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Aristotle and Existence


Author(s): R. M. Dancy
Source: Synthese, Vol. 54, No. 3, Philosophy of Language, Part II (Mar., 1983), pp. 409-442
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20115847
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R. M.

ARISTOTLE

DANCY

AND

EXISTENCE

tells us more
than once that 'to be' is said in many ways,
Aristotle
I had better say straight off that I can find very
that means.
whatever
But in the
that means.
little in the present paper that tells us what
a long time ago
course of considering
what
it might mean, Owen,
some people held that 'being' has "a single
(1960), told us that, while
was one of those who
in all its applications,
"Aristotle
meaning"
to be was
to be something or other..
denied this. In his view,
.."1
to this sentence, Jie added "This is not to deny the
In a footnote
sounds
between
distinction
elvct? ti and elvai onrXus" But it certainly
as if it is to deny just that: the Greek
as
translate
'to be
phrases
and "just 'to be'."
something'
Owen says, of course, a great deal more than I have quoted, but not
on at least the first few dozen
to remove my puzzlement
enough
came
I
to
I saw what he might have had in
think
readings. Eventually,
But recent
and wrote my initial puzzlement
off to stupidity.
mind,
if it had been Owen's,
has not got
work2 has shown that the message,
around. So I am here going to state what I arrived at.
turned out not to be Owen's:
I found myself
But then, the message
no
some
means
in disagreement
with
of
his
all)
subsequent
(by
on Aristotle's
is
ways with being.3 So what follows
pronouncements
an interpretation
born out of misunderstanding.
No doubt
some,
will
think that
including Owen,
In any event, it seems
understand.
it must
that
be admitted
Still,
Aristotle
is not one he anywhere
some of
will help us to understand

to
it is not only Owen
I failed
to me right about Aristotle.
to hand
the theory
I am going
states.
The
is
idea
that it
outright
the things he does outright state if

we

that he held this theory. So the claim


suppose
I take it
is
underdetermined
by the evidence.
theory
to readers of Aristotle.
is not unfamiliar
as I think
I shall begin by stating the theory,
on Plato's mistakes,
Aristotle's
and fitting
reflections

that he held

the

that this situation


it emerged
from
it into Aristotle's

1 below.
essentialism.
This occupies
section
The theory is, in the first instance, a theory about the Greek word
'to be', of that word
'eivaC whose bearing on the English
translation,
Synthese 54 (1983) 409-442.
Copyright

1983 by D. Reidel

0039-7857/83/0543-0409 $03.40
Publishing

Co., Dordrecht,

Holland,

and Boston,

U.S.A.

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410

R. M.

DANCY

is not

But I think that, mutatis


it does have
obvious.
mutandis,
us
to
tell
about
per
something
Anglo-Saxon
being, and, ultimately,
to
about Being
(or even Sein: but I do not want
haps, something
I
to
after
the
commit
try
Accordingly,
theory,
sacrilege).
stating
mutate
to bring it to bear on English.
the things that need mutation
Here I hope to irritate any Heideggerians
that are still with us. I also
a bit about the theory's fringe benefits,
complain
about this point that my disagreement
with Owen
I shall not be pursuing
this disagreement
beyond
At any rate, I make as many enemies
footnotes).
it is a bit of a letdown after
although
Lastly,

at
and it is probably
set
to
in
(but
begins
relevant
providing
as I can.

twitting the Heideg


so
some
turn
texts
I
to
with which
this theory is to
on,
gerians and
one
us.
I
in De
inter
On this occasion
consider
only two:4
help
11 that famously
in Categories
conflicts with a passage
10,
pretatione
on 'being' in Aristotle's
A 7, the chapter
and one in Metaphysics
Even with these texts, I shall be more cursory
than the
'dictionary'.
subject ultimately will allow. But brevity may at least yield clarity of
statement
such as this, that is perhaps
and in a preliminary
outline,
best.

1. WHAT

IT

IS TO

BE

IN GREEK

wrote
and Aristotle
and probably
spoke does
as
separate words,
English does, for 'to exist' and 'to be'.5
tell the student that the single word eanv
textbooks6
First-year Greek
on whether
to
it means
is
be accented
'exist' or
differently
depending
as
'Hermann's
known
convention,
rule',
just 'is', but this orthographic
in the writing of Greek or in what we can tell of its
has no foundation
in ancient
before
times, and may have no foundation
pronunciation
that Plato

The Greek
not possess

ruled it.7 The Greek word e^iaraa^ai,


in
1801, when Hermann
which,
the sense 'to be separated
from', 'to stand out from', or just 'to stand
to travel through its Latin cognate
and
into French
out', is destined
thence to appear in English as 'to exist', is not used to mean
'exist', at
least, not in the time of Plato and Aristotle.
the claim that Socrates
So, for Plato and Aristotle,
a
sentence
by
shaped like this one:
represented
(1)
Now,

Socrates
in fact,

exists would

be

is.8

the sentence

'Socrates

exists'

has a peculiar

ring to it. It

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ARISTOTLE

AND

411

EXISTENCE

tenses and subjects:


"So Pr?ster
John really
helps here to change
extra
the
after
all."
Here
the
im
words,
tense, and, most
existed,
use
one's
about
the
the
of
background
knowledge
portantly,
quasi
to the
'Pr?ster John' help to give an air of realism
proper name
it is easier to ignore friction and wind
But for starters,
enterprise.
the
resistance;
anyway,
theory itself will involve us in restoring some
in
of the realism
(1), or in its more normal but still rather
lacking
'Socrates
In particular, we
exists'.
equivalent,
peculiar English
of background
attend to the relevance
So I shall
knowledge.

shall
stick

with (1).
I am
In this and subsequent
formulations
It
said
been
that
has
subtlety.
frequently
a
not
"there
NP
is
is
(such
as) x,"
prefix',
'x exists', for a variety of reasons.91
claims,
claim. On the other hand, I take it that, on

deliberately
ignoring one
the English
'existential
used to make existential
do not want to deny this
the sentences
occasion,
after all" and "So there really was
"So Pr?ster
John really existed,
And that
such a person as Pr?ster John, after all" are interchangeable.
is
our
for
purposes:
present
enough
equivalence
admittedly
floppy
on
the
verb
'exists'
focus is not, ultimately,
anyway.
English

the English
like (1) translates
So a sentence
'Socrates exists', and
to the word
the Greek word
in it that corresponds
'is' is the same
word that appears in the Greek for these:
Socrates
Socrates

(2)
(3)

is pale.
is [a] man

[i.e., a human

being].

to this

Consider
first Plato's
response
situation; Aristotle's
grows
out of it.
At the end of Republic
tells us that, whereas
the form
v, Plato
'the beautiful'
named
and
(iravrek?s,
477a3)
entirely
purely
is, ordinary beautiful
things both are and
(elkiKpivcoc, 468d6, 479d5)
are not. It is tempting
to this
to lend a semblance
of naturalness
etc.
The
contrast
'is', etc., with
'exists',
by replacing
temptation
as some10 think, no
at least at first, not because,
should be resisted,
ever espouse
the absurdity
of
(much less Plato) would
- this seems
to me
to condemn
too many
existence
to the asylums - but because
too quickly
that replace
philosophers
ment severs the contrast
for it. What
condemns
from the argument
the fair Helen11 to being tumbled about (Kvkiv?e?Tca, 479d4)12 in the
rational man

degrees

of

region between

what

purely

is and what

purely

is not

is the fact that,

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412

R. M.

DANCY

she is beautiful
with a pot (cf. Hi. Ma. 289a,
by comparison
although
with Phd. 74a-c and R. v 479ab), she is not beautiful
by comparison
an important period of his
with the goddess Aphrodite.
Throughout
habit of concluding
from this that
life, Plato had the unfortunate
to some
Helen
and is not beautiful.13 He managed
both is beautiful
the Republic:
extent to kick this habit, but not before writing
indeed,
here he indulges
in it with gusto and a further twist, for he goes on
that Helen
to the
from the conclusion
both is and is not beautiful
not.
that
Helen
both
is
and
is
conclusion
and the beautiful: Helen
That, then, is the contrast between Helen
as
as
much
she
and is not
both is beautiful
both is and is not, in
that is, it is un
is purely,
but the form, the beautiful,
beautiful,
in as much as it is simply
of nonbeing,
by any admixture
no
and in
way is it not beautiful.14
beautiful,
- or
these moves
We could put the view underlying
rather, one of
in terms that make
it sound more philosophical
the views
by saying
'S is P', Plato is regarding the
that, where we have a true predication
'P' as giving a mode of being of the subject S; and, where
predicate
adulterated

we

in which
have
S lacks being. I should
'S is not P', P is a mode
to put it differently,
it is
and I shall; but even put this way
prefer
came to see, that it is thoroughly
to see, as Plato himself
possible
for his purposes.
For clearly, as he says in the Sophist,
unsatisfactory
there is much
that it is, but an indefinite
"for each of the forms,
[of things] that it is not" (Sph. 256e5-6).15 So there are lots of
plurality
lacks being, and the contrast
in which
the form, the beautiful,
modes
to the
And that, indeed, is just what happens
with Helen
evaporates.
I am
the difficulty
contrast
such as the Sophist:16
in late dialogues
one
aware.
the Academy
to is
became
And
of which
acutely
pointing
it is this that leads to Aristotle's
theory.
But this is better seen if we abandon
austere
formulation,
being for a more
Republic,

allowing

the false depth of modes


of
as follows.
Plato
is, in the

the inference:

S is P -? S is,

(E)
along with

its negative

counterpart:

(NCE) S is not P ^ S is not.


And what

makes
(E) and its negative
counterpart
in each case is merely
the idea that the consequent

to him is
plausible
a simplification
of

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AND

ARISTOTLE

the antecedent,

For

just as in

Socrates

(P)
this

413

EXISTENCE

is a pale man-?

sort of

Socrates

is pale.17

to work,

the residue after the sim


it had before:
its con
plification
significance
tribution to the unsimplified
must
be
what
left.
is
Failure
original
just
to meet this requirement
is obvious where
there is a gross change
in
the sense of one or another word, as, perhaps,
in
must

simplification
have the same

Socrates

(L)

but there are subtler


Socrates

(G)
Here

is a lousy provider
failures.

Consider

is a good

cobbler-?

-? Socrates

Socrates

is lousy,

is good.

we

need not, and, I think, should not, say that 'good' has
sense from antecedent
to consequent.
'Good' is what Geach
changed
a noun or noun phrase needs
once18 called an 'attributive'
adjective:
to be supplied
the question
that will answer
'a good what?' And,
in a specific conversational
context
it may be clear that the
although
noun to be supplied
is 'cobbler'
are all
in Athens
("The cobblers
Socrates
is good."), we are talking about justified
terrible."?"No,
and that means we need a conclusion
we can,
patterns of inference,
so to speak, carry away with us. But once we have carried away
'Socrates is good', the noun we should supply to complete
the sense is
no longer 'cobbler', but, presumably,
'man'.

