Abstract

Aristotle assumes in many contexts that we are able to have singular thoughts such as “Cleon is white.” However, one might be puzzled about whether this is compatible with his theory of thought, which is commonly taken to explain thought about intelligible kinds rather than individuals. The purpose of this paper is to show that Aristotle had conceptual resources to give an adequate account of singular thought in non-descriptivist (i.e. non-predicative) terms. The proposal put forward is that Aristotle’s account, which is given in analogy with his account of sense perception, is a version of causal theory. This is to be contrasted with another non-descriptivist theory, the Thomistic view, which characterizes singular thought as a kind of general thought, “indirect” or “reflective,” explaining the reference to a singular item in terms of phantasm. In opposition to this view, the paper argues that Aristotle explains the singular reference in terms of non-predicative, simple thought, which concerns not only intelligible kinds, but also singular items.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 349-375
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-09
Open Access
No
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