Division, Syllogistic, and Science in Prior Analytics I.31

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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In the first book of the Prior Analytics, Aristotle sets out, for the first time in Greek philosophy, a logical system. It consists of a deductive system (I.4-22), meta-logical results (I.23-26), and a method for finding and giving deductions (I.27-29) that can apply in “any art or science whatsoever” (I.30). After this, Aristotle compares this method with Plato’s method of division, a procedure designed to find essences of natural kinds through systematic classification. This critical comparison in APr I.31 raises an interpretive puzzle: how can Aristotle reasonably juxtapose two methods that differ so much in their aims and approach? What can be gained by doing so? Previous interpreters have failed to show how this comparison is legitimate or what important point Aristotle is making. The goal of this paper is to resolve the puzzle. In resolving this puzzle we not only learn more about the relationship be- tween division and the syllogistic in Aristotle. We will also learn something about the motivation for the syllogistic itself, by seeing the role that it plays in his philosophy of science.

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Justin Vlasits
University of Illinois, Chicago


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