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Topics translated by W. A. Pickard-Cambridge

Numbered in terms of chapters.

Book I

1 - Reasoning is dialectical when it uses generally accepted opinions, as distinct from using demonstrations (mostly deductions).

4 - arguments start with propositions, the subjects of reasoning are problems. Problems and propositions are only different in terms of how they are phrased; Problems are questions, propositions are statements.

5 - Properties belong to that thing alone but do not indicate the essence. There are also temporary properties, which are relative.

6 - If you show that the attribute (subject?) in question fails to belong either to property, genus, or accident, you have demolished the definition.

7 - 

There are 3 kinds of sameness:

Number (the referent has more than one name, like doublet and cloak)
Specifically (the same species)
Generally (the same genus)

But Aristotle still suggests more, despite the 3 kinds.

In reference to alternative names and definitions (same as the number distinction)
in reference to a shared property (what can acquire knowledge is the same as man, which sounds like specifically)
Substituting a term with an accident (Socrates is the same as the man who is sitting)

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Posted (edited)

9 - The types of predicates where the 4 types of questions are found are the 10 categories. 

10 - Be careful with contradictions of contraries, especially if you combine the contrary predicate with the contrary subject. You might be talking about doing doing good and those who are good, the contrary predicate being doing evil and the contrary subject being those who are evil, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you should do evil to evil people in the way you argue that you should do good to good people. Most precisely, the contradictory proposition is that you should not do good to people who are not good.

11 - A thesis is when an eminent philosopher states something against general opinion, or a reasoned view contrary to usual opinion. 

Don't bother arguing with people who are in need of punishment or perception.

13 - 

The means to be supplied with reasonings:
-securing propositions
-figuring out how many senses there are of an expression
-findings differences
-investigating similarity

14 - Collect various propositions, and similar ones, and contrary ones. Record these under various headings. Then note specific ideas of eminent thinkers. Aristotle seems to be recommending a writing process very much like modern scientific and academic writing where you always begin with a survey of relevant ideas.

15 - How do you find the different senses of a term? 

Contraries (the opposite of sharp is flat, which might refer to notes or solid edges)
Sometimes words are ambiguous (the opposite of love is hate, but the physical activity of love has no opposite)
Differences of kind (a clear color versus a clear sound)
In relation to the deprivation or presence of a state (states such as when using your senses)
Inflected forms (if justify has more than one sense, then so will justly)
Signified predicates (good food signifies something different than good medicine)
Distinct genera (for example, river bank versus a bank the institution)
Comparability (a sharp note can't be more sharp than a sharp flavor)
Distinct differentia (sharp note, sharp flavor, different differentiae)
As species or differentia (color of a body, versus clarity of a note)

If you remove the object described by an adjective, does the adjective retain the same meaning and sense?

18 - Aristotle says how useful examining multiple meanings is for clarity and reasoning. But after all that, he says that for argument or dialectic specifically, you can't always do that and you should beware unless you really can't discuss the subject any other way.

Edited by Eiuol
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Book II

2 - Is something called incidental when it should be ascribed differently? Examine cases where a predicate has been asserted or denied universally to belong to something. Define terms, even incidental terms. Define what you think should be called what most people call them. Sometimes you need the definition a doctor uses, sometimes the definition of most people (clearly advocates contextual definition for dialectical discussion).

4 - Alter terms into more familiar ones so that the thesis becomes easier to attack.

If you want overthrow a view, ask what it is in reality that is real if the thing in question is real. If you want to establish a view, ask what thing in reality must follow if the thing in question is real. I can tell that this isn't just about logical relationships between propositions, but what things in fact are real.

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Posted (edited)

5 - 

It is necessary to draw opponents to make statements that you can easily respond to when the answerer has denied useful statements for you to attack the thesis.

It is apparently necessary when someone makes a derivative statement.

It is not necessary in any sense when the statements are unrelated to the thesis, and you should concede the point if it's true because it makes no difference to the thesis anyway.

7 - Consider these pairs of contraries given a verb and its object: 1) contrary objects, 2) contrary verbs, 3) contrary verb and object

10 - If the incidental feature increases along with an increase in the subject, then the incidental feature belongs to the subject. (If more pleasure means more good, then pleasure belongs to the good)

11 - 

If a thing doesn't possess an attribute, and the addition of something else makes it possess that attribute, then the added thing possesses the attribute and imparts it on the new thing. If a dish isn't spicy, then it becomes spicy after adding pepper, then pepper possesses spicy.

