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  • Die Aristotelische Logik—Erklärt von Ihren Antiken Interpretenby Beatrix Freibert
  • Paolo Fait
Beatrix Freibert. Die Aristotelische Logik—Erklärt von Ihren Antiken Interpreten. Studien zu Literatur und Erkenntnis 10. Heidelberg: Winter, 2017. Pp. 393. Cloth, €48.00.

Aristotle's Organonreceived sedulous attention throughout late antiquity. This is reflected in the surviving corpus of commentaries written, in different exegetical and didactic styles, by peripatetic and Platonic authors. Does this collection constitute a single tradition? Beatrix Freibert is confident that the answer to this difficult question is yes, and sets out to explain the differences and vindicate the connectedness of what she takes to be a unified intellectual construction. She insists that, despite the many peculiarities, all commentators participate in a progressive effort to discern the purpose ( skopos) of the Organon, and, with its purpose, understand its unity and achieve some fundamental exegetical uniformity (13–18). In her exposition, Freibert follows the traditional order and provides extensive discussions of the following topics: language as the expressive medium of arguments ( Categories), truth bearers ( De Interpretatione), the syllogism ( Prior Analytics), the different kinds of syllogisms ( Posterior Analyticsand Topics), and demonstration and its principles (especially the principle of non-contradiction).

The chapter on language, cetnered on commentaries on the Categories, is the only section where Freibert examines the diachronic development of the commentaries and adopts a traditionally historical approach. She offers this aperçuas an example, as if the results could be straightforwardly extended, or easily adapted, to the following chapters. What she does [End Page 554]in the rest of the book, however, is rather different. She expounds interpretative views taken from different commentaries and pieces them together in a systematic reconstruction of supposedly universal value, which pays little attention to the historical and chronological connections between the materials presented. In other words, she cherry-picks the salient points and changes her primary texts in the course of the exposition.

So, for example, chapter 4, devoted to the syllogism, begins by quoting Ammonius's claim that logikēincludes, beyond what we would call 'logic,' also the disciplines of rhetoric and poetics (101). Freibert presents this account as the standard description of logikēamong the commentators. Far from that (see for instance the beginning of Alexander of Aphrodisias's commentary on the Prior Analytics), the broad meaning of the adjective logikē, here deployed to qualify the discipline of all sorts of logoi, seems to serve a precise purpose. It appears to be part of the answer to the difficult question whether (in virtue of their alleged logico-linguistic and/or instrumental nature) Aristotle's Rhetoricand Poeticsshould be grouped with the logical works, thus becoming an integral part of the Organon. But which answer to this question did Ammonius advocate? Freibert appears to commit herself to the view that Ammonius's generous understanding of logic implies that he would include more texts in the Organonthan we do. I doubt that this is the case, but, whatever the right answer, the problem of whether to extend the Organonwas mooted by several commentators and resolved in different ways. Freibert should have provided an overview of the different positions.

The chapter proceeds to discuss Aristotle's definition of the syllogism, and focuses on the claim, taken from Ammonius's commentary on Porphyry's Isagoge, that the syllogism is a sunthetos logos, a 'composite discourse.' Freibert suggests that this claim is tantamount to Łukasiewicz's contention that an Aristotelian syllogism is a conditional. She does not stop to defend this controversial claim, but connects the two Ammonian views to the results of her chapter on language. Then come new topics and authors: Philoponus's idea that syllogism is a sort of motion ( kinēsis) from what is assumed to what is concluded, followed in turn by an exposition of Themistius's paraphrase of Posterior AnalyticsII 2–3, centered on the distinction between knowing that something is the case and knowing the meaning of a term. And so on, always adding new materials. At the end of the chapter, the reader sees a pattern, but cannot help suspecting that the result of this piecemeal approach is more Freibert's...


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