Theory and History of Ontology ( Raul Corazzon | e-mail:

Aristotle's Categories. Annotated bibliography of the studies in English: O - Z

Contents of this Section

Aristotle's Categories


  1. O'Farrell, Frank. 1982. "Aristotle's Categories of Being." Gregorianum no. 63:87-131

    "It is no exaggeration to say that the understanding of Aristotle's First Philosophy and hence of his philosophy as a whole depends largely on the interpretation one gives to his categories of being. For as far as they express the theme itself of First Philosophy - being as being - to their understanding can be justly applied Aristotle's oft quoted words: « The beginning is greater in potentiality than in magnitude and therefore a small mistake in the beginning becomes immense in the end» (1).

    But though one must agree with Brentano when he writes « Aristotle's division of categories has in a wonderful way defied the change time brings. When one follows the history of the doctrine of the categories, one sees how even their adversaries unconsciously pay homage to them » (2). Yet in the course of the two thousand odd years since Aristotle formulated them they have met with very varied and opposed interpretations. These changing interpretations have acted as a sort of apriori, a kind of pre-judice for each succeeding age trying to reach Aristotle's thought. For they formed part of the history of being in the Heideggerian sense of the word (3), i.e. what has become the universal unquestioned foreknowledge according to which and in function of which in each epoch one encounters reality."


    "Being for Aristotle is not a subsistent idea - auto to on - as it is for Plato, but it is the categories (162). And being is the categories because of the plurality implied by hupokeimenon in its to be. And hupokeimenon in its to be is being as being according to Aristotle's way of conceiving it. Because therefore Aristotle understands being itself as meaning the categories, being is perceived by the ways of necessary predication (163).

    Hence it is not the modes of necessary predication which found the categories of being, as Aubenque seems to believe (164), but it is the categories of being which require these modes of predicating to bring themselves to view and to be known in their truth. « For as each thing is as regards to be so is it as regards truth» (165)"."

    (1) De Coelo, 1.5. 271 b 13.

    (2) Franz Brentano, Von der mannigfachen Bedeutung des Seienden nach Aristoteles, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1862, 193.

    (3) Cf. M. Heidegger, Die Metaphysik als Geschichte des Seins (1941) and Entwürfe zur Geschichte des Seins als Metaphysik (1941) in Nietzsche, Bd. 2, 399-457; 458-480.

    (162) I. Düring, (Aristoteles, Darstellung und Interpretation seines Denkens, Heidelberg, 1966, 60) remarks appositely: « The word Kategoria in the sense of predication (Aussage) does not occur in Plato: we find it only once (Theait. 167 a) in this sense. The choice of this word shows that Aristotle wanted consciously to distance himself from his older contemporaries in the Academy».

    (163) E. Tugendhat, Ti kata tinos, Freiburg-Miinchen, 1958, 23.

    (164) P. Aubenque, Le probleme de l'être chez Aristote, Paris, 1962, 170.

    (165) Met. α (2), 1, 993 b 32.

  2. Owen, Gwilym Ellis Lane. 1960. "Logic and Metaphysics in some Earlier Works of Aristotle." In Aristotle and Plato in the Mid-Fourth Century. Papers of the Symposium Aristotelicum held at Oxford in August, 1957, edited by Düring, Ingemar and Owen, Gwilym Ellis Lane. Göteborg: Elanders Boktryckeri Aktiebolag

    Reprinted in: G. E. L. Owen, Logic, Science and Dialectic. Collected Papers in Greek Philosophy, Edited by Martha Nussbaum, Ithaca: Cornell University Press 1986, pp. 180-199.

    "Much of Aristotle’s early work in logic sprang from the practice and discussions of the Academy in Plato’s lifetime. This is a commonplace, but I have tried to illustrate it here by evidence which throws an unfamiliar light on the development of some of Aristotle’s most characteristic theories.The commonplace itself is not to be confused with a narrower thesis about the origins of the theory of syllogism: on that well-worn issue I have nothing to say here. I have confined myself to another part of Aristotle’s logical studies, namely that part which shaped his views on the nature and possibility of any general science of to on hêi on (‘being qua being’), any inquiry into the general nature of what there is. Here his major issues were problems of ambiguity, particularly the ambiguity that he claimed to find in ‘being’ or to on as that expression is used in the different categories. And his problems were shared by his contemporaries in the Academy. By opposition and by suggestion they helped to form the logic that underlay First Philosophy." (p. 180)


    "In sum, then, the argument of Metaphysics IV, VI seems to record a new departure. It proclaims that 'being' should never have been assimilated to cases of simple ambiguity, and consequently that the old objection to any general metaphysics of being fails. The new treatment of to on and cognate expressions as pros hen kai mian tina phusin legomena, - or, as I shall henceforth say, as having focal meaning - has enabled Aristotle to convert a special science of substance into the universal science of being, 'universal just inasmuch as it is primary." (p. 184)


    "Nor does focal meaning find formal recognition in the class of paronyms which is introduced in the Categories and recognized in the Topics, for the definition of paronyms is merely grammatical. It shows, not how subordinate senses of a word may be logically affiliated to a primary sense, but how adjectives can be manufactured from abstract nouns by modifying the word-ending. Plainly the Categories does not and could not make any use of this idea to explain how the subordinate categories depend on the first. Nor does it use focal meaning for that purpose (2b4-6). If focal meaning can be seen in the Categories it is in the analysis of some one category - clearly enough in the definition of quantity (5a38-b10), ) far more doubtfully in the account of the two uses of 'substance' (2b29-37, 3b18-21) - but not in that logical ordering of different categories and different senses of 'being' which lies at the root of the argument in Metaphysics IV." (pp. 188-189)

  3. ———. 1965. "Inherence." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 10:97-105

    Reprinted in: G. E. L. Owen, Logic, Science and Dialectic. Collected Papers in Greek Philosophy, Edited by Martha Nussbaum, Ithaca: Cornell University Press 1986, pp. 252-258.

    "Often in the Categories and once in the Topics Aristotle draws a distinction between being in a subject and being said, or predicated, of a subject (Cat. 1a20-b9, 2a11-14, 2a27-b6, 2b15-17, 3a7-32, 9b22-24; Postpred. 11 b38-12 a 17, 14a 16-18; Top. 127b 1-4). Elsewhere he makes no use of the distinction, at least in this form. Once in the Categories he blankets it under the formula belonging to something (11b38-12a17). But it has earned a good deal of attention, and there is a fashionable dogma about it that I should like to nail. Hints of the dogma can be seen in older writers such as Porphyry and Pacius. Its modern exponents are Ross, Aristotle p. 24 n. 1; Jones, Phil. Rev. 1949 pp. 152-170; and most recently Miss Anscombe in Three Philosophers pp. 7-10, and Mr. Ackrill in Aristotle's 'Categories' and 'De Interpretatione' pp. 74-5, 83, 109." (p. 252)


    "To say that if the Idea of man is a substance it cannot exist apart from that of which it is the substance is to say that its existence requires (indeed consists in) the existence of at least one individual falling under the classification human. And to say that pink or a particular shade of pink cannot exist apart from what contains it is to say, as Aristotle always says against Plato, that something must contain it if it is to exist at all." (p. 258)

  4. ———. 1965. "Aristotle on the Snares of Ontology." In New Essays on Plato and Aristotle, edited by Bambrough, Renford, 69-95. New York: Humanities Press

    Reprinted in: G. E. L. Owen, Logic, Science and Dialectic. Collected Papers in Greek Philosophy, Edited by Martha Nussbaum, Ithaca: Cornell University Press 1986, pp. 259-278.

    "Aristotle’s commonest complaint against other philosophers is that they oversimplify. One oversimplification to which he is especially attentive is the failure to see that the same expression may have many different senses. And among such expressions there is one arch-deceiver against which he often issues warnings: the verb ‘to be’, ‘einai'. I shall discuss part of his attempt to unmask this deceiver, namely his account of the verb in what is ordinarily, and too sweepingly, called its ‘existential’ use." (p. 259)

  5. ———. 1965. "The Platonism of Aristotle." Proceedings of the British Academy no. 50:125-150

    Reprinted in: J. Barnes, M. Schofield, and R. Sorabji (eds.), Articles on Aristotle, Vol. 1 (Duckworth, 1975), pp. 14-34 and in G. E. L. Owen, Logic, Science and Dialectic. Collected Papers in Greek Philosophy, Edited by Martha Nussbaum, Ithaca: Cornell University Press 1986, pp. 200-220.