-+ = The added thing possesses the attribute
-- = [empty]
++ = (intensification) Both things possess the attribute
+- = Indeterminate (adding good to something bad doesn't necessarily make the bad thing good)

The rest of the section seems to imply contextual certainty, or perhaps contextual application of knowledge. Diets can be good in certain places, but not absolutely. It might be honorable to sacrifice your father relative to location such as a tribe, but not absolutely. It might be honorable to sacrifice your father relative to other people, not absolutely. Some things are honorable without adding anything, such as honoring the gods, which is honorable absolutely (I could even interpret this as saying nothing at all about intrinsic good; Aristotle is talking in the context of adding attributes, not examining already existing attributes)

Edited by Eiuol
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Book III

1 - What is lasting is more desirable than what is less lasting. What an expert would choose, or what in general most people would choose, is more desirable. What is desired for itself is more desirable than what is desirable incidentally. The cause of good is more desirable than what happens incidentally. What is good absolutely is more desirable than what is good in particular. Remember that these statements are in relation to arguments about what most people accept is the case, as in all of Topics.

2 - Consequences are another way to judge desirability. When something is of the greater consequence (depending on the context, such as age), it is more desirable.

Similarity to other things that are desirable can help, but not always. You could argue that Ajax is better than Odysseus because Ajax is more like Achilles. Ajax might not resemble Achilles on the relevant points. If man is the most beautiful, and monkeys resemble man more than horses, somebody might say that monkeys are more handsome than horses. But horses can still be more beautiful than monkeys in the relevant ways.

5 - If only one of 2 things imparts a quality, then the thing that imparts the quality possesses it in greater degree. If 2 things impart a quality, the thing that exhibits the quality in a greater degree is the one that imparts the quality to a greater degree.

6 - a lot of these passages throughout all of Topics seem repetitive. They almost seem like a listing of types of questions, then enumerating arguments and techniques that can be applied when each type of question is listed. 

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Book IV

1 - Does the genus partake in the subject? Only the species should be able to partake in the genus. Man partakes in animal, animal does not partake in man. 

Is anything true of the species that is not true of the genus? Object of knowledge cannot be a genus of opinion because opinions are of things sometimes that don't exist, but this is not true of any object of knowledge.

Does the genus denote more than the species? There are of course more animals than there are dogs.

2 - Is the differentia being labeled as a genus? Immortality could distinguish living beings, but it cannot be a genus. Differentia don't signify essence (what makes things what they are), but only quality. This seems to implicitly connect identifying differentia with measurement. 

Is the genus put inside the species?

3 - Can the thing placed in a genus partake with a contrary of the genus? This would not be possible.

The genus that contains extremes also contains the intermediaries. But defect and excess are in the same genus evil, yet the mean is good, so in this case, the genus does not contain the intermediary. But it often works.

4 - if the opposite of the species is a deprivation, then the deprivation is not in the genus. Blindness is not a form of sensation.

Does the relationship remain when a term is called by the name of its genus? 

5 - Is a state placed in the genus activity, or is a activity placed inside the genus state? A state of focus is not the activity of thought. Memory is an active process but is not itself a state of focus. 

Is blame or judgment placed on the capacity? This would not be valid. Capacity sounds like potential here.

Sometimes people reverse differentia and a genus. If astonishment is defined as excess of wonderment, and excess is treated as genus while wonderment is treated as differentia. But if access is a genus, then even some inanimate things could have astonishment! 

That which is affected should not be in a genus of what affects or the other way around. Air is affected by wind (it is made to move a certain way) but that doesn't mean that wind is a type of air, or that air is a type of wind. Wind is not "air in motion", but the movement of air.

6 - You can distinguish genus from differentia in the following ways:

-genus has wider denotation
-stating the essence is more suitable for the genus
-differentia always signifies a quality

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Book V

1 - Essential property is in comparison with everything else and distinguishes the thing from everything else. 

Relative, like the relation between soul and body

Permanent, a property that always lasts

Temporary, a property like sleep, or walking through a gymnasium. Examine through the methods used for incidental things.

2 - A property is rendered correctly when the terms used to state the property are more intelligible than the property. Or if the subject is more intelligible. Intelligible here would be something more immediately understood. 

