Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series)


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Aristotle , Jonathan Barnes. The Posterior Analytics contains some of Aristotle's most influential thoughts in logic, epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of science. The first book expounds and develops the notions of a demonstrative argument and of a formal, axiomatized science; the second discusses a cluster of problems raised by the axioms or principles of such a science, and investigates in particular the theory of definition. This volume is intended to serve the needs of readers of Aristotle without a knowledge of Greek; for this second edition the translation has been completely rewritten, with the aims of greater elegance and greater fidelity to the Greek.

The commentary elucidates and assesses Aristotle's arguments from a philosophical point of view; it has been extensively revised to take account of the scholarship of the last twenty years. Aristotle probably did not deliver a course of lectures in the order of the present treatise. Book XI summarizes parts of book IV. Still, whatever their literary origins, all these books have a common subject matter, since they all contribute to the universal science that studies the common presuppositions of the other sciences. This universal science has four names.

The primary sort of being is substance, and the primary sort of substance is divine substance; hence the science of being must study divine substance. The fourth was given to the treatise in antiquity at an uncertain date ; its use of 'after' captures Aristotle's different claims about the relation of the universal science to other sciences. The science of being studies the beings that are also studied by other sciences, but it isolates the relevant properties of beings by a different level of abstraction; it does not rely on the fact that they have the properties of mathematical or natural objects, but simply on the fact that they are beings studied by a science Metaphysics IV A special science assumes that it begins with a subject that has properties.

The universal science is the science of being because it studies the sort of subject that is presupposed by the other sciences; and it is primarily the science of substance because substance is the primary sort of being. Aristotle's analysis of change in Physics I introduces substances as subjects; the Metaphysics asks what sorts of subjects and substances must be recognized by special sciences. Aristotle argues that if we are to signify a subject, it is impossible for each of its properties both to belong and not to belong to it.

To defend the principle, Aristotle considers an opponent who is willing to assert that a single subject, man, is both a bipedal animal and not a biped animal.


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If the opponent really says this about a single subject, then, when he uses 'man', he must signify one and the same subject, man. If he agrees that in using 'man' he signifies a biped animal, then he cannot also deny that man is a biped animal; for if he denies this, he can no longer say what 'man' signifies, and hence he cannot say what subject it is that he takes to be both a biped animal and not a biped animal.

This property which one cannot also deny of a subject is an essential property. Hence, the attempt to reject subjects with essential properties is self-undermining. Subjects of change must also, according to Aristotle, have objective properties that is, properties that they have whether or not they appear to have them. An argument against Protagoras seeks to show that any attempt to reject objective properties undermines itself Metaphysics IV 5.


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Protagoras denies that there are any objective properties, because he claims that how things appear to someone is how they are. If he is to maintain the infallibility of appearances against any possibility of correction, then, Aristotle argues, he must claim that it is possible for the same subject to change in every respect at every time to match different appearances.

This is possible, however, only if the same subject can remain in being, but change in all respects. Aristotle replies that if the same subject persists, it must keep the same essential property the 'form' ; hence it cannot change in every respect IV 5. In Metaphysics IV 2 and VII 1 Aristotle argues that, since substance is the primary type of being and other beings are in some way dependent on substances, the science of being must primarily be concerned with substance. The arguments of IV describe some features of substances; they must be subjects with stable, objective, essential properties.

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Aristotle observes that we regard substance both as 'a this' and as 'essence' or 'what it is'. We might assume that these two descriptions pick out two sorts of substances - a particular subject 'this' and a universal 'what it is' , corresponding to the first and second substances of the Categories.

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Aristotle, however, insists that his question 'What is substance? Whatever best satisfies these conditions is primary substance. The different candidates that Aristotle considers for this role are matter, form and the compound of the two. He argues against the first and third candidates, and defends the second. He regards matter and compound as types of substance, but argues that they are secondary to form because they do not meet the relevant conditions to the same degree. To show that form is primary substance, he argues that a form is both a subject and an essence of the right sort.

In books VIII-IX he clarifies his answer by identifying form with the actuality for which the matter is the potentiality. In claiming that form is substance, Aristotle relies on the connections between form, cause, essence and identity. According to the eliminative view, this alteration does not involve the existence or non-existence of a distinct substance, any more than Socrates' coming to be musical involves the existence of a distinct substance, musical Socrates.

Although this statue of Pericles has come into being from a particular piece of bronze, we may repair the statue by replacing damaged bits; we preserve the same statue but we cause a different bit of bronze to constitute it. Similarly, an organism remains in existence as long as it replaces its matter with new matter: it persists as long as its form persists Generation and Corruption I 5.

When Aristotle speaks of the relation of form to matter, he may refer to either of two kinds of matter: 1 the proximate, organic matter for example, the organs and limbs making up the organic body ; and 2 the remote, non-organic matter for example, blood, earth, water of which the organic body is made.