    "Eight years ago, in a memorable Dawes Hicks Lecture to this Academy ,(1) David Ross spoke of Aristotle’s development as a philosopher. One theory of that development he singled out as having established itself in the fifty years since it appeared. It was pioneered in this country by Thomas Case and in Germany, with great effect, by Werner Jaeger. It depicts Aristotle, in Sir David’s words, as ‘gradually emerging from Platonism into a system of his own’. Aristotle’s philosophical career began in the twenty years that he spent learning and practising his trade in Plato’s Academy, and it ended in the headship of his own school. So it is tempting to picture him first as the devoted partisan, then as arguing his way free of that discipleship." (p. 200)


    "Next, in saying that Aristotle’s logic was bred of discussion in the Academy, I do not imply that it was a donation from his colleagues. There used to be a myth, promoted by Burnet and Taylor, that the theory of categories was a commonplace of the Academy, derived from scattered hints in Plato’s writings. This myth was exposed, not simply by the obvious lack of system in the supposed hints, but by the fact that no other Academic known to us endorsed the theory and that Xenocrates, Plato’s self-appointed exegete, denounced it as a pointless elaboration and went back to a simpler distinction derived from Plato’s dialogues. Nor again do I mean that Aristotle’s logic had come to full maturity before Plato’s death. The division of the categories and probably the general theory of the syllogism, had been worked out by then; but Aristotle continued to review and develop these doctrines in his later work. The same is true of his theory of definition and, more generally of his theory of meaning. What is beyond question is that these theories wera developed in practice and not as an independent exercise. The theory of definition was modified to keep pace with the work of a biologist who had once held that a definition could be reduced to a single differentia and then found himself, when he set out to define any natural species, faced with a set of competing criteria. The theory of meaning, of synonymy and homonymy, was enlarged to allow a value to philosophical inquiries which had been earlier denounced as trading on an equivocation. At every stage Aristotle’s logic had its roots in philosophical argument and scientific procedure: it would be an anachronism to think otherwise. So what arguments lie at the root of his early account of substance and the categories?" (p. 207)

  6. Owens, Joseph. 1960. "Aristotle on Categories." The Review of Metaphysics no. 14:73-90

    Reprinted in J. Owens, Aristotle, the Collected Papers of Joseph Owens, Edited by John R. Catan, New York: State University of New York Press 1981, pp. 14-22.

    "In particular, the present paper would inquire whether the notion of category construction was intended in its beginnings to be an arbitrary procedure, whether it was meant to categorize words, and how it stands up to later examples of category mistakes. The paper, accordingly, will first examine briefly the doctrine of categories in its original Aristotelian setting; secondly, it will try to determine the type of treatment found there; and finally it will confront the Aristotelian doctrine with some irritant instances of category mistakes." (p. 14)


    "This brief glance at the Aristotelian doctrine of categories and its confrontation with instances of category mistakes will indicate, it is hoped, some pertinent features of the earliest explicit category construction. It was based upon the natures of things and not upon the use of language. Because it was concerned with natures and not primarily with words, it was not at all an arbitrary procedure. The natures of things resist the manipulations of human whims, and keep the universe from becoming a world where everything is nonsense. But these natures exist in two ways, in reality and in cognition. Some predicates will belong to the nature just of itself, no matter where it is found. Other predicates ·will belong to a nature only in real existence. They are those concerned with its real history in some individual. Still other predicates will belong to it only as it exists in intellectual cognition, for instance that it is a species or a genus. These considerations show why categories are the concern of both the metaphysician and the logician, and why confusion in the three ways in which predicates apply will necessarily give rise to category mistakes. The Aristotelian doctrine likewise shows why the intrinsic principles of things cannot be placed directly in a category.

    Its basic grooves of category construction, along with this warning, still serve quite well as dissolvents for such category mistakes as the ghost in the machine, the elephant with the baggage, or murder a relation. The category doctrine as found originally in the Stagirite's works is open to a great amount of development and elaboration, both to smooth out its own difficulties and to meet problems of current discussion. It offers a solid basis for profitable philosophic construction. It is far from complete, but what is there is very good." (pp. 21-22, notes omitted)

  7. Perin, Casey Carlton. 2007. "Substantial Universals in Aristotle's Categories." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 33:125-144

    "Aristotle in the Categories, but not elsewhere, presents the distinction between individual substances such as Socrates or Bucephalus and their species and genera as the distinction between primary (πρώται) and secondary (δευτέραι) substances (2A11–19).

    The distinction between primary and secondary substances, in turn, is a distinction between substances that are particulars and substances that are universals.


    "Therefore, according to the definitions of ‘universal’ and ‘particular’ Aristotle gives in De interpretatione, a primary substance is not a universal but a particular. In the Categories a secondary substance is the species or genus of a primary substance (2A14–19).The

    species human being, for instance, is said of, and so predicated of, all individual human beings (Socrates, Callias, Coriscus, etc.). The genus animal is said of, and so predicated of, its species (human being, horse, dog, etc.) as well as all individual animals (Socrates,

    Bucephalus the horse, Fido the dog, etc.). Since a secondary substance is predicated of more than one being or entity as its subject, it is not a particular but a universal.3 The question I want to try to answer here is why, according to Aristotle in the Categories, certain

    universals such as the species human being or the genus animal are substances." (pp. 126-127, notes omitted)


    "On Aristotle’s view in the Categories, then, the species or genus of a primary substance is both a subject for inherence, and for this reason a substance, and, being a universal, a predicable predicated of (said of) a plurality of subjects. The non-substantial items that

    inhere in the species or genus of a primary substance are all of those non-substantial items that inhere in the primary substances of which that species or genus is predicated. As a result the species or genus of a primary substance, unlike a primary substance itself,

    is a subject for inherence in which contraries can inhere at one and the same time. This view obviously invites a question that, as far as I know, no commentator has yet answered: what kind of being or entity could this be?" (pp. 142-143)

  8. Polsky, Elliot. 2022. "Secondary Substance and Quod Quid Erat Esse: Aquinas on Reconciling the Divisions of "Substance" in the Categories and Metaphysics." American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly no. 96:21-45

    Abstract: "Modern commentators recognize the irony of Aristotle’s Categories becoming a central text for Platonic schools. For similar reasons, these commentators would perhaps be surprised to see Aquinas’s In VII Metaphysics, where he apparently identifies the secondary substance of Aristotle’s Categories with a false Platonic sense of “substance” as if, for Aristotle, only Platonists would say secondary substances are substances. This passage in Aquinas’s commentary has led Mgr. Wippel to claim that, for Aquinas, secondary substance and essence are not the same thing and that Aristotle’s notion of essence is absent from the Categories. This paper—by closely analyzing the apparently contradictory divisions of “substance” in Aquinas’s In V and VII Metaphysics—shows that essence and secondary substance are not altogether distinct for Aquinas. Moreover, when the Categories is viewed by Aquinas as a work of logic, it is found largely to cut across the disputes between Platonism and Aristotelianism."

  9. Rohr, Michael D. 1978. "Aristotle on the Transitivity of Being Said of." Journal of the History of Philosophy no. 16:379-385

    Aristotle, in several of his treatises, discusses or makes use of the ontological tie or relation' being said of (and its converse partaking of), whose importance to his thought has been recognized by many scholars. Its pervasiveness guarantees that there will be difficulties in its interpretation. (2) To isolate it as an object of Aristotelian exegesis, I shall tentatively identify it with the sortal tie and so take it as connecting (in Aristotelian terms) each genus to all the species and individuals falling under that genus and each species to all the individuals and subordinate species (if any) falling under that species." (p. 379), two notes omitted)

    (2) Some recent attempts at interpreting it may be found in Chung-Hwan Chen, "On Aristotle's Two Expressions," Phronesis 2 (1957):148-59; Aristotle's Categories and De Interpretatione, trans. J. L. Ackrill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), pp. 75-90; R. E. Alien, "Substance and Predication in Aristotle's Categories," in Exegesis and Argument, ed. E. N. Lee, A. P. D. Mourelatos, and R. M, Rorty (New York: Humanities Press, 1973), pp. 362-73; and Russell Dancy, "On Some of Aristotle's First Thoughts About Substances," The Philosophical Review 84 (1975): 338-73.

  10. Ross, William David. 1939. "The Authenticity of Aristotle's Categories." Journal of Philosophy no. 36:431-433

    "Professor Husik (*) has done a service to students of Aristotle by reminding them of his earlier article, which, buried in the decent obscurity of a learned journal, had escaped my attention, as well as that of many other students.

