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P. 1
On Interpretation-Aristotle

On Interpretation-Aristotle

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philosophy

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 350 BC ON INTERPRETATION by Aristotle translated by E. M. Edghill 1 irst !e "#st de$ine the ter"s %no#n% and %&erb%' then the ter"s%denial% and %a$$ir"ation%' then %(ro(osition% and %senten)e.% *(o+en !ords are the sy"bols o$ "ental e,(erien)e and !ritten!ords are the sy"bols o$ s(o+en !ords. -#st as all "en ha&e not thesa"e !riting' so all "en ha&e not the sa"e s(ee)h so#nds' b#t the"ental e,(erien)es' !hi)h these dire)tly sy"bolie' are the sa"e $orall' as also are those things o$ !hi)h o#r e,(erien)es are the i"ages.This "atter has' ho!e&er' been dis)#ssed in "y treatise abo#t theso#l' $or it belongs to an in&estigation distin)t $ro" that !hi)h liesbe$ore #s. As there are in the "ind tho#ghts !hi)h do not in&ol&e tr#th or$alsity' and also those !hi)h "#st be either tr#e or $alse' so it isin s(ee)h. or tr#th and $alsity i"(ly )o"bination and se(aration.No#ns and &erbs' (ro&ided nothing is added' are li+e tho#ghts!itho#t )o"bination or se(aration/ %"an% and %!hite%' as isolatedter"s' are not yet either tr#e or $alse. In (roo$ o$ this' )onsiderthe !ord %goatstag.% It has signi$i)an)e' b#t there is no tr#th or$alsity abo#t it' #nless %is% or %is not% is added' either in the(resent or in so"e other tense.  By a no#n !e "ean a so#nd signi$i)ant by )on&ention' !hi)h has nore$eren)e to ti"e' and o$ !hi)h no (art is signi$i)ant a(art $ro"the rest. In the no#n %airsteed'% the (art %steed% has nosigni$i)an)e in and by itsel$' as in the (hrase %$air steed.% 2etthere is a di$$eren)e bet!een si"(le and )o"(osite no#ns/ $or in the$or"er the (art is in no !ay signi$i)ant' in the latter it )ontrib#testo the "eaning o$ the !hole' altho#gh it has not an inde(endent"eaning. Th#s in the !ord %(irateboat% the !ord %boat% has no "eaninge,)e(t as (art o$ the !hole !ord. The li"itation %by )on&ention% !as introd#)ed be)a#se nothing isby nat#re a no#n or na"eit is only so !hen it be)o"es a sy"bol/inarti)#late so#nds' s#)h as those !hi)h br#tes (rod#)e' aresigni$i)ant' yet none o$ these )onstit#tes a no#n. The e,(ression %not"an% is not a no#n. There is indeed nore)ognied ter" by !hi)h !e "ay denote s#)h an e,(ression' $or it isnot a senten)e or a denial. et it then be )alled an inde$inite no#n. The e,(ressions %o$ Philo%' %to Philo%' and so on' )onstit#te notno#ns' b#t )ases o$ a no#n. The de$inition o$ these )ases o$ a no#n isin other res(e)ts the sa"e as that o$ the no#n (ro(er' b#t' !hen)o#(led !ith %is%' %!as%' or !ill be%' they do not' as they are'$or" a (ro(osition either tr#e or $alse' and this the no#n (ro(eral!ays does' #nder these )onditions. Ta+e the !ords %o$ Philo is% or%o$ or %o$ Philo is not%/ these !ords do not' as they stand' $or"either a tr#e or a $alse (ro(osition. 3 A &erb is that !hi)h' in addition to its (ro(er "eaning' )arries!ith it the notion o$ ti"e. No (art o$ it has any inde(endent "eaning'and it is a sign o$ so"ething said o$ so"ething else. I !ill e,(lain !hat I "ean by saying that it )arries !ith it thenotion o$ ti"e. %4ealth% is a no#n' b#t %is healthy% is a &erb/ $orbesides its (ro(er "eaning it indi)ates the (resent e,isten)e o$ thestate in #estion.
 