All this applies


to (E) (and to (NCE)). At the very least, the 'is' in
must be the same
its antecedent
'is' as that in its consequent.
In
there can be no shift from an alleged predicative
sense of
particular,
sense of 'is'. Since, as I shall be arguing in
'is' to an alleged existential
next
are
no
the
such senses of 'is', this is not a problem.
section, there
But also there must not be any of the more subtle problems
such as
beset (G). And here, as we shall see, trouble may arise. Aristotle
is
(E), as did Plato, but in neither case does it have to
going to abandon
do with shifting from a predicative
to an existential
sense of 'is'. In
of abandoning
case, it is not so much a matter
(E) as of
its range of operation while
the idea that the
restricting
preserving
cases
in the allowable
is a simplification
of the ante
consequent
the same 'is'.
cedent, and so contains
But
with
those whose
distaste
for
still, I must
part company
leads them to read it out of Plato. As I have said,
degrees of existence

Aristotle's

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414

R. M.

DANCY

goes about
is, as far as I can tell, the way a Greek
himself may be found
the existence
Aristotle
of Socrates.
asserting
using this format in Cat. 10, 13b16-17, 19, etc. For realism, one must
and Cyrus. Xeno
say, between
Xenophon
imagine a conversation,
that there
and Cyrus denies
phon has been talking about Socrates,
"Socrates

is"

could be anyone that strange; Xenophon


exists,
replies "Oh, Socrates
a Greek
Here
all right; I was at a party with him just last month."
So Plato
is,
is, all right;_"
might say (the Greek for) "Oh, Socrates
as we might
as far as I can tell, committed
to degrees
of existence,
phrase the matter; when he says that the forms 'purely' and 'entirely'
can be put into English by saying that their hold
are, what he means
on existence
is absolute because
they are what they are irrefragably,
some of what she is,
hold is relative and weak, because
while Helen's
if not all of what she is, she also is not.
said something
is it that condemns
Then what
(E)? I have already
in the 'deep' terminology;
before putting it more
about that, although
there are a couple of obvious problems with it that are not
austerely,
covered by the theory I shall have Aristotle
adopting, which
so
as
to
false
to
avoid
be
mentioned
hopes.
raising
ought
and dealt with by both Plato
First, there is a problem
recognized
is not. Unicorns
of what
the notorious
and Aristotle:
(a
problem
not
do
exist:
and
modern
favorite)
(Aristotle's
favorite)
goat-stags
are believed
in by some and used as
they are not. But goat-stags
we
to
that
last sentence, we end up
If
others.
(E)
apply
by
examples
on (E) needed
zoo
The
is
restriction
in
the
that
them
reality.
having
directly

it is close by, in
here is not the one I am primarily
after, although
involve isolating the predicates,
mind. As I see it, it would
Aristotle's
that give trouble, call them
in' and 'used as examples',
like 'believed
in
and
'intensional
(E) unfit for use with
pronouncing
predicates',
does not, I think, see it quite that way.
Aristotle
tensional predicates.
But I am not going to worry any more about that here.
A second interesting problem not covered by the theory to come is
such as 'fake', 'mythical',
and, parti
adjectives
So we do
is no diamond.
'dead'. ? fake diamond
is
is fake' that that diamond
from 'that diamond
man
'that
is
to
want
from
not
it
follow
does
and Aristotle
(exists),
we
label
the
man
is.
Here
that
dead' that
may simply
problem
again
or 'alienating
alienantia'
and shelve it: call such adjectives
'adjectives

by certain
provided
for
Aristotle,
cularly
not want it to follow

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ARISTOTLE

adjectives';19

(E) does

not work

AND

415

EXISTENCE

for alienating

adjectives

as predi

cates.

Now what is the trouble with (E)?


true of
As Plato uses it and (NCE) in the Republic,
every predicate
to
false
of it
its
and
S contributes
every
existence,
equally
predicate
its
from
detracts
existence
intensional
predicates
equally
(ignoring
I shall refer to this as the 'democratic'
and adjectives
alienantia).
attitude toward S's predicates.
the democratic
is a problem because
there are
For Plato,
attitude
a
must
is
its
be
unadulterated.
form
existence
not, yet
many
things
is a problem
the democratic
for a different
For Aristotle,
attitude
reason.

as an
The democratic
attitude
toward S's predicates
suggests,
in: the logical sum of all the
account
consists
of what S's existence
true of S. But that account
of S's existence
ties S down
predicates
our
as
too
Take
Socrates
and
let him be
candidate
S,
entirely
firmly.
can
at
his
then:
he
lose
the
and
local
become
pallor
parlor
pale. First,
we
he
Socrates.
Of
could
clock
is
still
his
course,
dark;
simply
pallor,
and then his being pale on Thursday
afternoon would be part of his
with
dark
his
existence,
being
Thursday
night. But, again, he
along
as much
well
have
been
there
Thursday
night,
might
perfectly
as
even
at
if
he had missed
the parlor
Socrates
his appointment
ever,
as a sheet. The
is that the loss of
white
trouble
and remained
Socrates'
pallor is perfectly
compatible with the retention of Socrates,
while with the loss of other things - notably,
the loss of his life, and
- we seem to lose
the
loss
of
his
humanity
perhaps
something more:
namely,

Socrates.

is by now pretty familiar,


and equally
just registered
It rejects
the democratic
toward a subject's
attitude
in favor of a form of elitism that we can call 'essentialism'.
predicates
a
is
red
This
flag to certain bulls. These bulls can be found in quite
we have
In one, there are the innocent
democrats
different
pens.
is part of his being
already met, for whom any of Socrates'
predicates
as much as any other: these, in effect, believe
that all relations are
internal, and we might think of them as Idealists. The other pen has in
an
it a contemptuous
share with
the democratic
lot who
Idealists
The

view

controversial.

but will have nothing


attitude toward Socrates'
egalitarian
predicates
to do with any of them: these, who
insist that none of Socrates'
is any part of his being, we may call 'Existentialists'.
predicates

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416

R. M.

DANCY

I shall not here argue against any of these anti-essentialist


bulls; I
news
not
content
It
to
with
is
anyone that
myself
name-calling.
simply
Let us just suppose he is right.
Aristotle
is an essentialist.
We
shall need some of the terminology
in which he expresses
his
essentialism.
The predicate
in
Socrates

(3)

is a man

is one that holds


'of itself, or per

'in its own right',


of the subject
'by virtue of itself,
se.
are
These
translations
of the
(or propter)
varying
us
one:
in
Let
the
first
'k?^' a?n-?'.20
the predicate
adopt
single phrase
the
holds
the
of
(3)
subject by virtue of itself. By contrast,
predicate
in
Socrates

(2)
holds

of

its subject

is pale
accidentally,

'by virtue

of

an accident'

(k t?

avjjL?e?y)KO<;).
a predicate
between
This distinction
and
pertains to the relationship
at different points
its subject, but Aristotle
it to the sentence
attaches
at different
times. Initially, the reflexive pronoun
(abro, 'itself) refers
are frequently
and person
back to the subject:
its gender, number,
features of the subject (as inMet. Z
determined
by the corresponding
see A 18.
for some other
4. 1029b14-16,
below;
quoted
samples,
31
Z
3.
5.
But
sometimes
28,
1029a20,
1022a26-27,
[bis], 34,
1030b19).
the phrase goes along with the predicate, when
the predicate
is taken
a
a
more
or
less
dim
in isolation, with only
view of
subject:
possible
a 'by-virtue-of
then the predicate becomes
itself term (as in An. post.
A 4. 73a34ff., 22. 84a13-17, Met. Z 4. 1029b9, etc.).
are plainly con
the distinction
These different ways of employing
to say how. We might
but it is not easy
nected,
try, as a first
a term T is a by-virtue-of
itself term iff, whenever
approximation:
itself (viz., S)T. This can only be
any subject S is T, S is by-virtue-of
or putative
an approximation,
counter-exam
since counterexamples
a
'that pale thing is man', e.g., which has as predicate
ples abound:
itself term, but pale things are not by virtue of them
by-virtue-of
takes the
selves
(i.e., by virtue of being pale things) men. Aristotle
line that 'that pale thing is a man' is not of the form 'S is T' (An. post.
The fact is, I think, that the 'by-virtue-of
A 22. 83al-17).
itself
an
and
when
with
it
carries
intensional
Aristotle
element,
terminology

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ARISTOTLE

AND

417

EXISTENCE

uses that terminology


in An. post. A 22 in denying that 'that pale thing
is a man'
is of the form 'S is T', he imports an intensional
element
right into the form 'S is T\ But that is part of another story.21
There
is another
in the sentence
at which
Aristotle
will
point
attach his distinction,
and this will be part of the present
occasionally
to distinguish
the 'is' that occurs
in (3) from the
story: he is prepared
in (2), so that the 'is' of (3) is a by-virtue-of
'is' that occurs
itself 'is',
and that of (2) is an accidental
'is'. Here I suspect a blunder, of a type
to be considered

in the next section.


we can make
the present,
do with
the initial form of the
a man, but accidentally
Socrates
is by virtue of himself
distinction:
that is
defines22 the phrase
pale. It is in these terms that Aristotle
translated as 'essence'
(Met. Z 4. 1029b13-14): "... the
conventionally
For

essence
to

of each

Tt r\v

elvai

thing

eKaarco

is what
o keyerai

it is said
kol?'

[to be] by virtue

of itself

(?or?

?oto)."

In fact, the phrase


trans
(to t? i)v elvai + dative) conventionally
lated 'essence'
is a curious one,23 and what
is of interest here is that
its core is an occurrence
of the infinitive
'to be'. So, instead of the
"the essence
of each thing," as above, I shall adopt the
conventional
more literal "what it is24 for each thing to be." I take this to amount to
things like 'what to be is for each thing', 'what each thing's being is,
or consists
in', etc. Then the above passage will be retranslated,
along
with its immediate
sequel, as follows
(1029b13?16)
... what

it is said [to be] by virtue of itself. For it is not


thing to be is what
to be is for [you] to be educated,25
for you are not by virtue
of
Therefore,
[it's] what
[you are] by virtue of yourself,
(ecrri to t? r)v
yourself
ov y?p eo-n to crot etvat to jliouotk?) elvai oh y?p
K?(TT(t) o ?ey Tc*i Ka^' air?,
elvai
Kara aavr?v
el ?xov(tik?<;. b apa Kara aavr?v.)
[so]

it is for each

that

for

you
educated.

senses of 'to be' for Socrates


on
If we take this to give us different
'to be' means
'to be a man') and Bucephalus
the one hand (for whom
on the other
we are
'to be' means
'to be a horse'),
(for whom
another blunder of the type mentioned
above and to be
committing
below. We need not. We might just take it that filling in the
us under what conditions
tells
'Socrates
is' (i.e., 'Socrates
predicate
the
and
leave
is
alternative
true,
open
exists')
(which is, in
possibility
what
to fill in is,
the
that
determines
which
fact,
right one)
predicate
not 'is', but 'Socrates'. For the remainder of this section, I shall take it
dealt with

that

this

further

alternative

discussion

possibility
for the next.

has

not

been

ruled

out,

and

leave

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418

R. M.

Consider

once more

the two

DANCY

inferences

S is P -> S is

(E)
and

(NCE) S is not P ^ S is not.


that the essentialist
view we have
just handed Aristotle
use
to
him
the
unrestricted
of
(E) (again,
requires
reject
leaving
out of the picture).
In the first
and alienating
intensional
predicates
what
he must
is its converse,
its
instance,
by restricting
reject
cases
a
to
true
'P'
S:
in
which
is
of
essentially
predicate
application
cases
in which
S is by virtue of itself P.26 and so he must
reject
does
it
S is P by virtue of itself, essentially,
(NCE): only where
follow from 'S is not P' that S is not.
an indirect impact on (E) as
But all this has, given the background,
to be
the
inference
well. For the justification
for
(E) was supposed
move
sort
that
the
of
justifies
simple simplification,
It is not

is a pale man ?> Socrates

Socrates

(P)
but breaks
(L)

down

is pale

for

Socrates

is a lousy provider

Socrates

is a good

?? Socrates

is lousy

and for
(G)

cobbler

-> Socrates

is good.

residue
(L) and (G) were ruled out on the ground that the simplified
was
to
in the course of the simplification.
had changed character
(P)
was
to
constant.
And
if
is
because
its
residue
be allowed
so,
(E)
a
constant
residue.
survive, it must show
Consider,
(et)

then,
Socrates

the instance

of (E) that reads

is pale -> Socrates

is.

