Truth vs. Necessary Truth in Aristotle’s Sciences

Review of Metaphysics 57 (4):741-753 (2004)
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AT POSTERIOR ANALYTICS 1.1.71B15 AND FOLLOWING, Aristotle identifies six characteristics of the first principles from which demonstrative science proceeds. These are traditionally grouped into two sets of three: group A: ex alêthôn, prôtôn, amêsôn; group B: gnôrimôterôn, proterôn, and aitiôn. The characteristic, which I believe has been underrated and somewhat misinterpreted by scholars and commentators from Philoponus to the present day, is the characteristic of truth. In this paper I propose to present a textually based interpretation of truth that shows the following: that truth is necessarily linked to being. The example given of nonbeing, the commensurability of the diagonal with the sides of a square, suggests more than simple truth is required for first principles and premises of demonstrative science; and that Aristotle later in the APo changes this characteristic to necessary truth, for he recognizes that truth alone is an insufficient basis for scientific demonstration. The referents of necessary truth are eternal being, and the need for eternal being demands that universals exist extramentally for Aristotle. Finally, one of the important ways that universal genera and species exist for Aristotle are as real, causal principles.

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Thomas Upton
Gannon University


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