Aristotle’s De Interpretatione. Contradiction and Dialectic

Review of Metaphysics 52 (2):496-497 (1998)

In his detailed and well-argued study of the De interpretatione, Whitaker shows that the treatise is a coherent whole and is closely linked to the Topics and the Sophistici Elenchi, rather than to the Categories and the Prior Analytics as tradition has it. Convinced of the dialectical character of the book he rejects the title as spurious. It should be περὶ ἀντιφάσεως. In the first chapter Whitaker defends the reading πρώτων in 16a8 and explains that falsehood is stating as one things which are in reality separated from each other, or as separate things which are one. Next he deals with the analysis of nouns and verbs. Departing from Alexander, he is right in holding that only man has speech. Animals can show something but do not signify it. The difficult sentence “being by itself is nothing” is understood as follows: being represents the combination of subject and predicate in an assertion. By itself it is nothing, but when used as a copula it gets an additional signification. However, I do not think that this understanding of προσημαίνειν is correct. In the interpretation of Whitaker, the text should simply say “it gets a meaning” without the “additional.” On this point one may usefully compare the commentary by St. Thomas Aquinas, In I Perihermeneias, lesson 5, which reviews the various options. The verb “to be” alone does not signify that something is, but it denotes pure actuality.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1998522197
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Aristotle's "De Interpretatione": Contradiction and Dialectic (Review).Eugene Garver - 1998 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 36 (3):459-460.


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