So we write
is to be an inference with a detachable
consequent.
on a slip of paper and put it to sea in a bottle. But
its consequent
that
when
it washes
shore, its readers, who know
up on a distant
it is said to be by virtue of
"what it is for each thing to be is what
is a man,
is by virtue of himself
itself," and know that what Socrates
noun. So (eO is a failure, and (E)
will supply 'aman' as the completing
This

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ARISTOTLE

is not

Socrates

is a man

419

EXISTENCE

true. But no such failure

in general

(e2)

AND

-> Socrates

is involved

with

is.

or by-virtue-of
to essential
itself predicates,
(E), restricted
In fact, confining
to
essential
is overly
(E)
predications
Consider
That

(e3)

thing

pale

is a man ?? That

pale

thing

survives.
restrictive.

is.

'that pale thing is a man' as a straightforward


would not so count it. To
essential predication,
and, in fact, Aristotle
a
as
to
at all, he thinks
it
the extent that he is willing
count
predication
as
or
as
of it
he thinks of it
accidental:
in,
grounded
having for its
'that man is pale' (see ?4 below). And, as we have
truth conditions,

We

not

should

count

he would prefer to legislate it away:


noted, in the Posterior Analytics
at all, or it predicates
"either
it doesn't
not simply, but
predicate
tj Kanqyope?v
?Lev /lit)
accidentally"
?jnqoafiax; Karr^yopeiv,
(tjtoi
aTT?co?, Kara avyi?e?r]K?<; 8e Karr^yopetv, 83a15?17).
let us allow him the legislation he tries to
For simplicity of outline,
We
shall expand our horizon
pass in the Posterior
slightly
Analytics.
in ?4 below.
can suppose that
to explain how Aristotle
We are now in a position
or other without
to be is to be something
giving up the distinction
between
'to be something or other' and just 'to be'.
to this, elvat tl, to
first. According
Take the latter, the distinction,
or 'to be' + Pred.,
be something,
is not the same as elvat airkus,
just
'to be without
'to be' or 'to be#'. The latter phrase is often translated
These
translations
'to be absolutely'.
or, worse,
In fact, all Aristotle's
too much of the distinction.
such as
otTrk?)^ does is point to the 'is' in sentences

qualification',
one to make
'elvai

Socrates

(1)

tempt
phrase

is.

mark exis
just 'is', not 'is' + Pred. Such occurrences
sense of 'is' in Aristotle,
if there were an existential
tential sentences:
sense here;
this would be it. But there is plainly no special existential
'to be' followed
between
there is a merely
difference
by a
syntactic
predicate and 'to be #\ The latter results from truncating a predication.

Here

we

have

So even

to be something.
'to be #' is, implicitly,
may be so truncated:
But, as we have seen, not just any predication
the simplifying
Under
the predicate must be restorable.
assumption

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420

R. M.

DANCY

as 'that pale thing is a man' can be ruled out, the


that such locutions
of
that allows truncation
is an essential
type
predication
predication.
to be # is to be something,
So while
it is not to be any old thing. In
for
fact, (1) is elliptical
(3)

Socrates

That

is the theory.

is a man.
Let us translate

2. BEING

The word
sentence

AND

EXISTING

it into English.
IN

ENGLISH

the same way


behave
in normal English:
to be used
in English
to translate
primarily
Greek. There
is a more or less archaic use of the verb
philosophical
'be' that survives
in recitations
of Hamlet's
and Owen's
soliloquy
is no more',26 and our ability to understand
the
example
'Arrowby
locution may give a fingernail-hold
for the theory in English,
but it

would
The

'is' does
(1) seems

not

be nice to have more.


first thing to notice
is the oddity
Socrates

(4)

already

mentioned

about

exists.

I have
tenses

in mind not the oddity


that can be corrected
by changing
and adding adverbs,
but the requirement
on under
placed
associated
with
standing the sentence of some background
knowledge
the name 'Socrates':
if you spring it on someone
not in the know, he
is going on. So also with
idea what
the
may not have the faintest
sentence-form

(5)

There

is (such

a - as) Plato.

Without
the parenthetical
filled in, this does not
material,
properly
even scan.27 And properly
some fairly
filling in the blank requires
noun or noun phrase:
substantial
for
covering
just 'thing',
example,
will only work
in quite special cases ("My good man, there is such a
and so on). 'Plato' is the name of a
you know,"
thing as decency,
as well as that of a philosopher,
computer
language
and, for that
I could use it to name my pet cat, my pet theory, my favorite
matter,
the national debt, the coin Washington
skimmed across the
number,
or the value of that coin in real terms of Christmas
Delaware,
Day
1776 given
in terms of the Laspeyres
index. In the absence
of a
that has some bite to it, we do not know what
is
covering
phrase
talked
about.
being

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ARISTOTLE

AND

421

EXISTENCE

to place the
It is not altogether
clear, in that case, what pigeon-hole
no
in.
the
to
Some
feel
that
it is not
doubt,
will,
urge
argue
ignorance
an
for
such
The
relevant.
argument might be
pattern
linguistically
it (although
distinction
and couple
this: invoke the sense-reference
of
this would not have made Frege very happy) with Mill's doctrine
names.
to
that
into
doctrine
(translated
Fregese),
proper
According
someone
says 'I'm study
proper names do not have sense. So when
and it is not clear to you
PLATO'),
(or 'I'M STUDYING
ing Plato'
or the theory
she is trying to grasp the theory of recollection
whether
mean
not
have
failed to get
that
does
of programmed
you
learning,
the sense of what she is saying: you have got all the sense there is to
the minimal
fact
and, perhaps,
get if you know the rest of her words
name.
a
that 'Plato' (or 'PLATO')
is proper
seems
the sense
to me one of the many
This
places where
with
Mill's
reference
and its alliance
distinction
theory of proper
me
seems
names
us
to
clear that there is something
It
lead
astray.
and
the sense of what
about
she said that we are not getting,
with the proper name in it.28 But I am not able
associated
something
to lay out a proper account of the matter, at least not here. So I shall
for
that (4) and (5) require for their understanding,
simply assert
noun or cover
their sense, some fairly substantial
covering
grasping
the 'expli
and admit that I do not know whether
ing noun-phrase,
sense belongs
to the science
cation' (I shudder at the word) of making
or necromancy.
of semantics,
that of pragmatics,
is at least partly right: the demand for an
If this is correct, Aristotle
noun or phrase is his demand for an answer to
informative
covering
to complete
is'.
the sense of 'Socrates
the question
'what is Socrates?'
It is no accident
that this is close to some of the things that have
with
recently been said29 in connection
identity by way of reviving
essentialism.
Aristotle's
But as things are, an argument
itself that would
may
suggest
undermine

views
into Anglo
any further steps in beating Aristotle's
the facts about Greek
shape. For it may seem that, whatever
to
(which is, after all, a dead language and perhaps should be allowed
rest in peace), we do in English
have a special sense for 'is' that is
the 'is' in
Consider
plainly existential.
Saxon

(6)
(again,

There
embedded

is such a person

as Plato,

in a conversational

context

that gives

it natural

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422

R. M.

DANCY

or, better, the 'was' in 'there really was such a man as Pr?ster
These verbs can be replaced by 'exists' and 'existed',
respec
(who lives in Athens
tively. But the 'is' in 'Plato is a person
...)' and
the 'was' in 'Pr?ster John was a man (who ...)' cannot be so replaced.

ness),
John'.

So the 'is' in (6) is existential.


I take it no one really falls for such replacement-arguments
without
of any alternative
account of the
further support. But, in the absence
So I shall say something
'is' in (6), this one may cause consternation.
an alternative
account
or
even
correctness.
completeness
that these are the right lines.30
how

about

sentences:

the following

Consider

to
go, without
pretending
might
I think we can see enough
to tell

(7)

There

(8)
(9)

There
There

(10)

There

a furious clamor.
ensued a riot.
the entire retinue.
followed
fought by his side the bravest

(11)

There

resulted

(12)
(13)

her window
there sang a popular singer.
Outside
There sat next to me the saddest man in the world.

arose

the worst

disaster

of the Romans.
he remembered.

sense of 'arise', 'ensue', 'follow',


a special existential
or
'sit' to explain
how we can have
such
'sing',
'fight', 'result',
sentences
their counterparts
with
the verb in the 'predi
alongside
such as
cative' position. The latter are sentences
do not need

We

A furious clamor arose.


The bravest of the Romans
fought by his side.
sat next to me.
The saddest man in the world

(7')
(10')
(13')

linguistics
us from

in
that was fashionable
require is (to put it in a way
last week or the week before) a transformation
that will get
that underly
such sentences
them) as
(or the structures

(7')-(13')
insertion'

to (7)-(13).
and would
X

(T)
At

we

what

And

least,

others,

NP!

The

- V

be

transformation
would
look a little like this:
(NP2) Y X

- there - V

labeled

(such NP2

'THERE

as) Y
NPt.

this would generate


(7)?(13) from (7')-(13'). And, just among
it would generate
'There is such a man as Plato' from 'Plato is

a man'.

I said I would

not pretend

to correctness.

And

(T) is, accordingly,

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AND

ARISTOTLE

not correct.
want.

E.g.,

starting
These

(14')
we

It would

use

could

books

weigh

some

things we

- or at least I - do not

a lot

(T) to derive

There

*(14)

generate
from

423

EXISTENCE

weigh

a lot these books.

And it is not clear where


the stuff represented
by 'X' in (T) should go:
for the move
from (13') to (13), (T) seems all right as it stands ('next
to me' is carried along with the verb), but with
Mice

(15')
(T) would

generate
There

*(15)

what we

where

are in the bathtub

There

(15)

are in the bathtub

mice

(at any rate, I) really want


are mice

is

in the bathtub.

So the rule requires a lot of tinkering with.


The point is that, blemished
as it is, this is the right sort of thing:
we do not want to rewrite the dictionary
to take account of all these
senses of all these verbs. But if this is
existential
newly discovered
the right sort of thing,
'is' becomes
just one verb among others
to the transformation,
and bears no special
sense when
it
subject
follows
'there' as in (5) or (6): it is simply the same verb as in 'Plato is
a man' with the surrounding
sentence
reprocessed.31
So we are left with 'simple sentences':
sentences.
subject-predicate
These

'is'. But this word


frequently
is, after all, quite mean
employ
a syntactic
it is merely
device
for connecting
and
ingless:
subjects
are not already verb phrases,
where
the predicates
predicates
just as
the word
'thing' is a device for turning adjectival
phrases and others
into noun phrases
and
(e.g. 'of the mind')
(e.g., 'things of the mind'),
just as 'to' is merely a device for turning verbs into infinitives (e.g., 'to

'to be or not to be').32


walk',
So Heidegger
is right:

But
word

being

Its meaning

or in the end
almost
like nothing,
unfindable,
is finally,
It means
then, only an empty word.
nothing
is an unactual
vapor.33

remains

'being'

entirely
actual,

like that. The


tangible,

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real.