    The authenticity of the Categories is well attested by external evidence. The work was accepted as genuine by almost all the ancient scholars (πάντες παρτυρώσι, says Philoponus). A succession of scholars wrote commentaries on it as on a genuine work of Aristotle, from the third century A.D. onwards -- Porphyry, Dexippus, Ammonius, Philoponus, Simplicius, Olympiodorus, not to speak of the later commentators, Elias and David. Its genuineness was, however, probably doubted by some scholars, for several of the commentators devote themselves to refuting arguments against its genuineness -- e.g., Philoponus 12.34-13.5, Simplicius 379.7-380.15, Olympiodorus 22.38-24.20. The arguments which they set themselves to meet-arguments derived from supposed contradictions between the Categories and certain works of Aristotle- are invariably weak, and the answers given by the commentators are convincing." (p. 431)

    [* I. Husik, "The Authenticity of Aristotle's Categories", Journal of Philosophy, 1939]

  11. ———. 1995. Aristotle. London and New York: Routledge

    Sixth edition. With an introduction by John L. Ackrill (First edition 1923, fifth revised edition 1953); on the Categories see pp. 22-26.

    "Ross’s book gives a concise and comprehensive account of Aristotle’s philosophical works—and no better account exists.

    In this Introduction I will say something about Ross and about his book, and I will then outline some of the ways in which the study of Aristotle has developed in the years since he wrote it." (From the Introduction by J. L. Ackrill, p. VII).


    "It is highly probable that the doctrine [of categories] began as an attempt to solve certain difficulties about predication which had troubled the Megaric school and other earlier thinkers.(18) Aristotle’s object seems to have been to clear up the question by distinguishing the main types of meaning of the words and phrases that can be combined to make a sentence. And in doing this he arrived at the earliest known classification of the main types of entity involved in the structure of reality.

    Why are they called categories? The ordinary meaning of is ‘predicate,’ but the first category has for its primary members individual substances, which according to Aristotle’s doctrine are never properly predicates but always subjects. It has sometimes, therefore, been thought that primary substances do not fit properly into the doctrine of the categories. But this is not the case. ‘Socrates’ is, indeed, on Aristotelian principles no proper predicate; but if we ask what Socrates is, the ultimate, i.e. the most general, answer is ‘a substance,’ just as, if we ask what red is, the ultimate answer is ‘a quality.’ The categories are a list of the widest predicates which are predicable essentially of the various nameable entities, i.e. which tell us what kinds of entity at bottom they are." (pp. 23-24)

    (18) This view is ably expressed in O. Apelt’s: Kategorienlehre des Aristoteles in Beiträge zur Geschichte der Griechischen Philosophie. Leipzig, 1891

  12. Sanford, Jonathan J. 2004. "Categories and Metaphysics: Aristotle's Science of Being." In Categories: Historical and Systematic Essays, edited by Gorman, Michael and Sanford, Jonathan J., 3-20. Washington: Catholic University of America Press

    "The relationship between Aristotle’s Categories and his Metaphysics is a matter of some debate. If one assumes that the Categories is fundamentally a metaphysical work, then there appear to be irreconcilable differences between the notion of substance presented in the Categories and that presented in Metaphysics Z (VII). The Categories account of substance does not present matter as a component of hylomorphic substance, nor does it consider substance as a formal cause of unity, both of which are key ideas of Metaphysics Z (VII). The Metaphysics therefore represents a break with Aristotle’s older metaphysical scheme. On the other hand, if one assumes that the Categories is fundamentally a logical work that makes no pretence to being a work of metaphysics, then the account of substance and the other categories in the Categories is at worst irrelevant to, and at best only obliquely related to, what Aristotle attempts to accomplish in the Metaphysics. I think that the truth lies somewhere between these two views. The Categories is best understood as both a logical and a metaphysical account. The metaphysics presented in the Categories is by no means complete, but Aristotle does not claim that it is. Aristotle does not, in the Metaphysics, break with his ideas in the Categories, but deepens them and works to fill out his metaphysics. In this essay I consider the relationship between Aristotle’s metaphysics and his theory of categories from the perspective of the requirements of science. The Metaphysics presents Aristotle’s science of being, but, as his logical works show, science depends on categories.

    Thus the Metaphysics cannot be understood apart from the works—especially the Categories, the Topics, and the Posterior Analytics—in which Aristotle explains what categories are, how they are used, and what their relationship to science is. There are indeed some difficulties in positing a close relationship between Aristotle’s earlier and later works, especially in regard to what gives unity to a science and the importance of being in the sense of potentiality and actuality. Still, these problems are not so great as to constitute a disjunction between Aristotle’s earlier and later works. Indeed, Aristotle’s attempts to describe being in each of its four senses in the Metaphysics are possible only because of the close relationship between logic and metaphysics, a relationship that he elucidates in his Categories and some other earlier works." (pp. 3-4, notes omitted)

  13. Scaltsas, Theodore. 1981. "Numerical versus qualitative Identity of Properties in Aristotle's Categories." Philosophia no. 10-11:328-345.

  14. Scheu, Marina M. 1944. The Categories of Being in Aristotle and St. Thomas. Washington: Catholic University of America Presss

    Contents: List of tables VIII; Preface IX; List of abbreviations XIII; Part I. Categories in Aristotle. I. The history and general nature of the categories 3; II. The logical aspect of the categories in Aristotle 13; III. The metaphysical aspect of the categories in Aristotle 23; Part II. Categories in St. Thomas. IV. The history of the categories from Aristotle to St. Thomas 38; V. General nature of the categories in Thomistic philosophy 46; VI. The nature of substance 64; VII. The nature of accident 77; Summary and conclusion 96; Bibliography 98; Index 102-109.

    ""Knowledge to be of value must be founded on reality. Hence it follows that unless our ideas faithfully reflect reality, our judgments about it will be false. One of the most evident illustrations of this fact is found in the divergent views philosophers have taken with regard to our widest universal concepts, the categories of being. It is, therefore, an important task of metaphysics to inquire into the modes which characterize the being that these concepts represent.

    Aristotle, the first philosopher known to have undertaken this task, presents a classification of categories in his logical treatise entitled Categories. Nor does he confine his doctrine to but this one of his works. Numerous references to the categories are found in practically all of his writings, especially in the Metaphysics.

    To St. Thomas Aquinas, however, we owe the development and perfection of the theory of the categories. He, it is true, wrote no authentic logical treatise' on the subject as did Aristotle, but his doctrine of the categories can be culled from his numerous discussions of them throughout his more metaphysical works in particular, especially from the Quaestiones Disputatae, the Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics, and the Summa Theologica.

    It is the purpose of this study, which is to be primarily metaphysical and Thomistic in character, to present the general teaching of St. Thomas on the categories. Our treatment of Aristotle, then, is to give the proper background, since obviously it is the Aristotelian plan that is the point of departure for all Thomistic study of the subject. Without this Aristotelian environment in which St. Thomas worked, his position would be much less clear. In a word, the Thomistic section of this study will reveal that St. Thomas developed and perfected Aristotelian thought.

    The problem of the categories is twofold: logical, in so far as it involves a classification of our generic concepts ; metaphysical, in that it must necessarily regard and classify the objects of those concepts, that is, real beings Therefore, after considering the history and general nature of the categories in the first chapter of the Aristotelian section, we shall examine the logical and metaphysical aspect in the two chapters following. Chapter four will present the historical transition from Aristotle to St. Thomas. Since St. Thomas wrote no logical treatise on the categories, nor any commentary on Aristotle's logical treatment of them, it will be necessary for us to proceed in a somewhat different manner in the Thomistic section of our work. In keeping with the primarily metaphysical trend in St. Thomas' thought, which is particularly evident in his treatment of the categories, we propose to present in the last three chapters respectively the general character of his teaching on the categories and a consideration of the nature of substance and the nature of accidents." (pp. IX-X notes omitted)

  15. Scholz, Donald F. 1963. "The Category of Quantity." Laval Théologique et Philosophique no. 19:229-256

    "Because quantity itself is relatively well known to us, an analysis of its genus is not too difficult. This fact alone makes it interesting to us. Further, an examination of this genus is useful in coming to an understanding of Aristotle’s procedure in the Categories as a whole.

    For these reasons it would seem appropriate to reflect a little upon Aristotle’s treatment of quantity in the Categories." (p. 229)


    "In reflecting upon the ways in which Aristotle determines the properties of quantity, we can see that he proceeds inductively in all cases, showing the properties of quantity from its species. This might be taken as a sign of what we said at the beginning of our examination of this category, the genus is so general, so potential, that it can be understood only by making reference to something more actual, its species.

