrines need to be mastered to adequately employ dialectic, so that both are present in the Topics. Instead, as we shall see, one doctrine, for Aristotle, is precisely suited to the needs of the art of reasoning kata doxan, i.e. to the practice of dialectic, the other to procedure kat’ aletheian, or to the needs and the practice of science, indeed of metaphysical science. I go on to consider a main question for this result, one whose proper resolution helps us to understand better Aristotle’s scientific method overall and the special, if limited, role of dialectic in it. I begin by developing a problem for the interpretation of Topics I.9." (p. 68)
Bostock, David. 2004. "An Aristotelian Theory of Predication?" Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 27:141-175
"In Section I I briefly assemble some reminders of what Aristotle has to say about predication in his logical works (and I shall confine my attention to these works only). To keep my discussion within reasonable bounds I have here had to be somewhat dogmatic on some issues which are still controversial, and I apologize for this.
In Section 2 I outline a modern reconstruction of why Aristotle may have thought as he did, and sketch in modern terms the theory to which it gives rise. In Section 3 I ask whether there really is good reason to attribute this theory to Aristotle. In Section 4 I ask whether it has merit anyway as a philosophical account of predication, irrespective of whether we may call it Aristotle's theory." (p. 141)
Brakas, George. 1988. Aristotle's Concept of the Universal. Hildesheim: Georg Olms
Contents: Acknowledgments 1; Preface 3; I: Recent Views of Aristotle's Universal 11; II: The Definition of Aristotle’s Early Concept of the Universal 17; III: Interpretations of Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Categories in Recent Times 21; Chapter IV: A Consideration of the Main Interpretations 31; V: The Categories and the Meaning of ‘an Existent’ at the Time of the Prior Analytics 55; VI: Fundamentals of Aristotle’s Theory of the Simple Statement at the Time of the De Interpretatione and Prior Analytics 65; VII: Interpretations of 'is Said of' in the Recent Literature 77; VIII: The Senses of 'Is Asserted of' 87; IX: Aristotle’s Early, Middle and Late Views of the Universal 97; Selected Bibliography 111-113.
"The main interpretations. The fundamental question concerning Aristotle’s doctrine of the categories is: Just what is it supposed to classify? Even on this most fundamental issue the chorus of voices arguing for one interpretation over another seems a virtual Tower of Babel — the literature, vast as it is, seems to encompass interpretations of every possible and impossible variety. This is to exaggerate, of course, but not by so very much.
It is possible, however, to sort out what has been said on this question in recent times. In the last 150 years or so there have been mainly five interpretations of what the doctrine is supposed to classify. According to one, the categories are categories of existing things — that is, of that general domain, not some sub-category of it; according to a second, they are categories of concepts — either ‘real’ of ‘in the mind’; according to a third, they are categories of subject and predicate expressions; according to a fourth, they are categories of the meanings of subject and predicate expressions; and according to a fifth, they are categories of the different senses of the copula. Most commentators, I would venture to say, have accepted one or another of these interpretations — either in these ‘pure’ forms or some approximation of them, either one singly or several in combination. To illustrate this, let us consider some of the major studies of Aristotle’s doctrine that have appeared in recent times. (p. 21)
The views of Trendelenburg, Bonitz, Brentano, Apelt, and De Rijk.
"Let us sum up this discussion. Trendelenburg seemed to hold that Aristotle’s doctrine classifies subject and predicate expressions; Bonitz held that it classifies beings; Brentano held that it classifies beings, concepts (that is, ‘real concepts’) and predicates; Apelt held that it classifies concepts, predicates and copulae; and De Rijk, it seems, held that it classifies ‘reality’, the meanings of subjects and predicates, and the senses of the copula. These scholars, then, illustrate that most commentators have accepted one or another of the five interpretations indicated at the outset - either in their ‘pure’ forms or some approximation of them, either one singly or several in combination.
However, other prominent writers have expressed views on the nature of Aristotle’s categories, and we should consider at least some of these. For, even though they do not appear as the theses of major studies of the doctrine, these writers are prominent, and it therefore behooves us to consider whether what they have to say offers anything of interest that has not already been mentioned." (p. 26)
The views of H. W. B. Joseph (*), W. D. Ross, Ernst Kapp, Joseph Owens, Kneale and Kneale, J. L. Ackrill, and J. Μ. E. Moravcsik.
(*) [An Introduction to Logic, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press, 1916), pp. 48-66. First edition published in 1906].
