What was Aristotle’s concept of logical form?

Benjamin Morison

in Episteme, etc.

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199696482
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738036 | DOI:
What was Aristotle’s concept of logical form?

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This paper argues (contra Timothey Smiley and John Corcoran) that Aristotle did not invent a ‘formal language’ for his syllogistic, and (contra Jonathan Barnes) that Aristotle did not analyse syllogistic validity in terms of logical form, if a logical form is some sort of syntactical schema. The paper also argues that Aristotle does not hold there is a canonical way of propounding a syllogism: namely, by using locutions such as ‘X does/does not belong to all/some Y’. In this he differs from the Stoics, who probably did hold that there was a canonical way of presenting syllogisms. The paper concludes that these unusual locutions which Aristotle uses are ways of generalising over what propositions say, rather than attempts to (i) invent a formal language, (ii) provide a syntactical logical form, or (iii) suggest canonical language in which to propound syllogisms.

Keywords: Aristotle; Stoics; logic; logical form; formal language; Smiley; Corcoran; Barnes; Alexander of Aphrodisias

Chapter.  9021 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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