Thinking and Being (9780674985285) by Kimhi Irad

Thinking and Being (9780674985285) by Kimhi Irad

Author:Kimhi, Irad
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Harvard Univ Pr

9.  De Interpretatione 6: The Directions of Assertions

De Int. 6 begins by narrowing the topic to simple propositions, i.e., those that claim that something is or is not the case. These are, respectively, affirmations (kataphaseis) and denials (apophaseis).11

What these consist in is characterized in two ways. An affirmation, Aristotle says, is “a proposition asserting something toward something [kata tinos]”; a denial is “a proposition asserting something away from something [apo tinos]” (17a25). The difference between affirmation and denial is thus a difference in the direction of assertion.12

How should we understand this?13 It is worth noting an asymmetry between “pointing toward” and “pointing away from” something. For in the first case the direction of pointing is at least comparatively determinate (as a point in space), while in the second it is not. (We shall see how this asymmetry helps to illuminate the priority of affirmation over negation.)

Elsewhere, however, Aristotle characterizes simple affirmation (kataphasis) as “combination” (synthesis) and simple negation (apophasis) as “separation” (diairesis). The question arises, then, whether a combination is an assertion toward and a separation an assertion away from; or whether the two characterizations in some way diverge.

One place where the characterizations seem to diverge is De Anima 3.6, where Aristotle is discussing the notions of combination and separation. He says there that whatever can be false must involve combination and so “even when you assert that what is [in fact] white is not white you have combined non-white. It is also possible to call all these cases separation” (430b1). This passage should give pause to those who understand combination and separation as two different ways of relating propositional components. As Heidegger puts it:


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