"We can see, then, that these additional interpretations offer little that is new. Except for Joseph’s view that the doctrine classifies universals and Owens’ that it classifies individuals, every one of these interpretations is a combination of two or more of those indicated at the outset, either in their ‘pure’ forms or in some approximation to them." (p. 29)
Brentano, Franz. 1975. On the Several Senses of Being in Aristotle. Berkeley: University of California Press
Translation of Von der mannigfachen Bedeutung des Seienden nach Aristoteles (1862) by Rolf George.
Contents: Editor's Preface XI; Preface XV; Introduction1; Chapter I. The Fourfold Distinction of Being 3; Chapter II. Accidental Being 6; Chapter III. Being in the Sense of Being True 15; Chapter IV. Potential and Actual Being 27; Chapter V. Being According to the Figures of the Categories 49; Notes 149-197.
"This is Brentano's doctoral dissertation and his first book. In it he contemplates the several senses of "being," using Aristotle as his guide. He finds that (in Aristotle's view) being in the sense of the categories, in particular substantial being, is the most basic; all other modes, potential and actual being, being in the sense of the true, etc., stand to it in a relation of well-founded analogy. Many of his mature views are prepared in this work.
For example his discussion of being in the sense of being true appears to be the foundation of his later nonpropositional theory of judgment." (Editor's Preface XI)
"Thus the discussion of the several senses of being form the threshold of Aristotle's Metaphysics. This makes clear why these considerations must have had great importance for him, and this importance becomes even more obvious if one considers that in this context there is considerable danger of confounding several concepts which have the same name. For, as he remarks in the second book of the Posterior Analytics 10, it becomes more and more difficult to recognize equivocation the higher the degree of abstraction and generality of concepts. Thus the possibility of deception must be greatest with being itself since, as we have already seen, it is the most general predicate.
But we have not yet established the fact that, according to Aristotle, being is asserted with several significations, not only with one (Categories 1. 1a1. 6). To begin with we shall establish this through several passages of the Metaphysics and show, at the same time, how the various distinctions of the several senses of being can be initially subordinated to four senses of this name; subsequently we shall proceed to a special discussion of each of them." (p. 2)
"The modes of predication naturally correspond to the modes of being if one makes the subject [hypokeimenon] of all being into the subject of the sentence.
" 'To be' signifies as many different things as there are different ways of using it (Met. V. 7. 1017a23)." (p. 131)
Butler, Travis. 1997. "The Homonymy of Signification in Aristotle." In Aristotle and After, edited by Sorabji, Richard, 117-126. London: Institute of Classical Studies
"In using the notions of indication and announcement above, I have not intended to provide an ultimately illuminating analysis of Aristotle's concept of signification. Rather, I have tried only to sketch one way in which the homonymy of signification might have been seen by Aristotle as more than chance homonymy. According to the sketch, the definitions of being corresponding to the name 'signifier' in the case of words and things differ importantly, but they share the element of indication or announcement, or some similar notion. Given the sketch, moreover, it is likely that for Aristotle, as for Grice, the · more fundamental notion of signification is the notion which has application to nonlinguistic items (e.g. primary substances), since this sort of signification depends not for its existence on the conventions of a linguistic community. Put the other way round, the way in which signification is said with respect to words is in some sense a descendant of the way in which it is said with respect to pieces of nonlinguistic reality. Drawing this conclusion together with the conclusion of Part I, it turns out that Aristotle's claim that nonlinguistic things signify is not only not a source of puzzlement for the semanticist interpreter, it is rather to be welcomed as a place from which analysis begins." (p. 126)
Carson, Scott. 2000. "Aristotle on Existential Import and Non Referring Subjects." Synthese no. 124:343-360
Abstract: "Much contemporary philosophy of language has shown considerable interest in the relation between our linguistic practice and our metaphysical commitments, and this interest has begun to influence work in the history of philosophy as well.(1) In his Categories and De interpretatione, Aristotle presents an analysis of language that can be read as intended to illustrate an isomorphism between the ontology of the real world and how we talk about that world. Our understanding of language is at least in part dependent upon our understanding of the relationships that exist among the enduring πράγματα that we come across in our daily experience. Part of the foundations underlying Aristotle’s doctrine of categories seems to have been a concern, going back to the Academy, about the problem of false propositions: language is supposed to be a tool for communicating the way things are, and writers in antiquity were often puzzled by the problem of how we are to understand propositions that claim that reality is other than it is.(2) Aristotle’s analysis of propositions raises a particular problem in this regard: if the subject of a proposition does not refer to anything, how can the proposition be useful for talking about a state of the world?
