Commentary on Aristotle’s Topics part III

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.

I will explain how to make propositions or how to make a dialectical inquiry by using opposites.

We also talked about four kinds of opposites. We can inquire from any of these four ways.

Lets start with negation. One way is to make an inquiry from negation with a reversed consequences and after that you need to get them from induction. You can do this when you establish or reject a hypothesis.

for example: Man is an animal

Ask yourself what is the opposite of these two. They are No man and Not animal. Here you have negated both subject and predicate and it doesn’t make sense. Next you need to reverse the consequence (animal). It becomes No animal is no man (if it’s not an animal, it is also not a man)

Another example: if the beautiful is pleasant then what is not pleasant is not beautiful. (notice the consequence is reversed)

If you drink water then you have to go to the bathroom.

You dont have to go to the bathroom if you dont drink water (Notice the consequence is in the beginning)

If you eat cookies your stomach get ache
your stomach will not get ache if you dont eat cookie.

The formula is: if former follow latter. Not latter follow the not former.

Next is Contraries. See whether contrary follows the contrary. Either same direction or in reverse.
for example:
‘courage is worthy of choice’
contrary of courage is cowardly. And contrary of choice is avoidance. Lets see if these two follows.
‘coward is worthy of avoidance’ yes it does follow.

When you eat healthy food you will be healthy.
When you eat junk food you will be unhealthy.

Then there is Privation and state(possession)

Privation means as the word imply, removing or weakening of something. This is the opposite of prosphering.

Eg. Opposite of heath is sickness

Second part is Cordinates and Cases.

Cordinates and cases are the things that has a particular feature and its adverb is the case.
For eg. There are just things. (Just, Justice)