    We have now completed our treatment of the category of quantity. We have seen how it is made known and we have seen its properties. We have judged Aristotle’s method in exposing this doctrine to have been the proper one. Perhaps, by analyzing the other categories in this way, one would be able to obtain a relatively distinct knowledge of all of them. This in itself -would be no small accomplishment." (p. 256)

  16. Sedley, David. 2002. "Aristotelian relativities." In Le style de la pensée. Recueil d'hommages à Jacques Brunschwig, edited by Canto-Sperber, Monique and Pellegrin, Pierre, 324-352. Paris: Les Belles Lettres

    Originally published in Italian as: "Relatività aristoteliche", Dianoia, 2, 1997 pp. 11-15 (first part) and 1998, 3, 11-23 (second part).

    "In chapter 7 of the Categories, devoted to the category of relativity (πρός τι), Aristotle starts with a definition of the relative (6a 36-b 8)" (p. 324)


    "At the end of the chapter (8a 13ff.) he raises a worry about whether this definition will allow some substances to be relative, namely those which are themselves the organic parts of larger substances. We must recall that in the Categories he has none of his later qualms about allowing some substances to be composed of substances (1). Hence his question: won't those substances which are parts of larger substances be relative, namely to the wholes of which they are parts? The worry is a proper one, because he has already spoken of the parts of substances as falling into both categories: in chapter 5, at 3a 29-32, they were substances, yet in chapter 7, at 6b 36-7 a 22, relatives include «wing», «head» and «rudder»." (p. 325)


    "Aristotle's point is metaphysical, not linguistic. It is important not to be misled into thinking that he is in any way appealing to what can and cannot be said in the Greek language. It is not even obvious that Greek usage would consider an expression like πρός τι χείρ unacceptable. His observation about primary and secondary substances is rather, I suppose, as follows. If a hand appears to be relative, namely to its owner, it is not in virtue being this particular hand that it is relative, but in virtue of being a hand- that is, not because of

    its individuality, the hallmark of a primary substance, but because of its species, the hallmark of a secondary substance." (pp. 325-326)


    "I hope that I have made a sufficient case, based on Aristotle's own text,. for attributing to him the distinction between what I have called soft and hard relativity. But now let me confess that my reading him this way was inspired by a much more lucid version of the same distinction, attributed by Simplicius to the Stoics. The report comes from his commentary on Aristotle's Categories (166.15-29) (22)" (p. 339)

    (22) SVF [Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta] II 403. The translation here is based on that at LS [A. A. Long, D. N. Sedley (eds.), A. A. Long, D. N. Sedley (eds.), The Hellenistic Philosophers, Cambridge University Press, 1987] 29B.

  17. Sharma, Ravi K. 1997. "A New Defense of Tropes? On Categories 3b10-18." Ancient Philosophy no. 17:309-315

    "A long-standing debate among interpreters of the Categories concerns the nature of first-order accidents, the entities designated by expressions such as 'the particular white' (το τι. λευκόν). Some interpreters maintain that Aristotle takes them to be universals, entities that may be present in many substances; others, that Aristotle takes them to be tropes, each of which is peculiar to a single substance.(1)

    In a recent issue of this journal, Daniel T. Devereux offers a new defense of the tropes-reading, one that is not based, as most others have been, on Aristotle's cryptic remark concerning the present-in relation at 1a24-25.(2) If Devereux is right, the debate has now been settled in favor of tropes. In this note, I shall maintain that Devereux misreads the passage crucial to his argument and that the proper reading undermines his proposed defense." (p. 309)

    (1) 1 Throughout this discussion, I italicize 'present in' (ἐν) and 'said of (λέγεσται κατά) when those locutions are used technically, for relations between entities.

    (2) See Devereux 1992 ['Inherence and Primary Substance in Aristotle's Categories', Ancient Philosophy 12: 113-131]. The term 'trope' is my choice; Devereux expresses the same idea by speaking of tokens, or particular instances, of types.

  18. Shields, Christopher. 1999. Order in Multiplicity. Homonymy in the Philosophy of Aristotle. Oxford: Clarendon Press

    Contents: Abbreviations XIII; Introduction 1; Part I: Homonymy as Such. 1. The Varieties of Homonymy 9; 2. The Promises and Problems of Homonymy 43; 3. Homonymy and Signification 75; 4. Core-Dependent Homonymy 103; Part II: Homonymy at Work. 5. The Body 131; 6. Oneness, Sameness, and Referentia Opacity 155; 7. The Meaning of Life 176; 8. Goodness 194; 9. The Homonymy of Being 217; Afterword: Homonymy's Promise Reconsidered 268; Bibligraphy 271; Index of Passages Cited 281; General Index 287-290.

    "Aristotle's treatments of the homonymy of core philosophical concepts, including especially being and goodness, are sometimes highly abstract, and they must be understood as arising from the polemical contexts which motivate them.

    For these reasons, I consider these topics only after recounting Aristotle's general framework for introducing homonymy. Accordingly, I divide the study into two parts.

    In Part I, I consider homonymy as such, mainly by reflecting on the uncontroversial cases upon which Aristotle himself relies when trying to explicate and motivate homonymy. I begin, in Chapter 1, by recounting Aristotle's introduction of homonymy in the Categories, settling some exegetical difficulties concerning his general conception of its nature."


    In Part II, I investigate homonymy at work. I do not move through Aristotle's appeals to homonymy seriatim. Rather, I consider a very few cases, selected for their importance, interest, and representative character. In two cases, I urge that some of Aristotle's critics have failed to appreciate the power of homonymy in meeting objections to substantive Aristotelian theories.


    Although I maintain that Aristotle cannot establish the homonymy of being, I do not infer that his commitment to homonymy as such is misguided. On the contrary, I maintain that outside this one application, Aristotle's commitment to homonymy is altogether well motivated; in particular, the method of definition it introduces is of genuine and lasting importance. At the very minimum, I argue,Aristotle is right to advocate homonymy as a form of constructive philosophical analysis. He has identified a framework which has too often been overlooked by those disenchanted with the prospects for genuine philosophical progress. Accordingly, I end Part II with a concluding afterword in which I appraise in a fully general way homonymy's enduring value." (pp. 3-5)

  19. Simons, Peter. 1988. "Aristotle's Concept of State of Affairs." In Antike Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie, edited by Gigon, Olof and Fischer, Michael W., 97-112. Bern: Peter Lang

    "The concept of state of affairs (Sachverhalt) is one which is of general interest in philosophy in connection with the theory of truth, but is also of special interest for legal philosophy.(1) Its heyday in philosophy was the late (2) nineteenth century and early twentieth century ; it is therefore tempting to regard the concept in its philosophical employment as a thoroughly modern invention. Nevertheless, a similar concept was known to medieval philosophy(3), and the medievals in question - as was usual then - referred back to the authority of Aristotle in support of their views. I claim that those medievals who ascribed something like a concept of state of affairs to Aristotle were right.(4) Discussing the identity of concepts, especially over a time-span of millennia, is fraught with difficulties, so I shall need first to establish what conditions a concept must satisfy to be a concept of state of affairs. This will occupy § 2. I shall then in § 3 endeavour to show that Aristotle’s works employ a concept closely answering these conditions." (p. 97)


    "The evidence from Aristotle

    The texts supporting my interpretation come mainly from the logical works ’’Categories” and ”De interpretatione”. In particular, I claim that the term pragma is used on several occasions with a meaning corresponding closely to that of "state of affairs” as specified above. First, some preliminary remarks on interpreting these texts.

    We must be clear from the start that in these works Aristotle's discussion is so compressed and so full of ambiguities that no interpretation can be uncontroversial. In discussing semantic matters, Aristotle uses no specially developed terminology, and he is also sparing in his use of examples. It is no accident that medieval commentators on these writings of Aristotle, which were for a long time the chief source of information on his work, diverged widely in their interpretations. Having now got used to making distinctions and employing more specific semantic concepts than Aristotle, it would be futile for us to expect to find, sitting in his work, a concept of state of affairs which unambiguously coincides with the one specified in the previous section. The best we can expect, even using plausible interpolations and taking interpretative risks, is an anticipatory approximation. But while Aristotle does not have a fully-fledged modern concept of state of affairs, it is surprising, in view of the subsequent history of semantics, how close he comes to one. (pp. 101-102)

  20. Stein, Nathanael. 2011. "Aristotle’s Causal Pluralism." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie no. 93:121-147

    Abstract: "Central to Aristotle’s metaphysics and epistemology is the claim that ‘aitia’ – ‘cause’ – is “said in many ways”, i.e., multivocal. Though the importance of the four causes in Aristotle’s system cannot be overstated, the nature of his pluralism about aitiai has not been addressed. It is not at all obvious how these modes of causation are related to one another, or why they all deserve a common term. Nor is it clear, in particular, whether the causes are related to one another as species under a single genus, such that there is a univocal definition of ‘aitia’ which applies to all of them, or whether Aristotle means to assert that the four causes are homonyms. It is argued here that although there are strong reasons to group the four causes together, there are also powerful considerations on the side of homonymy. It is further argued that the four causes are more closely tied to the ontological theory of categories and predication than is often recognized. As a result, we can reconcile the competing demands of unity and plurality by taking one mode of causation, the formal cause, as basic, and accounting for the other modes with reference to it, in the manner of so-called pros hen homonyms."