The problem falls into two separate but related parts: propositions whose subjects are singular terms and hence make claims about some particular thing, and propositions whose subjects are general terms and hence make claims about classes. In this paper I will explain Aristotle’s treatment of each kind, focusing in particular on what has widely been perceived as a problem in his treatment of singular terms. My discussion of his treatment of general terms will be more brief, but will show that his treatment of them is consistent with his treatment of singular terms."
(1) An interesting treatment of this topic that illustrates how such concerns intersect with issues in the history of philosophy can be found in Diamond (1996), Introduction II (pp. 13–38). Whittaker (1996) also touches on these themes.
(2) On the treatment by ancient philosophers of the problem of falsehood see Denyer (1991).
Denyer, N.: 1991, Language, Thought and Falsehood in Ancient Greek Philosophy, Routledge, London.
Diamond, C.: 1996, The Realistic Spirit: Wittgenstein, Philosophy, and the Mind, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
Whittaker, C.: 1996, Aristotle’s De Interpretatione: Contradiction and Dialectic, Clarendon Press, Oxford.
———. 2003. "Aristotle on Meaning and Reference." History of Philosophy Quarterly no. 20:319-337
"I. Meaning: language and Reality.
This part of the paper is divided into two Sections. Section I examines a three-part relation among objects, thought, and language from the De interpretatione that shows how Aristotle conceived of the nature of mental representation. Section II has to do with a parallel three-part relation from the Categories that shows how this conception of mental representation also grounds a conception of linguistic representation that serves to link the natural and the conventional aspects of psychosemantics in a unique account of meaning." (p. 320)
I.2 The Categories Scheme [pp. 326-332]
"The formal isomorphism that we have been examining in the De interpretatione lies in a three-place relation among things (pragmata), affections of the soul, and words (either spoken or written). There is a similar three-place relation described in the Categories that will serve to show how Aristotle conceives of the formal isomorphism between language and ontology that will complete our account of his representational scheme. The three-place relation that we find in the Categories is among things (here the phrase used is not ta pragmata, but ta onta, things that are), accounts (logoi) of what those things are, and names (onomata) that stand for those accounts. In this scheme ta onta and onomata play the same roles played by ta pragmata and the words (spoken and written signs) of the De interpretatione scheme. The middle place in the relation - the affections of the soul in the De interpretatione scheme - is held in the Categories scheme by "accounts" of the essences (ousiai) of the things being represented. It is not immediately clear that these "accounts" play the same role as that played by the affections of the soul in the De interpretatione scheme, but in what follows it will be seen that the roles are, indeed, the same. Showing the relation between the two schemes vis-a-vis this central part of the three-part relation will help to make clear how Aristotle conceived of the connection between the natural part of his scheme and the conventional." (p. 327)
Chen, Chung-Hwan. 1957. "On Aristotle's Two Expressions: ϰαθ᾿ὑποϰειμένου λέγεσθαι and ἐν ὑποϰειμένῳ ἐιναι: Their Meaning in Cat. 2, 1a20-b9 and the Extension of This Meaning." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 2:148-159
"In the second chapter of the Categoriae Aristotle deals chiefly with the division of entities; (I) ϰαθ᾿ὑποϰειμένου λέγεσθαι (II) ἐν ὑποϰειμένῳ ἐιναι serve here as two principles of division. By their combination, both in their affirmative (Ia, IIa) and in their negative (Ib, IIb) forms, entities are divided into four groups: first group characterized by Ia and IIb, for instance, man; second group characterized by Ib and IIa, for instance, a certain grammatical knowledge, a certain whiteness; third group characterized by Ia and IIa, for instance, knowledge; fourth group characterized by Ib and IIb, for instance, a certain man.(1)
The meaning of these two principles is far from being clear; each of them needs some explanation. First of all, let us note at once that the term ὑποϰειμένοv is very equivocal. ὑποϰειμένοv means in (I) the subject of which something is predicated, and in (II) the substrate in which something is present. Thus the two principles are of quite different nature: the one is a logical, and the other a metaphysical principle. Whether a clear distinction between the logical and the metaphysical is really Aristotelian or not, the fact remains that these two principles set up here are meant to be different from each other. Otherwise their combination would not divide entities into four different groups. Hence each of these principles must have a distinct realm in which it has its application." (p. 149)
(1) 1, a 20-b 6.
