Conceptual atomism, “Aporia Generis” and a Way Out for Leibniz and the Aristotelians

Studia Neoaristotelica 6 (1):15-49 (2009)
Abstract
De modo, quo Leibniz et Aristotelici aporiam generis solvere possunt, doctrina de conceptibus simpliciter simplicibus non respuendaDoctrina de conceptibus simpliciter simplicibus, in quos omnes notiones ultimatim possunt resolvi, (a recentioribus “atomismus conceptualis” vocata) firmiter irradicata est in occidentali philosophica traditione. Originem suam quidem ab Aristotele trahens semper apud peripateticos adfuit, purissime tamen expressa in operibus Leibnitii invenitur. Nihilominus, ab initio haec doctrina etiam difficultate quadam patiebatur, quae “aporia generis” vulgo dicitur. Difficillime est enim explicatu, quomodo simplicitas absoluta conceptuum primitivorum (seu differentiarum ultimarum) stet cum conceptuum transcendentium existentia, qui necessario in unoquoque conceptu comprehenduntur. Tractatione nostra haec difficultas examinatur et solutio praebetur. Fundamentum cuius est: datur duplex continentia unius conceptus in altero, scilicet formalis et virtualis. Conceptus transcendentales a conceptibus primitivis seu simpliciter simplicibus non formaliter, id est ut pars ipsorum definitionis, sed virtualiter tantum continentur – quod nihil aliud dicit quam illos ex his necessario sequi. Notabile est, huiusmodi sulutionis originem apud Aristotelem quoque inveniri posse.Conceptual Atomism, “Aporia Generis” and the Way Out for Leibniz and the AristoteliansConceptual atomism is a doctrine deeply rooted in the tradition of western thought. It originated with Aristotle, was present in the entire Aristotelian tradition and came to its most pure expression in the work of Leibniz. However, ab initio this doctrine suffered from certain difficulty labelled traditionally “aporia generis”, namely the problem of how it is possible to reconcile the absolute simplicity of the primitive concepts (or ultimate differentiae) with the existence of transcendental concepts, that is, concepts necessarily included in every concept. In this paper the entire problem is subject to an analysis and a solution is suggested, based on a distinction between two different kinds of conceptual containment: the primitive concepts do not contain the transcendentals formally, that is, as constituents thatcan be revealed by means of definitional analysis, but they nevertheless do contain them virtually, that is, they strictly imply them. It is noted that the germ of this solution is already present in Aristotle
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