  21. Stough, Charlotte L. 1972. "Language and Ontology in Aristotle's Categories." Journal of the History of Philosophy no. 10:261-272

    "Yet there is an attendant danger in reading the Categories freely in the light of later works such as the Metaphysics. It is altogether too easy to find in that early text the more sophisticated ideas of a maturer period of Aristotle's philosophical development and hence unwittingly to incorporate into our procedure the assumption, dubious at best, that Aristotle's views remained virtually unchanged throughout his philosophical career. Thus there would seem to be prima facie reason for raising some questions of a rather special sort about the body of the Categories as such --- about what can be said of Aristotle's notion of categories of being without going beyond that work (or at least the Organon) for support.

    One question in particular deserves attention, because it strikes at the very center of the theory expounded in the Categories. Granted that Aristotle attached a privileged status to the category of substance -- a status importantly not enjoyed by the other nine categories -- we want to know what he conceived that special status to be. Our question concerns the relation between substance and the remaining categories. Aristotle had some important things to say on this subject in later works, (1) but how much of that was originally central to the theory of categories cannot be uncovered by his subsequent remarks. Very little can be said about the philosophical significance of the early doctrine of categories until we understand precisely how Aristotle ordered the category of substance in relation to the nine nonsubstantial forms of predication in the Categories itself. As might be expected, Aristotle offers no easy answer to this question, but his own words are suggestive in ways that are worth exploring and yet, at the same time, quite easily overlooked." (p. 261)

    (1) For example, Met., Zeta 1 (cf. Delta 11); Aristotle's doctrine of τα πρός έν λεγόμενα set forth in central sections of the Metaphysics may represent his most finished thoughts on this subject.

  22. Striker, Gisela. 2011. "A Note on the Ontology of Aristotle’s Categories, chapter 2." In Episteme, etc.: Essays in Honour of Jonathan Barnes, edited by Morison, Benjam and Ierodiakonou, Katerina, 141-151. New York: Oxford University Press

    Abstract: "This paper argues that the four-fold classification of entities in chapter 2 of Aristotle’s Categories, with its unusual terminology, contains a criticism of Plato’s metaphysics, showing that the term ‘participation’ covers two distinct relations. This criticism prepares the way for the reversal of priorities in chapter 5, in which Aristotle bestows the rank of primary substance on concrete individuals. However, the ontological status of the species of primary substances—universals that are not attributes—remains ambiguous. A possible solution of these difficulties may be found in Metaphysics Z.13, with the rejection of universals as substances from Aristotle’s ontology."

  23. Studtmann, Paul. 2003. "Aristotle's Category of Quality: A Regimented Interpretation." Apeiron no. 36:205-227

    "In Chapter Eight of the Categories, Aristotle divides the genus, quality, into four species: (1) habits and dispositions; (2) natural capabilities and incapabilities; (3) affective qualities and affections; and (4) shape." (p. 205)


    "in this paper, I argue that there is an alternative interpretation to the canonical interpretation, what I will call the regimented interpretation, that can go some way toward removing the dissatisfaction that he and others have had with it. I do not think that such an interpretation can entirely remove all the difficulties with Aristotle's discussion — some peculiarities will remain. Nonetheless, as I hope to show, there is a way to regiment the category that makes it vastly more systematic, and as a result, far more philosophically interesting than the canonical interpretation suggests.

    My main argument for the regimented interpretation proceeds in two stages. First, I examine the details of Aristotle's discussion of the first three canonical species and conclude not only that they are subsumed under the single genus of dispositions but also that the genus of dispositions admits of a more or less systematic and symmetrical differentiation.

    As a result, the category of quality should be understood as being primarily divided into two species: shape and dispositions. And because the genus of dispositions is systematically differentiated and Aristotle does not differentiate shape at all, any arbitrariness in the category of quality must be located in the division of the genus, quality, into the two species, shapes and dispositions. In the second stage of the argument, I propose a hypothesis about the way Aristotle understands the nature of quality itself, a hypothesis that leads to a very plausible division of quality into shape and dispositions. Hence, the divisions in the category of quality can be understood as flowing systematically from the very nature of the genus being divided." (p. 207)

  24. ———. 2004. "Aristotle's Category of Quantity: A Unified Interpretation." Apeiron no. 37:69-91

    "Aristotle provides two different treatments of the category of quantity: one in Categories V and one in Metaphysics V 7. Interestingly (and perhaps not surprisingly) the treatments differ in important respects. In the Categories, Aristotle provides two different differentiations of quantity.

    According to the first, quantity divides into continuous and discrete quantity; the former then divides into line, surface, body and time, and the latter into number and speech. According to the second, quantity divides into quantities whose parts have a relative position with respect to one another and quantities whose parts do not (Cat. 4b20-2). Although the differences between these two differentiations are interesting, for the purposes of this paper I shall focus on the first. For, in the first instance, the differentiations appear to be compatible; and second, by presenting the division into continuous and discrete quantities before the other division, Aristotle, it would seem, gives priority to the former. In this paper, therefore, not only will I assume that the two differentiations do not need philosophical correction to make them compatible but I will also follow Aristotle's lead and take the division into continuous and discrete quantities to be the more fundamental." (p. 69)

  25. ———. 2008. The Foundations of Aristotle's Categorial Scheme. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press

    Contents: Chapter 1: Whence the Categories? 7; Chapter 2: The Body Problem in Aristotle 25; Chapter 3: Form 49; Chapter 4: Prime Matter 79; Chapter 5: Quality 101; Chapter 6: Quantity 125; Chapter 7: Substance 141; Index 173-175.

    "Aristotle’s categorial scheme had an unparalleled effect not only on his own philosophical system but also on the systems of many of the greatest philosophers in the western tradition.

    The set of doctrines in the Categories, what I will henceforth call categorialism, play, for instance, a central role in Aristotle’s discussion of change in the Physics, in the science of being qua being in the Metaphysics and in the rejection of Platonic ethics in the Nicomachean Ethics."


    "Despite its influence, however, categorialism raises two fundamental questions that to this day remain open. The first concerns Aristotle’s list of highest kinds." (p. 7)


    "Unlike the first question, the second concerns the way in which categorialism relates to doctrines Aristotle articulates in other works. The question arises as a result of a rather common story that is told about the categories and its apparent deep tensions with hylomorphism." (p. 9)


    "This book contains a series of interrelated chapters that collectively support an interpretation that provides answers to the two great questions concerning Aristotle’s categories. According to the interpretation, Aristotle’s categorial scheme is derivable from his hylomorphic

    ontology, which itself is derivable from very general theses about the nature of being." (p. 15)

  26. ———. 2012. "Aristotle's Categorial Scheme." In The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle, edited by Shields, Christopher, 63-80. New York: Oxford University Press

    "In this chapter I shall discuss a tradition of interpretation that has for the most part been abandoned and shall do so by way of discussing two questions concerning Aristotle’s categorialism that are not often treated together. By pointing out just how controversial any approach to Aristotle’s Categories is bound to be, I hope to forestall any initial strong objections to the admittedly non-standard approach I shall take. And even if I fail to convince the reader of the cogency of the approach by the end of the chapter, I hope that the reader will have benefitted from seeing Aristotle’s categorial scheme treated from a heterodoxical perspective. For what it is worth, it is my contention that Aristotle’s categorial scheme, as is the case with many works in the history of philosophy, is best illuminated by opposing beams of interpretive light.

