Being, Categories, and Universal Reference in Aristotle

Michael J. Loux

in Categories of Being

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199890576
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199980031 | DOI:
Being, Categories, and Universal Reference in Aristotle

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Aristotle claims that “being is said in many ways.” This claim has been thought to express a deeply problematic thesis. This chapter examines three contexts where Aristotle issues the claim. The third expresses a problematic view. Aristotle is telling us that terms that apply to items from different categories have different meanings in those applications. The difficulty with this reading is that since it makes univocal, but transcategorial reference impossible, it precludes universal reference and, consequently, makes impossible its own formulation. Loux considers ways of avoiding this problem, but concludes that so long as the view is understood as a claim about lexical meaning, none succeeds. It argues, however, that if we follow a proposal made by Irwin and Grice and deny that “being is said in many ways” is a claim about the meanings or senses of universal terms, we have the resources for avoiding the relevant difficulty.

Keywords: Aristotle; being; universal terms; lexical meaning

Chapter.  9410 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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