Has the same term being repeated in the property? This is like using the word in the definition.

Is the person rendering more than one property of the same thing on purpose? If not, this is purposeless.

3 - Is the subject or species used to render a property? If so, the subject has not been made more intelligible (a property of animal would not properly be "what man be belongs to as a species)

Is the opposite, or anything simultaneous or posterior with the subject, used to render a property? This would not make the subject more intelligible.

Is the appropriateness of a property only obvious by sensation? This would make things uncertain and not necessarily follow. Noting this is useful for breaking apart arguments. I'm guessing that Aristotle is saying that simply sensation is not convincing in dialectical argument. 

Is the definition rendered as a property? Aristotle says that a property does not show essence. But didn't he say that there are essential properties? This looks like a contradiction. He might mean properties of essentials?

4 - Does the property fail to belong either to the subject or genus?

Do other properties of the same type of thing as the subject fail to belong to the same kind as the alleged property?

Sophistical questioners will play word games and give problems about whether things are the same or different. They will say that a "white man" is not the same as "man", although I don't think this is a good example from Aristotle. He's trying to say that man and white man are totally different things by the sophist's argument. A better example is from Chinese philosophy. "The white horse is not a horse". It's a stupid statement that isn't making any point at all. 

The advice Aristotle gives for dealing with such a person is say something just as stupid back - nitpick at their inflections. "Against the objector who sticks at nothing, the defense should stick at nothing."

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5 - Is a thing declared to be a property of itself? Is the property true of the whole but not the parts? These would not be properties properly rendered. But Aristotle seems to mean parts that are the same as the whole, and the way that parts of the ocean are just more ocean. 

6 - Does the contrary term fail to be a property of the contrary subject?

Does the property described in terms of a state fail to be a property of the state? Then the opposite property is not a property of deprivation of the state. Lack of sensation is not a property of deafness, and therefore equally, sensation is not a property of hearing. I think this is suggesting that although both deal with sound, hearing as a state is a capacity to act but not itself a sensation. 

7 - For a property in relation like that of the property rendered, does it belong to the subject in the same way as the rendered property with its subject? If doctor is to ability to produce health, and trainer is to the ability to produce vigor, then the ability to produce health is a property of doctor .

8 - If what is more P fails to be a property of what is more S, then what is less P cannot be a property of what is less S. Higher sensation is a property of higher degrees of life, lesser sensation is a property of lesser degrees of life.

Be careful with superlatives. These cannot be properties, because as soon as the thing perishes, the superlative could apply to something totally new.

Book VI

1 - Did someone define at all? Did someone define incorrectly? There are 2 branches of incorrect definitions: obscure language, and superfluous language.

2 - Is the definition ambiguous? Is the definition metaphorical? Is it a little bit of both, which is even more confusing? Is the definition of the contrary unclear?

3 - Does the definition still make clear the essence of the term and what makes it particular, after you remove a portion of it? The definition is superfluous, you can cut out that part. The same is true of redundancy.

4 - Defining should make things more intelligible, so the terms must be prior, in the sense that point is prior to line. However, Aristotle notices that it isn't quite so simple. He distinguishes (in this translation) between absolutely intelligible, versus intelligible relative to a person. But absolute seems to be used as absolute in terms of taking a science back deductively speaking to its self-evident principles. Relative to a person he sees as psychological, explicitly related to how people normally learn these words. You understand "solid" before "point", so in that way, what is prior is not more intelligible necessarily. Absolute is better, but Aristotle never says that he thinks it is improper or bad to use definitions that are more intelligible relative to an individual, to the extent that such people grow wiser and what becomes intelligible changes. 

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6 - There is a point about negation that I don't understand, it sounds convoluted. It seems like he is saying that supposing a genus absolutely singular like a Platonic Form, somebody dividing that genus with a negation would not be possible - Length would never lack breadth (or never have breadth) so it would not be possible to divide in this way. It almost sounds like context is missing, because this only seems to be a response intended for Platonists.

Is the species or genus rendered as the differentia?

Is the species or object predicated of the differentia?

Is locality or present time rendered as the differentia?

Is affectation rendered as the differentia? It shouldn't be, because the differentia shouldn't be what is changing, but rather, what is staying the same.

Differentiae indicate quality. 

