22 November 2005

Met. 1024b17-21 in Context

I have a view about how Met. V.29 should be interpreted, but I'll save that for a later post. For now, I'll simply make some observations about the text. I paste below the full text (from Perseus) of the chapter, and I highlight that fragment of it which Crivelli relies upon and translates. Then, following that, I make some observations.

to\ yeu=doj le/getai a)/llon me\n tro/pon w(j pra=gma yeu=doj, kai\ tou/tou to\ me\n tw=| mh\ sugkei=sqai h)\ a)du/naton ei)=nai sunteqh=nai (w(/sper le/getai to\ th\n dia/metron ei)=nai [20] su/mmetron h)\ to\ se\ kaqh=sqai: tou/twn ga\r yeu=doj to\ me\n a)ei\ to\ de\ pote/: ou(/tw ga\r ou)k o)/nta tau=ta), ta\ de\ o(/sa e)/sti me\n o)/nta, pe/fuke me/ntoi fai/nesqai h)\ mh\ oi(=a/ e)stin h)\ a(\ mh\ e)/stin (oi(=on h( skiagrafi/a kai\ ta\ e)nu/pnia: tau=ta ga\r e)/sti me/n ti, a)ll' ou)x w(=n e)mpoiei= th\n fantasi/an):

pra/gmata [25] me\n ou)=n yeudh= ou(/tw le/getai, h)\ tw=| mh\ ei)=nai au)ta\ h)\ tw=| th\n a)p' au)tw=n fantasi/an mh\ o)/ntoj ei)=nai: lo/goj de\ yeudh\j o( tw=n mh\ o)/ntwn, h(=| yeudh/j, dio\ pa=j lo/goj yeudh\j e(te/rou h)\ ou(= e)sti\n a)lhqh/j, oi(=on o( tou= ku/klou yeudh\j trigw/nou. e(ka/stou de\ lo/goj e)/sti me\n w(j ei(=j, o( tou= ti/ h)=n ei)=nai, e)/sti d' w(j [30] polloi/, e)pei\ tau)to/ pwj au)to\ kai\ au)to\ peponqo/j, oi(=on Swkra/thj kai\ Swkra/thj mousiko/j (o( de\ yeudh\j lo/goj ou)qeno/j e)stin a(plw=j lo/goj): dio\ )Antisqe/nhj w)/|eto eu)h/qwj mhqe\n a)ciw=n le/gesqai plh\n tw=| oi)kei/w| lo/gw|, e(\n e)f' e(no/j: e)c w(=n sune/baine mh\ ei)=nai a)ntile/gein, sxedo\n de\ mhde\ yeu/desqai. e)/sti [35] d' e(/kaston le/gein ou) mo/non tw=| au)tou= lo/gw| a)lla\ kai\ tw=| e(te/rou, yeudw=j me\n kai\ pantelw=j, e)/sti d' w(j kai\ a)lhqw=j, w(/sper ta\ o)ktw\ dipla/sia tw=| th=j dua/doj lo/gw|.

[1025a][1] ta\ me\n ou)=n ou(/tw le/getai yeudh=, a)/nqrwpoj de\ yeudh\j o( eu)xerh\j kai\ proairetiko\j tw=n toiou/twn lo/gwn, mh\ di' e(/tero/n ti a)lla\ di' au)to/, kai\ o( a)/lloij e)mpoihtiko\j tw=n toiou/twn lo/gwn, [5] w(/sper kai\ ta\ pra/gmata/ famen yeudh= ei)=nai o(/sa e)mpoiei= fantasi/an yeudh=. dio\ o( e)n tw=| (Ippi/a| lo/goj parakrou/etai w(j o( au)to\j yeudh\j kai\ a)lhqh/j. to\n duna/menon ga\r yeu/sasqai lamba/nei yeudh= (ou(=toj d' o( ei)dw\j kai\ o( fro/nimoj): e)/ti to\n e(ko/nta fau=lon belti/w. tou=to de\ yeu=doj [10] lamba/nei dia\ th=j e)pagwgh=so( ga\r e(kw\n xwlai/nwn tou= a)/kontoj krei/ttwnto\ xwlai/nein to\ mimei=sqai le/gwn, e)pei\ ei)/ ge xwlo\j e(kw/n, xei/rwn i)/swj, w(/sper e)pi\ tou= h)/qouj, kai\ ou(=toj.

