The Elements of Philosophy: 1.2.3.7

“There are two major groups of definitions, nominal (explaining the use of the term) and real (explaining the meaning of the concept it signifies).  Instances of nominal definitions are those that employ synonym, etymology, history of the term’s use, and imposed or stipulated usage.  Among the many varieties of real definitions are those made in terms of efficient causes, end or purpose, and intrinsic principles (physical definition); properties or accidents (descriptive definition); and genus and difference (metaphysical definition).  The following are the rules of definition:  a good definition should be (1) coextensive with the definitum, (2) non-circular, (3) in univocal terms, (4) in positive affirmative terms, and (5) expressed through a genus and a difference—best when the genus is proximate and the difference specific (4:718c-719b).”  (PART 1.  //  CHAPTER 2 LOGIC.  //  [Section] FORMAL LOGIC §3. SIMPLE APPREHENSION   //   [paragraph] 7.  //   [page] 16)

 

Obiter Dicta:  One of the definitions of the word “accident” given by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is “a nonessential property or quality of an entity or circumstance”.  This understanding of the word accident is used when a distinction is made between “substance and accidents”.  Wikipedia, in an article entitled “Accident (philosophy)”, uses the following examples to explain the difference between a substance and its accidents.  “For example, a chair can be made of wood or metal, but this is accidental to its being a chair: that is, it is still a chair regardless of the material from which it is made.  To put this in technical terms, an accident is a property which has no necessary connection to the essence of the thing being described.  To take another example, all bachelors are unmarried: this is a necessary or essential property of what it means to be a bachelor. A particular bachelor may have brown hair, but this would be a property particular to that individual, and with respect to his bachelorhood it would be an accidental property.”

 

Key:  For an explanation of the reference and cross reference forms used in this book (e.g. [§19.6] and (11:292c), see previous posts in this blog entitled “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (7)” and “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (8)”.

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The Elements of Philosophy: 1.2.3.6

Definition (4:718b) is a mental process of clarifying the meaning of a term by analyzing and relating the elements involved in it; or alternatively, it is the product or result of a mental process, an expression explaining the use of the term or its meaning.  As the product of a mental process, definition is distinguished from the term or thing defined (the definitum or definiendum).  Definition need not be a sentence or a proposition; the mere juxtaposition of definitum and definiendum by a colon suffices, e.g., “man:  social being.”  Thus definitions are not true or false, but good or bad, adequate or inadequate.”  (PART 1.  //  CHAPTER 2 LOGIC.  //  [Section] FORMAL LOGIC §3. SIMPLE APPREHENSION   //   [paragraph] 6.  //   [page] 16)

 

Commentary:  A good/adequate definition would be a statement which displays the essence of the thing being defined.  Thus, for example, “man is a rational animal”.  A definition which would be inadequate/bad would be one which, though not untrue, fails at displaying the core nature of the thing being defined; examples would include “man is a biped” or “man is not a unicorn”.  Definitions, predications, and other categorization statements can be incorrect/false.  However, in a philosophical dialogue, an operating assumption is that all agree to use disciplined speech in order to discover and display the way things are.  That is, all agree to speak truthfully; that is, to make statements which  they believe to be the truth.  All who are present to the dialogue agree to avoid rhetoric.  Rhetoric is the use of disciplined speech (and the use of other manipulative techniques) for the purpose of persuasion.  Consciously made false statements are rhetorical acts.

 

Key:  For an explanation of the reference and cross reference forms used in this book (e.g. [§19.6] and (11:292c), see previous posts in this blog entitled “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (7)” and “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (8)”.

The Elements of Philosophy: 1.2.3.5

“Simple apprehension seeks a clear and distinct knowledge of objective concepts by an explicit grasp of their comprehensive notes and extensive parts.  The act whereby the intellect explicitly expresses the comprehension of a concept is the act of defining that concept.  The act whereby the intellect explicitly expresses the distribution of a concept into its subjective parts or components is the act of logically dividing the concept.  Hence both definition and division pertain directly to the first act of mind.”  (PART 1.  //  CHAPTER 2 LOGIC.  //  [Section] FORMAL LOGIC §3. SIMPLE APPREHENSION   //   [paragraph] 5.  //   [page] 16)

 

Commentary:  A definition is a wondrous thing.  By means of a definition, we assign some thing we wish to understand, to the essential categories to which that thing belongs.  Consider the definition “man is a rational animal”.   Let us assume that our education has given us some good idea of what is meant by an animal and what is meant by rational.  If we were, beforehand, unclear about what constituted the nature or essence of being a human being, a person, a man; we now know its/his/her/their essential characteristics.  S/he is both an animal and rational.  In the definition “man is a rational animal”, the subject man is being assigned to the categories of rational and animal.  Another way to say the same thing is to say that we are displaying the fact that a man (person, human being) belongs to the categories of rational and animal.  Another way to say the same thing, is to say that the categories of animal and rational are being predicated of the subject which is man (person, human being).  Once we have such a predication, such a categorization, such a definition established, we are then able to tease out other insights into the nature of man.  For example, knowing that animal refers to a material living thing, we now know that a man (person, human being) is not and can never be an angel.  Angels are immaterial (spiritual) beings.

