47 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). Boùce 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. CĂ©lĂ©brĂ© comme l’égal des grands philosophes du passĂ©, auxquels il aurait appris Ă  parler Latin mieux qu’ils ne parlaient Grec, BoĂšce a caressĂ© le rĂȘve d’une Ă©mancipation radicale de la culture romaine vis-Ă -vis des modĂšles grecs qu’il se proposait de traduire et interprĂ©ter assez fidĂšlement pour que la comparaison avec les sources ne soit plus nĂ©cessaire. De son effort de livrer un Aristote et un Platon latins Ă  la hauteur des originaux grecs, nous Ă©tudions l’étroite solidaritĂ© qui relie la traduction mot-Ă -mot des textes grecs et la restitution scrupuleuse de leur sens. Cette double tĂąche, que BoĂšce a conçue et menĂ©e d’un seul tenant, nous est dĂšs lors apparue comme le reflet d’un philhellĂ©nisme sans complexes, tout aussi Ă©loignĂ© des sentiments ambivalents que nourrissaient vis-Ă -vis des hellĂšnes ses devanciers romains que des efforts visant Ă  domestiquer l’hĂ©ritage classique auxquels se livraient certains de ses contemporains de mĂȘme confession que lui. Affranchis de tout rĂȘve d’autonomie, les traductions et les commentaires de BoĂšce se conçoivent comme parfaitement autosuffisants. Ensemble ils constituent ce qu’il y a Ă  la fois de franchement novateur et de profondĂ©ment conservateur dans son projet de faire parler Latin les sources grecques

    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 IdĂ©es de Plato

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    Y a-t-il des IdĂ©es et peut-on dĂ©montrer qu’elles existent ? Parmi les protagonistes anciens de la controverse qui a opposĂ© partisans et adversaires des IdĂ©es, Aristote mĂ©rite une attention toute particuliĂšre. De fait, si – au moment oĂč Aristote intervient dans le dĂ©bat autour de l’hypothĂšse des IdĂ©es – ce dĂ©bat a dĂ©jĂ  une histoire, c’est avec lui que cette histoire atteint une maturitĂ© qui est Ă  la fois d’ordre doctrinal et doxographique. De fait, non seulement Aristote est le premier Ă  avoir dĂ©fini certaines au moins des propriĂ©tĂ©s de ce qui est et se dit en commun de plusieurs, mais encore a-t-il pris soin d’inscrire ces dĂ©finitions dans la continuitĂ© de l’hĂ©ritage socratique dont il s’est explicitement revendiquĂ© tout en dĂ©nonçant sa dĂ©rive aux mains des successeurs de Socrate. L’objectif principal du cycle de confĂ©rences a Ă©tĂ© d’étudier les objections qu’Aristote a formulĂ©es Ă  l’encontre des partisans des IdĂ©es en prenant comme fil conducteur la notion de substance que sa discussion des Formes platoniciennes tantĂŽt prĂ©suppose, tantĂŽt mobilise explicitement. Pour ce faire, nous avons procĂ©dĂ© Ă  une lecture dĂ©taillĂ©e d’un certain nombre de documents, tirĂ©s aussi bien de ses Ă©crits d’école que des vestiges de ses traitĂ©s perdus, oĂč Aristote rejette la notion d’un universel substantiel (autant dire, en l’occurrence, sĂ©parĂ©) et s’efforce de mettre Ă  mal les arguments que ses partisans avançaient pour prouver son existence

