Logic and Interpretation: Syllogistic Reconstructions in Simplicius’ Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
Orna Harari Department of Classics & Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv Israel

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In this article I explain three puzzling features of Simplicius’ use of syllogistic reconstructions in his commentary on Aristotle’s Physics: (1) Why does he reconstruct Aristotle’s non-argumentative remarks? (2) Why does he identify the syllogistic figure of an argument but does not explicitly present its reconstruction? (3) Why in certain lemmata does he present several reconstructions of the same argument? Addressing these questions, I argue that these puzzling features are an expression of Simplicius’ assumption that formal reasoning underlies Aristotle’s prose, hence they reflect his attempt to capture as faithfully as possible Aristotle’s actual mode of reasoning. I show further that, as a consequence of this seemingly descriptive use of syllogistic reconstructions, logic serves Simplicius not only as an expository and clarificatory tool of certain interpretations or philosophical views, but also motivates and shapes his exegetical stances and approach.

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