424

R. M.

DANCY

a lamentable
for
loss: apparently,
this represents
for Heidegger,
to bursting with mean
before Plato,
the Greeks
elvai was chockful
is not bad.
is wrong. But fifty percent
ing. And about that, Heidegger
is to show that the part of Aristotle's
So far all we have done
in fact, have
to Greek may,
theory that seems at first provincial
to
it
of
that is not all
in
course,
English. But,
something
corresponding
there is to the theory. For one thing, there is also its essentialism.
the doctrine
of
This
is not, on the face of it, a linguistic matter:
or implausible
I take it, as it is
in English,
is as plausible
essentialism
But

in Greek.
plausible
to leave
one

But it sometimes
sounds as if the doctrine might not be
or Rortyspeak.36
Here I am going
in Chinese,34 or Nootka,35
I am innocent, on
these languages, along with others of which

side.

of his essen
there is one thing about Aristotle's
employment
with
the
must
that
is
connected
be mentioned,
tialism that
closely
senses
or
or
in
in
Greek.
of
'is'
absence of different
presence
English
that some have
another distinction
To get at this, first consider
to
and
to be pertinent
Greek
that between
being:
English
alleged
a
here: it is
is
There
distinction
certainly
identity and predication.37
between
claims like
But

Dr.

(16)

Jekyll

on the one hand,

is Mr. Hyde

and claims

like

(17)

Dr.

Jekyll

is schizoid

(18)

Dr.

Jekyll

is an addict

or

on the other. (16) states an identity;


(17) and (18), I think,38 do not,
as
both
and I shall characterize
predications.
and when
are, notoriously,
they apply their
myopic,
Philosophers
to sentences
that do different
things, they usually
glasses
magnifying
can only manage
to bring into focus a single word.39 Here the word is
'is'. They

in (16) and the 'is' of


to spot the 'is' of identity
profess
of the
in (17), and then fall to arguing over the character

predication
'is' in (18).
I shall call this habit of supposing
to the next must
from one sentence
the 'fallacy of the magnifying
words

in character
that every difference
in single ambiguous
be locatable
glass'. We do not need to pull the

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ARISTOTLE

AND

425

EXISTENCE

over the meaning


word
'is' out of those sentences
and go into Angst
of being. The situation
is completely
described
by saying that 'is' is
followed
in (16) by a singular definite noun phrase,
in (17) by an
an
in
noun
and
indefinite
Sentences
that
adjective,
(18) by
phrase.
show the structure of (16) state identities;
the others are predications.
But this has nothing
to do with
the occurence
of 'is' in different
colors: it is what comes next that counts.40
does not commit
Aristotle
the fallacy of the magnifying
with 'elvai', identity, and predication.41
connection
'But he
the fallacy; conceivably
he is its inventor; probably42 he
influential perpetrator. And if he falls into it anywhere,
he
with 'is'. He thinks that the fact that 'man' and 'pale' relate
to Socrates makes
for a different
'is' in
Socrates

(3)

from the one

differently

is a man

in

Socrates

(2)

glass in
is prone to
is its most
falls into it

is pale:

the former is an 'is' k?#' ai>r?, a by-virtue-of


itself 'is';
an accidental
'is' Kara avii?e?iqKOc,
'is' (see, e.g., Met.
and below,
?4).
Unless
there is more to it, this is just as much a case
of the magnifying
glass as the idea that 'is' varies

the latter is an
A 7. 1017a7-8,
of the fallacy
in sense from

identities

to predications.
it is a natural mistake.
That
Perhaps
to him; that he is pale is accidental
relationships.
They are both covered by
to talk as if there were
two varieties

Socrates
is a man is essential
to him. These
are different
the word
'is'. So it is natural
of 'is'. In the sequel,
I shall
with
Aristotle's
go along
occasionally
talking that way.
But I do it under protest.
If this way
of talking
is not to be
a
as
away merely
explained
way of talking, but is to be taken as
in senses of 'is', or concepts
of being, or
marking a genuine distinction
it is a case of the fallacy of the magnifying
whatever,
glass. It would
be a great relief to get Aristotle
off this particular hook. I do not at
present

know

how

to do it.

in these terms, and still leaving 'that pale thing is a man'


Rephrased
out of account,
the theory of ?1 becomes
this. The
'is' of (3) is a
itself 'is', and permits cancellation
of the predicate.
The
by-virtue-of
'is' of the residue,
'Socrates
itself 'is', and
is', is then a by-virtue-of

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426

R. M.

DANCY

also an 'is' ?7r?c5?, 'is#', since it no longer has an attached predicate.


the latter is
characterizations:
these are two different
roughly,
one
farther
the
former
semantic.
To
and
go
along the
step
syntactic
'is' is, paradigmatically
road to perdition, we might say: the existential
itself 'is' is, in
itself 'is', but the by-virtue-of
(see ?4), a by-virtue-of
a predicative
and
becomes
existential
the first instance,
'is,
by
only

But

of the predicate.

cancellation

3. DE

In the final

INTERPRETATIONE

lines (21H8-34)

of De

11. 21a25-28.

int. 11, Aristotle

to the one just dealt with: before


the rule opposite
he was
is investigating
investigating
on their own could also be predicated
when
but in these
things predicated
together,
can also be predicated
when
is investigating
lines he
things
together
predicated
separately.

has just
(in De int. 210. 17-20)43 rightly says. Aristotle
that the argumentative
rule we might
pointing out, for example,
'Addition':

So Ammonius
been
call

S isAdj. & S isNP-* S is Adj. NP

(A)

we have
from
is good', where
'Socrates
always work:
is a
(airkus aya??c,
21a15) and 'Socrates
'good'" or 'good #
is a good cobbler'
you cannot use (A) to get 'Socrates
he notes that the rule we have been calling
'Sim
(20b35-36).44 Now
He
is very brief about
also needs
this: he
restricting.
plification'
we
1 above,
listed in section
all three of the exceptions
mentions
dead men (see 21a23), and
namely
things that are not (see 2T32-33),
inferences
to existence
based on the wrong
and it is not
predicate,
does

not

"simply
cobbler',

easy

to see what

from dealing
myself
the third is this.
21a18-21 tell us:

he

is trying to say about them. I have excused


the first two here. What he has to say about

with

'of the something']


It is true to speak of the particular
[more literally,
simply as well,
man
for example,
[is a] man, or the particular
[is]
[to say that] the particular
pale man
...
{?\r\ft?<; 8? ko-nv elrreCv Kara rov rivo<; Kai ?rrX?c, oiov r?v tii^x
pale, but not always
ovk aei ?? ...).
\evKOv'
ixv?pcjTTOv ?vdp?JTTOv T) r?v riva kevK?v av?poynov

It is not clear what the first of these two examples


is telling us we are
to
the
second
but
is
do,45
plainly allowing us the inference
permitted
1 above.46
labeled '(P)' in section

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ARISTOTLE

AND

427

EXISTENCE

will not work with 'dead


then points out that simplification
Aristotle
between
the
there is a contradiction
man': in cases of this kind, where
to the simplification,
the rule never works.
two terms antecedent
thinks
'this is a dead
Aristotle
(There is a puzzle here: apparently
a sort of contradic
involves
'dead man'
man' can be true, although
it does
it works
and sometimes
sometimes
tion.) But in other cases,
not;
or not? For
'is' is
is he, therefore,
e.g., a poet; well,
for because
he is a poet, not by-virtue-of
'is' is
itself,
coarrep "Ofiiqp?c cot? ti, oiov 7toit)ttj<?. ?p' ovv Kai ecrriv,
(21a25?28:
predicated
rov '0?jLr)pov to ecrriv on y?p rroir)rr)<; ecrriv,
Vj ov ; Kara cru/x?e?TjKOc y?p Karr?yope?rai
Kara rov 'OfiTJpou rd ecrriv.)
aAA' ov Kafr abro, Karr\yope?rai
for example,

predicated

The
follow

Homer

accidentally
of Homer.

traditional

is something,
of Homer;

way

of taking

these

lines is as saying

that it does not

from

(19)

Homer

is a poet

Homer

is.

that
(20)
And

along with
to Homer
applies to Homer
applies

the denial
that 'is' by-virtue-of
itself
to be the denial that the existential
'is'
must have had advanced
views
(and then Aristotle

this, often
is understood

about

the 'Homeric question').


In my view, neither of these things is correct. That is, to be as
is not denying
that (20) follows
from
Aristotle
explicit as possible:
I take
itself" is not the 'is' of existence.47
(19), and "'is' by-virtue-of
up these points in reverse order. Both bring in the theory of ?1. The
latter is a simple application
of it.
The theory of ?1 tells us that the 'is' of 'Homer is a man' is a K?d'
avro
itself 'is', that simplification
may therefore be
'is', a by-virtue-of
on 'Homer is a man', yielding
'Homer is#, and that this is
performed
the existential
claim, 'Homer exists'. And the theory tells us that the
'is' of (19) is a Kara avpi?e?r]KO<;
'is', an accidental
'is', and so
on (19). That is what Aristotle
is
may not be performed
simplification
for prohibiting
sim
here telling us. Since he is giving as a reason
/<?#' avro, he cannot
the claim that 'is' is not here used
plification
mean by this claim that 'is' is not here used existentially.
That, after
all, is the question. He is simply saying: since (19) is not an essential
predication,

and

its 'is' is therefore

not Kad'

avro,

the predicate

may

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428

R. M.

not be canceled

by

simplification

DANCY

to yield

'is' ?irk

s, the "existential

'is'".

it yields considerable
This way of putting
ground to the fallacy of
the magnifying
but
it
shortens
the work.
certainly
glass,
for the second point: simplification
cannot be applied to
So much
to
not
Homer
does
k?#'
am?. But then the
because
its
'is'
(19)
apply
is not saying that (20) does not follow
first point is clear: Aristotle
He puts forth
from (19), but that it does not follow by simplification.
or not?" In
"Homer
the question:
is ... a poet; well,
is he, therefore,
it is not hard to read this, not as asking "does
its context
some devious means or other, that Homer
is?", but "does
are talking about apply here?"

it follow, by
the move we

But there are two good


This may, at first sight, seem unnecessary.
reasons why we should not take Aristotle
to be saying that it does not
follow from 'Homer is a poet' that 'Homer is'.
it comes to the
The first is that we know from elsewhere
that, when
from (19), he should say that it does.
(20) follows
question whether
in Categories
This
is a point he considers
10, and quite unam
no
there is
'Socrates
is healthy',
decides: when
Socrates,
biguously
is blind', etc., are false, and their nega
'Socrates
is sick', 'Socrates
tions true. The apparent conflict of that passage with De int. 11 is a
notorious
crux.48 In my view, there is no conflict.
The second reason for avoiding making Aristotle
deny the entail
ment
in favor of it, based
in
is that there is a very simple argument
is a poet. But poets are, after
itself. Homer
part on the De int. passage
is a man. But here the 'is' is a
all, human; so they are men. So Homer
avro
we
can
is. This argument
and
Kad'
'is',
is,
simplify. So Homer
terms
of the passage. But
in
of my interpretation
admittedly,
phrased
to that interpretation.
there is very little about it that is specific
On
the inference
has to fail
of the passage,
any understanding
virtually
the 'is' of (19) is not Ka#' avro applied to Homer, where
the
because
is applied to him Kad' am?. So all we need is
'is' in 'Homer is a man'
the concession
that poets are men, and we are away. It is extremely
to see how

that could be denied.


(It may be worth noting that
not help to say: well,
for all (19) has to say, Homer might
all right,
have been a god. Then we would have another alternative,
conclusion
but it would get us to the unwanted
just as easily.)
difficult

it would

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ARISTOTLE

4. METAPHYSICS

AND

429

EXISTENCE

A 7.

