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Chapter Summary

Aristotle’s theory of definition, his account of what good definitions are, and how we can produce them, holds the key to his answers to two fundamental questions: What is an essence? What guarantees the certainty of the principles of demonstrative science? In the Metaphysics, his concern is to make clear certain features of essence through a discussion of the linguistic formulae appropriate for the expression of essences. The definitions Aristotle has in mind in the Metaphysics must be immediate definitions, since they are certainly definitions that state a complete cause, and if we eliminate syllogistic definitions the only remaining type of definition that states a complete cause is immediate definition. The problem in the Metaphysics is how to construct immediate definitions adequate to the essences of items which are necessarily material without either including what is unintelligible in such definitions, or attributing false unity to that which is defined.

Keywords: Aristotle; demonstrative science; Metaphysics



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