    ᜉ ጄπΔÎčÏÎżÏ‚ Ï€Ïáż¶Ï„ÎżÏ‚ τᜎΜ Ïˆáż†Ï†ÎżÎœ ÎČαλέτω. 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 caractĂ©risent Ă  la fois par leur hĂ©tĂ©rogĂ©nĂ©itĂ© et par leur marginalitĂ©. Sans faire nulle part du langage et de la signification l'objet d'une investigation autonome et mĂ©thodique, Aristote multiplie les remarques et les digressions Ă  leur sujet, que ce soit dans ses Ă©crits d'Ă©thique et de politique ou dans ses traitĂ©s d'histoire et de philosophie naturelle, ou encore dans ses manuels de dialectique, de poĂ©tique et de rhĂ©torique. Face Ă  l'abondance de ces matĂ©riaux et aux difficultĂ©s qu'ils prĂ©sentent du fait de s'offrir au lecteur en ordre quelque peu dispersĂ©, «Le langage. Lectures d'Aristote» fait le choix d'indexer l'Ă©tude du langage chez Aristote sur des passages prĂ©cis du corpus en ne posant aux textes aristotĂ©liciens d'intĂ©rĂȘt linguistique que les questions auxquelles ces mĂȘmes textes - tantĂŽt pris isolĂ©ment, tantĂŽt mis en relation les uns avec les autres - apportent une rĂ©ponse

    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

    Qui imperitus est vestrum, primus calculum omittat. Aristotelis sophistici elenchi 1 in the Boethian Tradition

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    The prologue of the Sophistici elenchi is as close an Aristotelian text gets to dealing with language as a subject matter in its own right, only in reverse. Language and its features bear consideration to the extent that they account for some major predicaments discursive reasoning is prone to, both as a separate and as a common endeavour. That being said, the linguistic pitfalls that trick us into thinking that whatever is the case for words and word-compounds is also the case for the things and facts linguistic items stand for reveal as much about good linguistic habits and sound argumentation as they themselves are revealed by the principles and rules our argumentation goes by. In this connection, Aristotle resorted to a curious (or not so curious) analogy between words and counters which played a major role in explaining why language is such a powerful source of illusion and deception. As it happens, Aristotle accounting analogy is a case in point for showcasing the level of sophistication medieval Latin literature on fallacies achieved as early as the first half of the twelfth century. As a matter of fact, Western commentators managed to build compelling cases both in favour of and against the understanding that was to become and still is the standard story – which, of course, speaks volumes about their exegetical proficiency and technical expertise. On the one hand, trusting implicitly Boethius’ translation and well aware of his views on disputational hazards as opposed to computational reliability, they usually understood Aristotle’s comparison as if it was an analogy in name only. On the other hand, despite Boethius’ translation put them at a considerable disadvantage, Latin commentators were able to construe Aristotle’s analogy as bringing together two sets of symbolic variables (words and counters) that are neither entirely free nor entirely bound – which expose them to subtle but critical shifts in value and meaning

    Contraintes disciplinaires – anciennes et modernes – de l’interprĂ©tation logique des CatĂ©gories d’Aristote

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    L. Gazziero, « “ΟጰÎșÎ”ÎŻÏ‰Ï‚ Ï„áż‡ λογÎčÎșῇ Ï€ÏÎ±ÎłÎŒÎ±Ï„Î”ÎŻáŸłâ€ (Simplicii in Aristotelis categorias commentarium, 12.11). Contraintes disciplinaires – anciennes et modernes – de l’interprĂ©tation logique des CatĂ©gories d’Aristote », dans V. BriĂšre et J. Lemaire (Ă©d.), Qu’est-ce qu’une catĂ©gorie ? InterprĂ©tations 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 caractĂ©rise l’instruction contemporaine du dossier des « catĂ©gories » d’Aristote, il est encore et toujours utile de suivre le fil historique inaugurĂ© par Adolf Trendelenburg, rĂ©inventĂ© par Emile Benveniste et Ă©levĂ© par Jacques Derrida au rang d’impĂ©ratif mĂ©thodologique. Le geste inaugural d’une archĂ©ologie de la notion de « catĂ©gorie » consiste donc Ă  se prĂ©munir contre le risque d’évacuer le problĂšme historique des catĂ©gories Ă  la faveur d’une catĂ©gorialitĂ© anachronique ou passe-partout : ce qui n’est possible qu’à condition de replacer les « catĂ©gories » dans les diffĂ©rents contextes aristotĂ©liciens oĂč elles sont utilisĂ©es et d’interroger les contraintes disciplinaires qui ont structurĂ© le dĂ©bat autour de leur nature chez les commentateurs de l’AntiquitĂ© tardive
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