The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter


Mary Mulhern

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Aristotle developed analytic tools to deal with conceptual difficulties that were important in his time. Some of these tools are his explicit analysis of homonymy, his eightfold classification of subjects and predicates and its elaboration into the predicaments and predicables, his syntactical analysis of ordinary language sentences, and his construction of a formal language for deductive and demonstrative syllogistic. Some of these conceptual difficulties are traceable to theories of Ideas, in which definitory predicates were not distinguished from non-definitory ones, as for instance in Hypothesis V of the Parmenides, where it is argued that the (non-existent) one is not equal to the others, because if it were equal, then it would both be and be like the others in respect of equality (161C3-5). Orders of generality were not distinguished from one another, which leads to infinite regress fallacies, like the Third Man. Additionally, relational predicates were not distinguished from non-relational ones, as at Theaetetus 154C7-155C7, where the contradictions result from taking relatives as if they were definitory predicates, or, on a weaker interpretation, taking relatives for quantitative expressions.


Mary Mulhern presented “Aristotle’s Analytic Tools” to the Society at its meeting with the Eastern Division in Baltimore, 2007.