Philosophica: International Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 19, Issue 38, November 2011

Lógica, Antropoligia, Política

Giampaolo Abbate
Pages 7-31

Aristotelian Predicables, Universality and Realism
The Logic of Comparison in Topics as Denying the View That Aristotle Was a Realist

Aristotle is reportedly held to have been a Moderate Realist in that he would maintain that a concept derives from an act of grasping a mind-independent universal object that exists somehow inside of the many different things which the concept is predicated of. As far as a universal is independent of mind, it would stand for the proper object of a concept that subsumes a given number of things as its own instantiations. But we claim that Aristotle rejected such a view and instead did perceive and comprehend universality as a feature of thought rather than as a feature of reality in its own right. As showed in the chapters of Topics regarding the so-called logic of comparison (with the support of Albert the Great’s commentary), each predicate can be more or less consistent with the attribute of the subject of which it may be predicated. Both essential and accidental attributes assume a definite degree of being related to the degree of belonging to substance. Unlike particular things, the universality of a concept is to be understood always in comparison with another concept according to a hierarchy of predicates in terms of universality degree arranged by comparative terms such as ‘more’ (μἂλλον), ‘less’ (ἧττον), and ‘likewise ’ (όμοίως). What is really mind-independent are the truth conditions which make a universal true when exclusively referring to a set of things identically meant by the same predicate whose universality is given by the place occupied in the hierarchy of predicates.

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