Topics (Aristotle)

The topic (Latin title: Topica, Greek Title: τόποι topoi ) is the fifth and penultimate book of the Organon, a compilation of writings of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. In the writings of Aristotle Organon clarifies basic philosophy of language, logic and grammatical terms. During the first four books of the Organon their subject of theoretical light in the first place, it's in the last two to the practice of reasoning. The topic treated here the dispute, so the argumentative discourse between two counterparties on a particular topic, so the Topics to be seen in the context of rhetoric and dialectic ( after an ancient understanding ). In ancient times and even in the Middle Ages, the dispute was an important part of the scientific concept formation, as you saw science related to the perception and opinion of the scientist. An impression of the philosophical dispute give the dialogues of Plato.

The core of the Topics form several hundred " topoi " to German "Places". These are rules that should be observed a debater to keep a good dispute. These are in part practical advice, some logical laws are formulated which should keep the disputants before, to engage in contradictions. An entire chapter is devoted to the rules of proper defining.

Book 1: The object of the Topics

Aristotle determines here the idea of ​​"probable " set: Likely sentences are " the ones that all or most or the wise seem true and from the wise men back either all or most or the best known and most respected " ( Topik I 1, 100b18 ). Probable sentences are therefore plausible, since they are either held by the masses or by some authorities to be true. Authorities may, however, the masses or contradict each other, the result is a " dialectical problem ", ie a " theorem ( research subject ), ... on the quantity and the wise either have no particular opinion or those opposed thinks like this or this as those or both among themselves " ( Topik I 11, 104b ). The problem a theoretical or practical relevance must possess, with Aristotle's words, it must aim " to either choice and escape or to truth and knowledge " (ibid.) ( with " choice or flight" is meant that one for themselves or decides against a certain action ). As an example of a dialectical problem with practical importance Aristotle calls " if the desire is desirable or not " and the problem with theoretical importance " whether the world is eternal or not " (ibid.). Dialectical problems can be resolved in disputes. For this purpose, it is especially important to assess the consequences of both sides of the problem. This is the subject of the topic, the treatise thus, " to find a method by which we can make inferences about each established problem of probable sentences and if we are to be self- talk " is concerned, so advised in dispute " in no contradictions ".

Aristotle defines here the definition ( horos ) itself as " speech [ logos ], which refers to the essence [ ti en einai o to ] [ semainon ] ".

Book 2: topoi for accident

The second chapter deals topoi that have to do with accidents, so instructions that must be observed if the problem is that a certain thing is attributed to an accident. An accident Aristotle has predestined as something " what one and the same ... come and can not come " ( Topik I, 5 102b). So it may come Socrates, for example, or may not get that he has a beard, the beard is thus an accident of Socrates. In contrast, Socrates must always come to be a man, his humanity would be no accident.

Aristotle explains a whole series of topoi in connection with the accident, including the following: " Another place is, terms for the Mitfolgende and that which it mitfolgt ... set up " ( Topik II 2, 109b ). The " Mitfolgende " here is another word for " accident ". As an example, Aristotle considers the problem of whether one can do God wrong. That God is wronged, there is nothing whatever belongs to him, and therefore an accident. Aristotle is now reporting for the accident " a term set up ", that is to ask, " what does that do wrong. Does it hurt voluntarily, so God can obviously be done no wrong. " So it is, according to Aristotle in a discussion often helpful to find a more detailed formulation for the accident, "because what is sought is often when you only enter the whole concept, not yet clear ... " (ibid.).

Book 3: topoi for good

The third book deals with topoi to what is desirable ( good ). Such is "the more desirable because of its self Desirable than that because of another Desirable " ( Topik III 1, 110a ). If the gym is means to an end health, so health is more desirable than the gym.

Book 4: topoi to the genus

There are formulated topoi that must be observed if the problem contains a generic name. " Genus is what is predicted by several of the species for different things when specifying their What or being" ( Topik I 5, 102a). The way by different, for example, Socrates and a horse, but you can both to the question " What is it?" Answer " A living being ", " beings " is therefore a genus of Socrates.

Aristotle treated as a topos in connection with the genre that one should pay attention to " whether the specified type belongs to a different genus, neither the genus indicated includes still you stand, as for example, if someone science as a genus of Justice stated " ( Topik VI 2, 121b ). The problem here is that justice is on the one hand under the genus of virtue, and that on the other hand, the genus " science " is not over or under the genus "virtue" ( such as the genus " being" on the genus "plant" stands ). An object can only be under two genera, when these are in the genus hierarchy above or below each other. Thus, "science" not be a genus of "justice."

Book 5: topoi for the Proper

Here Aristotle treated topoi that are relevant when the problem involves a so-called Proper. The term " Proper " Aristotle has stated as follows: " Strangely, proprium, is what not referred to the essence of a thing, but only belongs to him and is in the statement swapped with him" ( Topik I 5, 102a). The distinctive characteristic of a species is, what belongs to all and only the individuals of the species. Thus, according to Aristotle proprium of man, that he is capable of grammar, since all and only humans are capable of grammar (ie a language to use with grammatical construction). In contrast, the sleep is not a proprium, as well as other creatures sleep.

Rotates it is now in a discussion of a proprium, then according to Aristotle to check, among other things, " whether the proprium is not determined by more well-known, or at least ... " ( Topik V 2, 129b ). Aristotle example is that someone gives as the Proper of the fire that the soul most resembles. From the soul we know but less than from the fire, she is less known to us. Therefore, the proprium is chosen wrong: "In this case, the proprium is not specified correctly. We make it so because of the knowledge on " ( ibid ).

