Homonymy and Signification
1 NON-UNIVOCITY AND SIGNIFICATION
All forms of homonymy require non-univocity. Sometimes non-univocity
is immediately obvious: most, but not all, discrete homonyms exhibit their
multivocity to just anyone. Many associated homonyms and some discrete
homonyms are, by contrast, seductive. Moreover, the multivocity of every
philosophically interesting associated homonym will rightly be disputed.
If Plato thinks that goodness is univocal, he will appropriately demand
from Aristotle an argument for its non-univocity. Aristotle's appeals to
homonymy are justifiable only to the degree that he can provide such arguments.In this chapter I consider Aristotle's techniques for establishing nonunivocity. Because most of the homonymy indicators of Topics i. 15 suffice
only for non-disputed contexts, it will be necessary to set them aside. I
focus on Aristotle's simplest method for establishing non-univocity,
namely difference in signification. Although simple in some ways, this
method is also difficult and controversial, for it is not initially clear how Aristotle understands signification.I argue first that difference in signification is sufficient for nonunivocity. I argue, further, that signification is, broadly, a meaning relation
Consequently, difference in meaning is sufficient for non-univocity.
Moreover, I maintain, difference in signification is necessary for nonunivocity. Hence, difference in meaning is also necessary for non-univocity
and hence necessary for homonymy.The argument schema for this conclusion is direct and simple:
|(1) 'F' in 'a is F' and 'b is F' signify different things if and only if 'F'
|(2) Signification is a meaning relation.|
|(3) Hence, 'F' in 'a is F' and 'b is F' mean different things if and only
if 'F' is non-univocal.|
|(4) Non-univocity is necessary and sufficient for homonymy.|