This is an introductory handbook for some of the main themes around the notion of predication in Aristotle. It does not aim at being exhaustive, but only sketches some important lines about the subject; it contains an introductory essay, besides the translation (into Portuguese) and commentary of basic texts (such as Posterior Analytics I-22, Categories 1-5, Interpretation 1-6 etc.).
This book discusses Aristotle’s notions of essence and substance as they are developed in Metaphysics ZH. I examine Aristotle's argument at length and defends an unorthodox interpretation according to which his motivation is to provide an answer against a conflation between criteria for existential priority (delivering substances as primary beings) and criteria for explanatory priority (delivering essences as primary principles).
In Posterior Analytics 71b9 12, we find Aristotle’s definition of scientific knowledge. The definiens is taken to have only two informative parts: scientific knowledge must be knowledge of the cause and its object must be necessary. However, there is also a contrast between the definiendum and a sophistic way of knowing, which is marked by the expression “kata sumbebekos”. Not much attention has been paid to this contrast. In this paper, I discuss Aristotle’s definition paying due attention to this contrast (...) and to the way it interacts with the two conditions presented in the definiens. I claim that the “necessity” condition ammounts to explanatory appropriateness of the cause. (shrink)
Translation of Aristotle's Posterior Analytics I into Portuguese, with a few notes, experimental glossary and introduction. The translation, which was made at 2003/4, was preliminary and its publication was intended to provide a didactic tool for courses as well as a provisional resource in research seminars. It needs some revision. I am currently working (slowly...) on the revision of the translation and a new revised one will surely appear at some point.
Translation of Aristotle's Metaphysics IV and VI, with notes. The translation is preliminary and intended as a provisional teaching tool to be also used in seminars and discussions with peers in order to reach a more elaborated version.
I discuss an important feature of the notion of cause in Post. An. 1. 13, 78b13–28, which has been either neglected or misunderstood. Some have treated it as if Aristotle were introducing a false principle about explanation; others have understood the point in terms of coextensiveness of cause and effect. However, none offers a full exegesis of Aristotle's tangled argument or accounts for all of the text's peculiarities. My aim is to disentangle Aristotle's steps to show that he is arguing (...) in favour of a logical requirement for a middle term's being the appropriate cause of its explanandum. Coextensiveness between the middle term and the attribute it explains is advanced as a sine qua non condition of a middle term's being an appropriate or primary cause. This condition is not restricted either to negative causes or to middle terms in second‐figure syllogisms, but ranges over all primary causes qua primary. (shrink)
Translation of Aristotle's Posterior Analytics II into Portuguese, with a few notes, experimental glossary and introduction. The translation, which was made at 2002 (with a new printing in 2004), was preliminary and its publication was intended to provide a didactic tool for courses as well as a provisional resource in research seminars. It needs some revision. I am currently working (slowly...) on the revision of the translation and a new revised one will surely appear at some point.
Translation of Aristotle's Metaphysics I-III into Portuguese, with a few notes and introduction. The translation, which was made at 2007, is preliminary and its publication was intended to provide a didactic tool for courses as well as a provisional resource in research seminars. It needs some revision. I am currently working (slowly...) on the revision of the translation and a new revised one will surely appear at some point.
