Aristotle: Semantics and Ontology - Vol. 2

Aristotle: Semantics and Ontology - Vol. 2

Aristotle: Semantics and Ontology - Vol. 2

Aristotle: Semantics and Ontology - Vol. 2


This study intends to show that the ascription of many shortcomings or obscurities to Aristotle is due to the persistent misinterpetation of key notions in his works, including anachronistic perceptions of statement making. In the first volume Aristotles semantics is culled from the Organon. The second volume presents Aristotles ontology of the sublunar world, and pays special attention to his strategy of argument in light of his semantic views. The reconstruction of the semantic models that come forward as genuinely Aristotelian can give a new impetus to the study of Aristotelian philosophic and semantic thought.


It is commonly held that the structure of the work handed down to us as Aristotle's Metaphysics (Met.) is a result of the arrangement of several Aristotelian treatises executed by his editors after the Master's death. the work was never read in its present form until the time of the Greek Commentators and their Western colleagues in the Middle Ages, who in the framework of the university curriculum lectured on Books I-II, IV-X, and xii.

Roughly speaking, the work falls into three main parts:

(a) the group ABΓE (I, III-TV, and V);

(b) the group ZHΘMNI, the first three books of which are commonly regarded as the backbone of the Metaphysics. This group deals with the main subject of any metaphysical investigation, ousia — perceptible ousia in Books ZHΘ, imperceptible ousia in MN–while I, which is clearly connected with B, is concerned with the nature of unity and of kindred conceptions;

Ackrill (1981), 3f. Alexander of Aphrodisias's suggestion (CAG I, p. 515 ; cf.
Asclepius cag VI-2, p. 4) that Eudemus may have done some editorial work on
the metaphysical and ethical treatises is commonly held as the most probable. The
story connecting Book a or a with Aristotle's pupil and Eudemus' nephew, Pasicles
of Rhodos, (in Scholia 589a41 ed. Brandis) fits in well with Alexander's suggestion,
as far as Met. is concerned. See Ross I Introd., xxxii, n. 1. However, Barnes ( 1999,
62ff.) may be right in questioning the story of a Eudemian edition. D. Harlfinger
describes the history of textual criticism concerning Met in Aubenque (1979), 7-36.
Kahn (1985, 311) remarks that “even if we exclude three of the 14 books (namely α
as having no organic links with the rest, K as probably inauthentic, a as hors série)
the remaining eleven are far from providing a continuous exposition”. He is of the
opinion (338), however, that “attention to the kind of rhetorical clues and termi
nological variation “…” may help us see that there is more compositional art and
more literary continuity in the treatises of the Metaphysics than is usually recog
nized”. We owe to Kahn (ibid.) a pertinent discussion of all the evidence found in
the Metaphysics which may elucidate what kind of content and doctrinal unity First
Philosophy was intended by the author himself to have.

From about 1200 the Medieval masters had access to several versions of the
Aristoteles latinus. Their selection of ten books for teaching metaphysics at the
universities (I-II, IV-X, XII) does not exactly correspond with the ten-book Meta
physics (ABΓZHΘMNI) that is mentioned in the list of Aristotle's works in the
Anonymus Menagii; Ross I, xxiii.

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