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Posterior Analytics - Clarendon Aristotle Series

Remote matter can exist without the form of the organism, but the organism can persist without any particular piece of remote matter. Proximate matter cannot exist without the form since it is the function of an arm or heart that makes it the limb or organ it is ; the form is the actuality of which the proximate matter is the potentiality On the Soul a10; Metaphysics b6, b The role of the form in determining the persistence of an organism results from its role as the source of unity.

The form, including the organism's vital functions, makes a heap of material constituents into a single organism Metaphysics VII A collection of flesh and bones constitutes a single living organism in so far as it has the form of a man or a horse; the vital functions of the single organism are the final cause of the movements of the different parts. The organism remains in being through changes of matter, as long as it retains its formal, functional properties.

These facts about organisms explain why Aristotle sees a close connection between primary substance and form. Organisms are substances primarily because of their formal properties, not because of their material composition; hence we cannot identify all the basic subjects there are unless we recognize the reality of formal properties and of subjects that are essentially formal.

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The conclusion that primary substance and form are closely connected, however, explains only why some substances are essentially formal; it does not explain why form itself is substance. To explain this further claim, we need to decide whether Aristotle regards a substantial form as 1 a species form shared by all members of a given species, for example, the form of man or horse , normally taken to be a universal, or as 2 a particular form, proprietary to for example Socrates.

Some points favouring the 'universal solution' are the following. In favour of the 'particular solution' it may be argued: 1 a substance must be a subject, whereas all universals are said of subjects; 2 a substance must be a 'this', as opposed to a 'such', and hence, apparently, some sort of particular; 3 Aristotle argues at length that no universal can be a substance. We might be tempted to conclude that Aristotle's position is inconsistent.

His conviction that substance as 'this' and substance as 'what is it' must be the same thing leads him to insist that the successful candidate for substance must satisfy the criteria for being both a this a subject, and hence a particular and an essence a property, and hence a universal. If one and the same thing cannot satisfy both criteria, then no one thing can satisfy all Aristotle's conditions for being a substance.

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We need not draw this conclusion, however. We can maintain that Aristotle consistently favours the universal solution, if we can show: 1 a 'this' need not be a particular; 2 some universals are subjects; 3 a species form is not the sort of universal that cannot be a substance. We can maintain that he consistently favours the particular solution, if we can show the following.

Sometimes, indeed, Aristotle speaks as though a form is a subject that can persist and perish and can exchange its matter. These two solutions are different ways of expressing Aristotle's belief that substances are basic. Both his metaphysics and his natural philosophy express and defend the conviction that natural organisms and their kinds are substances because they are fundamental; they are fundamental because they are irreducible to their constituent matter.

It is more difficult to decide whether the individuals or their kinds are more fundamental. Perhaps, indeed, we ought not to decide; different things may be fundamental or irreducible in different ways. These disputes partly concern Aristotle's attitude to the reality of universals. Other remarks, however, suggest realism about universals. Aristotle's position is consistent if 1 - 3 are consistent with the realist tendency of 4 - 5.

Aristotle's Posterior Analytics (6)

The denial of separation in 1 allows the reality of universals. Similarly, 2 may simply say that no universals are primary substances which are his main concern in Metaphysics VII. And 3 may simply mean depending on how we take 'in a way' that the mind's conception of the extra-mental universal has some of the features of the universal as a map has some of the features of the area that it maps. While Aristotle denies that universals can exist without sensible particulars to embody them, he believes they are real properties of these sensible particulars.

While agreeing with the Platonist view that there are truths about, for example, numbers or triangles that do not describe the sensible properties of sensible objects, he denies that these truths have to be about independently-existing mathematical objects. He claims that they are truths about certain properties of sensible objects, which we can grasp when we 'take away' or 'abstract' the irrelevant properties for example, the fact that this triangular object is made of bronze. Even though there are no separate objects that have simply mathematical properties, there are real mathematical properties of sensible objects.

Hence later writers distinguish 'special metaphysics', dealing with God, from 'general metaphysics', dealing with being in general. In each case the properties of primary substance are found in a sensible substance an animal or a plant only in so far as they belong to an object that also has other properties; hence primary substance in sensible reality is the form and actuality of an object a horse, for example that also has matter and potentiality. In divine substance, however, each feature is found in separation from these other properties; that is why a divine substance lacks matter, multiplicity, parts or potentiality.

Aristotle argues that a substance with these pure substantial properties must exist if any sensible substances are to exist; for the existence of potentialities that can be actualized presupposes the existence of an actuality that does not itself include any potentiality to avoid an infinite regress. Since this primary type of substance is divine, it is what traditional belief in the Olympian gods was about, what the Presocratics were talking about when they spoke of 'the divine', and what Plato was talking about in speaking of a supreme god.

Aristotle mentions the traditional Olympian gods without committing himself to acceptance of the traditional conception of them. He rejects anthropomorphic views of the gods, but he speaks of the divine nature as a kind of mind. He believes that there is something divine about the order and workings of nature, and still more divine in the heavenly substances Parts of Animals I 5.

Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series) Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series)
Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series) Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series)
Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series) Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series)
Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series) Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series)
Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series) Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series)
Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series) Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series)
Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series) Posterior Analytics (Clarendon Aristotle Series)

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