46 research outputs found

    "Utrum figura dictionis sit fallacia in dictione. et quod non videtur". A Taxonomic Puzzle or how Medieval Logicians Came to Account for an Odd Question by an Impossible Answer

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    One of the singularities of Latin exegesis of Aristotle’s Sophistici elenchi, is that it arbitrarily brought together two families of fallacies, the «figure of speech» and the «accident», despite the fact that they are on either side of the divide between sophisms related to expression and sophisms independent of expression, a divide that lays at the heart of Aristotle’s taxonomy of sophistic arguments. What is behind this surprising identification? The talk is meant to show that it actually originates from a curious mistake in Boethius’ translation of Aristotle’s Sophistici elenchi, 22, 178b 36-37 which radically transformed the nature of the argument at stake. While it was originally an example of the fallacies related to the «figure of speech», Boethius’ translation wrongly brings about two arguments instead of one, both related to the «accident». This explains why authors from the Latin tradition came to think that fallacies of «figure of speech» were linked to fallacies of «accident» closely enough to ask whether they actually fell outside expression, even though it does not at first glance appear that such a possibility was allowed or even suggested by Aristotle’s text. This odd question illustrates some of the remarkable features of the medieval archive and how some of its most peculiar problems came to be. It specifically allows us to reconstruct the mechanisms through which a minor disturbance in the letter of the text leads to a whole new way of organising its exegetical material

    “Vertendo vel etiam commentando in Latinam redigam formam” (In Aristotelis peri hermeneias commentarium. Editio secunda, II, 79.23 - 80.1). Boèce ou l’art de bien traduire (en commentant) et de bien commenter (en traduisant)

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    Celebrated as the equal to the great philosophers of old, namely Plato and Aristotle, whom – as Cassiodorus put it – he taught to speak Latin better than they spoke Greek, Boethius aspired to fully emancipate Roman culture from its Greek models through translations and exegesis so faithful they would leave nothing more to be desired from the original. The essay focuses on Boethius philhellenism, without complexes insofar as it had little to do either with the mixed feelings of his Roman predecessors or with the plundering agenda of his Christian contemporaries. Special attention is paid to the close relationship Boethius established between word for word translations and multi-layered commentaries which he thought of and – albeit partially – carried out as part of the same scholarly endeavour. Devoid of literary pretentions as well as free from aspirations to autonomy, Boethius literal rendering and scrupulous interpretation were meant to be completely self-sufficient. Together they stand out as both the most innovative and the most conservative features of his ambitious cultural project. Célébré comme l’égal des grands philosophes du passé, auxquels il aurait appris à parler Latin mieux qu’ils ne parlaient Grec, Boèce a caressé le rêve d’une émancipation radicale de la culture romaine vis-à-vis des modèles grecs qu’il se proposait de traduire et interpréter assez fidèlement pour que la comparaison avec les sources ne soit plus nécessaire. De son effort de livrer un Aristote et un Platon latins à la hauteur des originaux grecs, nous étudions l’étroite solidarité qui relie la traduction mot-à-mot des textes grecs et la restitution scrupuleuse de leur sens. Cette double tâche, que Boèce a conçue et menée d’un seul tenant, nous est dès lors apparue comme le reflet d’un philhellénisme sans complexes, tout aussi éloigné des sentiments ambivalents que nourrissaient vis-à-vis des hellènes ses devanciers romains que des efforts visant à domestiquer l’héritage classique auxquels se livraient certains de ses contemporains de même confession que lui. Affranchis de tout rêve d’autonomie, les traductions et les commentaires de Boèce se conçoivent comme parfaitement autosuffisants. Ensemble ils constituent ce qu’il y a à la fois de franchement novateur et de profondément conservateur dans son projet de faire parler Latin les sources grecques

    Sicut Aristoteles loquitur, sic exponit Boethius. Essai de “simplification” archéologique

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    Exempla docent. How to Make Sense of Aristotle’s Examples of the Fallacy of Accident (Doxography Matters)

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    Scholarly dissatisfaction with Aristotle’s fallacy of accident has traditionally focused on his examples, whose compatibility with the fallacy’s definition has been doubted time and again. Besides a unified account of the fallacy of accident itself, the paper provides a formalized analysis of its several examples in Aristotle’s Sophistici elenchi. The most problematic instances are dealt with by means of an internal reconstruction of their features as conveyed by Aristotle’s text and an extensive survey of their interpretation in the Byzantine and Latin exegetical tradition. Carefully handled a doxographical approach, as opposed to rapid results oriented practices, proves to be most effective in that it supplies both useful albeit ordinarily overlooked insights and a comprehensive framework of reference for further investigations