1017a7-30

more needs to be said than I shall say.


Here, especially,
This chapter gives us four main headings49 under which
to rank
'that which
is', 'to be', or 'is' (to ov 1017a6, bl, to elvai a24, 31, 35, to
the latter two, the 'is' that signifies that something
'?(jtiv a31). About
is
or potentially
true (a31?35) and
'to be' signifying
actually
being
(a35-b9), our theory has nothing
special to say. But the first two are
accidental
itself being, and that is what our
being and by-virtue-of
theory is about.
But even here

it will not explain everything.


In particular,
it will not
the most
of Aristotle's
controversial
claims under
explain, unaided,
these headings:
the claim that 'to be' in the second of these ways of
it shows variation
to the next. So,
from one category
conceiving
I shall say a little to indicate how that claim might be dealt
although
with, I shall not provide a full defence.
seem

It may
of

danger

that the sights have been lowered so far that we


our toes off, but there are still difficulties

shooting

are in
to be

met.

Aristotle
in an accidental
begins by stating that 'is' comes
variety
and a by-virtue-of
itself variety
(a7-8), and promptly
gives examples
of the former (a8-10): "e.g., we say the just is cultivated,
the man [is]
and the cultivated
cultivated,
[is a] man."
We may write:

(21)

The just [one] is [a] cultivated [one].

(22)
(23)

The man is [a] cultivated


[one].
The cultivated
[one] is [a] man.

to
material
has nothing
is pretty awful. The bracketed
serves
us
to
to
it
in
it
remind
in
the
Greek:
where
that,
correspond
as
is
the
'cultivated'
easily
occurring
predicate
English
adjective
in
because
it is an unsupplemented
identified as a predicate
adjective,

The

English

needs no supplementation
Greek
the predicate
adjective
'/xouotkoc'
in order to be treated as a noun phrase.
as making
are to be construed
to parti
reference
These
examples
cular people
in each case, the fellow holding up that lamppost over
is not talking about a maxim he and his friends
there, say: Aristotle

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430

R. M.

DANCY

like to utter to the effect that the just man is a cultivated man.
He adds another example which, he says, is similar (a10?11):
The

(24)

cultivated

[one] builds

houses.

is a single verb,
(Here 'builds houses'
to the preceding
dissimilar
relevantly
what we are talking about is accidental
that (24) is so
promptly
explains
because

it-is-accidental

be a] housebuilder
OlKOS? jUM?).

to the housebuilder
(al 1?12: on

crvp,?e?7)Ke

that it is
Notice
'oiKo8oixeiv\)
no 'is', and
cases:
it contains
knows
'is'. Aristotle
this, and

to be cultivated,
rq o?ko8??jlcp

or to the cultivated
plovctik^

elvai

[one to
r? t?> ilovctiku

'to be'. Aristotle


is plainly not saying that
imports the needed
but
'to
shows
accidental
its
which he seems to
be',
(24)
paraphrase,
think is more fundamental,
does. So even (24) rests for its truth on
accidental
being.
on (24) leads him to state the truth conditions
comment
Aristotle's

This

for his

examples:

the general

form

for all,

including

the paraphrase

for (24) (but not (24) itself) is "that this is this signifies that this
to this" (a13?14: t? y?p T?8e elvai ro?e o-raia?ve? r?
ra>8e ro8e). More particularly,
in cases like (21), both
o-vii?e?iqKevai
same thing (a15?16);
to
and
the
are-accidental
terms, 'just'
'cultivated',
to that
in cases like (22), the term in predicate
"is-accidental
position
to the
it
which
is" (t? ovti
appears,
(Tvp??e?t]Ke, a16)
namely,
is-accidental

existent
by the subject term; and in cases like (23),
thing designated
to the predicate
term (a17?18).
the subject term is accidental
are paraphrases
of sentences
These
'is' in predicative
employing
not
do
themsleves
that
'is'
in
role, but in one of
position. They
employ
sum
occur.
for
When
Aristotle
them, the paraphrase
(22), 'is' does
occurrence
in
that
this
clear
is important:
marizes
a19-22, it becomes
are so said either because
to the
both belong
things said to be accidentally
to [a thing that]
that [i.e., the predicate-term]50
belongs
[thing that] is, or because
that of which
it is predicated
is.
is, or because
that, to which
belongs,

Well

then,

same

are occurrences

of
to
taken
they
justify
(21)?(23). He is assuming
tence of something
both

These

are

thinks

that this requires

'is#': the claims


the occurrence

are existential

claims, and
'is' in the predications
one to the exis
that stating (21) commits
And
and
cultivated.
he
just
presumably
man
a
who
is
both
the existence
of, say
just
of

and cultivated.51

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ARISTOTLE

AND

431

EXISTENCE

In a18?19 he had made an incidental comment


that pointed the same
as
allowed
is
because
the
cultivated
to the man,
way: just
(23)
belongs
"so also the not pale is said to be, because
that to which
it is
accidental
is (o?t?) 8? ?cyerat
oti
Kai t?
a>
kevK?v
eivai,
/lit)
eKe?vo
So
eanv)."
(TVfji?e?r)Kev,

(25)

The not pale [thing] is#

or parenthetically,
is, marginally
acceptable.
There are two possible
derivations
for its 'is#'.
One may be suggested by the comment
just quoted,
(3)

Socrates

is a man.

(1)

Socrates

is#.

(1) is to follow
Thursday
(26)

night,

from (3) in the prescribed


after Socrates'
appointment

Socrates

is [a] not pale

viz.:

that it is
way. Assume
at the tanning parlor, and

[thing].

Then

like Leibniz'
using this and something
Law, we might get (25)
we
If
the
of
would
'is#'
be that of (1), and so,
(1).
did,
(25)
a
and
that
of
k<*#'
am?
'is'.
so, again,
(3),
ultimately,
But the immediately
context
The
preceding
suggests an alternative.
comment
of a18-19 is attached
to a statement
of the
parenthetical
truth conditions
one is a man':
for (23), 'The cultivated
this is so
the cultivated
because
to
is accidental
the man, and so, Aristotle
adds,
even the not pale is said to be.
That sounds as if Aristotle
had the following
in mind.
derivation
Start, as before, with (3), and assume
(26); this yields
from

(27)

The

not pale

thing

is a man.

Then

cancel the predicate,


(25). If we do it this way, the 'is#
yielding
of (25) is that of (27), and we have a case of 'is#' which Aristotle
as also an accidental
would describe
'is'.
That was ruled out only on the theory under the restriction
pro
vided by An. post. A 22. 83al-23,
that made
'that pale thing is a man',
and presumably
But there
(27) along with it, not a case of predication.
was nothing intrinsic to the theory that brought this restriction on. We
could

(2)

not allow

simplification

to operate

on

Socrates is [a] pale [thing],

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432

R. M.

DANCY

the
once context-free,
its predicate would not be restorable:
lead to the com
would
'what is Socrates?'
to the question
But if we now count
'a man'.
(27), et al, as accidental
pletion
we
cases
would work as
in
the
restoration
which
have
predications,
'what is the pale thing?' would be
well as it ever does: the question
answered by 'a man'. (Of course, to answer the question,
you have to
because,
answer

is being referred to, but that is just as much true of 'what


as of 'what is the pale thing?'.)
is Socrates?'
I am
to which
of the passage,
The effect of this understanding
'is'
the
am?
"is"'
and
Kad'
the
'existential
to
is
pry apart
inclined,
even farther: the 'is' of (25) is the former but not the latter. Still, it
on a
for its presence
would
remain so that the 'is' of (25) is dependent
so far is that
'is': that of (3). So the general message
Kad' am?
itself 'is'.
'is' there is a by-virtue-of
standing behind every accidental
know what

then, about

What,

this latter

'is'? Aristotle

has

this to say (1017a22

27):
many
things are said to be by-virtue-of
as [they] are
for in as many ways
signify,
some
of things
since
signify
predicated,
some to do
some relative-to
what,
how-big,
the same things as each of these.
be' signifies

As

as the figures
of predication
'to be' signifies.
in so many ways
So,
some
[it] is, some what-[it]-is-like,

themselves
said,
what

or to undergo,_some
(kok?' auj? 8k elvai

where,
X?yerai

r?

ocrax?><; y?p ??yerai,


tt?<? Karriyopia?'
rocravrax??
r? 8? rroi?v,
r? p,?v ri ecrn crr\p,aivei,
Karr^yopovpievojv
rroie?v r? rr?crx LV>Ta ?* ttov, r? 8? rror?, eKacrra) tovt??v t? eivai ravrb
cxn/u-aTa
errei ovv r?v

some when,

'to

ocrarrep criqiiaivei
t? eivai
criqixa?vei.
r? 8? rrpo? ti, r? 8?
o"X)p,aivei)

thinks that
the only thing that is agreed on here52 is that Aristotle
About
to the next.
from one category
'is' varies somehow
in
Our theory tells us that the 'is' he has in view is that occurring
source
occurrences
for
of
the
essential
paradigmatic
predications,53
'is#'.

So whatever

variation

there

is will

show up in existence-claims

as well.

are at stake? The


essential
predications
lists his categories,
another, Top. A9. There Aristotle
one 'what [it] is', as here, and then says (103b27-39):
But what

passage

recalls

naming

the first

what
[a]
who
signifies
[it] is sometimes
signifies
one of
sometimes
sometimes
[a] what-like,
[a] how-big,
is
For when, with a man set out, one says that what
the other categories
[Karr\yopi(?v].
a substance;
when, with a
set out is a man or an animal, he says what
[it] is and signifies
it is and
is set out is pale or a color, he says what
pale color set out, he says that what
a cubit set out, he says
a
of
with
what-like.
if,
And,
magnitude
similarly,
[a]
signifies
It

is clear

substance

from

[ouo-iav],

them54

that

one

sometimes

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ARISTOTLE

AND

EXISTENCE

433

that what
is set out is a magnitude
of a cubit,
he says what
it is and signifies
[a]
And
in the other
each such [term], both
if it is said about
how-big.
[cases]:
similarly
itself [e?v re avro
and if its genus
is said of it, signifies what
rrepi avrov]
[it] is, but
whenever
it signifies,
not what
or
[it is said] about another
[thing],
[it] is, but how-big
or one of the other categories.
what-like

Here

moves
from the point that 'all premisses
unhesitatingly
or what-like
what
either
or
[it] is or how-big
(irpoTacrei?)...
signify
one of the other categories"
where
the
sentences
under
(b25-27),
are ones like our old friends (3) and (2) and
consideration
Aristotle

Socrates

(28)
to sentences

is a cubit

tall

like (3) and

(29)

This [color] is off-white

(30)

This

[viz., off-white]

is a color

and

(31)

This [height] is a cubit.

on this latter list are answers


sentences
to 'what is it?' questions;
on
the former list are answers
those
to various
one of
questions,55
is 'what is it?' (asked of the entities
which
that Aristotle
will call
In the 'what is it?' list, the question
is cut free from
'substances').56
the first category,
that of substances,
and ranges over the entities that
are signified in sentences
on the variable
list. (3), 'Socrates
is a man',
occurs on both lists.57 It shows an 'is' by-virtue-of
itself, as we have
been saying. So do the other sentences
on the 'what is it?' list. Here
The

