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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Aristotle is hard to understand

So I thought I’d resume reading my Aristotle book, after an 8-month hiatus. Aristotle is supposed to be good for you right?

It took me an hour to understand this paragraph:

“It is evident also that in all the figures, whenever a deduction does not result, if both the terms are affirmative or negative nothing necessary follows at all, but if one is affirmative, the other negative, and if the negative is assumed universally, a deduction always results relating the minor to the major term, e.g., if converted it is necessary that C does not belong to some A. Similarly also in the other figures; a deduction always results by means of conversion. It is evident also that the substitution of an indefinite for a particular affirmative will effect the same deduction in all the figures.”
          —Aristotle, Prior Analytics 7


Anyone else read this stuff? I’m not wrong in saying it’s hard to understand right? Aristotle really needs to stick some examples in there.

After puzzling over it for an hour and drawing many Venn diagrams, I think what he’s basically saying is (for the mathematically inclined):
  • C ∉ B, B ∈ A ⇒ C ∌ some A. (The X∈X∈X pattern is called the “first figure”.)
  • O ∉ M, M ∋ N ⇒ O ∌ N. (The X∈X∋X pattern is called the “second figure”.)
  • R ∌ S ∈ P ⇒ some P ∌ R. (The X∋X∈X pattern is called the “third figure”.)

I think I like Plato better. At least he seems easier to understand (maybe “seems” is the operative word here):

“No, my excellent friend, trust in me and in the Delphic inscription and ‘know thyself’. These are the people we must defeat, not the ones you think, and we have no hope of defeating them unless we act with both diligence and skill. If you fall short in these, then you will fall short of achieving fame in Greece as well as abroad; and that is what I think you’re longing for, more than anyone else ever longed for anything.”
          —Plato, Alcibiades

1 Comments:

  • Well, Aristotle is hard to understand because he never wrote a book per se, everything we have of him are his classes notes. By the other hand, Plato was one of the most reknown poets of the time who thought beauty was the only way to achieve truth. Also Aristotle based his work on Plato and at the end of Metaphysics he claims he (Aristotle) was wrong. Sorry for the english

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/06/2013 6:27 AM  

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