    "Aucun attribut universel n’est une substance" (Aristotelis Metaphysica, Z, 13, 1038b 35). Aristote critique des Idées de Plato

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    Y a-t-il des Idées et peut-on démontrer qu’elles existent ? Parmi les protagonistes anciens de la controverse qui a opposé partisans et adversaires des Idées, Aristote mérite une attention toute particulière. De fait, si – au moment où Aristote intervient dans le débat autour de l’hypothèse des Idées – ce débat a déjà une histoire, c’est avec lui que cette histoire atteint une maturité qui est à la fois d’ordre doctrinal et doxographique. De fait, non seulement Aristote est le premier à avoir défini certaines au moins des propriétés de ce qui est et se dit en commun de plusieurs, mais encore a-t-il pris soin d’inscrire ces définitions dans la continuité de l’héritage socratique dont il s’est explicitement revendiqué tout en dénonçant sa dérive aux mains des successeurs de Socrate. L’objectif principal du cycle de conférences a été d’étudier les objections qu’Aristote a formulées à l’encontre des partisans des Idées en prenant comme fil conducteur la notion de substance que sa discussion des Formes platoniciennes tantôt présuppose, tantôt mobilise explicitement. Pour ce faire, nous avons procédé à une lecture détaillée d’un certain nombre de documents, tirés aussi bien de ses écrits d’école que des vestiges de ses traités perdus, où Aristote rejette la notion d’un universel substantiel (autant dire, en l’occurrence, séparé) et s’efforce de mettre à mal les arguments que ses partisans avançaient pour prouver son existence

    Ὁ ἄπειρος πρῶτος τὴν ψῆφον βαλέτω. Leaving No Pebble Unturned in Sophistici elenchi, 1

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    Relying on evidence from fifteen epigraphic collections and sixty-odd ancient sources as well as discussing a literature of over five hundred titles, the essay’s highly unorthodox conclusions are a case in point of the micrological ideal of achieving novelty on any given subject by way of transcribing and studying first-hand all relevant materials – edited and unedited alike. The paper’s ambition was to shed new light on one of the most intriguing analogies of the whole Aristotelian corpus, namely the comparison between words and pebbles. A review of all material evidence and virtually all extant sources made short work of two related, albeit mutually exclusive, misconception about ancient reckoning boards and their workings: (1) the idea that – for all practical purposes – the abacus’ arrangement mirrored the decimal system, its columns and rows conveniently matching units, tens, hundreds, thousands, etc. (2) the idea that the inscriptions on several surviving counting boards were a nuisance to the extent that, being inconsistent to a fault with the decimal system itself, they made actual calculations harder than they already were (as opposed to making them easier, as one would expect). The paper demonstrated that the first assumption – the « decimal » bias – is simply mistaken and betrays little or no awareness of the epigraphic and archaeological evidence. The paper also demonstrated that the second assumption – the « abacus riddled with complications » bias – simply defeats the purpose of resorting to the abacus in the first place and betrays a poor understanding of its practical vocation which, most assuredly, was not to add to the very problem it was meant to solve. After bulldozing its way through both misunderstandings, the essay focused on the abacus most distinctive features, that is positionality (i.e. the abacus being a positional system through and through) and hybridity (i.e. the abacus’ place value system being monetary in nature and purpose, as opposed to it being abstract and homogeneous). The final result is an interpretation that moves away from the received views by showing that the prologue of the Sophistici elenchi offers no support to the notion that, when Aristotle referred to counters, he was leaning on a kinship of sorts – or any kinship, for that matter – between abstract calculation and speech. Once we turns the pebble’s simile on its head and set it back upon its feet (Aristotle’s pebble analogy is about pebbles, what else?), it becomes clear that it presupposed numeracy all right, but it was not about numeracy itself. Moreover its goal was not to explain why computational and linguistic symbolisms succeed, but to explain how they fail – failure being the whole point; in this particular instance, failure to detect and prevent abusive value shifts affecting words and counters alike

    Aristote et le langage. Mode d’emploi

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    Quelque nombreuses et quelque influentes qu'elles soient par ailleurs, les vues d'Aristote sur le langage se caractérisent à la fois par leur hétérogénéité et par leur marginalité. Sans faire nulle part du langage et de la signification l'objet d'une investigation autonome et méthodique, Aristote multiplie les remarques et les digressions à leur sujet, que ce soit dans ses écrits d'éthique et de politique ou dans ses traités d'histoire et de philosophie naturelle, ou encore dans ses manuels de dialectique, de poétique et de rhétorique. Face à l'abondance de ces matériaux et aux difficultés qu'ils présentent du fait de s'offrir au lecteur en ordre quelque peu dispersé, «Le langage. Lectures d'Aristote» fait le choix d'indexer l'étude du langage chez Aristote sur des passages précis du corpus en ne posant aux textes aristotéliciens d'intérêt linguistique que les questions auxquelles ces mêmes textes - tantôt pris isolément, tantôt mis en relation les uns avec les autres - apportent une réponse