———. 1960. "Aristotle's Theory of Substance in the Categoriae as the Link between the Socratic-Platonic Dialectic and His Own Theory of Substance in Books Z and H of the Metaphysics." In Aristotelismo padovano e filosofia aristotelica. Atti del XII Congresso Internazionale di Filosofia. Vol. IX, 35-40
"In the Sophist Plato located the ultimate principles of individual things in the μέγιστα γένη. Aristotle is of a different opinion; for him the μάλιστα καθόλου are not ultimate principles. On the contrary, he holds in Books Z and H of the Metaphysics είδος, which is in fact the least universal, to be one of the constitutive principles of individual things. It seems the development of philosophy from Plato to Aristotle in respect of the location of principles is simply a lowering of άρχη from the most universal to the least universal. This may be true in general, but in detail the matter is more complicated. Aristotle’s theory of substance in the central books of the Metaphysics is the final result of a development which takes its start from Plato’s theory of Ideas, or, more backward, from Socrates’ searching for universals. But where does the middle-stage between these two extreme stages lie? If the right way of understanding a development is to follow its process step by step, then what else should we do in the present case than looking for this missing stage? Where does it really lie? It lies in the Categoriae. As a link its fifth chapter, the chapter on substance, connects these two extreme stages. How is it connected with the final stage we showed on another occasion [*]; we have to show here only how it is connected with the Socratic-Platonic dialectic." (p. 35)
[* See Chen, Chung-Hwan, "Aristotle's Concept of Primary Substance in Books Z and H of the Metaphysics", Phronesis 2, 1957, pp. 46-59.]
Chriti, Maria. 2019. "Aristotle’s semiotic triangle in On Interpretation and in the Categories: language and thinking in the frame of logic." In Proceedings of the World Congress Aristotle 2400 years, edited by Sfendoni-Mentzou, Demetra, 489-495. Thessaloniki: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Abstract: "In Aristotle’s semantic passage in On Interpretation, the text “with the greatest influence in the history of semantics/semiotics”, scholarship traces the first attempt to formulate a “structuralistic” theory on interpreting mental states by means of linguistic utterance. According to Aristotle’s “semiotic triangle”, conventional spoken sounds represent the data of reality via mental states and the intrinsic connection between mental states and language is declared by the philosopher.
The Categories, on the other hand, is considered to be a treatise where the philosopher classifies the data of reality into ten general classes, giving a name to each class. However, does the philosopher apply his own “semiotic triangle” when he suggests names for his categories? The controversial issue of whether the Categories constitute an ontological or a linguistic treatise, i.e., of whether things were first and language followed in Aristotle’s categorization or vice versa, has a long tradition in scholarship.
This paper aims at contributing to the above discussion by investigating whether Aristotle as a name-giver in the Categories applies what he describes as name-giving in On Interpretation: does Aristotle’s semantic theory reveal — at least partly — the way he choses names/terms for his categories? For the specific purpose, two particular aspects of Aristotle’s “semantic triangle” are basic: a) the priority and common character that Aristotle attributes to mental states in comparison to language and b) his concept of ‘convention’ when it comes to human linguistic communication. By using also evidence from Aristotle’s other treatises concerning his name-giving policies, the significance of conceptual affinities in Aristotle’s linguistic use is quite evident and also of vital importance for understanding his logic."
Cleary, John J. 1988. Aristotle on the Many Senses of Priority. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press
Contents: The Journal of the History of Philosophy Monograph Series XI; Preface XIII; Abbreviations XVI; Introduction 1; 1. Platonic Background of the Topics 7; 2. The Senses of Priority in the Categories 21; 3. The Senses of Priority in Metaphysics Delta 33; 4. The Focal Sense of Priority53; 5. Getting the Priorities Right 64; Conclision 93; Notes 97; Bibliography 122; Index 126-132.
"Aristotelian Commentators from all ages have usually acknowledged the thesis about the multiple senses of 'being' as a basic part of Aristotle's claim to have made significant progress over his philosophical predecessors. In contemporary scholarship, however, what is not adequately recognized is that this is closely related to an equally important thesis about the many senses of 'priority,' which itself is crucial for his break with Platonism. Therefore, in this monograph I intend to explore the significance of this latter thesis for the development of Aristotle's problematic about substance and the related question about the ontological status of mathematical objects. My point of departure will be a curious passage in the Topics,[*] where he appears to accept a schema of priorities that would make mathematical entities more substantial than sensible things. Given his own categorical framework, such an implication represents a reversal of what are taken to be Aristotle's standard views on substance. In order to make sense of this, I will survey his treatment of priority in the Categories, while giving special attention to the criterion for natural priority. Through a comparison with the more expansive treatment of priority in Metaphysics Delta, I will try to show that at least some of the criteria are inherited from Plato. Even though this systematic treatment lists many of the ''ways" of priority shared by his predecessors, it also facilitates Aristotle's basic claim that substance is prior in every important sense." (p. 1, notes omitted)
[*] Book VI, Chapter 4.