Observation 1: The way in which Aristotle here introduces the first usage of 'false', to\ yeu=doj le/getai a)/llon me\n tro/pon w(j pra=gma yeu=doj, is non-standard. The usual way he does so in Met. V is (with slight variations) ____ le/getai _____, where the word to be defined goes in the first blank, and the thing to which it is applied goes in the second. Here, however, we have a repetition of the word to be defined (yeu=doj occurring both before and after le/getai), and the qualification of the given usage with w(j. The reason for this is (I take it) in one sense clear. If he had written simply, yeu=doj le/getai pra=gma, then he would not have succeeded in identifying any particular use of the word (he wouldn't want to say that everything is false). So he has to get at the intended usage indirectly, that is (presumably) from our being wont to say that certain things are false. --But then this makes it doubtful whether we can straightforwardly conclude, from what he says here, that Aristotle thinks that 'false' qualifies certain things ('states of affairs').

Observation 2: One might wonder whether tw=n toiou/twn lo/gwn at 1025a2 is meant to refer back to everything in the previous two paragraphs (ta\ me\n ou)=n ou(/tw le/getai yeudh= at the beginning of the line suggests that it is), so that the general contrast in the chapter is that between (A) falsehood in things we might say or think, and (B) falsehood in persons (that is, their misleading us into saying or thinking something false). --But if so, then, again, one wouldn't want to understand the first usage defined (the way in which a pra=gma is false) as indicating a way in which a thing (a 'state of affairs') may be false entirely apart from our thinking about it or saying something about it.

Observation 3: Presumably what Aristotle means by a pra=gma in 1024b17-25 should not be determined by a consideration of what pra=gma, just taken alone, might mean, but rather by a consideration of the contrast drawn here between pra=gma and lo/goj (b26-35). It is clear that this is not a contrast between 'deed' and 'word', or 'thing' and 'mere word'. (Why? Because these pra/gmata are not substantial and real, but just the contrary.) Also, it seems that here lo/goj means not a definition or word but rather 'something said' (of a subject)--that is, a predicate. Thus, it would be reasonable to presume that pra=gma, in contrast, means something like: that of which we say something; what we are talking about; the subject of discussion.

Observation 4: (This has already been anticipated by an anonymous commentator on this blog.) It seems that Aristotle at b25 is drawing a distinction, among false pra/gmata, between those that exist and those that do not. The ones that exist are those that characteristically seem to be other than they are (faux marble). But the pra/gmata which are putative 'states of affairs' are those, it seems, which do not exist. --But, if so, then since 'states of affairs' are supposed to be existing things, these pra/gmata cannot be 'states of affairs'.

And here's the English translation from Perseus, fyi.

"False" means: (i) false as a thing ; (a) because it is not or cannot be substantiated; such are the statements that the diagonal of a square is commensurable, [20] or that you are sitting. Of these one is false always, and the other sometimes; it is in these senses that these things are not facts.(b) Such things as really exist, but whose nature it is to seem either such as they are not, or like things which are unreal; e.g. chiaroscuro and dreams. For these are really something, but not that of which they create the impression. Things, then, are called false in these senses: either because they themselves are unreal, or because the impression derived from them is that of something unreal.

(2.) A false statement is the statement of what is not, in so far as the statement is false. Hence every definition is untrue of anything other than that of which it is true; e.g., the definition of a circle is untrue of a triangle. Now in one sense there is only one definition of each thing, namely that of its essence; but in another sense there are many definitions, since the thing itself, and the thing itself qualified (e.g. "Socrates" and "cultured Socrates") are in a sense the same. But the false definition is not strictly a definition of anything. Hence it was foolish of Antisthenes to insist that nothing can be described except by its proper definition: one predicate for one subject; from which it followed that contradiction is impossible, and falsehood nearly so. But it is possible to describe everything not only by its own definition but by that of something else; quite falsely, and yet also in a sense truly--e.g., 8 may be described as "double" by the definition of 2.

[1025a][1] Such are the meanings of "false" in these cases. (3.) A false man is one who readily and deliberately makes such statements, for the sake of doing so and for no other reason; and one who induces such statements in others--just as we call things false which induce a false impression. Hence the proof in the Hippias that the same man is false and true is misleading; for it assumes (a) that the false man is he who is able to deceive, i.e. the man who knows and is intelligent; (b) that the man who is willingly bad is better. This false assumption is due to the induction; for when he says that the man who limps willingly is better than he who does so unwillingly, he means by limping pretending to limp. For if he is willingly lame, he is presumably worse in this case just as he is in the case of moral character.