I examine Aristotle’s definition of scientific knowledge in Posterior Analytics 71b 9-12 and try to understand how it relates to the sophistical way of knowing and to "kata sumbebekos knowledge". I claim that scientific knowledge of p requires knowing p by its appropriate cause, and that this appropriate cause is a universal (katholou) in the restricted sense Aristotle proposes in 73b 26-27 ff., i.e., an attribute coextensive with the subject (an extensional feature) and predicated of the subject in itself (an (...) intensional feature). Kata sumbebekos knowledge, on the other hand, can occur even when the predicate of a conclusion is coextensive with its subject and is proved by a convertible meson which is not the most appropriate from an explanatory standpoint. (shrink)
I discuss what Aristotle means when he say that scientific demonstration must proceed from necessary principles. I argue that, for Aristotle, scientific demonstration should not be reduced to sound deduction with necessary premises. Scientific demonstration ultimately depends on the fully appropriate explanatory factor for a given explanandum. This explanatory factor is what makes the explanandum what it is. Consequently, this factor is also unique. When Aristotle says that demonstration must proceed from necessary principles, he means that each demonstration requires the (...) principle that is the necessary one for the fully appropriate explanation of its explanandum. This picture also provides a key to understand Aristotle's thesis that scientific explanation depends on essences: it is the essence of the attribute to be explained that should be stated as the fully appropriate explanatory factor. (shrink)
I have two aims in this paper. First, I argue that, in Aristotle’s theory of the four causes, there is a basic and common feature by which all causes are causes: they all work in a triadic framework in which they explain why a given attribute holds of a given underlying thing. Secondly, I argue against a version of “compatibilism” according to which each kind of cause is complete in its own domain and does not compete with any other kind. (...) I claim that there are priority relations according to which some kinds of cause are subordinated to others, even if these relations do not hold in every cases. (shrink)
I discuss the exact meaning of the thesis according to which the object of scientific knowledge is necessary. The thesis is expressed by Aristotle in the Posterior Analytics, in his definition of scientific knowledge. The traditional interpretation understands this definition as depending on two parallel and independent requirements, the causality requirement and the necessity requirement. Against this interpretation, I try to show, through the examination of several passages that refer to the definition of scientific knowledge, that the necessity requirement specifies (...) more exactly the causality requirement: what cannot be otherwise is the explanatory relation between the explanandum and the cause by which it is what it is. (shrink)
Aristotle contrasts episteme and doxa through the key notions of universal and necessary. These notions have played a central role in Aristotle’s characterization of scientific knowledge in the previous chapters of APo. They are not spelled out in APo I.33, but work as a sort of reminder that packs an adequate characterization of scientific knowledge and thereby gives a highly specified context for Aristotle’s contrast between episteme and doxa. I will try to show that this context introduces a contrast in (...) terms of explanatory claims: on the one hand, episteme covers those claims which capture explanatory connections that are universal and necessary and thereby deliver scientific understanding; on the other hand, doxa covers the explanatory attempts that fail at doing so. (shrink)
I discuss in this paper the six requirements Aristotle advances at Posterior Analytics A-2, 71b20-33, for the premisses of a scientific demonstration. I argue that the six requirements give no support for an intepretation in terms of “axiomatization”. Quite on the contrary, the six requirements can be consistently understood in a very different picture, according to which the most basic feature of a scientific demonstration is to explain a given proposition by its appropriate cause.
I discuss Aristotle's treatment of essence and definition in Metaphysics VII.4. I argue that it is coherent and perfectly in accord with its broader context. His discussion in VII.4 offers, on the one hand, minimal criteria for what counts as definition and essence for whatever kind of object, but also, on the other hand, stronger criteria for a primary sort of definition and essence—and thereby it serves the interest of book VII in pointing to the explanatory power of the essence (...) of composite substances. (shrink)
