L'Isagoge est une introduction aux Categories. Porphyre y definit les cinq predicables (genre, espece, difference, propre et accident) et formule ce qui, grace a Boece, deviendra le principal probleme logique et metaphysique du Moyen Age occidental - le probleme des universaux -, ouvrant la querelle qui, jusqu'a la fin du XVe siecle, verra s'affronter realistes et nominaliL'Isagoge est une introduction aux Categories. Porphyre y definit les cinq predicables (genre, espece, difference, propre et accident) et formule ce qui, grace a Boece, deviendra le principal probleme logique et metaphysique du Moyen Age occidental - le probleme des universaux -, ouvrant la querelle qui, jusqu'a la fin du XVe siecle, verra s'affronter realistes et nominalistes. La traduction francaise ici proposee est accompagnee du texte grec original et de la traduction latine de Boece....
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Basically, this is an introduction to (or maybe a synopsis of) Aristotle's Categories by the Neo-Platonist Porphyry. I just finished Aristotle's logical works, so that subject matter is still fresh enough in my mind that nothing here struck me as terribly novel or elucidative. That being said, this work was popular during the Middle Ages and some have found it helpful when reading Aristotle's categorical writings.I am going through Porphyry's works at the moment, so I will save my comments regarding him for other reviews.
Invaluable introduction to Aristotle's works. I've been reading this along with others for a philosophy discussion group. We'll be starting on Aristotle's Categories next.
These are my notes on the passage. Unfortunately, OneNote doesn't transfer all of my notes nicely, and so certain parts have to be omitted.GenusDescriptio of Genus: that which is predicated essentially of many things differing in species.Differs from property in that genus is predicated of many species, whereas property is predicated only one species and to the individuals belonging to that species.Genus different from difference and common accident. Though difference and common accident may be predicated of many things differing in species, they are not essentially predicated essentially, but qualitatively.SpeciesTwo kinds of species. That which is species only and that which is also a genus. The descriptio that applies to all species is this: that which falls under a genus or that which genus is predicated of essentially. The lowest species is also that which is predicated essentially of many things differing in number.DifferenceThere are three meanings to difference. Commonly, it refers to anything that causes something to differ from either something else or itself (e.g., I differ from myself in having gone from being a boy to becoming a man, from not moving to moving). Properly, two things are said to differ whenever they differ because of some inseparable accident: being hooked nosed, greyness of eyes, etc. Strictly, two things differ insofar as they differ because of a specific difference (e.g., man differs from beast insofar as the former is rational and the latter irrational). Common and proper differences cause something to differ in quality. Strict or specific differences cause something to differ in essence.From these essential or specific differences the divisions of genus into species arise and also definitions because definitions consist of a genus and specific difference.There are separable and inseparable differences. Some examples of separable differences include being ill or well, in a state of rest or motion, etc. Inseparable differences include being rational, snubbed nosed, having grey eyes. Some inseparable differences exist per se and some per accidens. Examples of the latter include being snubbed nosed, having grey eyes, and having a scar. Examples of the former include being rational. Per se differences belong to the essence of a thing, whereas per accidens differences do not. Per se differences do not admit of more or less whilst per accidens differences do (we do not say something whose essence is being human that he or she is more human than another).Among per se differences there are those by which we divide the genera and those by which the divided genera are constituted as species. For instance, animal contains animate and sensible, rational and irrational, etc. But it is by the difference animate and sensible that animal is constituted the substance (essence, genus, species) that it is. Also, we divide the genus animal into its species by rational and irrational. Man is constituted as man in virtue of being rational, and beast in virtue of its irrationality. Thus, it is rationality, though contained in an indeterminate way in the species, i.e., only potentially, that divides the genus and constitutes man as the species man.The species is said to exceed the genus insofar as the difference is added to it, for if the genus contained all of the differentia it would contain contradictory predications (e.g., rational and irrational). It should be said, however, that the genus contains the differences of the subordinate species potentially, not actually. And it is the species which contains it actually.PropertyPorphyry gives four different definitions, which I will avoid reiterating. It is midway between accident and specific difference. It is something that every species without fail will possess even though it does not belong to the essence of the thing, insofar as it is not constitutive of the definition or species. In other words, the property (proprium) flows from the essence of the thing, but is not a part of its essence. For example, man is a rational animal and in virtue of this he is risible (able to laugh). While all members of the species possess this capacity in virtue of being human, it is not a part of the essence. Properties are also convertible: if there is a horse, there is a capacity to neigh; if there is the capacity to neigh there is a horse.AccidentDef.: "What comes to be and passes away apart from the destruction of the substratum is an accident."Separable accidents can exist separate from their substratum both in reality and in the intellect. For instance, a man can be sleeping at one moment and not at another (both in the intellect and reality). An inseparable accident can be separated from the substratum in the intellect but not in reality. For instance, we can consider the crow or the Ethiopian (LOL!) apart from his blackness in the intellect, but they cannot be separated in reality.Alt. def: "accident is what can belong or not belong to the same thing, or what is neither a genus, nor a difference, nor a species, nor a property, but always exists in a substratum"Common Characteristics of the Five PredicablesCommon Characteristics of Genus and DifferenceBoth contain species, though difference does not contain