    Machiavelli

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    L. Gazziero, « Machiavelli », in M. Lewis and D. Rose (ed.), The Bloomsbury Italian Philosophy Reader, London, Bloomsbury, 2022, p. 51-58 Confusion verging on chaos aptly describes Italian politics between any two points in time. That being said, the amount of outright violence, political backstabbing and social upheaval Machiavelli had to put up with - as a successful bureaucrat and diplomat first (1498-1512), and later as a disgraced citizen (1512-27) is, with few if any exceptions, virtually unmatched in the history of Italian philosophy. At any rate, it is conspicuous enough to put him in a league of his own (among political thinkers). All the more so since, in Machiavelli's own words, his claim to originality rested on a return to the things themselves and the 'real truth' they convey through experience, as opposed to the traditional proclivity towards speculation regarding 'imaginary things', most notably by portraying fanciful characters and devising political regimes that can only exist on paper. Indeed, philosophers had long been lecturing- either in flawless syllogistic fashion or in vivid rhetorical style - both rulers and subjects on how they should behave and interact. However, they had taken little notice of how they actually go about their business. Alternatively, what does unbiased, direct observation of the present and extensive, informed reading of the past teach us about the ways of the world

    Contraintes disciplinaires – anciennes et modernes – de l’interprétation logique des Catégories d’Aristote

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    L. Gazziero, « “Οἰκείως τῇ λογικῇ πραγματείᾳ” (Simplicii in Aristotelis categorias commentarium, 12.11). Contraintes disciplinaires – anciennes et modernes – de l’interprétation logique des Catégories d’Aristote », dans V. Brière et J. Lemaire (éd.), Qu’est-ce qu’une catégorie ? Interprétations d’Aristote, Leuven, Peeters, 2019, p. 9-59 [ISBN 9789042936621] In addition to understanding the very notion of « category » according to its different Aristotelian contexts, the first order of business of an archaeology of Aristotle’s categories is to inquire into its influential evolution at the hands of Late Ancient commentators. The essay retraces the origin and development of the « logical » interpretation which held sway both in ancient and modern times. It shows first that the key to understand the debate between Benveniste and Derrida over Aristotle’s categories is to be found in the Neoplatonic exegesis of the work of the same name. It shows next the powerful dynamic that led the commentators to dismiss more than a few hints in the text itself in order to build a remarkably consistent interpretation that understood the notion of category as the simplest and most fundamental element in a building block theory of linguistic expression and argumentation. Face au foisonnement qui caractérise l’instruction contemporaine du dossier des « catégories » d’Aristote, il est encore et toujours utile de suivre le fil historique inauguré par Adolf Trendelenburg, réinventé par Emile Benveniste et élevé par Jacques Derrida au rang d’impératif méthodologique. Le geste inaugural d’une archéologie de la notion de « catégorie » consiste donc à se prémunir contre le risque d’évacuer le problème historique des catégories à la faveur d’une catégorialité anachronique ou passe-partout : ce qui n’est possible qu’à condition de replacer les « catégories » dans les différents contextes aristotéliciens où elles sont utilisées et d’interroger les contraintes disciplinaires qui ont structuré le débat autour de leur nature chez les commentateurs de l’Antiquité tardive

    Dire et vouloir dire dans les arts du langage anciens et tardo-antiques. Introduction

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    « δίγλωττος γάρ τις ἐλέγετο πάλαι, καὶ θαῦμα τοῦτο ἦν, ἄνθρωπος εἷς ἀκριβῶν διαλέκτους δύο· σὺ δὲ ἡμᾶς ἀξιοῖς πολλὰς ἐκμαθεῖν, δέον αὐτὸν ἐκμανθάνειν μίαν, οὕτω μὲν ἰδίαν, οὕτω δὲ [586] κοινὴν ἅπασιν, οὕτω δ’ εὔγλωττον, οὕτω δ’ ἀνθρωπικήν. ὅπερ ἐὰν προσχῇς τὸν νοῦν ταῖς φωναῖς τῶν βαρβάρων διαλέκτων, εἴσῃ σαφῶς, τὰς μὲν ταῖς τῶν συῶν, τὰς δὲ ταῖς τῶν βατράχων, ἢ κολοιῶν, ἢ κοράκων ἐοικυίας, ἀσχημονούσας τε καὶ κατ’ αὐτὸ τὸ τῆς γλώττης τε καὶ τῶν χειλέων καὶ παντὸς τοῦ στόματος εἶδος. ἢ γὰρ ἔσ..
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