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A translation of Fr Alain Contat's Logica


03 March 2009

II. The Universal Concept, Formally Considered (8)

Let us articulate this Aristotelian structure of the predicables as follows:

One can see that the universal is placed in relation to the species (and not immediately to the individual) under two different aspects, such that there are four possible combinations. Along the line of extension, it can be reciprocable or not reciprocable with the subject; along the line of comprehension, it can be essential or not essential.

Let us return to our initial example. To the concept of 'man' can be attributed the concept of 'rational animal' in a reciprocable and essential way, therefore it is a definition, while one could attribute to the same subject the concept of 'risible' in a reciprocabile but not essential way. As far as the concept of 'animal', it is predicable of 'man' in an essential (determinable) but not reciprocable way, for which it is the genus, while 'white', with respect to man, is neither reciprocable nor essential, and therefore it is an accident. 'Rational', finally, pertains to the essence of 'man', but it is not reciprocable as intellectuality, of which rationality is a modality, because it pertains to other beings (God and seperate substances).

We should now examine briefly each of these predicables (Aristotle, Topics, A, 5, 102a31 - 32).

12 February 2009

II. The Universal Concept, Formally Considered (7)

2. The univocal universal

2.1. The univocal universal in genere

a) Notion

The univocal universal is a concept which is predicable in the same way as each of its inferiors.

b) Division

Let us begin by induction by means of an example. Consider Peter, and let us ask ourselves with regard to him the fundamental philosophical question: 'What is Peter'? I can attribute to him the concept of 'man', or that of 'animal'. In the first case, I attribute to him his own essence, while in the second, I attribute to him only a part of it. I can then attribute predicates to Peter like 'capable of laughing', or 'white'. In the first case, I attribute to him a property which characterizes his nature, while in the second case I attribute to him a quality which pertains to his individuality, but which is unrelated to his human nature. Returning to the level of essence, I can even say 'Peter is rational', attributing to him that part of his essence which differentiates him from animal.

We are now able to deduce the five possible ways in which, according to Porphyry*, a univocal universal can be predicated of a subject:

attributable univocal uiniversal............................predicable
- necessarily
--- signifying the essence
----- totally......................................................species
----- partially
------- determinable part..........................................genus
------- determining part...........................................specific difference
--- not signifying the
- contingently.....................................................accident

This porphyrian structure of predicables is not immune to platonism, as it only considers things from the perspective of comprehension.

Aristotle had already proposed in his celebrated text of the Topics a deduction of the predicables, more formal insofar as it shows the relations between the universals among one another, more coherent with moderate realism insofar as it considers things not only from the perspective of comprehension, but also that of extension:

For every predicate of a subject must of necessity be either convertible with its subject or not: and if it is convertible, it would be its definition or property, for if it signifies the essence, it is the definition; if not, it is a property: for this was what a property is, viz. what is predicated convertibly, but does not signify the essence. If, on the other hand, it is not predicated convertibly of the thing, it either is or is not one of the terms contained in the definition of the subject: and if it be one of those terms, then it will be the genus or the differentia, inasmuch as the definition consists of genus and differentiae; whereas, if it be not one of those terms, clearly it would be an accident, for accident was said' to be what belongs as an attribute to a subject without being either its definition or its genus or a property. Topics A, 8, 103b6-19

* Cf. for example Porphyry, Isagoge 2, 22 - 3, 19. The division is adequate, as St. Thomas notes: CG 1, 32, n. 286:
Omne quod de pluribus univoce praedicatur, vel est genus, vel species, vel differentia, vel accidens aut proprium.
CG 1, 32, n. 286whatever is predicated of many things univocally is either a genus, a species, a difference, an accident, or a property.

11 February 2009

II. The Universal Concept, Formally Considered (6)

1.3. Division of the universal

The same linguistic term (ie the universal in dicendo) can be attributed to various subjects in three diverse ways: univocally, equivocally, analogically. There are three types of universality of names, which St. Thomas explains thusly:
sciendum quod aliquid praedicatur de diversis multipliciter:

[A] quandoque quidem secundum rationem omnino eamdem, et tunc dicitur de eis univoce praedicari, sicut animal de equo et bove.

[B] Quandoque vero secundum rationes omnino diversas; et tunc dicitur de eis aequivoce praedicari, sicut canis de sidere et animali.

[C] Quandoque vero secundum rationes quae partim sunt diversae et partim non diversae: diversae quidem secundum quod diversas habitudines important, unae autem secundum quod ad unum aliquid et idem istae diversae habitudines referuntur; et illud dicitur 'analogice praedicari', idest proportionaliter, prout unumquodque secundum suam habitudinem ad illud unum refertur.
SM 4, lect. 1, n. 535

But it must be noted that a term is predicated of different things in various senses.

[A] Sometimes it is predicated of them according to a meaning which is entirely the same, and then it is said to be predicated of them univocally, as animal is predicated of a horse and of an ox.

[B] Sometimes it is predicated of them according to meanings which are entirely different, and then it is said to be predicated of them equivocally, as dog is predicated of a star and of an animal.