all of the species that genera do. For example, rational contains the species man. Animal, likewise contains man, but it does, but contains other species that rational does not.Another common characteristic is that the species and individuals depend upon their genus such that the species and individuals are destroyed if the genus or difference does not exist.Difference Between Genus and DifferenceGenus is predicated of more thing than the difference qua specific difference. The genus contains the specific differences potentially.Genera are prior to their species. The destruction of the species does not entail the destruction of the genus, for genus can still be conceived of without some specific species (e.g., we can think of animal without man).Genus is predicated essentially, whereas differences is predicated essentially.Each species has only one genus, but can have multiple differences. Man differs from other animals in being mortal, rational, biped, etc.Genus is like matter, whereas species is like form.Common Characteristics of Genus and SpeciesConsidering species as species only and not genus, species, like genus, are both prior to the things they are predicated of and are a "kind of whole."Difference Between Genus and SpeciesGenus contains the species whilst species is contained by the genus. Genus can be predicated of its species, but not vice versa.Common Characteristics of Genus and PropertyBoth consequences of the species. If there is a man, there is an animal. If there is a man, there is the capability of laughter.Difference Between Genus and PropertyProperty is posterior and genus is prior. Moreover, property is convertible, but genus is convertible with nothing.Common Characteristic of Genus and AccidentPredicated of many things.Difference Between Genus and AccidentGenus is prior (conceptually) to its species, whereas accident is posterior (existentially?) to some individual. Moreover, all things that share in genus, do not share equally in genus, whereas not all that share in an accident share equally of the accident, but admits of more or less. Genus is predicated essentially of a species or individual, but accident is predicated qualitatively.Common Characteristics of Difference and SpeciesBoth are shared in equally and always present in the things of which they are predicated.Difference Between Difference and SpeciesDifference predicated qualitatively and the species predicated essentially. Difference is prior to species insofar as a destruction of the species does not destroy the difference, but a destruction of the difference destroys the species.Common Characteristics of Difference and PropertyBoth do not admit of less and more; they are equal shared by the things that partake of them. Porphyry also notes that they are present in every member of the species, not as in fact existing in them, but as the natural end of a things essence. Man is naturally biped. His nature is such that it tends toward this end (unless impeded or there is some interposing cause).Difference Between Property and DifferenceDifference can be predicated of many species, property only to the species it belongs to. Hence, difference is not convertible, whereas a property is.Common Characteristics of Difference and AccidentBoth predicated of many things. Difference and inseparable accident are always present in the things of which they are predicated. Just as two-footed is present in all crows, so also black is present in all of them as well. A crow could be conceived of without the latter (which is why it is an accident), but not without the former.Properties of Difference and AccidentThe difference contains rather than is contained (in contradistinction to accident). Moreover, accident admits of more and less, whereas difference does not.Common Characteristics of Species and PropertyThey are co-extensive with one another.Difference Between Species and PropertySpecies is able to be a genus of other species, whereas property belongs only to its own species. The species is always present actually in what it is predicated of, whereas the property may only be contain in potentiality.Common Characteristics of Species and AccidentEach predicated of many things.Difference Between Species and AccidentSpecies is predicated essentially, accident only qualitatively. Every substance shares in only one species, but many accidents (both separable and inseparable). The species is conceived of before the accidents (there must be some substratum in which accidents inhere). Sharing in species is equal, but in accidents they are not.Common Characteristics of Property and Inseparable AccidentIn whatever they exist in, the thing does not exist without themDifference Between Property and Inseparable AccidentProperty is predicated only of its proper species, whereas accidents exist in many species. Property does not admit of more or less, but accidents do. Properties are convertible, but accidents are not.
This interesting little treatise was intended as an introduction to the categories of Aristotle. Specifically, it is concerned with the hierarchical classification of different things; readers familiar with the biological concept of taxonomy (kingdom > phylum > class > order > family > genus > species) will recognize many of the basic concepts and terminology that remain in use to this day.I've read some Aristotle in my day, but I'm certainly not an expert, and I'd be lying if I said that I was able to make a lot of useful connections between Aristotle's writings and Porphyry's interpretation of his ideas. However, this treatise continues to have value as an interesting historical document: this work (as translated into Latin by Boethius) apparently was the standard academic textbook on logic for about 1,000 years after Porphyry's death, well into the Middle Ages. Readers interested in epistemology or the history of philosophy may find much to interest them here.
I read the translation by Octavius Freire Owen, M. A. of Christ Church, Oxford. It might as well be in the original greek. It served only to complicate things. I feel like it was begging for an illustrated version, or one in which hierarchy could be better illustrated, for the words were legible, but their combinations were not.I get the usefulness of the document and its historical importance, but holy shit was this translation confusing.
The best introduction to philosophy. This should be the first philosophy text students read. They should read Aristotle's Categories and On Interpretations second.
Useful introduction to Aristotelian logic.
I thought I said: this is a good introduction to Aristotelian logic. (The finishing date is approximate.)
Excellent! If only I had known it exsisted before I tackled Aristotle's Prior and Posterior Analytics. It would have saved my hours of diagramming the structures of proper argument.