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Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 43$
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Brad Inwood

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199666164

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199666164.001.0001

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Aristotle On The Role Of The Predicables In Dialectical Disputations

Aristotle On The Role Of The Predicables In Dialectical Disputations

(p.54) (p.55) Aristotle On The Role Of The Predicables In Dialectical Disputations
Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 43

Marja‐Liisa Kakkuri‐Knuuttila

Miira Tuominen

Oxford University Press

In Topics I 8 Aristotle argues that all dialectical problems and premises involve the predicables: definition, peculiar property, genus, differentia, or accident. This claim of exhaustiveness is important for understanding Aristotle’s dialectic but faces some objections. For example general notions of sameness, similarity, homonymy, and difference, introduced as dialectical tools in Topics I 13, are difficult to understand in terms of the predicables. Aristotle’s procedure suggests two interpretations of the claim. The first one restricts problems and premises to predications and offers formal criteria for classifying them. Second, Aristotle also offers extended definitions for definition and genus such that can accommodate freely formulated problems and premises if they occur in arguments leading up to arguments concerning the predicables. This paper argues that neither of the two interpretations is a satisfactory reading of the claim of exhaustiveness and that a tension remains between the formal criteria presented in the syllogism of I 8 and the variety of actual dialectical problems and premises.

Keywords:   Aristotle, dialectic, Topics I 8, problems, premises, predicables, claim of exhaustiveness, dialectical tools, predication

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