This chapter argues in favour of three interrelated points. First, I argue that demonstration (as expression of scientific knowledge) is fundamentally defined as knowledge of the appropriate cause for a given explanandum: to have scientific knowledge of the explanandum is to explain it through its fully appropriate cause. Secondly, I stress that Aristotle’s notion of cause has a “triadic” structure, which fundamentally depends on the predicative formulation (or “regimentation”) of the explanandum. Thirdly, I argue that what has motivated Aristotle to (...) choose the syllogism as a demonstrative tool was precisely the fact that syllogisms are apt to express causal relations in their triadic structure. Instead of complaining against Aristotle’s preference for the syllogisms as demonstrative tools, I argue that Aristotle was fully aware of the advantages of regimenting the explanandum into a predication. One of these advantages is to abandon a purely extensional standpoint and to highlight the importance of the notion of relevancy in explanation. (shrink)
I discuss the methodological passage in the begin- ning of Ethica Eudemia I.6 (1216b26-35), which has received attention in connection with Aristotle’s notion of dialectic and his methodology in Ethics. My central focus is not to discuss whether Aristotle is prescribing and using what has been called the method of endoxa. I will focus on how this passage coheres with the remaining parts of the same chapter, which also are advancing methodological remarks. My claim is that the meth- od of (...) Ethica Eudemia I.6 is in agreement with many features of Aristotle’s theory of explanation as presented in the Posterior Analytics: Aristotle’s main concern is a warning against misuses of explanatory arguments. (shrink)
This paper attempts to clarify the nature and the importance of a third kind of sophistic argument that is not always found in the classification of those arguments in the secondary literature. An argument of the third kind not only is a valid one, but is also constituted of true propositions. What makes it a sophistic argument is the fact that it produces a false semblance of scientific explanation: its explanation seems to be appropriate to the explanandum without being so. (...) Evidence from this kind of argument comes from Sophistic Refutations 11, and Brison’s attempt to square the circle should be counted as one of its instances. (shrink)
This paper discusses the contrast between scientific knowledge and opinion as it is presented by Aristotle in Posterior Analytics A.33. Aristotle's contrast is formulated in terms of understanding or not understanding some "necessary items". I claim that the contrast can only be understood in terms of explanatory relevance. The "necessary items" are middle terms (or explanatory factors) that are necessary for the fully appropriate explanation. This approach gives a coherent interpretation of each step in the chapter.
Este livro é um 'ancestral' em pré-print do meu livro de 2006, Introdução à Teoria da Predicação em Aristóteles (ISBN 978-85-268-0716-1), publicado pela Editora da Unicamp (ver https://www.academia.edu/6912408/Introdu%C3%A7%C3%A3o_%C3%A0_teoria_da_predica%C3%A7%C3%A3o_em_Arist %C3%B3teles). O ancestral foi felizmente muito citado, mesmo depois da aparição do livro definitivo em 2006. -/- This is an ancestor (in pré-print) of my 2006 Book, 'Introdução à Teoria da Predicação em Aristóteles' (ISBN 978-85-268-0716-1), published by Editora da Unicamp (see https://www.academia.edu/6912408/Introdu%C3%A7%C3%A3o_%C3%A0_teoria_da_predica%C3%A7%C3%A3o_em_Arist %C3%B3teles). The ancestor was cited by many, even after the definitive book (...) appeared in 2006. (shrink)
At some point in the Incessu Animalium, Aristotle appeals to some geometrical claims in order to explain why animal progression necessarily involves the bending (of the limbs), and this appeal to geometrical claims might be taking as violating the recommendation to avoid “kind-crossing” (as found in the Posterior Analytic). But a very unclear notion of kind-crossing has been assumed in most debates. I will argue that kind-crossing in the Posterior Analytics does not mean any employment of premises from a discipline (...) other than that to which the explanandum belongs. Kind-crossing was meant to cover a specific sort of employment of premises from a different discipline, namely, the case in which premises from a discipline X are taken as the most important explanatory factor that delivers the fullest appropriate explanation of an explanandum within discipline Y. If this is so, the employment of geometrical premises in the Incessu Animalium is not an instance of the prohibited kind-crossing, but something that is in line with the theory of the Posterior Analytics. (shrink)
Translation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics IX and X (Theta & Iota) into Portuguese, with a few notes, experimental glossary and introduction. The translation, which was made at 2004, is preliminary and its publication was intended to provide a didactic tool for courses as well as a provisional resource in research seminars. It needs some revision. I am currently working (slowly...) on the revision of the translation and a new revised one will surely appear at some point.