8 - Another attack on Platonism at the end of the chapter. Absolute wishing is for the absolute good. There cannot be apparent absolute good to a Platonist, because Ideas are supposed to be spoken of in relation to other Ideas. So if a Platonist talks about apparent good, they cannot be talking about Forms. Usually the word apparent is constructive for conation, but it is destructive when used against a Platonist since it reveals their disconnection from reality. 

10 - Aristotle really doesn't like Platonism. Basically, the idea seems to be check whether somebody's definitions contradict their own philosophical position especially when those positions are common.

Is a single definition used to define more than one sense of an ambiguous term? If it applies to all of them, it is not true of any of them.

11 - for definitions of complex terms, when taking away the definition of one of the elements, does the rest of the definition of the complex term apply to the rest of the elements? If you define 'finite straight line', leaving out the definition of 'finite line' should leave you with the definition of straight.

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13 - This chapter seems like an early stage of getting at the concept of 'experiment'! See if definitions of A+B only applies to both but not separately. At the very least the definition can't include contraries of each other. So a whole cannot be just the sum of parts. This can identify if there in fact was a joining of entities. If the product of A+B is singular, but A is in one thing while B is in another, then the term defined is not a product of the 2.

If X > Y in the parts, then X should also be greater in the product of A+B. 
If X = Y (in degree), then the product should be neutral for X and Y.
But Aristotle notices sometimes neither follows! Like with drugs, individual drugs can be good, but combined they are bad. 

The manner of composition must be defined.

14 - The thing has not been defined if 2 contraries are equally likely to occur. (If someone defines free will as action absolutely independent of all antecedent factors, then free will has not been defined, because choosing life or death would be equally as likely. So lack of antecedent factors cannot be the proper definition, and at the very least a definition must explain how a choice actually ends up determinate.)

Book VII

1 - Does the addition of each to the same thing make the same all? Does the subtraction of each leave a different remainder? This is so close to how experiment works in the basic sense, but the context is examining 'sameness' with words and definitions.

4 - Discussing how the definition applies to various species is good against Platonists. In a way, this is saying bring focus onto the referent.

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1 -

1) select the grounds to make an attack
2) frame and arrange questions one by one to oneself
3) actually putting forth the questions to the other person

2 + 3 are for dialecticians

The arrangement should involve inductively securing premises, lending weight to argument, concealing conclusions, and making argument clear. 

Concealment is basically for making the conclusion not so obvious, which can make somebody more receptive because it is not immediately obvious where you are going. I think this is more for psychological value, because the intention here seems to be guiding people towards an answer, making the answer itself clear on its own terms rather than necessarily pushing the answer onto them aggressively.

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3 - You can't show first principles with the propositions shown through them, so first principles are understood through definition. Inferences closer to first principles are harder to argue with because fewer arguments can be used with regard to them. I'm thinking that it might seem like this should be easier because fewer arguments are possible, but this also means there are fewer paths to show first principles compared to deeper and derivative ideas. Aristotle latter says that laying down the definition should make it easy, though. It's not very clear how you can use definitions to show first principles, he doesn't explain.

5 - Aristotle makes clear that there are different rules for arguing for training or examination, compared to competition. Learners should state what they think, a questioning competitor should produce an effect on the other person, an answering competitor avoids being affected by the other person.

6 - When inferences are drawn from premises more generally rejected than the conclusion, they should not be granted.

9 - Aristotle advocates being a devils advocate and to try arguing against yourself as practice.

10 - there are 4 ways to prevent someone from reaching a conclusion.

- Demolish the point on which the falsehood depends
- stating an objection against the questioner
- stating an objection against the questions asked
- stating an objection when a point would take longer than the length of discussion for the actual issue

11 - Taking longer through many steps is faulty reasoning, because it conceals the grounds that the argument depends. This is different than concealing the conclusion I think because hiding the conclusion brings focus to the premises that the argument depends.

12 - an argument is fallacious in 4 senses

- when it only appears to be brought to a conclusion
- when it comes to a conclusion but not the proposed conclusion
- when it comes to the proposed inclusion but not according to the mode of inquiry (applying geometry to medicine)
- when it is reached through false premises

14 - Aristotle mentions the importance of memory, and the way that you should have easily accessible ideas such as definitions, primary ideas, and familiar ideas. It is better to commit to memory premises that have general application, rather than arguments.

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