Code, Alan. 1985. "On the Origins of Some Aristotelian Theses About Predication." In How Things Are. Studies in Predication and the History of Philosophy and Science, edited by Bogen, James and McGuire, James E., 101-131. Dordrecht: Reidel
"To facilitate the discussion of the TMA [Third Man Argument] and the [Metaphysics] Z6 thesis, I begin by stating briefly how the notion of predication figures into Aristotle's thought. (5)
Taking the two-place relations Being and Having as primitive, we may define essential and accidental predication as follows:
DEF 1: Xis essentially predicable of Y iff Y Is X.
DEF2: Xis accidentally predicable of Y iff Y Has X.
Predication is defined in terms of the disjunction of essential and accidental predication; identity is simply two-way, or reciprocal, essential predication.
A universal is an item that can be truly predicated of something distinct from itself; a particular is an item that cannot be predicated, either essentially or accidentally, of anything distinct from itself; an individual is an item not essentially predicable of anything distinct from itself.
Ontological predication helps us to understand linguistic predication. A universal is essentially predicable of a logical subject X if and only if both the name and the definition of that universal truly apply to X; otherwise, either the universal is not predicable of X, or it is accidentally predicable. One consequence of this, crucial to my assessment of the significance of the TMA is that, since the definition of man applies to particular men, the associated universal is an essential predicate of those particulars. Furthermore, since the definition applies to both the universal man and the particular men, the universal is essentially predicable of itself and those particulars in the same way.
According to Aristotelian doctrine, a particular is a logical subject, or subject for predication, in virtue of the fact that it Is something (definable) essentially. The species under which a particular falls is the definable something that it, the particular, must essentially Be if it is to be anything at all."
"Some linguistic predicates, such as 'man', signify universals that are essentially predicable of all the particulars of which they are predicable. These terms may be used to classify particulars according to their natural kinds. In the Categories, though not in the middle books of the Metaphysics, particulars are primary substances, the natural kinds that are essentially predicable of them (i.e. their species and genera) are secondary substances, and there are no other substances besides these." (pp. 103-104, some notes omitted)
(5) The ideas sketched in this section are given an extended treatment in my 'Aristotle: Essence and Accident', Philosophical Grounds of Rationality: Intentions, Categories and Ends, ed. by R. Grandy and R. Warner (Oxford, 1985). The definitions are adapted from unpublished work by H. P. Grice.
———. 1986. "Aristotle: Essence and Accident." In Philosophical Grounds of Rationality: Intentions, Categories, Ends, edited by Grandy, Richard E. and Warner, Richard, 411-439. Oxford: Clarendon Press
"In order to make sense of the development of Aristotle's thought on predication and his debt to Plato, it is necessary to see his metaphysical investigations against a shared background of problems, principles, and concepts. It is important to see both the Categories and the middle books of the Metaphysics as rejecting some of, but continuous with, Platonic metaphysics." (p. 411)
"The main task of this paper is to show that the logic of Being and Having is a promising tool for the articulation of some of the basic ideas that Aristotle employs in his efforts to construct a sophisticated and flexible semantics together with a metaphysics of substance. Consequently, in what follows I offer the results of my own attempts to reconstruct Aristotle's understanding of Plato and the subsequent development of his own ideas on essence and accident. When characterizing and contrasting a 'Platonic' position and two Aristotelian positions (roughly, the Cat. and Metaph.), I present textual evidence and argument in order to make the main outline of my interpretation plausible, but still more detailed analysis of individual passages and arguments is required to sustain it. Often my interpretation is simply stated without adequate discussion of the alternatives." (p. 414)
Cohen, Sheldon M. 1973. "Predicable of' in Aristotle's Categories." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 1:69-70
"If Stonecutter is said of Socrates, so is philosopher, Greek, and troublemaker. What is "said of a thing" is usually understood to specify what that thing is, in the sense of what its essence or nature is.
