Posterior Analytics (Bouchier)/Book I/Chapter VII

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Posterior Analytics (Bouchier) by Aristotle, translated by E. S. Bouchier
Book I, Chapter VII

Chapter VII: The Premises and the Conclusion of a Demonstration must belong to the same genus[edit]

Premises must be homogeneous with the conclusion. No transference of premises from one genus to another is valid unless the one is subaltern to the other.

It is not possible to arrive at a demonstration by using for one’s proof a different genus from that of the subject in question; e.g. one cannot demonstrate a geometrical problem by means of arithmetic. There are three elements in demonstrations:—(1) the conclusion which is demonstrated, i.e., an essential attribute of some genus; (2) axioms or self-evident principles from which the proof proceeds; (3) the genus in question whose properties, i.e. essential attributes, are set forth by the demonstrations. Now the axioms which form the grounds of the demonstration may be identical for different genera; but in cases where the genera differ, as do arithmetic and geometry, it is not possible, e.g. to adapt an arithmetical demonstration to attributes of spatial magnitudes, unless such magnitudes happen to be numbers. That such transference is possible in certain connections I will explain later (cf. Chap. IX.).

Arithmetical demonstration is restricted to the genus with which it is properly concerned, and so with other sciences. Hence if a demonstration is to be transferred from one science to another the subjects must be the same either absolutely or in some respect. Otherwise such a transference is clearly impossible, for the extremes and the middle terms must necessarily belong to the same genus, for if not they would not be essentially but only accidentally predicable of the subject.

Hence one cannot shew by means of geometry that opposites are dealt with by a single science nor yet that two cubes when multiplied together produce another cube. Nor can one prove what belongs to one science by means of another except when one is subordinate to the other, as optics are to geometry and harmonics to arithmetic.

Neither is geometry concerned with the question of an attribute of line which does not inhere in it as such, and does not result from the special principles of geometry, as for instance the question whether the straight line is the most beautiful kind of line, or whether the straight line is the opposite of a circumference, for these qualities of beauty and opposition do not belong to line as a result of its particular genus, but because it has some qualities in common with other subjects.