 

Key:  For an explanation of the reference and cross reference forms used in this book (e.g. [§19.6] and (11:292c), see previous posts in this blog entitled “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (7)” and “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (8)”.

The Elements of Philosophy: 1.2.3.4

“The notion of sign (13:209a) is helpful for clarifying the meanings of both term and concept.  A sign is anything that represents to a knowing power something other than itself.  There are three basic modes of division of sign:  natural or artificial, instrumental or formal, and imaging or non-imaging.  A natural sign receives its significative force from nature itself, as smoke is a sign of fire; an artificial sign, on the other hand, receives its significative force by convention from those using the sign, as a white color signifies joy for some people.  An instrumental sign must be known apart from and before the thing signified as the connection between white and joy; a formal sign, on the other hand, is known together with the thing signified, somewhat as a bird’s danger cry, which conveys its meaning at once even though never heard before [§24.2].  An imaging sign is one that pictures the thing signified, as in picture writing; a non-imaging sign is one that does not picture the thing signified, as in writing employing an alphabet.  With these distinctions understood, one can say that the concept is the natural, formal, and imaging sign of the essence apprehended in extramental reality, whereas the term is the artificial, instrumental, and non-imaging sign of the concept.  [See also §57.1 and §60.31].”  (PART 1.  //  CHAPTER 2 LOGIC.  //  [Section] FORMAL LOGIC §3. SIMPLE APPREHENSION   //   [paragraph] 4.  //   [pages] 15 and 16)

 

Commentary:  Imagine a thin piece of aluminum foil pressed down, firmly and evenly, upon a gravestone or the name plate below some memorial statue.  Imprinted on that aluminum would be the images and words etched into (or built up upon) the stone or plate.  Once the aluminum foil was removed, one would see readable lettering on the one side (in the normal spelled direction).  On the other side, one would see the words and images, but reversed.  The term and the concept are like the imprints found on the two sides of that piece of aluminum foil; both intimately related with one side clearly understandable, the other less so.  This example of aluminum foil is an analogy fir describing the relationship of a mental concept and an expressed term.  In some respects the analogy is quite inadequate.  However, in some ways this analogy may be helpful to visualize the relationship.  When we observe/sense an external object, a concept of the essence of that entity is formed in our mind.  But we really do not begin to understand that entity until we form and have an expressed term of that concept which we can consider.  We only begin to understand the essence of that thing, its nature, when we can stand apart from it and consider it by means of considering the term formed from the mental concept constructed from the sensory percepts we have had of that object.

 

Key:  For an explanation of the reference and cross reference forms used in this book (e.g. [§19.6] and (11:292c), see previous posts in this blog entitled “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (7)” and “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (8)”.

The Elements of Philosophy: 1.2.3.3

“As the concept is the internal representation of a thing’s essence or quiddity, so the term (13:1018b) or word is the external sign of the concept.  The term is the ultimate significant element into which a sentence or a proposition may be resolved, or it is the elementary part of a proposition.  There are three types of term: univocal, equivocal, and analogical.  A univocal term is one that signifies the things represented by one and the same concept, e.g., the word “man” signifies all men as identified in one and the same concept of human nature.  An equivocal term is one that signifies things represented by essentially different and unrelated concepts, e.g., the word “bark” as signifying a canine sound and a tree’s covering.  An analogical term is one that signifies things represented by a concept that has a unity of proportion, e.g., “healthy” as referring to an animal and to a food, to the first as possessing health, to the second as causing health in the animal possessing it [§31.5-6].”  (PART 1.  //  CHAPTER 2 LOGIC.  //  [Section] FORMAL LOGIC §3. SIMPLE APPREHENSION   //   [paragraph] 3.  //   [page] 15)

 

Commentary:  The data obtained through the sense organs are called percepts.  These percepts are organized by the mind to create a concept of the thing which is observed through/by means of the senses.  This concept is then expressed in the form of a word, or more specifically, a term.  That term can then be used in categorical propositions, in predications, in definitions, in arguments, in reasonings.  Such an example might be “Socrates is a man.  All men are mortal.  Socrates is mortal.”

 

Key:  For an explanation of the reference and cross reference forms used in this book (e.g. [§19.6] and (11:292c), see previous posts in this blog entitled “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (7)” and “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (8)”.