Aristotle
is either

those sentences
describes
by saying that in each something
"said about itself" or "its genus
is said of it"; the former
is familiar
from An. post. A 22. 83a24ff.,58 and is, for
terminology
a variation
on the 'by-virtue-of
ter
itself
present purposes,
merely

minology.
The transition
in Top. A 9 from the variable
list to the 'what is it?'
list is fairly abrupt, but not as abrupt as that inMet. A 7, for Aristotle
to give examples.59 He merely
does not there even bother
sketches
the variable
some signify what [it] is, some
list ("of things predicated,
and says that 'to be' will have a single
what-like,..."
1017a24-27)
force (to use as neutral a word as I can think of) for each entry on the
list (a27). But he is discussing
'to be' K?d' am?, so it looks (at least to
the same transition.
me)60 as if he is making

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434

R. M.

He

follows

DANCY

a comment

it with

that has

caused

consternation61

(a27-30):
or
'a man
flourishes',
in
the
and
'cuts',
similarly
'cutting'
rro? ?yiaiVt?v ecrriv r] r? avBp??rros vyiaCvei, ol)8e
other cases (ovd?v y?p 8ia<^?pei r? avdp
ecrriv r) r?fxvc?v rov ?vOpc?rro? ?a8C?ei r? r?pbvei, o/uloi?j? 8? Kai em
r? avOp?)rro<; ?a8iC(ov
v.
t?)v ?kk
for

there

between

is no

'a man

difference

between

is walking'

or

'a man
and

is flourishing'
'a man walks'

and

or

this is going to be elliptical. The most natural one


On any reading,
an
he had introduced
seems
to me
this: just as, at 1017a10-12,
one
that
did
builds
"the
cultivated
houses")
(24),
(sentence
example
of
not employ
'is', and tried to show that it rested on an occurrence
are
on
so
there
of
list
that
his
here he notices
'is' anyway,
categories
'is':
in predications
without
two at least that are easily invoked
using
even
are
the
if
and others
to do and to undergo;
easily
imaginable,
it obvious.62
does not, as it does in these cases, make
category-name
an
'is' in the offing: where you
So he points out that here, too, there is
a
it may be
than 'to be',
verb other
have a sentence
containing
'to be'.63 The
verb phrase
containing
by a periphrastic
replaced
not have bothered
but this would
'is' accidentally,
employ
examples
for the 'figures of predication'
apply in the first instance to
Aristotle,
on what we were
the sentences
just calling the 'variable' list, where
of 'is' but the first are accidental
all the occurrences
anyway.64
of why
and difficult
I have passed
question
by the important
thinks that the 'is's of (3), (30), and (31) must all be different
Aristotle
those of (29) and (30) (e.g.) are the same. I have, in fact, very
while
to it than one
little to say here. But there is, I think, a little more
so
far been said.
might think from what has
the
to re-invoke
For, at this point, one might be tempted merely
think, merely
is, one might
glass: Aristotle
fallacy of the magnifying
to the
a distinction
that properly pertains to the predicate
transferring
'is' that precedes
(in English).65
a
has an argument
available,
and, although
But, in fact, Aristotle
the scope of this paper, I should at least
is beyond
full examination
it, and then stop.
in the force of
that differences
that our theory dictates
recall
First,
'is'.
in the force of existential
'is' carry with them differences
essential
in the
street: differences
This is. to some extent usable as a two-way
in the force of by-virtue-of
should show differences
force of 'is#
like to state

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AND

ARISTOTLE

itself

if the

'is',

latter

is the

simply

435

EXISTENCE

former

with

un

predicate

canceled.66

Aristotle
denies that there is a genus of beings, that is,
Notoriously,
a genus
is' (An. post. B 7. 92b13-14).
Less
labeled
'that which
an
B 3.
that
Met.
he
in
for
claim,
argument
notoriously,
provides
a
A
1.
121a14-19
also
for
but
998b22-28
different,
(see
related,
Top.
a genus,
he says, cannot be predicated
of something
argument):67
unless one of its species
is predicated
of that thing, and no species
can be predicated
own
of its
so, if beings formed a genus,
differentia;
not exist,
could not be beings,
that is, they would
its differentiae
is absurd.
which
see how to make anything
I do not at present
out of
convincing
as
this. But,
is another day.
they say, tomorrow
NOTES
1
G.

E. L. Owen,
and

During

G.

E.

in Some Earlier Works


of Aristotle',
in I.
'Logic and Metaphysics
L. Owen,
in the Mid-Fourth
and Plato
eds., Aristotle
Century
et latina gothoburgensia,
163-90. The quo
graeca
XI,
1960), pp.

Studia
(G?teborg:
tations are from p. 165.
2
W.
Jacobs,
Particularly
282-300.
On pp. 297-98

on Nonreferring
Phronesis
24 (1979):
Subjects',
int. 11. 21a25-27,
is critical
of my note on De
A Study
in Aristotle
Reidel,
1975,
(Dordrecht:
but it was only Jacobs's
note that
that appendix
obscure,

'Aristotle

(n. 6) Jacobs
and Contradiction:

II to Sense
Appendix
have
pp. 153-55. Others
made

me

aware

how

found

I might
grossly
not help.

below) may or may


3
on
in 'Aristotle
Especially
on Plato
and Aristotle
Essays
The
some

is part
paper
present
of the more outrageous

the

be misunderstood.
Snares

(London:
of a larger
demands

The

effort

present

(see

section

of Ontology',
in R. Bambrough,
ed., New
& Kegan
Paul,
1965), pp. 69-95.
I hope
in carrying
that out to remove
project;
Routledge

on the reader's

credibility

that the present

paper

presents.
There

are different
verbs
for
in the Greek
'to be'
for example,
of the period:
we might
is sometimes
used
in Aristotle
where
'elvai' and translate
'vrrapxeiv'
expect
as a copula
'to exist' (see Bz. Ind. 788b43ff.).
But it is also used occasionally
(see ibid.).
It could not be used
to 'disambiguate'
to disam
'eiVat' if there were
any ambiguity

biguate

(see below).
F. H. Fobes,

An
Greek:
Introduction
of Chicago
Philosophical
(University
this is not simply an artifact
texts:
of introductory
it
Press,
1957) p. 51 n. 1. Of course,
will also be found
R. K?hner
and F. Blass, Ausf?hrliche
Grammatik
in, for example,
der griechischen
1er Teil (Hannover:
1966 [reprint of ed. 3, 1890), vol. i
Hahn,
Sprache,
p. 344 ?90.2.
7
See here C. H. Kahn,
The Verb
'Be' in Ancient
Greek
(Dordrecht:
Reidel,
1973),
E.g.,

Appendix
pp. 422-24.

II,

'On the accent

of ecrri

and

its position

in the

sentence',

pp. 420-34,

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esp.

R. M.

436
8

DANCY

see Kahn,
The Verb
(a great many)
'Be', ch. VI.
examples
'On "There
and N. Wolterstorff,
Studies
Is'", Philosophical
(U.S.)
and Existents',
'Existentials
47 (1981):
Theoria
41-48; G. Vision,
1-30; Y.
'Another Look
at Definites
in Existentials',
Journal
18 (1982): 73-88.
Ziv,
of Linguistics
10
on Plato
in Plato',
in R. Bambrough,
G. Vlastos,
of Reality
ed., New Essays
'Degrees
9

For Greek

E.g., N.
11 (1960):

Fleming

and Aristotle

& Kegan
in Vlastos's
(London: Routledge
Paul,
1965), pp. 1-20, reprinted
Studies
with
this
1973, 1981). My disagreement
(Princeton
Press,
University
the fact that I am greatly
should not mask
to it.
indebted
I pass by an interpretative
a fair run for its money
possibility
given
by J.

Platonic
article
11
Here

V: r? rroW?
5 (1960):
116-28.
See
Kaka,
Gosling,
"Republic, Book
etc.', Phronesis
on r? rroXX? Ka\?\
also F. C. White,
'J. Gosling
Phronesis
23 (1978):
'The
127-32,
in Republic
7 (1979): 291-306,
Canadian
Journal
and
475a-480',
"Many"
of Philosophy
am not convinced
idem 307-14.1
but I think the
'Reply to White',
Gosling's
by Gosling,
here.
issue has little bearing
12
as well
treatment
The
of what might
be a static
situation
simul
(Helen's
being
as if it involved
and not beautiful)
beautiful
taneously
(Helen's
change
vacillating
one

between
and T.
13
For

and

see Aristotle,
Met. A 6. 987a32-b10,
etc.,
27 (1977):
1-13.
Quarterly
Philosophical
a rather different
see C. Kirwan,
conclusion,
seem to be adopting what Kirwan
19 (1974):
112-29.1

is characteristic:

the other)

'Plato's Heracleiteanism',
Irwin,
a review
of the evidence
with

'Plato

and Relativity',
'relativist

calls

the

thing
Plato

that

he

says

doctrine

any

Phronesis

of R. 479, and, worse,


interpretation'
"is surely
right in this interpretation,
about

existence":

see below.

As

I am going
to reject
the one
that it does not attribute
to

for the

say

follow

Kirwan's

so they are at least that, and if they are no more big


things,
that that they are small. I am not sure how much
of an issue
to say that Plato
do not want
certainly
and other relational
that 'big', 'beautiful'
one
14

'relativist

on the formulation
emphasis
there it is said that big things are no more big than small,
that that does not mean
they are both big and small. But they
I cannot

general,
479b6-7:

of Kirwan's

primary

at the

time

predicates

than

of

in

interpretation'
the conclusion

and Kirwan

wants

in
to

are picked
out as big
from
small, it follows

there

is between

the Republic
of writing
were
somehow
special,

us here.
was
and

aware
that

is

targets.
that I am

in agreement
with Vlastos
The
(see n. 10 above).
I say, below,
that the concept
of being
that operates
in this
I am siding with Owen,
of existence.
Here
'Aristotle
argument
concept
just is Plato's
on the Snares of Ontology'
retracts
this in 'Plato on Not-Being',
in
p. 71. Owen
partially
A Collection
I (Garden
G. Vlastos,
vol.
ed., Plato:
of Critical
Essays,
City, N.Y.:
It is here

disagreement

especially
comes when

Anchor
Books,
1970), pp.
Doubleday
as far as I can tell, and
the Sophist,
here (see the next paragraph).
15
treatment
of 'is',
On the Sophist's
von "...
ist..."
Piatons
Gebrauch
& Ruprecht,

Vandenhoeck
37ff.
16
W.

Kamiah,

Zetemata
not

seem

Piatons

33]) has much


to see in Sph.

265-67,
223-67,
I am saying as
see M.
und

1967). Particulary

"...

but

this

little

as

retraction
I can

about

concerns

only
that dialogue

und Existenzaussage:
Pr?dikation
Frede,
ist nicht..."
im Sophistes
(G?ttingen:
relevant
to my theme above
is ch. II, pp.

im Sophistes
Selbstkritik
C. H. Beck,
1963
(Munich:
[=
to say that is relevant
here (see esp. chs. V & VI), but he does
256e5-6
the flat rejection
of R. v 476-80
that I d^.

