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Simplicius on the Meaning of Sentences: A Commentary on In Cat. 396,30-397,28

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At Categories 12b5-16 Aristotle appears to regard the referents of declarative sentences, such as "Socrates is sitting," as what later writers were to call complexe significabilia, i.e., items such as that Socrates is sitting. Simplicius' discussion of this passage in his commentary on the Categories clearly shows the influence of Stoic philosophy of language; but, if we follow the text printed by Kalbfleisch, Simplicius' commentary is seen to be a muddle of Stoic and Aristotelian elements, neither properly understood. It is possible, however, by making a crucial emendation to the text, to preserve the Aristotelian integrity of Simplicius' theory of meaning. On that line Simplicius would be adopting the view that a declarative sentence refers to a thought in the first instance and a complexe significabile in the second instance. This view is plausibly the upshot of combining the Categories text with the first chapter of De Interpretatione.


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