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‘ΠΡΟΤΑΣΙΣ’ in Aristotle’s Prior Analytics

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It has often been claimed that (i) Aristotle’s expression ‘protasis’ means ‘premiss’ in syllogistic contexts and (ii) cannot refer to the conclusion of a syllogism in the Prior Analytics. In this essay we produce and defend a counter-example to these two claims. We argue that (i) the basic meaning of the expression is ‘proposition’ and (ii) while it is often used to refer to the premisses of a syllogism, in Prior Analytics 1.29, 45b4-8 it is used to refer to the conclusion of a syllogism. In our view, the best explanation of Aristotle’s use of the expression ‘protasis’ is that it means proposition throughout but is frequently used without change of meaning (in certain specific contexts) to refer to the premisses from which a conclusion follows. In Prior Analytics 1.29, 45b4-8 he uses ‘protasis’ to refer to the conclusion when he needs a single expression to refer to both the conclusion and one of the premisses of the syllogism that constitutes the core of a syllogism through the impossible. If we are correct, we have shown that the view that the expression ‘the final protasis’ in EN 7.3, 1147b9ff must mean ‘the final premiss’ and so cannot refer to the conclusion of the relevant syllogism is mistaken.

Affiliations: 1: New College Oxford OX1 3BN UK, Email:


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