I consider the proper interpretation of the process of ecthesis which Aristotle uses several times in the Prior analytics for completing a syllogistic mood, i.e., showing how to produce a deduction of a conclusion of a certain form from premisses of certain forms. I consider two interpretations of the process which have been advocated by recent scholars and show that one seems better suited to most passages while the other best fits a single remaining passage. I also argue that ecthesis (...) for Aristotle really means ?setting out? the case to be proved using letters. Aristotle?s remarks about the use of letters in mathematical proofs suggest that he had some understanding of rules equivalent to universal generalization and existential instantiation; the ?proofs through ecthesis? are so called because they rest on the latter rule, with which use of letters is involved in a special way. (shrink)
In 1928, Friedrich Solmsen argued that Aristotle's Posterior Analytics was largely composed before the Prior Analytics. Ross rejected Solmsen's position in 1939, and a rather lengthy series of rebuttals and counter-attacks between the two scholars followed. Quite recently, Jonathan Barnes has revived this issue with arguments in favour of something very close to Solmsen's thesis: that Aristotle first developed a theory of demonstration before he had worked out the syllogistic, and that the Posterior Analytics was originally conceived against this background. (...) Subsequently, when Aristotle formulated a syllogistic, he is supposed by Barnes to have revised or added to the contents of the Posterior Analytics so as to make syllogistic the logic of Aristotelian science. Thus, Barnes says: ‘the syllogism is in fact an incidental adjunct to the theory of demonstration: the theory can be formulated without reference, explicit or implicit, to Syllogistic, and it could have been discovered by someone who knew nothing whatever about the Syllogism’. (shrink)
In his 1961 paper "Tithenai ta Phainomena",1 G. E. L. Owen addressed the problem of the relationship between science as preached in the Analytics and the practice of the Aristotelian treatises. However, he gave this venerable crux a novel twist by focusing on a different aspect of the issue. According to the Prior Analytics , it appears that the first premises of scientific demonstrations must be obtained from collections (historiai) of facts derived from empirical observation. However, many of the treatises (...) seem to make little use of empirical inquiry and instead concern themselves more with 'conceptual analysis.' This is especially true in the Metaphysics and the ethical treatises, but it is also very much characteristic of the Physics. How are these two kinds of inquiry related? (shrink)
I argue that Prior analyticsII.5?7, 8?10, and 1.45 actually contain studies of processes for transforming arguments into other arguments which Aristotle carried out before having completed the theory of perfecting syllogisms by reduction to first-figure moods as presented in Prior analytics1.4?7. This position rejects Ross's opinion that these passages are ?mental gymnastics?, and Patzig's view that some of these texts contain studies of alternative axiomatizations or other logical studies posterior to the completion of the basic theory of syllogisms.
Modern interpreters have often regarded Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics as a mystery, or even a bit of an embarrassment. In his treatises on natural science and ethics, Aristotle is constantly concerned to review the opinions of his predecessors and of people in general; where appropriate, he also takes note of experiential observations, some of them highly specialized. However, the traditional view of the Posterior Analytics is that it advances an almost Cartesian picture of sciences as deductive systems founded on intuitively evident (...) first premises. How are these to be reconciled? (shrink)
Scholars of classical philosophy have long disputed whether Aristotle was a dialectical thinker. Most agree that Aristotle contrasts dialectical reasoning with demonstrative reasoning, where the former reasons from generally accepted opinions and the latter reasons from the true and primary. Starting with a grasp on truth, demonstration never relinquishes it. Starting with opinion, how could dialectical reasoning ever reach truth, much less the truth about first principles? Is dialectic then an exercise that reiterates the prejudices of one's times and at (...) best allows one to persuade others by appealing to these prejudices, or is it the royal road to first principles and philosophical wisdom? In From Puzzles to Principles? May Sim gathers experts to argue both these positions and offer a variety of interpretive possibilities. The contributors' thoughtful reflections on the nature and limits of dialectic should play a crucial role in Aristotelian scholarship. (shrink)
This volume contains a clear and accurate translation of Books I and VIII of Aristotle's Topics, together with a philosophical commentary on these books and additional extracts from Books II and III, and from a related work by Aristotle. This selection gives a good general view of the main ideas of the Topics, a classic treatise on logic and argument. The volume is well suited to the requirements of students, including those who do not know Greek.