 Moreo&er' a &erb is al!ays a sign o$ so"ething said o$ so"ethingelse' i.e. o$ so"ething either (redi)able o$ or (resent in so"eother thing. *#)h e,(ressions as %is nothealthy%' %is not' ill%' I do notdes)ribe as &erbs/ $or tho#gh they )arry the additional note o$ti"e' and al!ays $or" a (redi)ate' there is no s(e)i$ied na"e $or this&ariety/ b#t let the" be )alled inde$inite &erbs' sin)e they a((lye#ally !ell to that !hi)h e,ists and to that !hi)h does not. *i"ilarly %he !as healthy%' %he !ill be healthy%' are not &erbs' b#ttenses o$ a &erb/ the di$$eren)e lies in the $a)t that the &erbindi)ates (resent ti"e' !hile the tenses o$ the &erb indi)ate thoseti"es !hi)h lie o#tside the (resent. 6erbs in and by the"sel&es are s#bstanti&al and ha&e signi$i)an)e'$or he !ho #ses s#)h e,(ressions arrests the hearer%s "ind' and$i,es his attention/ b#t they do not' as they stand' e,(ress any7#dge"ent' either (ositi&e or negati&e. or neither are %to be% and%not to be% the (arti)i(le %being% signi$i)ant o$ any $a)t' #nlessso"ething is added/ $or they do not the"sel&es indi)ate anything'b#t i"(ly a )o(#lation' o$ !hi)h !e )annot $or" a )on)e(tion a(art$ro" the things )o#(led. 8 A senten)e is a signi$i)ant (ortion o$ s(ee)h' so"e (arts o$ !hi)hha&e an inde(endent "eaning' that is to say' as an #tteran)e' tho#ghnot as the e,(ression o$ any (ositi&e 7#dge"ent. et "e e,(lain. The!ord %h#"an% has "eaning' b#t does not )onstit#te a (ro(osition'either (ositi&e or negati&e. It is only !hen other !ords are addedthat the !hole !ill $or" an a$$ir"ation or denial. B#t i$ !ese(arate one syllable o$ the !ord %h#"an% $ro" the other' it has no"eaning/ si"ilarly in the !ord %"o#se%' the (art %o#se% has no "eaningin itsel$' b#t is "erely a so#nd. In )o"(osite !ords' indeed' the(arts )ontrib#te to the "eaning o$ the !hole/ yet' as has been (ointedo#t' they ha&e not an inde(endent "eaning. E&ery senten)e has "eaning' not as being the nat#ral "eans by!hi)h a (hysi)al $a)#lty is realied' b#t' as !e ha&e said' by)on&ention. 2et e&ery senten)e is not a (ro(osition/ only s#)h are(ro(ositions as ha&e in the" either tr#th or $alsity. Th#s a (rayer isa senten)e' b#t is neither tr#e nor $alse. et #s there$ore dis"iss all other ty(es o$ senten)e b#t the(ro(osition' $or this last )on)erns o#r (resent in#iry' !hereas thein&estigation o$ the others belongs rather to the st#dy o$ rhetori) oro$ (oetry. 5 The $irst )lass o$ si"(le (ro(ositions is the si"(le a$$ir"ation'the ne,t' the si"(le denial/ all others are only one by )on7#n)tion. E&ery (ro(osition "#st )ontain a &erb or the tense o$ a &erb. The(hrase !hi)h de$ines the s(e)ies %"an%' i$ no &erb in (resent' (ast'or $#t#re ti"e be added' is not a (ro(osition. It "ay be as+ed ho! thee,(ression %a $ooted ani"al !ith t!o $eet% )an be )alled single/ $orit is not the )ir)#"stan)e that the !ords $ollo! in #nbro+ens#))ession that e$$e)ts the #nity. This in#iry' ho!e&er' $inds its(la)e in an in&estigation $oreign to that be$ore #s. 9e )all those (ro(ositions single !hi)h indi)ate a single $a)t' orthe )on7#n)tion o$ the (arts o$ !hi)h res#lts in #nity: those(ro(ositions' on the other hand' are se(arate and "any in n#"ber'!hi)h indi)ate "any $a)ts' or !hose (arts ha&e no )on7#n)tion. et #s' "oreo&er' )onsent to )all a no#n or a &erb an e,(ressiononly' and not a (ro(osition' sin)e it is not (ossible $or a "an tos(ea+ in this !ay !hen he is e,(ressing so"ething' in s#)h a !ay as to"a+e a state"ent' !hether his #tteran)e is an ans!er to a #estionor an a)t o$ his o!n initiation.
 
