Commentary on Aristotle’s Topics Part II

Up until here, Aristotle give reasons and background of the task he was carrying out. He begin the nuts and bolts on chapter 4. Those stuff I will explain here.

‘If we know what kind of thing arguments take place, what materials it start, and if we can be well supplied with these, we won our goal’ He wrote.

The materials which arguments start are called propositions. Let’s dive into more details. First, Aristotle explain what a proposition in his Prior Analytics ‘A proposition is a statement that affirms or deny something.’

When I say ‘The tree is green’ im affirming that the tree is green. When I say ‘the tree is not green’ I’m denying greenness from that tree. This way if you affirm or deny something from an object, you are making a proposition.

Just like there are components in an engine, there are components in a proposition, Aristotle explains it next.

Every proposition indicate a definition, Property, genus, or accident. Every proposition comes from either one of these four.

Let me list the components:
– Definition
– Property
– Genus
– Accident

Next he begins to explain these four components.

First one, Definition is a sentence that explains a thing’s essence. The Merriam Webster dictionary contains a whole bunch of these.

Next is property. It is something that does not indicate the object’s essence but still belongs to it. For example, if we take man as an object, his capability of playing guitar is a property. It is not an essence because not everyone can play it. But it is a property of the individual who plays it. Or examine a ‘brick wall’. Wall is the object, brick is a property. Not all walls are built with bricks.

A genus is a group that individual items belong. Example is fish. Fish is a group that contains sharks, groupers, tuna etc. Cutlery is a group that contains knife, fork, chopstick and all.

An accident is a feature that sometimes belong and other times not belong to an object. Example is sleep

Above consists everything you need in order to create a proposition. By practicing everyday, it becomes a second nature to you.

To practice these stuff, choose an object, find it’s genus, property, definition and accidents. Here is how you do it. I’ll take an example of a house. Come up with a definition. A house is a place where people live. Genus would be Shelter. Its a form of shelter. Property is ‘white painted’, metal roof, glass windows. Accident: doors open, lights off etc.

Do this for as many objects as you can. Soon people begin to notice a difference in your everyday speaking. Your words become sweeter than before.