Press "Enter" to skip to content

Aristotle, Topics. Book I, Chapter 14

Propositions, therefore, are to be selected in as many ways, as there are modes in the definition of a proposition; so that we may select, either the opinions of all men, or of most, or of wise men; and of these, either of all, or of most, or of the most celebrated; or that we may select opinions contrary to the phenomena; and such as are according to art. It is necessary, however, to propose according to contradiction, those opinions which are contrary to the phenomena, as was before observed. But it is useful to produce them, by selecting not only those which are probable, but also those which are similar to these; as, that there is the same sense of contraries, for there is the same science; and that we see, in consequence of receiving something, and not by emitting anything; since this is also the case in the other senses. For we hear by receiving, and not by emitting something; and after the same manner, we taste and smell. This is also the case with the other senses. Again, such particulars as are seen in all, or in most things are to be assumed as principles and probable theses. For these are posited by those who do not see that this does not take place in a certain thing. It is also requisite to select from written arguments. But descriptions are to be made about each genus separately supposed; as, about good, or about animal; and about every good, beginning from the question what it is. The opinions, likewise, of the several wise men are to be noted, as, that Empedocles says that there are four elements of bodies. For anyone will admit as a position, that which was asserted by some celebrated philosopher. But (to speak according to a rude delineation) there are three parts of propositions and problems. For some propositions are ethical, others are physical, and others logical. The ethical, therefore, are of such a kind as, whether it is necessary rather to be obedient to parents than to the laws, if they are discordant with each other. But the logical are such as, whether there is the same science or not of contraries. And the physical are such as, whether the world is perpetual or not. The like also takes place in problems. It is not, however, easy to explain by definition what the quality is of each of the above-mentioned propositions; but we must endeavor to show each of them by the custom arising from induction, directing our attention to the before-mentioned examples. So far, therefore, as pertains to philosophy, we must treat of these according to truth; but so far as pertains to opinion, dialectically. All the propositions, however, are to be assumed as much as possible universal; and one should produce many; as, that there is the same science of opposites, and afterwards, that there is the same science of contraries, and also of relatives. After the same manner, these likewise are to be divided, as long as it is possible to divide them; as that there is the same science of good and evil, of black and white, of the cold and the hot. A similar mode of proceeding must also be adopted in other things. Concerning propositions, therefore, what has been said is sufficient.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.