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AND

ARISTOTLE
17

ignore

here

that

complications

EXISTENCE

come

have

to

light

437
in

recent

discussions

of

& Kegan
Paul,
[London:
(see, e.g., M. Platts, Ways
Routledge
of Meaning
there cited, esp. J. A.
and the literature
Constructions'
1979], pp. 161ff. on 'Adjectival
in E. L. Keenan,
'Two Theories
about Adjectives',
Semantics
W. Kamp.
ed., Formal
of
I am, for purposes
Natural
Press,
1975], pp. 123-55).
[Cambridge
University
Language
a con
that
is merely
the simple-minded
view
of exposition,
'pale man'
adopting
adjectives

of

catenation
intersection

an
in Montague's
that,
'pale' denotes
terminology,
as a Formal
in Formal
Philosophy:
Language',
& London:
ed. R. H. Thomason
[New Haven
Montague,

'man':

and

'pale'
function

(see
of Richard

Selected

'English

Papers
at p. 211.). Roughly:
the pale men are the
Press,
1974], pp. 188-221,
University
as a pale
men.
to
what
counts
of
is
also
be
false:
that
course,
This,
pale things
happen
man varies with race, location,
time of year, and so on. (So far, then, 'pale' might be an
On one of Kamp's
in the terminology
two
of the next paragraph.
attributive
adjective
Yale

are: see his 'Two Theories',


all adjectives
about adjectives,
p. 127 n. 1.) It is
and it does not affect the point at issue.
this that I am ignoring,
18
in P. Foot,
P. Geach,
17 (1956):
'Good and Evil',
33-42
ed.,
Analysis
(reprinted
ab init.
Theories
Press,
1967] pp. 64-73)
of Ethics
[Oxford University
19
'Good and Evil', Kamp
See Geach,
p. 125) calls them
(Two Theories',
'privative
theories

adjectives'.
20One of the faults

translation
of the Metaphysics
reliable
(Oxford)
generally
'in
for the crucial phrase
'k?#' avro':
of renderings
it shows
'of itself
(A 18), 'propter se' (Z 4), 'in itself
(Z 3. 1029a20),
(a24), 'in
virtue of its nature'
'self-subsistent'
and, no doubt,
(Z 6. 1031a28ff.),
(Z 5. 1030b19-20),
other things as well.
21
to
to be said here. See A. Code,
is a great deal more
'Aristotle's
There
Response
is the astonishing
virtue of itself

of Ross's

variety

to Modal
Objections
Quine's
F. J. Pelletier,
'Sameness
and my
'On Some
283-311;

5 (1976):
Logic
159-86;
of Philosophical
Nous
in Aristotle',
13 (1979):
Opacity
about Substances',
First Thoughts
Philoso
and 'On Some of Aristotle's
340-42,
365-68)

Journal
Logic',
and Referential
of Aristotle's

84 (1975): 338-73
(esp. pp.
phical Review
Review
87 (1978): 372-413.
Second
about Substances:
Matter',
Philosophical
Thoughts
in Aristotle',
Frank
Lewis
finds
Sameness
all of us objectionable
in 'Accidental
Studies
(forthcoming).
Philosophical
22
'Defines'
should be taken with a grain of salt here, for in A 18. 1022a27-28 Aristotle
the phrase
'defines'
of 'essence'.
The point is that the two
'by virtue of itself by means
the one without
the other.
is no understanding
and an interpretation
of the phrase with which
literature,
(I
see J. Owens,
not agree,
in the Aristotelian
The Doctrine
of Being
Pontifical
Institute
of Mediaeval
1951, edition
2, 1963),
(Toronto:
Studies,

and
go together,
23
For a review
think)

I do

Metaphysics
pp. 180ff.
24
The Greek

there

of

present

pastness

the

'was'. The

context,

about

imperfect,
the
but

the tense.

Often,

one

I opt

in Plato,

explanation
for is one

the

for this

is not of

in
importance
Aristotle's
by Ross,
Clarendon
is the 'philosophical
Press,
(Oxford:
1924) i 127: the imperfect
Metaphysics
as well:
I get you to agree to 'S is P', we continue
This occurs
in English
imperfect'.
to remind you of that, so I say 'S was P, wasn't
it?'. Here
it
talking, and I later want
could be that 'S was P' was
of
'Two and two made
four': there is no real implication
the

has

the

rejected

'philosophical

imperfect'

is employed

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in

R. M.

438

DANCY

Ross
to a previously
stated definition.
appealing
discussion
when
there has been an actual previous

(ibid.) objects
of the subject

that

it "is used only


in hand, which
is the
But that is Aristotle
for

to t? r)v elvai
is used."
in which
in but few of the passages
is arrived at by detaching
in general)
technical
you: his (and the Academy's
terminology
context would
contexts.
The original
have been an explicit
terms from their dialectical
to be',
'what it was
for virtue
to which would
be made by the phrase
definition,
appeal
case

and

that

then

a label

just becomes

it is that virtue

for whatever

is correctly

defined

to

be.
25

I have,
to be."
educated
the
"for
admittedly,
Alternatively:
picked
[something]
But it could be done either way
that most
favors my overall
translation
interpretation.
in terms of the alternative
translation).
(and, in fact, I arrived at it thinking
26
s. v. 'be',
see OED
on the Snares of Ontology',
'Aristotle
p. 71. For further examples,
B I 1 (vol. i p. 717 col. 3).
27
cited in n. 9 above.
This consideration
plays a part in the literature
28
and yet I do not find myself
to reject the sense-reference
I do not want
distinction,
names
sense. Among
are
have
those who
that proper
with
saying
quite comfortable
comfortable

with

Paul,

pp.

1973,

worth,

('Frege's
zu Frege

Wiggins
Studien

that are P. Geach

saying

66ff.), M.
1981], index

1957],

(Mental

Press,

Names",
Philosophical
Form
and Predication
Names'.
29
P. Geach,

(Cambridge
Review

'Identity',

University

Press,

[Oxford: Blackwell,

sketch

Argumentation

Press,

Universals

in Linguistic

esp.

pp. 44ff.;
Foundations

Sentences',
sion and Transitivity',
Philosophy
of Science

Press,

ch.

1979),

'Mill's

2,

of

Theory

3-12
21 (1967/68):
(in Logic Matters
and 'Ontological
1972], pp. 238-47)
Relativity
and Ontology
ed., Logic
(New York University
Mass:
Substance
(Cambridge,
and Spatio-Temporal
Continuity

and

Sameness
of Identity

1980 (a revision

Identity
took

and Essence

its departure
the Structure

and

Press,
1979); see esp. pp.
be
challenging.
implicitly
31
'The Case
See also C. J. Fillmore,

1-88,

Reidel,
1972), pp.
Mass.:
Harvard
[Cambridge,
"On Predicating
Lockwood,
Proper
A Study
in
and J. Cargile,
Paradoxes:
(Dordrecht:

1967]), N. Griffin, Relative Identity (Oxford University Press,

Brody,

Syntactic
California

in D. Davidson

and Necessity',

'Naming

Language
and Necessity

University

inM. K. Munitz,
D. Wiggins,

287-302,

1977), and B. A.
ch. 1.
30
The
following

& Kegan

Routledge

of Metaphysics

of California

pp.

1973),

see

also M.
1980], p. 127). See
Review
84 (1975): 471-98,

[Berkeley:
University
and Relative
Identity',
Press,
Harvard

[London:

Duck
[London:
of Language
(Frege: Philosophy
s. v. 'proper names,
sense of),
and D.
[in 2nd edition
only]
of the Morning
Star and the Evening
Problem
Star', inM. Schirn,
ed.,
II: Logik
und Sprachphilosophie
Frommann-Holzboog,
[Stuttgart:

here:
S. Kripke
1976], pp. 221-55).
hedges
& G. Harman,
eds., Semantics
of Natural
at p. 322 (in the reprint, Naming
253-355,
University

Acts

Dummett

Theory
J. Lyons,

(Princeton
from

S.

University

1980),

esp.

and D. M. Perlmutter,
etc.: University
of
(Berkeley,
I shall
of which
the claims

Soames

of English
some
of
46-52,

in E. Bach & R. T. Harms,


for Case',
eds.,
etc.: Holt, Rinehart
& Winston,
1968), pp.
on Possessive,
and Locative
Existential

(New York,
'A Note

3 (1967): 390-96,
of Language
& J. F. Staal,
in B. van Rootselaar
III

Press,

(Amsterdam:

North-Holland,

'Existence,

Location,

eds.,

Methodology

Logic,

1968),

pp.

Posses

495-504,

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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

and
Intro

ARISTOTLE
to Theoretical

auction
Allan,

'A Note

on

1-18. Allan's
(1971):
to treat 'there' as a locative

Lyons)
this issue.
32
This
is a Fregean

EXISTENCE

439

Sentences',

pp. 388-90;
Foundations

of the attempt
(made
rejection
I think, but the above
is correct,

by Fillmore
is independent

(Cambridge
University
Linguistics
in Existential
the Source
of THERE

Language

AND

Press,

1968),

K.
of
and
of

see 'Begriff und Gegenstand',


f?r wissen
Vierteljahrsschrift
is said to serve
the copula
at p. 194, where
16 (1892):
192-205,
the Philosophical
der Aussage"
(in Translations
from
Writings
ed. P. Geach
and M. Black
Blackwell,
[Oxford:
1960], p. 43 "as a
view:

schaftliche
Philosophie
"als blosses
Formwort
of Gottlob
Frege,
mere
verbal
sign

see
is heartily
of predication").
view
endorsed
The
by Geach:
N.Y.:
Cornell
and
34,
Press,
1962,
p.
1968)
(Ithaca,
University
Reference
Generality
as well,
on the strength
to Aristotle
1.
Geach
the view
where
of An. pr. A
ascribes
case:
delete
Ross would
the words
that make Geach's
24b17?18
(where, unfortunately,
see Aristotle's

Prior
and Posterior
Clarendon
Press,
1949, 1957]
[Oxford:
Analytics
seems
int. 1. 16a16?18, which Ross
to me to make
the case
the parallel, De
cites,
see also M. Dummett,
For Frege,
for the deletion
p. 214. Both
Frege,
quite
strong).
senses
want
to retain special
of 'is': Frege,
the 'is's of identity
and
and Geach
Frege
as opposed
to predication
that of existence
existence
(see
(loc. cit.), and Geach,
=
on p.
Review
74 (1965): 449-65
[ Logic Matters
'Assertion',
254-69]:
Philosophical
thousand
and more
460
those who
"two
after Plato's
years
[265] he rails against
290f.:

will wantonly
Sophist,
here
the references

with
the existential
'is'"). See
[the 'is' of predication]
see also H. Bonitz,
37 below.
For Aristotle,
'?ber die
der Kaiserlichen
der Wissen
Akademie
Sitzungsberichte
as a separate
10 (1853): 591-645,
p. 601 (available
reprint

confuse
in note

des Aristoteles',
Phil.-hist.
Klasse
schaften,
Wissenshaftliche
with
the original
Darmstadt:
pagination,
33
"Aber das Sein bleibt auffindbar,
fast so wie das Nichts
Kategorien

Wort

ist dann

'Sein'

Greifbares,

Reales.

Metaphysik2
translation

(which

(New Haven:
34
Cf. Tsu-Lin

schliesslich
Seine

ein
is ein

leeres Wort.
unwirklicher

Es

meint

Wirkliches,
in die

Einf?hrung
In R. Manheim's

A Grammatical
Mei,
'Subject and Predicate:
Preliminary',
153-75.
70 (1961):
in Language,
B. L. Whorf,
and Logic',
Thought,
'Languages
ed. J. B. Carroll
Selected Writings
Lee Whorf,
(Cambridge,
of Benjamin

Review
35
Cf.

ganz

nichts

Dunst."