[C] And sometimes it is predicated of them according to meanings which are partly different and partly not (different inasmuch as they imply different relationships, and the same inasmuch as these different relationships are referred to one and the same thing), and then it is said “to be predicated analogously,” i.e., proportionally, according as each one by its own relationship is referred to that one same thing.
SM 4, lect. 1, n. 535

Let us explain per partes.

[A] A univocal term signifies one concept, whose meaning is always the same. Cf. De principiis naturae 6, n. 366:

Univoce praedicatur quod praedicatur secundum idem nomen et secundum rationem eamdem, idest definitionem, sicut animal praedicatur de homine et de asino. Utrumque enim dicitur animal, et utrumque est substantia animata sensibilis, quod est definitio animalis.

In the example cited by St. Thomas, the term 'animal' symbolizes only the concept of 'animal', which signifies always and only 'corporeal living sensitive substance'.

[B] An Equivocal term signifies two or more concepts, each of which has its own meaning, different from those of the others. Cf. loc. cit.:

Aequivoce praedicatur, quod praedicatur de aliquibus secundum idem nomen, et secundum diversam rationem: sicut canis dicitur de latrabili et de caelesti, quae conveniunt solum in nomine, et non in definitione sive significatione: id enim quod significatur per nomen, est definitio

St. Thomas gives as an example "dog", which can refer to the domestic animal or to the constellation. It should be noted that only the term can be equivocal, not the concept, because the latter always bears a certain unity of signification.

[C] An analogical term signifies one concept, whose meaning is partially one and partially many. For example, the term "life" signifies a concept, that of 'life', whose meaning is one insofar as it refers to a substantial reality endowed with a proper operation, but the meaning itself is many insofar as there are various modes essentially varied of being alive (as a plant, as an animal, as a man, as an angel, as God).

It can be seen that, as concerns the concept, only two (and not three) general modes of predicability are possible: univocity and analogy. We should now examine in detail these two types of conceptual universality.

02 February 2009

II. The Universal Concept, Formally Considered (5)

We should now further distinguish two aspects in the natura ut in anima:


-Common nature ----> fundamental universal [γ1]

-Predicability ----> formal universal [γ2]

Let us explain per partes.

[γ1] The fundamental universal is the nature itself as presented to the human intellect, and as such abstracted and capable of being attributed to concepts of lesser extension. Cf SM 7. lect. 13, n. 1570:

Sciendum est autem, ad evidentiam huius capituli, quod universale dupliciter potest accipi. Uno modo pro ipsa natura, cui intellectus attribuit intentionem universalitatis: et sic universalia, ut genera et species, substantias rerum significant,

For the clarification of this chapter it must be noted that the term universal can be taken in two senses. First, it can be taken to mean the nature of the thing to which the intellect attributes the aspect of universality, and in this sense universals such as genera and species signify the substances of things inasmuch as they are predicated quidditatively;
SM 7. lect. 13, n. 1570:

Taken in this sense, the universal signifies the essence of the thikng; therefore it conicides with the universal in essendo. It is also called the metaphysical universal, because it corresponds to the ontological foundation of universality. For example, the notion of 'man' considered in its meaning is a metaphysical universal, since it signifies human nature as it is in individual men as well as being predicated of them.

[γ2] The formal universal is the nature as explicitly considered under the aspect of its predicability. Cf loc. cit.:
Alio modo potest accipi universale inquantum est universale, et secundum quod natura praedicta subest intentioni universalitatis: idest secundum quod consideratur animal vel homo, ut unum in multis.

See also SA 2, lect. 12, n. 378.

Second, a universal can be taken insofar as it is universal, and insofar as the nature predicated of a thing falls under the aspect of universality, i.e., insofar as animal or man is considered as a one-in-many.
loc. cit.

Taken in this sense, the universal signifies the logical relation of universality applied to a determinate abstract nature; therefore the universal in predicando consists formally in this. It is also called the logical universal, because it coincides with the logical universality of a notion of human reason. For example, the notion of 'man' considered in his "attributability" to men (that is, as a species) is a logical universal, since it makes explicit the universality which is applied.

c) Summary

--in dicendo (in speaking) = universal term

--in praedicando (in predicating) = universal concept

----universal in essendo

------fundamentaliter = meaning of the concept
------formaliter = predicability of the concept

II. The Universal Concept, Formally Considered (4)

The universal thus has two aspects: on the one hand, the nature which has its origin in single things and which is grasped by the intellect by means of the abstractive process; on the other hand, the intention of universality which the nature follows from and in intellective apprehension*. The nature or essence possesses therefore two ways of being: one singular in the existing reality, and one universal in the knowing intellect. Now intentional identity wouldn't be possible between these two ways if they did not have in common the same nature. Therefore we should add to these two ways of being the nature in itself, which is not a third way of being, but rather what is common to both ways of being, leaving being (in the thing or in the intellect) out of it. Thus we are able to distinguish the so-called "three states of nature"**:

secundum rationem propriam: Natura secundum se [α]
(according to its own definition)

secundum esse quod habet in hoc vel in illo: natura in singularibus [β]
(according as it has being in this or in that)
natura in anima [γ]