    The following discussion is framed by two questions concerning Aristotle’s categorialism: (1) How did Aristotle arrive at his list of categories? and (2) What is the connection between Aristotle’s categories and his hylomorphic ontology. These questions are not often treated together, which is not altogether surprising, since each question is extremely difficult to answer in its own right. Hence, treating them together piles difficulty upon difficulty. Moreover, owing to their difficulty scholars have given wildly different answers to each of the questions. So the amount of scholarly disagreement about the issues involved is rather daunting. Nonetheless there is an interpretively and philosophically interesting reason for discussing both questions in a single paper, namely the possibility of interestingly co-ordinated answers to the questions.The possibility stems from a tradition of interpretation that finds its origin in the Middle Ages. Because of its medieval origin, the interpretation is out of step with recent scholarly trends. Nonetheless, I hope at least to show the interest in the interpretation. Mygoial in this chapter is not to present anything like a definitive case for an interpretation of Aristotle's Categories but rather to discuss what I take to be a provocative and interesting interpretation that has the resources to provide systematic and co-ordinated answers to two very large questions concerning Aristotle's categorial scheme. In short, according to the interpretation, Aristotle’s list of highest kinds can be derived a priori from his hylomorphic ontology. To understand the import of such a claim, however, first requires a discussion of the two questions I have just mentioned." (pp. 64-65)

  27. Surdu, Alexandru. 2006. Aristotelian Theory of Prejudicative Forms. Hildesheim: Georg Olms

    Contents: Vorwort des Herausgebers IX; Foreword XI; List of Signs XV; Part I. Hermeneutic Investigations 1; 1. Interpretation of the First Two Chapters of Aristotle’s Categoriae 3; 2. Interpretation of the Third Chapter of Aristotle’s Categoriae 19; 3. Interpretation of the Fifth Chapter of Aristotle’s Categoriae 25; 4. The Problem of Prejudicative Relations in other Aristotelian Works 33; 5. 5. Commentaries and Interpretations 61; 6. Specificity of Prejudicative Relations 105; Part II. Logical Significance of Prejudicative Relations 125; 1. A Short Characterization 127; 2. Introducing the Symbolic Notation 129; 3. Classical-Traditional Analysis of Prejudicative Relations 133; 4. Logical-Mathematical Significance of Prejudicative Relations 167; Part III. General Philosophical Conclusions 209; 1. A Short Characterization 211; 2. Subsistence, Existence, and Being 213; 3. The Five Voices, Essence, and Quiddity 217; 4. The Problem of the Universal (General) 221; 5. Intellect, Reason, and Rational Intellect 223-228.

    "The starting point of the present paper was the symbolic interpretation - of a logical-mathematical type - of the first chapters of Aristotle’s work Categoriae - work which is usually not taken into account by the modems. Beginning with the first attempts I was surprised to notice that the mentioned texts are lending themselves -more than any other text - to a logical-mathematical formalisation, the difference being that they show, besides the currently interpretable forms, other ones that are not to be found either within symbolic logic, or within the classical-traditional one. We named them “prejudicative forms”, since they have a certain resemblance with the classical judgements, but precede them, without being judgements in their own right, that is affirmations or negations.

    The prejudicative forms represent an unstudied field, so far. Their affinity with symbolic forms grants them a prejudicative character and complete these last ones in many respects, which leads to the conclusion that, although the symbolic logic is the most recent logic, its field is anterior - from a logical point of view - to the classical field. And certainly Aristotle and some ancient commentators of the Organon had this intuition.

    By means of the entities they focus on, the prejudicative forms -the individual, the singular, the species, the genus and the supreme genus - contribute to the solving of some of the generally philosophical issues which are still debatable on, as the problem of universal, which also appeared in relation with Aristotle’s logic and was pointed out by Porpyhrius Malchus in his famous Isagoge.

    Coming back to Aristotle, one can indeed wonder whether it was possible for him to accomplish so many things in the field of logic and, moreover, to foresee - explicitly or not - problems which find a reasonable explanation just nowadays. One should not forget that subtle scholars preceded Aristotle, and that the problems of logic were so to say “floating” in the atmosphere of Greek philosophy. Moreover, once discovered, the field of logic could have been unrestrictedly covered, as these were no hindrances. Aristotle did cover it. Faced with a savage and hardly coverable field, he was often forced to clear it. Today, these soundings are astonishing, since the field is crossed by large railways and rapidly covered. Nevertheless, there are some moments when nobody can say “Dig here!”

    Aristotle did not finish, but he gave a lot of suggestions, and, if we do not think in a different way, but we think something else, his logic will still be a precious source of hints and information." (Foreword, pp. XII-XIII)

  28. Tarán, Leonardo. 1978. "Speusippus and Aristotle on Homonymy and Synonymy." Hermes.Zeitschrift für klassische Philologie no. 106:73-99

    Reprinted in: Leonardo Tarán, Collected Papers 1962-1999, Leiden: Brill, 2001, pp. 421-454.

    "Modern scholarship since the middle of the last century has generally accepted it as an established fact that Speusippus made an exhaustive classification of words or names (ὀνόματά) in relation to the concepts they express and that he gave definitions of homonyma and synonyma only in reference to words and their meanings; that is to say that for him homonyma and synonyma are properties of linguistic terms and not of things, whereas for Aristotle, especially in the first chapter of the Categories, they are properties of things." (p. 421)


    "He [Jonathan Barnes, "Homonymy in Aristotle and Speusippus," Classical Quarterly, N.S. 21 (1971), pp. 65-80] contends, in the first place, that Speusippus's conception of homonyma and synonyma is essentially the same as that of Aristotle, the slight differences between their respective definitions of each being trivial, and, secondly, that even though in a few places Aristotle does use homonyma and synonyma as properties of linguistic terms, this is due to the fact that Aristotle's use of these words is not as rigid as the Categories would lead one to believe; he could not have been influenced by Speusippus because the latter conceived homonymy and synonymy as properties of things and, in any case, if influence of one on the other be assumed, it could as well have been Aristotle that influenced Speusippus.

    Though I believe that his two main contentions are mistaken, I am here mainly concerned with the first part of Barnes' thesis; for, if he were right in believing that for Speusippus homonyma and synonyma are properties of things and not of names or linguistic terms, then Hambruch's [*] notion that Speusippus did influence Aristotle when the latter uses synonymon as a property of names would be wrong, even though Barnes himself were mistaken in his analysis of the Aristotelian passages he reviews in the second part of his paper. Whereas, on the other hand, if Speusippus's classification is really of ὀνόματά, then, since Barnes himself admits that Aristotle does sometimes use homonyma and synonyma as properties of names, the influence of Speusippus on Aristotle is at least possible; and it becomes plausible and probable, regardless of the relative chronology of their respective works, when it is seen, as I shall try to show, that in some cases Aristotle is in fact acracking doctrines which presuppose a use of homonyma and synonyma such as can be ascribed to Speusippus or is using synonymon in the Speusippean sense, different from Aristotle's own notion of synonymous words." (pp. 422-423)


    "Our only source for Speusippus's classification of names is the three texts that Lang has assembled as frags. 32a, 32b, and 32c, (7) three passages from Simplicius's commentary on Aristotle's Categories."

    [*] E. Hambruch, Logische Regeln der platonischen Schule in der aristotelischen Topik (1904).


    Margherita Isnardi Parente, Speusippo: Frammenti; Edizione, traduzione e commento, Naples: Bibliopolis 1980 (Greek text and Italian translation; see Fragments 13, 14, 15).

    Paul Lang, De Speusippi academici scriptis accedunt fragmenta, Bonn 1911; reprint, Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1965.

  29. Thorp, John. 1974. "Aristotle's Use of Categories. An Easing of the Oddness in "Metaphysica" Δ 7." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 19:238-256

    "We are accustomed to think that when Aristotle introduces a list of categories into an argument he is effecting a division of the matter into ten separate kinds or predicates or senses. For example, at de anima 410 a 23 when he is wondering what sort of thing the soul is,

    he gives a list of the categories to show what sorts of things there are and goes on to ask of each sort whether the soul belongs to it.

    The list of categories divides up all that is into ten departments for easier handling. Again in the Categoriae he divides up predicates into ten sorts by a list of categories, and goes on in the rest of the book to give the peculiar logical and grammatical features of the sorts - although the treatment of the later sorts is not extant. Here the list of categories serves almost as a table of contents, dividing up the matter for piecemeal treatment. Let us call this use of a list of categories to divide the matter into ten departments "use (a)". No doubt this is the most prevalent use in Aristotle: a philosopher of analytic temperament like the Master is always dividing things up." (pp. 244-245)



    The orthodox view of the mesh of four uses with ten senses - that only per se being has ten senses - can now be revised. There are five uses of εἶναι, not four, and only the fifth, the existential use (not mentioned in A 7) is divided into ten senses according to the categories.

