Aristotle On The Role Of The Predicables In Dialectical Disputations

Marja‐Liisa Kakkuri‐Knuuttila and Miira Tuominen

in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 43

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199666164
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191751936 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy

Aristotle On The Role Of The Predicables In Dialectical Disputations

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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

Chapter.  10712 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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