Aristotle's Theory of Predication

Aristotle's Theory of Predication

Aristotle's Theory of Predication

Aristotle's Theory of Predication


This book claims that Aristotle followed an aspect theory of predication. On it statements make a basic assertion of existence that can be more or less qualified. It is claimed that the aspect theory solves many puzzles about Aristotles philosophy and gives a new unity to his logic and metaphysics. The book considers Aristotles views on predication relative to Greek philology, Aristotles philosophical milieu, and the history and philosophy of predication theory. It offers new perspectives on such issues as existential import; the relation of Categories 2 & 4; the place of differentiae and propria; the predication of matter; unnatural predication; and the square of opposition. It ends by comparing Aristotles theory with current ones.


The topic of the present study, the Aristotelian theory of predication, may seem dry and specialized. For surely it concerns the history of logic, and not the philosophical issues of more general interest concerning human beings in the world.

On the contrary, I submit that this impatience with logical issues and the lack of their popular philosophical appeal reveal more about prejudices of current scholarship and culture than about the material. Although some of us moderns may find logic a tedious, specialized, gymnastic preliminary to those areas of philosophy that hold wider human interest, such is not the classical attitude. Nor, by the way, has it been the attitude of modern analytic philosophers, nor, for that matter, the attitude of various Indian and Cninese schools.

Indeed I find that it is with an air of excitement and near awe that Greek philosophers even as early as Parmenides and Socrates seized upon the arguments and logoi with which the dialectical Muse was gracious enough to inspire them. Parmenides concluded, from the impossibility of saying that what is not is, that plurality, change, and time cannot be. in effect, Parmenides analyzed the structure of statements taken to be true. He then inferred some consequences from them: to say that a dog is not a stone is to say that a dog is not; to say that a dog is not alive always is to say that something that is has come to be from what is not, but then something would come to be from nothing. From these inferences, he concluded that it is impossible for there to be change and plurality. For the possibility of such states cannot even be stated consistently. Here then we see early on the penchant for inferring the structure of the world from the structure of talk about the world—a naïve penchant, perhaps, but then philosophy, being theoretical, has to begin with talk: “to rob us of discourse would be to rob us of philosophy.” "Soph. 260a"

Socrates too liked collecting arguments. Indeed, sometimes the dialogues of Plato seem needlessly prolix and playful, in part merely because Socrates and his audience appeared to delight in the sport of dialectic. Yet this delight is not the delight of an unaffected spectator or the detached

So the Vedic Nyāya school and the rectification of names in Confucian thought.

Pace Stanley Rosen.

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