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Aristotelian Epagoge In Prior Analytics 2. 21 and Posterior Analytics 1. 1 RICHARD D. McKIRAHAN, JR. I THE PHILOSOPHICAL STUDY of induction begins with Aristotle. For him it was a fundamental mode of thought I that merited treatment for its importance in logic, scientific method, dialectic, and rhetoricY Consequently, we would expect Aristotle to say just what he means by epagoge. However, Ross's survey of the passages where Aristotle uses the terms epagoge, epagesthai , and epaktikos shows that the words have a number of "shades of meaning, ''3 and sadly, the only passage that attempts to analyze the nature of epagoge is of little help. 4 Nevertheless, the central place of epagoge in the structure of Aristotle's thought remains, and the need for adequate treatment becomes more urgent. The word 'induction' comes from the Latin rendering of Aristotle's word epagoge, and modern conceptions of induction bear a relation, frequently only a distant one, to Aristotle's epagoge. It would be fundamentally wrong to assume that Aristotle's notion is the same as any modern notion of induc- ' He once says, fi~ctvtct.., motefo~tev /~ 6~h ov~.)~oytogo~ /] ~ ~ay0)y~g (An. Pr. "~. 93. 68b13-14). See W. D. Ross, Aristotle's Prior and Posterior Analytics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1949; hereafter cited as Ross), pp. 481-83, for references and passages on epagogein An. Pr., An. Post., Top., and Rhet. :~ Ibid. 4 It is normally taken as treating the special and inconsequential variety called "perfect induction," where, atypically, we know all the specific cases covered by the conclusion. On this view, Ross's account of why Aristotle treats this kind of epagoge seems adequate (p. 5o; see below, n. 39). Engberg-Pedersen has recently proposed an interpretation that brings the example in 2. 23 much more closely into line with Aristotle's normal view of epagoge ("More on Aristotelian Epagoge," Phronesis 24 0979): 311-14; see below, n. 39). But even on this interpretation , Aristotle's concerns in the chapter remain narrow and unhelpful for present purposes. [1] HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY tion. This kind of anachronism would only lead to the conclusion that Aristotle did a wretched job of describing induction. Equally wrong would be to assume that he was struggling toward some modern conception of induction and to say that passages where what he says does not fit that conception show only that there was more work to be done. Recent interpretations do not intentionally commit such blatant fallacies. Insofar as they are concerned to identify a unifying conception of epagogein Aristotle, they attempt to stick closely to Aristotle. It remains a separate question to what degree Aristotle's conception of epagogeapproaches or coincides with any modern notion of induction. The temptation to look for a single unifying conception of epagogein Aristotle is strong. Aristotle is sensitive to equivocation, and yet he never indicates that epagogeis equivocal. Indeed, his statement that all our beliefs come from either deduction (ov~.~.oyto{~Sg) or epagoge(cited above, note l) suggests strongly that he thinks of epagogeas something univocal. If there prove to be different kinds of epagoge,we should as far as possible try to see them as different varieties of the same thing. Snakes, dogs, and pussycats are all varieties of animal, but animal is not equivocal for all that. In ['act, this is the approach taken by recent commentators. Ross says that Aristotle "uses the word to mean a variety of mental processes, having only this in common, that in all there is an advance from one or more particular judgements to a general one. '':~More recently, T. Engberg-Pedersen found as the "root idea of Aristotelian epagogein its full technical sense.., something like 'attending to particular cases with the consequence that insight into some universal point is acquired' or 'acquiring insight into some universal point as a consequence of attending to particular cases'.''6 D. W. Hamlyn denies that epagoge is "merely the process of getting to the state of knowledge of the general or the universal," maintaining instead that it is a form of argument, in which "the learner comes to see the application of the general principle to a case as a result...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 1-13
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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