This paper discusses some issues concerning the definition of moral virtue in Nicomachean Ethics 1106b 36- 1107a 2. It is reasonable to expect from a definition the complete enumeration of the relevant features of its definiendum, but the definition of moral virtue seems to fail in doing this task. One might be tempted to infer that this definition is intended by Aristotle as a mere preliminary account that should be replaced by a more precise one. The context of the argument (...) Aristotle develops in Book II of his NE give us some help. I argue that the definition of moral virtue, once considered in the light of its context, is far from being an incomplete and provisional account: it rather introduces coherently the same notion of moral virtue that Aristotle employs in other texts (as in Nicomachean Ethics VI 13). My main proposal is that the way in which "hexis" is understood in the context of previous chapters allows Aristotle to encode in it the notion of an ability to do the right things regularly. Thus, moral virtue is a "hexis prohairetike etc.", but the ability to do the right things regularly is already encoded in the occurrence of "hexis" in the definiens account of moral virtue, as if Aristotle meant "hexis [praktike] prohairetike". (shrink)
I argue that Aristotle’s teleology in natural science (more specifically, in biology) is not incompatible with his admissions of the “brute necessity” of the movements of matter. Aristotle thinks that the brute necessity emerging from the movements of matter is not sufficient to explain why living beings are what they are and behave the way they behave. Nevertheless, Aristotle takes this brute necessity to be a sine qua non condition in biological explanations. The full explanation of the features of living (...) beings requires the hylomorphic model, in which the brute necessity belonging to the matter is subordinated to the teleological causality of the form. The model for which I argue is pretty much Balme’s “cybernetic”. However, I explore some aspects of Aristotle’s texts that have not received much attention in the recent literature. (shrink)
I discuss the notion of education or educatedness (paideia) involved in the ‘educated human being’ (pepaideumenos), which Aristotle presents at the beginning of his Parts of Animals and a few other passages. The competence of educated human beings makes them able to evaluate some aspects of the explanations in a given domain without having a determinate knowledge about the specific subject-matter in that domain. I examine how such a competence is possible and how it is related to other critical abilities (...) which Aristotle usually ascribes to the science of being qua being. Discuto a noção de educação ou cultura (paideia) envolvida na figura do ser humano cultivado (pepaideumenos), que Aristóteles apresenta no início do tratado As Partes dos Animais e em algumas outras passagens. A competência do ser humano cultivado o habilita a avaliar certo aspecto das explicações propostas em um dado domínio, sem requerer dele um conhecimento determinado sobre o assunto específico do mesmo domínio. Examino de que modo essa competência é possível e como ela se articula a outras habilidades críticas que Aristóteles geralmente associa à ciência do ser enquanto ser. (shrink)
This paper examines Aristotle’s notion of priority with the specific aim of capturing the sort of priority that characterizes the primacy of substances in his metaphysics. I reject the traditional interpretation, which understands the ontological priority of substances in terms of independent existence. But there are rather two sorts of priority: the ontological priority of substances should be understood in terms of completeness, whereas the ontological priority of “substances-of-something” (the essences) is a causal-explanatory priority. Furthermore, an important piece of Aristotle’s (...) argument against Platonism is that these two sorts of priority – namely, the completeness priority and the causal-explanatory priority – should be kept distinct. (shrink)
My object is Aristotle's discussion of principle of non-contradiction in the first stretch of Metaphysics IV.4. My main focus rests on the connections between Aristotle's discussion of the principle and some key notions of his (explicit or implied) semantics.
I discuss three kinds of relationship between ends and means (or "things that promote ends") in the Aristotelian ethical theory, in order to clarify how moral virtues and phronesis are related both in adopting ends and in determining means for virtuous actions. Phronesis seems to be mainly charged with determining means for an end given by the moral virtues, but it must involve some conception of ends too. Phronesis cannot be parasitic on moral virtue concerning the conception of ends, for (...) otherwise it will lack intrinsic moral value. I argue that the intrinsic moral value of phronesis can be better understood through a certain kind of relation between means and ends that has not received much attention. (shrink)
I discuss the argument Aristotle ascribes to Parmenides at Physics 186a23-32. I discuss (i) the reasons why Aristotle considers it as eristic and inconclusive and (i) the solution (lusis) Aristotle proposes against it.
This paper discusses whether there is room for knowledge of causal relations between events in Aristotle's theory of science as developed in the Posterior Analytics. My focus is on Aristotle's analysis of the fourth sense of kath' hauto or per se predication.
