Studia Neoaristotelica

Volume 6, Issue 1, 2009

A Journal of Analytic Scholasticism

Lukáš NovákOrcid-ID
Pages 15-49

Conceptual atomism, “Aporia Generis” and a Way Out for Leibniz and the Aristotelians
A Journal of Analytic Scholasticism

Conceptual atomism is a doctrine deeply rooted in the tradition of western thought. It originated with Aristotle, was present in the entire Aristotelian tradition and came to its most pure expression in the work of Leibniz. However, ab initio this doctrine suffered from certain difficulty labelled traditionally “aporia generis”, namely the problem of how it is possible to reconcile the absolute simplicity of the primitive concepts (or ultimate differentiae) with the existence of transcendental concepts, that is, concepts necessarily included in every concept. In this paper the entire problem is subject to an analysis and a solution is suggested, based on a distinction between two different kinds of conceptual containment: the primitive concepts do not contain the transcendentals formally, that is, as constituents that can be revealed by means of definitional analysis, but they nevertheless do contain them virtually, that is, they strictly imply them. It is noted that the germ of this solution is already present in Aristotle.