[α] The natura secundum se (nature as it is in itself) is the nature considered independently of any existence (whether in the thing or in the soul); therefore it comprehends only the essential components of the essence in question. For example, human nature considered in itself includes only the essential predicates of humanity (being, substance, bodily, living, sensitive, rational), to the exclusion of the individual predicates and of existence.
[β] The natura ut in singularibus (nature as it is in single things) is the nature considered insofar as it exists in the concrete single being, like Peter or Paul. This 'state of nature' includes real existence and excludes intentional existence. Therefore the nature is found in this case in an individual way and not universal.
[γ] The natura ut in anima (nature as it is in the soul) is the nature considered as it exists in the human intelligence which knows abstractively, for example in the notion of "man". This 'state of nature'is an abstraction from the individual predicates and singular existence, like [α], but adds to [α] the intentional way of being proper to it which is universality.

The universal consists only in [γ], since [β] is singular by definition, while [α] neither includes nor exludes predicability***.

* Cf. Sn 1, 19, 5, 1, c: Humanitas enim est aliquid in re, non tamen ibi habet rationem universalis, cum non sit extra animam aliqua humanitas multis communis; sed secundum quod accipitur in intellectu, adiungitur ei per operationem intellectus intentio, secundum quam dicitur species.

** On this doctrine, cf. EE, 3, nn. 16 - 18; SA 2, lect. 12, n. 378.

*** In this regard, cf. EE 3, n. 18: ?Non tamen potest dici quod ratio universalis conveniat naturæ sic acceptæ; quia de ratione universalis est unitas et communitas. Naturæ autem humanæ neutrum horum convenit secundum suam absolutam considerationem. Si enim communitas esset de intellectu hominis, tunc in quocumque inveniretur humanitas, inveniretur communitas; et hoc falsum est, quia in Socrate non invenitur communitas aliqua, sed quidquid est in eo est individuatum.

EE 3, n. 18
Nevertheless, the nature understood in this way is not a universal notion, because unity and commonality are in the notion of a universal, and neither of these pertains to human nature considered absolutely. For if commonality were in the concept of man, then in whatever humanity were found, there would be found commonality, and this is false, because no commonality is found in Socrates, but rather whatever is in him is individuated.


After some personal difficulties, let's get this translation going again.

21 October 2008

II. The Universal Concept, Formally Considered (3)

b) Analysis of the universal in praedicando

In this course, we cannot offer a complete study of the logical universal and its implications. We limit ourselves to analyzing briefly the various instances which correspond to the makeup of the universal. A text of St Thomas will set us on our way:

When one says ‘a thing which is actually being understood’ (intellectum in actu), there are two things implied, viz., (a) the thing which is being understood and (b) the fact that it is being understood.

Similarly, when one says ‘the abstracted universal’, there are two things implied, viz., (a) the nature itself of the thing and (b) its abstractness or universality. Therefore, the nature which happens to be understood intellectively (or to be abstracted or to be an intention of universality) does not itself exist except in singular things; but its being understood (or being abstracted or being an intention of universality) exists in the intellect.

We can see this by a comparison with a sensory power. For the power of sight sees the color of the apple without seeing its smell. Therefore, if someone asked where the color is that is seen without the smell, it is obvious that the color which is seen exists only in the apple; however, the fact that it is perceived without its smell happens to it because of the power of sight, since in the power of sight there exists a likeness of its color but not of its smell.

Similarly, the human-ness (humanitas) that is understood intellectively exists only in this or that man; but the fact that human-ness is apprehended without individual conditions—i.e., the fact that human-ness is abstracted, and that an intention of universality follows upon it—happens to human-ness insofar as it is perceived by the intellect, in which there is a likeness of the nature of the species without a likeness of the individual principles.

I, 85, 2, 2m

cum dicitur intellectum in actu, duo importantur: scilicet res quæ intelligitur, et hoc quod est ipsum intelligi.

Et similiter cum dicitur universale abstractum, duo intelliguntur: scilicet ipsa natura rei, et abstractio seu universalitas. Ipsa igitur natura cui accidit vel intelligi vel abstrahi, vel intentio universalitatis, non est nisi in singularibus; sed hoc ipsum quod est intelligi vel abstrahi, vel intentioni universalitatis, est in intellectu.

Et hoc possumus videre per simile in sensu. Visus enim videt colorem pomi sine eius odore. Si ergo quæratur ubi sit color qui videtur sine odore, manifestum est quod color qui videtur, non est nisi in pomo; sed quod sit sine odore perceptus, hoc accidit ei ex parte visus, inquantum in visu est similitudo coloris et non odoris.

Similiter humanitas quæ intelligitur, non est nisi in hoc vel in illo homine: sed quod humanitas apprehendatur sine individualibus conditionibus, quod est ipsam abstrahi, ad quod sequitur intentio universalitatis, accidit humanitatis secundum quod percipitur ab intellectu, in quo est similitudo naturæ speciei, et non individualium principiorum .

I, 85, 2, 2m

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