If that is correct, Socrates will be essentially a philosopher, Greek, troublemaker, and stonecutter; a most unaristotelian conclusion.
We might say that though the definition of a stonecutter is predicable of Socrates, to classify Socrates as a stonecutter is not to classify him in an absolutely fundamental way. But then we need a criterion for whether ø is said of x over and beyond whether the definition of ø may be said of x. Is there such a criterion in the Categories?
I do not think that there is. But I think there is the beginning of such a criterion, in the first section of chapter two." (p. 69)
Cohen, S. Marc. 2008. "Kooky Objects Revisited: Aristotle's Ontology." Metaphilosophy no. 39:3-19
Abstract: "This is an investigation of Aristotle's conception of accidental compounds (or ''kooky objects,'' as Gareth Matthews has called them) -- entities such as the pale man and the musical man. I begin with Matthews's pioneering work into kooky objects, and argue that they are not so far removed from our ordinary thinking as is commonly supposed. I go on to assess their utility in solving some familiar puzzles involving substitutivity in epistemic contexts, and compare the kooky object approach to more modern approaches involving the notion of referential opacity. I conclude by proposing that Aristotle provides an implicit role for kooky objects in such metaphysical contexts as the Categories and Metaphysics."
Corkum, Phil. 2009. "Aristotle on Nonsubstantial Individuals." Ancient Philosophy no. 29:289-310
"As a first stab, call a property recurrent if it can be possessed by more than one object, and nonrecurrent if it can be possessed by at most one object. The question whether Aristotle holds that there are nonrecurrent properties has spawned a lively and ongoing debate among commentators over the last forty-five years.
One source of textual evidence in the Categories, drawn on in this debate, is Aristotle’s claim that certain properties are inseparable from what they are in.
Here the point of contention is whether this commits Aristotle to holding that these properties are inseparable from individuals, since it is commonly held that a property is nonrecurrent, if it is inseparable from an individual. I argue that this evidence is neutral on the question whether there are nonrecurrent properties in Aristotle. One of my aims here is to disentangle the question of recurrence from local issues of individuality and universality in the Categories. But another aim is to turn from the textual considerations, which have dominated the debate, to broader methodological considerations. It is a shared assumption among all those who look to textual evidence from the Categories, so to decide whether Aristotle believes there are nonrecurrent properties, that in this work Aristotle is engaged in a project where the question of recurrence is relevant. I argue that Aristotle’s concerns in the Categories are disjoint from the question of recurrence, and so this shared assumption is false." (p. 289)
———. 2013. "Aristotle on Predication." European Journal of Philosophy:793-813
Abstract: "A predicate logic typically has a heterogeneous semantic theory. Subjects and predicates have distinct semantic roles: subjects refer; predicates characterize.
A sentence expresses a truth if the object to which the subject refers is correctly characterized by the predicate. Traditional term logic, by contrast, has a homogeneous theory: both subjects and predicates refer; and a sentence is true if the subject and predicate name one and the same thing. In this paper, I will examine evidence for ascribing to Aristotle the view that subjects and predicates refer. If this is correct, then it seems that Aristotle, like the traditional term logician, problematically conflates predication and identity claims. I will argue that we can ascribe to Aristotle the view that both subjects and predicates refer, while holding that he would deny that a sentence is true just in case the subject and predicate name one and the same thing. In particular, I will argue that Aristotle’s core semantic notion is not identity but the weaker relation of constitution. For example, the predication ‘All men are mortal’ expresses a true thought, in Aristotle’s view, just in case the mereological sum of humans is a part of the mereological sum of mortals."
Crivelli, Paolo. 2017. "Being-Said-Of in Aristotle's Categories." Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica:531-556
Abstract: "The ontology of the Categories relies on several fundamental relations that obtain between beings. One of these is the relation of being-said-of. The most widespread view among commentators is that the relation of being-said-of amounts to essential predication.
After drawing attention to some relatively neglected textual evidence that tells against such an interpretation, I explore a different account of the relation of being-said-of.
On this alternative picture, while the relation of being-said-of is essential predication when it obtains between universals, it coincides with mere predication when it obtains between a universal and an individual. The relation of being-said-of turns out to be closely linked with paronymy: in most (but not all) cases where a property (e.g. generosity) is in an individual, a paronymous universal (e.g. generous) is said of that individual.
Also the alternative picture faces difficulties, however. In conclusion, it remains unclear what position, if any, can be coherently attributed to Aristotle."