I discuss some of Aristotle’s scattered remarks from which one can construct his conception of matter. Aristotle seems to oscillate between two conceptions: one in which matter is the principle of becoming, another in which matter is a constituent element with no contribution for processes of becoming. Sometimes Aristotle takes matter as a thing independent in itself, and the correlated form is a feature that does not contribute to the matter’s essence, nor is a necessary condition for its existence. But (...) sometimes Aristotle takes matter as a constituent element the existence of which depends on the whole thing it is the matter of. These different approaches to matter seem to suggest an inconsistent theory of matter. However, I argue that, quite to the contrary, Aristotle has a consistent theory about matter. One of my main points is to distinguish contexts in which Aristotle is indeed talking about matter in general from contexts in which he uses the term “matter” to refer to a given thing that was previously taken as matter and to talk about that thing not qua matter, but qua the thing it is. (shrink)
This paper explores some aspects of Aristotle’s notion of subject for predications. I examine the argument Aristotle develops in Posterior Analytics I.22, 83a1-14. I argue that the notion advanced by Aristotle in that argument is different from the one found in his Categories, although they are far from being incompatible with each other. I also add some philological considerations to justify the Portuguese translation of “hypokeimenon” as “algo subjacente” (“underlying thing”) instead of “sujeito” (“subject”).
This paper examines some difficulties in Aristotle’s argument in Metaphysics VII 3 and proposes a point of view in which there is no serious conflict between ousia taken as hypokeimenon and ousia taken as eidos.
In Prior Analytics I.30, Aristotle seems too much optmistic about finding out the principles of sciences. For he seems to say that, if our empirical collection of facts in a given domain is exhaustive or sufficient, it will be easy for us to find out the explanatory principles in the domain. However, there is a distance between collecting facts and finding out the explanatory principles in a given domain. In this paper, I discuss how the key expression in the sentence (...) at 46a25 should be interpreted: “the true characteristics of things” (“τῶν ἀληθῶς ὑπαρχόντων τοῖς πράγμασιν”). I argue that, on a more accurate interpretation of the expression, Aristotle’s point would cease to look like a piece of naïve or even silly optimism. (shrink)
A filosofia da natureza de Aristóteles muitas vezes é apresentada como um capítulo inteiramente ultrapassado na história do pensamento: um “finalismo antiquado”, antropocêntrico, avesso à mensuração exata das condições materiais subjacentes aos fenômenos. Essa perspectiva, no entanto, é inadequada: não atenta para o papel relevante que Aristóteles atribui à matéria na explicação dos fenômenos naturais, assim como não atina com o real significado da teleologia aristotélica. Na contra-mão dessa perspectiva apressada, procuramos mostrar que, no cerne da filosofia aristotélica da natureza, (...) entendida como uma teleologia, encontra-se a idéia de que os seres naturais definem-se por uma tendência intrínseca à auto-preservação. É por essa tendência que a forma de cada ser natural governa teleologicamente sua matéria. (shrink)
My aim is to examine Aristotle's hylomorphism as a model for scientific explanation of living beings. I argue that the issue of matter-form relation should be connected with the opposition between the necessity of material and efficient causes and the teleology of forms. Form (as "telos") is a principle able to organize the appropriate conjunction of material and efficient causes. Formal and final causes are not a trick for filling the "gap in causation", nor are they bare heuristic tools for (...) inquiring into the "true" causes. The primacy of formal and final causes guarantees an appropriate account of material and efficient causes inasmuch as form and "telos" are responsible for bending and organizing the original dispositions of the material elements. (shrink)
I discuss in this paper Aristotle’s definition of nature in Physics 192b 20-23. I intend to prove that this definition has to be taken as a set of three (not only two) conditions: the first condition just establishes that nature is a sort of cause; the second condition concerns the relationship between nature and the natural thing that has it as a cause; the third condition concerns the relationship between nature and the properties that natural things have from nature’s causality.