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Aristotle On Division

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on two concerns about division that Aristotle expresses in his criticisms. The first is that there must be rules to ensure that the procedure will indeed allow us to formulate definitions that reflect natural kinds, definitions that state the essence of some natural kind. The second of Aristotle’s concerns is about proof: Aristotle insists that Plato has not shown how collection and division can prove the definitions that result from the method. The chapter shows that Aristotle shares Plato’s concern with conducting division according to nature, and avoiding arbitrary or artificial distinctions. It discusses that Aristotle, unlike Plato, offers technical rules, and not merely general guidelines, for practicing non-arbitrary divisions. At Posterior Analytics 2.13 96b15–97a6, Aristotle offers instructions for conducting divisions, with explicit references to genus and differentiae.

Keywords: Aristotle; criticisms; Plato; Posterior Analytics



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