Commentary on Aristotle’s Topics part IV

You may wonder why I have waited for so long to explain this, the main subject we are discussing. That’s because I want to start from our goal. Without first knowing our goal we are lost. So its wise to start from our goal and move backwards. Or first explain the goal, after that learn the steps. This way we know how much progress we are making. Aristotle also prefer that way. All of his works start with the goal or purpose. Besides that, without understanding previously explained ideas one cannot understand topics.

To begin with, first thing you need to remember is that topics we talk here is not the same topic you find in essays or books. These topics different from subjects.

A topic is a universal argument from which you can extract several other particular arguments. It could be also be a general statement.
Alexander of Aphrodisias defines it as: Topic is a sort of starting point or element from which we obtain starting points for particular cases.

Aristotle didn’t do much to define it, he assumed that we know it already. The only thing he said about topics is this:

‘Under which many arguments fall’

Important thing here is ‘many arguments fall’. A topic is an argument or a statement from which we can extract many arguments. An argument to work as a topic, it has to be universal, not particular.

There are three major groups all the topics falls into. They are:

– Opposites
– Cordinates and Cases
– More, less and equals

Aristotle identify four types of opposites. They are: Contraries, Negations, Privations, and lastly Possessions. Even if you don’t understand these you will come to know it later.

Cordinates and cases are about grammatical forms. It is mostly related to definition.

Third subsystem is more, less and equal. These are Degree of relatedness of one thing to the other.

These three areas are mainly all the topics of Definition, genus, property or accidents falls into.

Next part is about these three areas where topics fall into.