    Per se being is semantically unvarying. (p. 256)

  30. Ushida, Noriko. 2003. "Before the Topics? Isaak Husik and Aristotle's Categories revisited." Ancient Philosophy no. 23:113-134

    "I. Husik, in arguing for the authenticity of the Categories (in: Philosophical Review 13, 1904, pp. 514-528), substantially overstated the case for the similarity of that treatise to the Topics. The two works differ greatly in their treatment of the theory of substance (Cat. 5, 3 B 10-21; SE 22, 178 B 38ff.)."

  31. van Polanen Petel, H. P., and Reed, K. 2021. "How to Derive Aristotle’s Categories from First Principles." Axiomathes no. 41:1-35

    First online: 5 September 2021.

    Abstract: "We propose a model of cognition grounded in ancient Greek philosophy which encompasses Aristotle’s categories. Taking for First Principles the brute facts of the mental actions of separation, aggregation and ordering, we derive Aristotle’s categories as follows. First, Separation lets us see single entities, giving the simple concept of an individual. Next, Aggregation lets us see instances of some kind, giving the basic concept of a particular. Then, Ordering lets us see both wholes-with-parts as well as parts-of-some-whole, giving the subtle concept of a relational or Gestalt. The basic and the subtle concept give us the major and minor categories. The categories constitute a top-level ontology and describe universal usage so that any other category necessarily describes particular or domain usage."

  32. Verdenius, Willem Jacob. 1948. "Two Notes on the Categories of Aristotle " Mnemosyne no. 4:109-110

    "Cat. 6 a, 19-22: Aristotle does not say: "A thing which is two cubits long does not possess its length to a higher degree than a thing of three cubits possesses its length of three cubits", but: "One thing cannot be two cubits long to a higher degree than another". That means: a thing of a certain length does not possess this length to a higher degree than things which are longer or shorter, for these things do not have this length at all. The same applies to numbers: "three is not three to a higher degree than five is three, nor is five five to a higher degree than three is five", i.e. a number does, or does not, possess a certain amount. This meaning is clearly expressed by the traditional text." (p. 109)


    "Cat. 8 a, 31-32: Aristotle wants to say that the use of a wide definition should not induce us to suppose that the possession of a relation makes a thing essentially relative in the sense that its existence can only be explained in terms of a relation to another thing."(p. 110)

  33. von Fritz, Kurt. 1954. "Review of: The Place of the Categories of Being in Aristotle's Philosophy by L. M. De Rijk." The Philosophical Review no. 63:600-605

    "The author of this book tries once more to solve the difficult problem of the meaning of Aristotle's theory of categories or, more specifically, the question of whether the categories are a system of grammatical, of logical, or of ontological distinctions. He rejects from the outset the explanation of the categories as grammatical distinctions though he does admit-which is very important-that Aristotle in his metaphysical and logical analyses is, generally speaking, guided by the structure of his native tongue. Concerning the two other main explanations which have been offered, he points out in his introduction that "the later distinction between the logical and the ontological aspect qua a conscious opposition which is carried through rigorously" should not be applied to ancient thought, i.e., to that of Aristotle, and expresses the opinion that "the seeming difficulty of interpretation disappears" if this distinction is not made. He tries to show that the solutions offered by his predecessors are all wrong or insufficient because they did not follow this principle of interpretation.

    The author then elaborates his theory in six chapters and an appendix. The first three chapters deal with various aspects of the relation between logic and ontology in Aristotle's philosophy, namely: Aristotle's doctrine of truth, the distinction between "essential and accidental being" (κατ' αυτό and κατά συμβεβηκός), logical and ontological accident. The second series of three chapters deals with the problem of the categories directly, first the categories in the Metaphysics, then the categories in the special treatise devoted to that subject, the first treatise of the Organon, and finally the use which Aristotle makes of the categories in his philosophy in general. The appendix deals with the various expressions by which Aristotle designates the categories, with their origin and their relation to the logical and the ontological aspects of the categories. Each chapter, as well as the appendix, concludes with a convenient summary of the theses which the author has tried to prove." (pp. 600-601)

  34. ———. 1958. "Once More ϰαθ᾿ ὑποϰειμένου and ἐν ὑποϰειμένῳ." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 3:72-73

    "On p. 148 ff. of the second volume of Phronesis Mr. Chung-Hwan Chen has published an article on the above subject taking his starting point from a review of a book by the Dutch scholar L. M. De Rijk which I had published some time ago in The Philosophical Review, vol. 53 (1954), p. 600 ff., but without knowledge of the book reviewed itself. As a consequence some special points have remained in the dark; and since this is in no way Mr. Chung-Hwan Cheng's fault, who was unable to obtain a copy of the book reviewed, but to a large part my own fault and to a certain extent perhaps the fault of Mr. De Rijk, I would appear to be under some obligation to clear up the question." (p. 72)


    "It is one of the main contentions of Mr. De Rijk in the book which I reviewed that it is wrong to make a sharp distinction between the ontological and the logical aspect of Aristotle's theory of the categories because the ontological aspect is always the essential one and the logical only its reflection. In contrast to this I had contended that Aristotle's theory has an ontological, a logical, and to some extent a grammatical aspect; and that to understand its philosophical meaning, as well as the difficulties with which Aristotle had to struggle in its elaboration fully, it is necessary to distinguish sharply between them." (p. 73)

  35. Ward, Julie K. 2007. Aristotle on Homonymy: Dialectic and Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

    Contents: Acknowledgments VII; Abbreviations IX; Introduction 1; 1. Aristotle's theory of homonymy in Categories 1 and its precursors 9; 2. Homonymy in the Topics 43; 3. Systematic homonymy 77; 4. The homonymy of Being 103; 5. Physis, Philia, and homonymy 137; 6. Homonymy and science 168; Afterword 201; Bibliography 207; Index of passages 215; General index 219-220.

    "The present book had its origin in many puzzles I encountered about pros hen predication." (p. VII)


    "This work examines homonymy, a topic that lies within Aristotle’s theories of language and predication. In Aristotle’s work, the idea of homonymy is paired with that of synonymy, and in fundamental ways, rests upon it. To English speakers, homonymy s known as a grammatical category referring to the case in which the same word has different meanings, and synonymy, the case in which different words have the same meaning. In contrast, Aristotle finds homonymy and synonymy to be concerned not merely with words, but also, and primarily, with things. As he explains in Cat. 1, synonymy refers to the situation in which two or more things have the same name, or term, and the same defining character (cf. Cat. 1a6–7)." (p. 1)


    "The present book on homonymy seeks to augment recent discussions, particularly aspects of Irwin’s and Shields’ work, by furthering the investigation in some areas and initiating study in others. In brief summary, the present chapters fall into three areas: (1) Aristotle’s account of homonymy in Cat. 1 and its possible precursors, (2) the utility of homonymy for refining premises in scientific arguments, and (3) the application of homonymy to specific concepts." (p. 3)

  36. Wardy, Robert. 2000. Aristotle in China. Language, Categories and Translation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

    Contents: Preface page IX; 1. The China syndrome: language, logical form, translation 1; 2. Aristotelian whispers 69; Epilogue 150; Glossary of technical terms 153; References 161; Index 166-170."

    "Aristotle in China is about the relation between language and thought. That is, of course, a topic of absurdly ambitious scope: it is only slightly less absurd to say that it concerns the particular question of the relation between language and philosophical thought, or even the relation between the Chinese language and Chinese logic. Perhaps readers will concede at the outset that my decision to explore these huge issues through reading Aristotle’s Categories in Chinese is mere wilful circuitousness, rather than outright absurdity; and I trust that, if they persevere, they will discover that indirection has its compensations.

    Chapter 1 introduces, defines and dissects varieties of linguistic relativism, with specific reference to the China question. Chapter 2 is entirely devoted to a reading of the (ming li t’an), ‘The Investigation of the Theory of Names’, a seventeenth century translation of Aristotle’s Categories into Chinese; indeed, one of my goals is to reanimate an ancient tradition, both Chinese and Western, by producing a sort of metacommentary.