Book 6: Definition theory

Aristotle here deals with topoi that play a role in connection with definitions. A definition is according to Aristotle, " a speech that shows the essence " ( Topik I 5, 102a). For example, the definition of man " rational mind being". According to Aristotle, is: " For each thing is its essence exemplary His one " ( Topik VI 4, 141b ). It can therefore only give a definition (ibid.). This is a substantial difference to the modern definition view (as in mathematics), after it ( "equivalent" ) can give definitions of many equally good. General is defined by Aristotle by specifying the " next class " and the " artbildenden difference ". The next species to humans, for example, " meaning being" ( another genus would be " living things ", but this would not be the next one, because all sentient creatures are living beings; see also Topik VI 5). The artbildende difference indicates what the people of the other sentient creatures ( such as cow, horse, etc.) is different and this is just " rational " (see Topik VI 6).

Aristotle formulated, inter alia, the following definition rules:

  • The definition should not be blurred ( Topik VI 2). This would be the case if the earth metaphorically defined as nurse ( 139b ).
  • The definition should contain nothing superfluous. The following applies: " Superfluous is everything that can stay away so that but the rest of what you defined, explained " ( Topik VI 3, 140b). If, for example, " the desire called sugar cravings or desire Bring ends " (ibid. ), then "Sweet " be omitted, because freshwater is already included in Bringing pleasure.
  • The definition is " obtained by means of earlier and better-known terms" are ( Topik VI 4, 141 ). With " before" it is meant that the existence of the thing to be defined ( the " definiendum " ) ( the " Definiens " ) already presupposes the existence of the defining things. This is, for example, in the definition of " person " as " rational mind essence" of the case, because no sense being there could be no people, the existence of people so requires the existence of a sentient creature ahead. It is different if you define the line as the boundary of the area ( 141b ). The area is already out of line, so it is not "earlier" than this, the definition would be so wrong. A special case of a violation of this commandment is the circularity, so if the Defined is explained by itself. Aristotle gives here the example that you define the sun as the most " days luminous celestial bodies " ( Topik 142b ). The problem is that "tag" in turn contains a reference to the sun, namely, the tag is defined as " movement of the sun across the earth." Therefore, the mentioned definition of the sun is circular and thus flawed.

Book 7: topoi to synonymy

In the seventh book is about topoi that serve to assess whether two terms " in number Identical " call. According to a previously given statement ( Topik 1 7, 103a), these are now so synonymous with terms such as " clothes" and " dress ". The relation to the previous chapter arises from the fact that in a definition -defined and defining must always be synonymous. According to Aristotle, a Synonymiebehauptung and Others then must be examined " whether an impossibility may exist by virtue of a hypothesis " ( Topik VII 1, 152b ). As an example, he used the terms " the void " and " filled with air ". These terms may not be synonymous, since if one assumes that from a room, the air escapes into the room no air is present, but still nothing. " Thus is in a certain condition, it was wrong or right, ..., lifted one of the two things that others do not, and therefore they are not identical. " (Ibid. ) This test is reminiscent of the much later, in the 20th century by Rudolf Carnap shared analysis of synonymy, must be met by the equivalent terms not only in the current, but also in any counterfactual situation ( " possible world " ) on the same things.

Book 8: The rules of a dispute

After the previous books dealt with it, how to react in certain situations dispute, the last book deals with the defense as a whole. Generally there are in the disputes described by Aristotle two participants who " Questioner " and " responder " hot (see Topik VIII 4). The respondents defended a certain statement, called " thesis ", while the questioner the negation of the thesis, the will " finale " prove. The questioner shall submit to the respondents to statements before that can admit or deny this. Can demonstrate the questioner that the final sentence from what the respondent has admitted that follows, he has achieved his goal. Here are the dialogues of Plato apparently Godfather, in which Socrates in the role of the questioner a sophist by skillful questions brings to concede a claim that he had originally denied.

The respondent does not concede anything in dispute, according to Aristotle, but only that the " more likely " that is plausible and credible than the final sentence because " the less known is to be inferred from the better known, " (ibid.). The questioner may therefore use only premises that are more plausible than what he wants to prove, namely, the final sentence. Then, in a well-run dispute a real gain in knowledge has occurred: The final movement now appears more plausible than it was before, because he was indeed inferred from more plausible assumptions. Would he, however, inferred from premises that are still implausible Himself, as if nothing had been contributed to a higher credibility. "If, therefore, something of the nature of what is asked this has not (namely, to be more credible than the final sentence ), the respondent may not concede. "

Apart from the logical conclusion of the questioner, a statement may also establish " induction ": " The induction, however, is the ascent from particular to general, such as: if the best helmsman is who knows his business and the same is true of the charioteer, so the best thing ever, who understands his particular thing " ( Topik I 12, 105a ) The induction is therefore a general statement ( " Everyone is the best, if he knows his business " ) shown by the fact that special cases of the statement shown be ( " the helmsman, charioteer ... is the best, who understands his thing "). This method is also well known from Plato's dialogues. The answering party can only contest an assessment, by induction general statement, if he is able to cite at least one counter-example: " If the enemy, although carrying out the induction of many details that universality does not admit it, it's cheap, he to demand that he leads a counter- instance " ( Topik VIII 2, 157a ).

According to Aristotle, a dispute from three goals out can be done: the " contest ", the "sample" and the "investigation" because ( Topik VIII 5, 159a ). In competition it 's all about at the end of the dispute to stand as one who can argue best. In the investigation the interest to the closing sentence itself and the question of whether it is possible to apply this from premises that are plausible Himself to derive. In addition, you can also perform Dispute to practice in the disputation, which are then the Dispute to the sample.

Although the disputes because of the competition is not the main focus of Aristotle ' applies in the Topics, he also gives some practical hints for this, including one reads: " Furthermore, it is advantageous not to engage with great zeal for something, even if it is quite important. An opponent who betrays zeal is one greater resistance " ( Topik VIII 1, 156b ).