The Criterion of Completeness in Avicenna’s Reorganization of the Predicables into a System of Notions Resulting in Concept Formation

In: Oriens
Cornelia Schoeck Ruhr-Universität Bochum

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The aim of the paper is to show that Avicenna’s reorganization of the division of the predicables into a system of notions (maʿānī) resulting in concept formation is the product of his attempt to integrate Aristotle’s different approaches to definition in a consistent system. The first approach is the method of defining things by the ‘what-is-it way’ (ṭarīq mā huwa) of the Topics. The second approach is the method of the Posterior Analytics and the Metaphysics, starting from something given and rewording the what-is-it question into the question ‘which kind of thing is it with regard to its essence.’ The third approach is the method of the De partibus animalium, starting from the genera of things and dividing them by different divisions whose ultimate differentiae are aggregated to a set of attributes which as a whole belong to the described thing alone. The third method is not appropriate in demonstration. From it may result completeness (tamām) of description. But only from the completeness of a real definition can be reached perfection (kamāl) of concept formation.

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