    In principle, philosophers could read chapter 1 and dispense with chapter 2; and Sinologists could study chapter 2 and avoid philosophy: but of course my intention is to address philosophers, classicists, Sinologists, linguists, anthropologists and devotees of missionary studies throughout." (p. IX)

  37. Warnock, Mary. 1950. "A Note on Aristotle: Categories 6 a 15." Mind no. 59:552-554

    "In Categories 6a 11 Aristotle says that though it is a characteristic of quantities that they cannot have opposites, it looks as if they could in the case of spatial measurements. This lead him to make a general remark on the notion of opposition, namely that when people talk of opposites they are using a spatial metaphor; that they mean by " opposites " those things which, in the same class, are separated by the greatest possible distance from each other. There are two things to notice here. First that Aristotle aims to distinguish, at least roughly, between kinds of terms, by asking whether or not they have opposites. Secondly, that, while he talks about a spatial metaphor, his only attempt to elucidate this metaphor is by translating it into another spatial metaphor, that of " greatest distance between"." (p. 552)

  38. Wedin, Michael. 1979. ""Said of" and "predicated of" in the Categories." Philosophical Research Archives no. 5:23-34

    Abstract: "Anyone with more than casual interest in Aristotle's Categories knows the convention that "predicated of" ["κατηγορεἳται"] marks a general relation of predication while "said of" ["λέγεται"] is reserved for essential predication. By "convention" I simply mean to underscore that the view in question ranks as the conventional or received interpretation. Ackrill, for example, follows the received view in holding that only items within the same category (not arbitrarily, of course) can stand in the being-said-of relation and, thus, that only secondary substances can be said of primary substances. Despite its long received status the convention has never received a fully comprehensive examination and defense. In fact such an account is needed because, while enjoying considerable textual support, certain passages of the Categories appear to clash with the convention. My aim in this paper is, first, to develop and defend the standard interpretation, as I shall call it. Since the standard interpretation has lately been challenged in a closely argued article by Russell Dancy, my defense will proceed partly with an eye to his criticisms. Having met these, I go on to raise some difficulties with the rather unorthodox reading Dancy gives the Categories. The crucial point here turns out to be what Aristotle understands by a paronym."

  39. ———. 1993. "Non-Substantial Individuals." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 38:137-165

    Abstract: "The rock bottom items of the Categories are individuals. Those neither present-in nor said-of a subject are unproblematic. They are primary substances such as Socrates and Secretariat. But the exact nature of those that are present-in but not said-of a subject is a matter of lively debate. Roughly, two schools of thought dominate discussion. For some, type-III individuals, as I call them, are nonrecurrent accident particulars; for others, they are fully determinate accident properties. I begin with Ackrill's version of nonrecurrence, the progenitor of the modern debate, and then turn to Owen's attack, which established what may be called the new orthodoxy. (1) After assaying Owen's arguments, I consider a kindred but improved version due to Frede. Finally, I argue for a revised version of the standard nonrecurrence view."

    (1) Owen, G. E. L. 1965. "Inherence." Phronesis 10, 97-105.

  40. ———. 1997. "The Strategy of Aristotle's Categories." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie no. 79:1-26

    "The Categories begins without fanfare. Missing is the promotional pitch customary in Aristotle's works, and even the obligatory announcement of subject matter is absent. Instead, we are given definitions of three technical notions: homonymy, synonymy, and paronymy. That is all the first chapter contains. In particular, there is no hint as to why Aristotle begins with these notions or how they fit into the Categories as a whole. In fact, by most accounts it is not clear that much would be lost were the first fifteen lines simply omitted. Indeed, chapter two's discussion of τα οντά or things that are is arguably a more natural starting place for what follows. For this reason, perhaps, most scholarship has focused on the three onymies themselves to the neglect of their wider role in the Categories. Some scholars would go so far as to maintain that the first four chapters are little more than a random assemblage of scraps. I shall argue, on the contrary, that the three onymies are part of a carefully drawn strategy that underwrites the unity of the first five chapters of the Categories. In particular, I propose that they are grouping principles, introduced to isolate the one relation that is able to provide the foundation for the system of categories, namely, synonymy." (p. 1, notes omitted)

  41. ———. 2000. Aristotle's Theory of Substance. The Categories and Metaphysics Zeta. New York: Oxford University Press

    "This book offers a compatibilist account of the relation between the Categories and Metaphysics Z. The basic idea is a simple one. The incompatibilist is worried, for example, about the fact that each of these treatises makes a different proposal about the identity of primary substances. According to the first, primary substances are substance individuals—items such as Socrates, Secretariat, and Madame Curie. To avoid unwieldy tags, such as “Categories-primary-substances," I shall call these items c-substances. According to the second treatise, primary substances are the forms of c-substances. Because these proposals are deemed incompatible, so are the theories containing them, and likewise for the treatises themselves. However, this line of reasoning, a staple of incompatibilism, assumes that Aristotle meant the theories to occupy the same explanatory space. This seems to me to be false. The theory of Metaphysics Z is meant, rather, to explain central features of the standing theory of the Categories and so, in effect, it presupposes the essential truth of the early theory. This is the basic idea." (pp. 2-3)

  42. Weidemann, Hermann. 1980. "In Defence of Aristotle's Theory of Predication." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 25:76-87

    "One of the most characteristic features of Aristotle's theory of predication is the fact that he divides, as G. E. L. Owen puts it,

    all the predicates of any individual into two groups: those which hold good essentially or per se of their subject, as man does of Socrates; and those which merely happen to be true of their subject, as white does of Socrates.(1)


    The first part of present paper is intended to show that Aristotle's argument in 1007a20-33 relies on a way of distinguishing between essential and accidental predications which does not commit him at all to the alleged confusion of the former with statements of identity that has been ascribed to him not only by Kirwan, but also, as it seems, by Owen, to whom the second part of the present paper is intended to be a rejoinder." (p. 76)

    (1) G. E. L. Owen, "The Platonism of Aristotle," in: P. F. Strawson (ed.), Studies in the Philosophy of Thought and Action, London/Oxford/New York 1968, pp. 147-74 (originally printed in the Proceedings of the British Academy, 1965); p. 160.

  43. Wheeler, Mark Richard. 1999. "The Possibility of Recurrent Individuals in Aristotle’s Organon." Gregorianum no. 80:539-551

    "In 1965, G.E.L. Owen's article "Inherence" sparked a contemporary debate concerning whether or not the nonsubstantial individuals posited by Aristotle in the Organon are universals.(1) Owen's antagonists claim that nonsubstantial individuals are nonrecurrent particulars. Owen's defenders claim that nonsubstantial individuals can recur and, hence, are universals.

    In this paper, I present an analysis of Owen's position in "Inherence", arguing that Owen commits Aristotle to the possibility of recurrent nonsubstantial individuals which are one in number. The implications of Owen's position for Aristotle's theory of primary substance in the Organon are considered. I demonstrate that the modal status of recurring individuals cannot be determined by Aristotle's explication of being present in a subject at 1a24 of the Categories. I then argue that, according to the sameness conditions laid down by Aristotle in the Topics, it is impossible for something which is one in number to recur and, hence, that it is impossible both for substantial individuals and for nonsubstantial individuals to be universals." (pp. 539-540, notes omitted)

    (1) See, for examples of the early debate in the journal literature, Ackrill [1963], Owen [1965], Matthews and Cohen [1968], Allen [1969]. See Frede [1978], Devereux [1992], and Wedin [1993] for examples of how the debate has developed since.


    Ackrill, J.L. (1963). Aristotle's Categories and De Interpretatione, translation and notes by Ackrill, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Allen, R.E. (1969). "Individual Properties in Aristotle's Categories," Phronesis, 14, pp. 31-39.

    Devereux, Daniel T. (1992). "Inherence and Primary Substance in Aristotle's Categories," Ancient Philosophy 12, pp. 113-131.

    Frede Michael. (1978). "lndividuen bei Aristoteles," in Antike und Abendland, Walter De Gruyter & Co. Translated as "Individuals in Aristotle" in Essays in Ancient Philosophy by Michael Frede (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).

    Matthews, Gareth B. and Cohen, S. Marc. (1968). ''The One and the Many," The Review of Metaphysics, pp. 630-655.

    Owen, G.E.L. (1965). "Inherence," Phronesis 10, pp. 97-105. Reprinted with original page numbers noted in Logic, Science, and Dialectic, ed. M. Nussbaum, Ithaca: Cornell University Press (1986), pp. 252-258.

    Wedin, Michael V. (1993). "Nonsubstantial Individuals," Phronesis 38, pp. 137-165.

  44. ———. 2001. "κατηγορία in the Topics and the Categories." Journal of Neoplatonic Studies no. 8:37-60

    "The term kategoria in Aristotle's Topics and Categories denotes predicates. Hence the categories are best understood as classifying predicates and not predications. The equivocal use of the term in Top. 1, 9 is related to its use in signifying either linguistic or non-linguistic entities, and not because it can be used to mean predication."