 To ret#rn: o$ (ro(ositions one +ind is si"(le' i.e. that !hi)hasserts or denies so"ething o$ so"ething' the other )o"(osite' i.e.that !hi)h is )o"(o#nded o$ si"(le (ro(ositions. A si"(le(ro(osition is a state"ent' !ith "eaning' as to the (resen)e o$so"ething in a s#b7e)t or its absen)e' in the (resent' (ast' or$#t#re' a))ording to the di&isions o$ ti"e. ; An a$$ir"ation is a (ositi&e assertion o$ so"ething abo#t so"ething'a denial a negati&e assertion. No! it is (ossible both to a$$ir" and to deny the (resen)e o$so"ething !hi)h is (resent or o$ so"ething !hi)h is not' and sin)ethese sa"e a$$ir"ations and denials are (ossible !ith re$eren)e tothose ti"es !hi)h lie o#tside the (resent' it !o#ld be (ossible to)ontradi)t any a$$ir"ation or denial. Th#s it is (lain that e&erya$$ir"ation has an o((osite denial' and si"ilarly e&ery denial ano((osite a$$ir"ation. 9e !ill )all s#)h a (air o$ (ro(ositions a (air o$)ontradi)tories. Those (ositi&e and negati&e (ro(ositions are saidto be )ontradi)tory !hi)h ha&e the sa"e s#b7e)t and (redi)ate. Theidentity o$ s#b7e)t and o$ (redi)ate "#st not be %e#i&o)al%. Indeedthere are de$initi&e #ali$i)ations besides this' !hi)h !e "a+e to"eet the )as#istries o$ so(hists. < *o"e things are #ni&ersal' others indi&id#al. By the ter"%#ni&ersal% I "ean that !hi)h is o$ s#)h a nat#re as to be(redi)ated o$ "any s#b7e)ts' by %indi&id#al% that !hi)h is not th#s(redi)ated. Th#s %"an% is a #ni&ersal' %Callias% an indi&id#al. O#r (ro(ositions ne)essarily so"eti"es )on)ern a #ni&ersals#b7e)t' so"eti"es an indi&id#al. I$' then' a "an states a (ositi&e and a negati&e (ro(osition o$#ni&ersal )hara)ter !ith regard to a #ni&ersal' these t!o (ro(ositionsare %)ontrary%. By the e,(ression %a (ro(osition o$ #ni&ersal)hara)ter !ith regard to a #ni&ersal%' s#)h (ro(ositions as %e&ery "anis !hite%' %no "an is !hite% are "eant. 9hen' on the other hand' the(ositi&e and negati&e (ro(ositions' tho#gh they ha&e regard to a#ni&ersal' are yet not o$ #ni&ersal )hara)ter' they !ill not be)ontrary' albeit the "eaning intended is so"eti"es )ontrary. Asinstan)es o$ (ro(ositions "ade !ith regard to a #ni&ersal' b#t noto$ #ni&ersal )hara)ter' !e "ay ta+e the %(ro(ositions %"an is!hite%' %"an is not !hite%. %Man% is a #ni&ersal' b#t the(ro(osition is not "ade as o$ #ni&ersal )hara)ter/ $or the !ord%e&ery% does not "a+e the s#b7e)t a #ni&ersal' b#t rather gi&es the(ro(osition a #ni&ersal )hara)ter. I$' ho!e&er' both (redi)ate ands#b7e)t are distrib#ted' the (ro(osition th#s )onstit#ted is)ontrary to tr#th/ no a$$ir"ation !ill' #nder s#)h )ir)#"stan)es' betr#e. The (ro(osition %e&ery "an is e&ery ani"al% is an e,a"(le o$this ty(e. An a$$ir"ation is o((osed to a denial in the sense !hi)h I denote bythe ter" %)ontradi)tory%' !hen' !hile the s#b7e)t re"ains the sa"e'the a$$ir"ation is o$ #ni&ersal )hara)ter and the denial is not. Thea$$ir"ation %e&ery "an is !hite% is the )ontradi)tory o$ the denial%not e&ery "an is !hite%' or again' the (ro(osition %no "an is!hite% is the )ontradi)tory o$ the (ro(osition %so"e "en are !hite%.B#t (ro(ositions are o((osed as )ontraries !hen both the a$$ir"ationand the denial are #ni&ersal' as in the senten)es %e&ery "an is!hite%' %no "an is !hite%' %e&ery "an is 7#st%' %no "an is 7#st%. 9e see that in a (air o$ this sort both (ro(ositions )annot be tr#e'b#t the )ontradi)tories o$ a (air o$ )ontraries )an so"eti"es bothbe tr#e !ith re$eren)e to the sa"e s#b7e)t/ $or instan)e %not e&ery"an is !hite% and so"e "en are !hite% are both tr#e. O$ s#)h

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