The Elements of Philosophy: 1.2.3.2

“The concept (4:106c) is both intellectual knowledge “that which” (id quod) is understood, and the means “by which” (id quo) the thing is understood [§§23.4, 25].  These two features of the concept are spoken of as the objective concept and the formal concept respectively (4:107a-b).  In objective concepts two different aspects are considered, their extension and their comprehension (or intension).  The two are related by the general rule: as the extension of concepts increases their comprehension decreases, and vice-versa (4:107d).”  (PART 1.  //  CHAPTER 2 LOGIC.  //  [Section] FORMAL LOGIC §3. SIMPLE APPREHENSION   //   [paragraph] 2.  //   [pages] 14 and 15)

 

Commentary:  The thing of which we our aware and our awareness of that thing, though related, are two different things and both are quite real.  Consider some things of which we are aware.  For example, suppose sitting on a table in front of you is a red rose in a transparent glass vase.   We could focus our attention on the table, the vase, the glass of the vase, its transparency, the rose, or the redness of the rose.  You choose to focus your attention on the redness of the rose.  That redness is a real thing.  It exists without our awareness of it.  That redness (i.e. the wavelengths of light rejected by the rose which one’s eyes interpret as redness) will continue to exist in that rose sitting on the counter whether it is observed by anyone or not.  That redness is real.  Now consider your awareness of that redness.  That awareness is a real thing.  It too exists whether or not anyone other than yourself is aware of its presence in your mind.  The actual rose is a real physical material objective thing.  The image of the redness is a concept within your mind.  That concept is a real objective immaterial thing.  Like the physical redness of the rose, it too exists.  The concept within the mind has actual existence, connected to and consequent to one’s awareness of the actual thing to which it is related.  But once you leave the immediate vicinity and no longer see the rose and its redness with your eyes, that concept is still in your mind.  Your mind contains the memory of the redness of that rose.  That memory consists of a real actual concept within the mind.  Both the actual redness and the concept of redness are real.

 

Key:  For an explanation of the reference and cross reference forms used in this book (e.g. [§19.6] and (11:292c), see previous posts in this blog entitled “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (7)” and “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (8)”.

The Elements of Philosophy: 1.2.3.1

Simple apprehension (1:706c) is the first act of the intellect whereby it simply grasps what a thing is, i.e. its essence or quiddity, without affirming or denying anything of it.  In apprehending a quiddity (12:25a) the intellect forms within itself the formal concept or mental word, whose external sign is the oral or written word.”  (PART 1.  //  CHAPTER 2 LOGIC.  //  [Section] FORMAL LOGIC §3. SIMPLE APPREHENSION   //   [paragraph] 1.  //   [page] 14)

 

Commentary:  I was around ten years of age.  It was a very cold crisp clear winter day in Minnesota.  I bundled up and walked down to and then along the river immediately behind our house.  Sunlight sparkled off the deep fluffy snow.  As I was walking the river, I looked toward the west at the sun.  On either side of the sun, a hands width away at arms length, I saw brilliant multicolored ill defined globs of brilliance.  It scared me.  Later I would learn that this was at atmospheric phenomenon called sun dogs.  Perhaps, later that day, I told someone about what I had seen and was told that it/they were called sun dogs.  Of course, being told their/its name did not explain to me what they actually were.  But it did give me a word to describe what I saw.  Given the word sun dogs, I now had a word I could use to save me the time of explaining what I saw without having to use the multitude of words a ten year old would use.  If later I was with someone else who had never seen a sun dog, and s/he would say “What is that?”, I could reply with “That is a sun dog.”  Of course, had my fellow seer then asked “But what is it?  What is a sun dog?”, I would not have been able to give an explanation.  I would not have been able to give an explanation because I would have not yet learned an explanation.  I would have only possessed my simple apprehension of what I had seen.  I would have had at that moment an awareness of what a sun dog was.  I would have been able to identify that what we saw was a sun dog and not some other atmospheric phenomenon such as a rainbow or an aurora.  And I would have possessed a word to describe the essence of that phenomenon; the essence of that phenomenon not in the sense that I understand the cause and constitution of the phenomenon, but its essence in the sense that I was now aware that that phenomenon was “this thing” and not “that thing”.  I would have been able to answer the question “What is that?” with a “That is such and so.”

In the Latin language, one meaning of the word quid is what.  When we refer to apprehending the quiddity of the thing, we mean that we have come to recognize a “what”.  We have obtained an awareness of a particular what-ness without as yet having come to an understanding of why it is the way it is.  We have come to recognize that the thing we have sensed is one thing and not another thing.  Imagine the toddler who begins to use the word “dog” to refer to the pet in the house.  It is possible that s/he is also now able to distinguish between those entities which are dogs and those other residents of the house which are cats or birds or goldfish.

Father Wallace’s first sentence “Simple apprehension (1:706c) is the first act of the intellect whereby it simply grasps what a thing is…”, might have been clearer had he replaced the word “what” with the word “that”; i.e. “Simple apprehension (1:706c) is the first act of the intellect whereby it simply grasps that a thing is…”.  However, in that this simple apprehension results in the observer obtaining a word/concept to describe that phenomenon which one has observed, it is also correct to say “Simple apprehension (1:706c) is the first act of the intellect whereby it simply grasps what a thing is…”  The words we use to describe things are always in response to some form of “what?” question.  “What is that?”  “That, is a sun dog.”

 

Key:  For an explanation of the reference and cross reference forms used in this book (e.g. [§19.6] and (11:292c), see previous posts in this blog entitled “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (7)” and “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (8)”.