1957), p. 27.
Verlag,
from in the above), An Introduction
departed
occurs
at the bottom
of p. 35.
1959), the passage

(T?bingen:
I have
Yale,

nur

Bedeutung
Max Niemeyer

1967).
so. Das

Buchgesellschaft,
oder am Ende

English
to Metaphysics
Philosophical
and

Reality:
MIT
Mass.:

Press,
1956), pp. 233-45.
36
A Reading
'Genus as Matter:
of Metaphysics
in E. N. Lee, A. P.
Cf. R. Rorty,
Z-H',
D. Mourelatos
and Argument:
Studies
in Greek Philosophy
& R. Rorty,
eds., Exegesis
to Gregory
Presented
Vlastos
Press,
p. 403;
(New York: Humanities
1973), pp. 393-420,
and the Mirror
also, Philosophy
Press,
1979), p. 120.
(Princeton
University
of Nature
37
see also Frede,
'On
On what
Pr?dikation
und Existenzaussage,
Lockwood,
follows,
B. Mates,
in Plato', Phronesis
24
Names',
'Identity and Predication
Predicating
Proper
'A Hundred
Years
Later:
The Rise
and Fall of Frege's
J. Hintikka,
(1979): 211-29,
in Language
'The Unambiguity
and 'Seman
Influence
of Aristotelian
Theory',
Being',
The Alleged
of "is", and Aristotelian
tical Games,
this issue.
Ambiguity
Categories',
38
to inflate (18) to 'there is some addict
that Dr. Jekyll
Others
is the same as',
prefer

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R. M.

440

call

an

this

moves

will

identity,
turn any

and,

as an alleged
into an

predication

DANCY

But
(18) an identity.
but confusion
is nothing

call

consequence,
there

identity;

these
along

these lines.
39
Clarendon
Sense and Sensibilia
Cf, J. L. Austin,
Press,
(Oxford:
1962), p. 87-102.
40
See also C. H. Kahn,
She is his wife
the
The Verb
illustrates
'Be', p. 400 n. 33: "...
under
is of identity
of monogamy,
but not under
conditions
the
polygamy.
Surely
of the sentence
is the same in either case." This argument
is picked up by C.J.
grammar
F. Williams,
is Existence1}
Clarendon
10-12. But
What
Press,
(Oxford:
1981), pp.
a separate
sense.
still wants
Williams
existential
41
in Aristotle
the Philosopher
J. L. Ackrill,
Press,
(Oxford University
1981), p. 25, says
... serves
out that 'is' does not always
"... Aristotle
assert
It also
to
identity.
points
a characteristic
of Eleatic
to something."
He is discussing
Aristotle's
refutation
ascribe
A 2-3, but I cannot
in Physics
find Aristotle
this out anywhere
in
pointing
these chapters.
42
is a slight basis
for hope: Aristotle
There
in fact, have
that
does not,
any Greek
or "is ambiguous."
the English
translates
He
"has many
senses"
says such
directly
as "is said in many
he should
to be saying
and perhaps
be taken
things
ways,"

monism

once
than "has many
senses."
Hintikka
tried this out in a different
and Necessity:
in Aristotle's
Studies
(see Time
Theory
of Modality
of Ambiguity'),
and the Ambiguity
but
Press,
[Oxford: Clarendon
1973], ch. I, 'Aristotle
not
to want
he appears
it in this connection
and
Semantical
Games,
(cf. "'Is',
weaker

something
connection

Semantical
See

Relativity',
T.

also

523-44.
43
CAG
Ackrill,
p. 148.

Irwin,

Journal
'Homonymy

iv 5. So also T. Waitz,
Aristotle's

Categories

of Philosophical
in Aristotle',
Aristotelis
and De

Logic
Review

Organon

Interpretation

8 (1979):

433-68,

of Metaphysics

graece

at p. 450 top).
34 (1980-81):

1844) i 351,
(Leipzig: Hahn,
Clarendon
Press,
1963),

(Oxford:

as to when
two predicates
is another
of
this passage,
question
running
through
to form a special
sort of unity:
combine
and
see, e.g., 21a10?14,
subject
single
Aristotle's
Ackrill's
Cat. & De Int. 126f.
comment,
45
if this is a man, Socrates,
then this is a man?
See 21a2f., which makes
this
Perhaps:
less outrageous,
but still not plausible.
46
on Nonreferring
I am unable
to see what
Jacobs
p. 287) makes
('Aristotle
Subjects',
least denying
the interpretation
and I (and
of these lines. He is at the very
Ammonius

^here
a

are still
the others
He
cited
in n. 43 above)
that we
believes
accept.
apparently
the rule of Addition.
But he does not, as far as I can tell, explain
these lines.
discussing
47
see 'Snares' pp. 77, 82.
I am in conflict with Owen:
On both points
48
of Opposition',
to resolve
it: M. Thompson,
'Aristotle's
Cf. other attempts
Square
in J. M. E. Moravcsik,
Review
62 (1953): 251-65
ed., Aristotle:
(reprinted
Philosophical
A Collection
esp.

pp.

Singular

Essays
of Critical
of the reprint);
Phronesis
Sentences',
56-57

[Garden City,
M. V. Wedin,
23

N.Y.:

1967], pp.
Doubleday,
on the Existential
'Aristotle

179-96,
(1978):
to Thompson's.

Jacobs,

'Aristotle

51-72:
Import

see
of

on Nonreferring

is closest
resolution
Subjects'.
My
49
refers to this
In E 2. 1026a33-b2, Aristotle
This is deliberately
vague
(cf. n. 42 above).
'what is is said in many ways'
the formula
scheme with
four-fold
(to ov...
X?yerai
in characterizing
the
the same
formula
he uses
1. 1028a 10-20
In Z
rroXXaxus)-

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ARISTOTLE

AND

EXISTENCE

441

is no indication,
in
There
of the categories.
Kad' avr?
bvra by means
as far as I know,
to the effect
that these
any of his commentators
none
in any of his commentators
to the effect
in status, and certainly
differ
senses of 'is'?until
we get to J.
the uses of 'is' and the other
that one of them divides
of Categories',
Phronesis
19 (1974): 238-56, who
W. Thorp,
Use
'Aristotle's
suddenly
finds this distinction
'notorious'
(p. 238).
50
or predicate
like a predicate
Cf. the employment
of 'eKelvo' as something
variable
letter in An. post. A 22. 83a24, 27.
51
Von der mannigfachen
des Seienden
Cf. F. Brentano,
nach Aristoteles
Bedeutung
subdivision

of

or,

Aristotle,
divisions

translation
Olms,
1862; Hildesheim:
1960) p. 16. (In the English
(Freiburg: Herder,
by
in Aristotle
R. George,
On the Several
etc.: University
of
Senses
of Being
[Berkeley,
California
Press,
1975], pp. 10-11.)
52
on this: cf. his
there
is not even agreement
Since Thorp's
article
(n. 49 above),
on p. 247. I cannot
see how this translation
is supposed
to work.
retranslation
53
i 306.
So also Ross, Aristotle's
Metaphysics
54
translates
"on the face of it"; Forster
(Oxford)
(Loeb)
?? avr?jv. Pickard-Cambridge
same way,
as does
i (Paris:
J. Brunschwig,
Aristote:
Soci?t?
Topiques
'Les Belles
des choses").
But
Lettres',
1967), p. 13 ("de par la nature m?me
sur la doctrine
see also S. Mansion,
des cat?gories
'Notes
dans les Topiques',
in G. E.
on Dialectic:
L. Owen,
Clarendon
The Topics
Press,
ed., Aristotle
(Oxford:
1968), pp.
189-201
(p. 198: "? partir de l?").
55
in H. Hiz,
and Categories',
Cf. C. H. Kahn,
ed., Questions
(Dordrecht:
'Questions
Reidel,
1978) 227-78.
56
'what is it?' will not by itself mark out the category
So the question
of substance.
takes

it the

d'?dition

will
that matter,
the word
cf. 'the substance
'substance':
of everything
and the official doctrine
something',
Top. Z 8. 146b3, for example,
(applied
to 'what it is') of Met.
Z 4. 1030a17-27,
27-b13.
primarily
57
to say, as does Waitz,
It is misleading
ii 447 (and endorsed
Aristotelis
Organon
by
in one sense
loc. cit.) that 'necrri'
is used
in 103b22 and another
in
Mansion,
(sensus)
Neither,
relative-to

for

is a man' ambiguous.
'Socrates
b27: that would make
58
in Sense & Contradiction,
this passage
I have discussed
pp. 100-102.
59
of /<?#' avro elvai at all (see below).
in a27-30, and these are not examples
Except
as examples
of k?#' avro elvai
leads some to think
that they are intended
Supposing
that this must
Syllogistik
pp. 328f.

include

des Aristoteles
(n.

Aristotelis

1 to p. 328), who
thinks Aristotle
Commentarius
(Bonn,

Metaphysica:
E. Buchanan,
Aristotle's

Greek,

even
all predications,
'Socrates
H. Laupp,
II, 2 (T?bingen:

Theory

and Byzantine
Roman,
in the Philosophy

Die
See, e.g., H. Maier,
1900; Hildesheim:
Olms,
1970),
is misspeaking
himself
here, H. Bonitz,
is pale'.

1849; Hildesheim:

(University,
Mississippi
no. 2, 1962), pp.
Monographs,
Mouton,
(The Hague:
of Aristotle
of Being

Olms,
1960), p. 241,
Mass.:
& Cambridge,
11-13, M. T. Larkin,

1971), p. 88, K. von


Archiv
der
Kategorienlehre',
f?r Geschichte
in F.-P.
und
ed., Logik
Hager,
(reprinted
des Aristoteles
Erkenntnislehre
Wissenshaftliche
[Darmstadt:
1972]
Buchgesellschaft,
Substance
22-79), p. 452 (p. 26 of the reprint), and C. Stead, Divine
(Oxford: Clarendon
of 'Socrates
is pale' a "tiresome
classification
Press,
1977), p. 67f., who finds the double
Language

der aristotelischen
'Die Ursprung
40 (1931):
488-96
449-85,
Philosophie
Fritz,

inconsistency".

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R. M.

442
60

DANCY

in the Philosophy
p. 87 with n. 20,
Language
of Aristotle,
(see also last note).
confusing
i 307-308,
and Ross, Aristotle's
'Snares' p. 82 n.
Cf. n. 59 above,
Owen,
Metaphysics
Use
of Categories',
'Aristotle's
pp. 249ff.
1, and Thorp
62
to the category
of quality
in Soph.
el.
refers
In fact, Aristotle
'flourishing'
(vyiaiveiv)

but
61

So

also, perhaps,
I find pp. 87-88

Larkin,

very

4. 166b16-19;
cf. also Cat. 8. 9a14-16.
63
Use of Categories',
So far, I agree with Thorp. As he points out ('Aristotle's
pp. 250f.),
use of the same examples
fits Aristotle's
inDe int. 12.21b5-10,10.20a3ff.
this interpretation
64
I leave Thorp
Use of Categories',
Here
for Ross
('Aristotle's
pp. 252-54)
(Aristotle's
i, pp.
Metaphysics
65
is certainly
This
C. Kirwan,
Contrast

307-308).
the way
Aristotle's

many

presentations

Metaphysics,

make
Books

it sound, e.g. von Fritz,


F, A, E (Oxford: Clarendon

loc. cit.
Press,

1971), pp. 142f.


to say, as does Owen,
But
it is still wrong
that Ka-d' avr?
bv is "the
(or an)
use of the verb"
existential
p. 82).
("Snares"
67
on A 7: see
in his comments
The argument
of Met. B is reviewed
by Thomas
Aquinas
and R. M.
ed. M.-R.
Aristotelis
Cathala
libros Metaphysicorum
In duodecim
expositio,

Spiazzi (Turin:Marietti, 1950), p. 238 (?889).

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