ficino wrote: ↑
Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:37 am
Re: "not every predicate is a genus": yes, some are too narrow, so to speak. In Aristotle, color is a genus in the category of Quality. It is broken down into black and white (or the "pale" so beloved of translators) and ranges in between. But if I'm only saying, "Socrates is colored," then Socrates or the trope, Socrates' "coloredness," has the genus color predicated of him/it, no?
The four labels, namely definition, genus, property and accident, are relationships that a predicate may have with respect to the subject in a statement. In Topics Book 1 chapters 4-9, Aristotle explains that in quite some details. In me saying that "not every predicate is a genus", it must be understood in the context of a statement and with respect to the subject of that proposition. It is not about being too narrow, but it is about context.
Let us take the example you gave: Socrates is colored. In the later example, 'color' is predicated of 'Socrates', so 'color' is a predicate here. Now with respect to 'Socrates', 'color' is a property and not a genus. So here you cannot say "the genus color", but you must say "the property color".
But in the statement: white is a color, the predicate 'color' is the genus of 'white' because 'white' is a kind or species of color. Whereas for the example of Socrates, 'Socrates' was not a species of color, but color was an accidental property of Socrates; meaning that Socrates could have been non-colored.
So you have to be careful. The statement: "Socrates or the trope, Socrates' "coloredness," has the genus color predicated of him/it, no?" is wrong, because 'color' is not the genus of 'Socrates' in "Socrates' coloredness", but it is an accident of Socrates.
You might ask, what would help you in identifying which of the four predicables apply in a given statement. Well, Aristotle provided the test for that.
Aristotle wrote: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 is one of those terms, then it will be the genus or differentia, inasmuch as the definition consists of genus and differentia; whereas if it is not one of those terms, clearly it would be an accident, for accident was said to be what belongs to a subject without being either its definition or its genus or property.
[Topics Book 1 chapter 8]
What this means I will explain, if God wills, with some examples.
Suppose we are given a statement, S is P, where P is the predicate term and S is the subject term. Remember we are given "S is P" (pay attention to the order, S followed by P). So Aristotle says that if the statement is convertible, i.e. if "P is S" can be said and has the same meaning as "S is P", then P is either the essence or the property of S. Otherwise, P is either the genus, differentia or accident of S.
The examples, according to Aristotle:
1. "Man is a rational animal" has the same meaning as "A rational animal is a man", because "rational animal" is the definition of man. So, because the subject and predicate are related through definition, they are convertible.
2. Another example, "man is an animal who speaks"; converting we get: "an animal who speaks is man". As we can see both the previous pairs are convertible, but here the predicate "animal who speaks" is convened to be a property of man and not his essence.
3. Yet another example, "man is an animal", here if we convert we get "An animal is man", and we observe that the two previous pairs of statements have not the same meaning. So here they are not convertible. What this means is that 'animal' is not the 'essence' or 'property' of man. It can either be its genus or differentia or accident. And in this case, we know that Aristotle take animal to be the genus of man. You can do the same with "man is rational".
4. Last example, "Socrates is (a) sleeping (thing)". If we convert we get, "a sleeping thing is Socrates". But here we can see that 'a sleeping thing' need not be 'Socrates', and it can even be false when Socrates wakes up. So, the statements are not convertible, so "sleeping" is either a genus, differential or accident of Socrates. We know that 'sleeping' is a temporary attribute of Socrates when he is indeed sleeping, so 'sleeping' is an accident of Socrates.
By employing this method you can test how a predicate relates to a subject in a statement with respect to one of the predicables, i.e. definition, property, genus, differentia and accident.