Aristotle on Homonymy: Dialectic and Science

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Socrates' paleness is a secondary instance of being related to a primary instance of being, that of the substance Socrates. The other two cases which Ward analyses, nature and friendship, produce further evidence for core-related homonymy. The first one, nature, does not pose problems.

PHILOSOPHY - Aristotle

Aristotle points out, Ward says, that there is a primary use of physis , signifying that which has in itself a cause of motion and rest. He also says that physis is non-univocal.

The secondary instances of physis are all connected to this primary instance. The second case, friendship, has the difficulty of apparently lacking a primary instance which is causally connected to the other two. The utility and pleasure friendships are not called friendships because of a causal connection they have with complete friendship. Ward attempts to resolve this problem by considering the basis of each of the three types of friendships.

They all appear to have as their purposes a good. The difference is that complete friendship is based on the real good, as Ward calls it, while the other two on what appears to be good, namely utility and pleasure. In order to provide a causal analysis of friendship, then, one needs to have an analysis of the good. The definitions of everything that appears to be good depends on the account of what is good indeed, giving thus to the good a priority in logos.

For Ward, then, the good itself is the primary instance, while utility and pleasure and everything else that appears to be good are secondary instances. Returning to the types of friendship, their connection would be now seen by considering the kind of good that they are based on. Since the complete one is based on the real good, it is the primary instance of friendship, while the other two, based on what appears to be good, are secondary instances.

At the end of the book, Ward returns to the contribution of homonymy in scientific inquiry. She explains that homonymy provides a useful tool for the classification by division. Used as a method, homonymy can reveal accidental homonyms so as to avoid equivocation, but it can also show the "inter-connection among the uses of the terms that possess the shared feature to point to the primary instance" Julie Ward's book is well conceived and an important contribution on a difficult topic.

Her treatment of homonymy is partly indebted to Shields , and she does a good job pointing out both their agreements and their differences. The study moves from a clear explanation of what Ward takes to be homonymy in Aristotle, to showing it at work, and to deciphering its contribution in constructing definitions. This progressive form helps the reader go through a difficult topic but might also be the source of some repetitive claims.

Without a doubt, the book will generate fruitful discussions.

Julie K. Ward, Aristotle on Homonymy: Dialectic and Science - PhilPapers

One of the main questions that this volume raises is the connection between Aristotle's theory of homonymy and Plato's treatment of the subject. The connection between Plato and Aristotle is important for Ward, since she begins the book by pointing it out and ends it with an afterword in which she brings the two philosophers together again. But one may reasonably wonder whether she brings them too close. Consider, for instance, the notion of primary instance. When analyzing the non-univocity of the good in order to make sense of the core-dependence of friendship, Ward says that the real good is the primary instance while those things which appear to be good are secondary instances.

But one might wonder what this real good as a primary instance really is. Certainly, the good is not univocal. A good human is not good in the same way a good dog is. In the case of the human, the primary instance is the human's real good, while the secondary instances are what appear to be good. But the same analysis can be done in the dog's case. There is a real good for a dog, but also things which appear to be good but are not. Should we then say that the good has several primary instances, and if so are they connected to a super-primary instance, which might resemble a Platonic Form?

To be sure, Ward does not claim such a thing, but it is not obvious that her theory would not allow it. What certainly will cause much discussion is the causal connection between primary and secondary instances of a homonym. Ward explicitly rejects Shields' theory that the secondary instances are not causally connected to the primary instance.

Instead, she believes that the causal connections should be explained by making reference to one of the four Aristotelian causes.

Aristotle on Homonymy: Dialectic and Science

But this needs further discussion. One might desire to have a better explanation of how the secondary instances which bring about the primary instance as, for example, a certain diet is healthy because it efficiently causes health are different than those which are only indicative of the primary instance as a healthy body is receptive of health. Further, even if we accept that a term "F" applies differently to primary and secondary instances, it is not obvious that there must be a causal connection among them.

To conclude, Julie Ward's volume is a valuable study, on a subject that needs further inquiries. One cannot but be engaged with Ward's fine and thorough analysis of Aristotelian homonymy. Aristotle says also in Metaphysics Gamma that there are many senses in which a thing may be said to be, and there he also mentions that these senses are not homonymous a As Ward points out, Aristotle uses homonymy here with the meaning of accidental homonymy. The different senses of being are still, Ward will argue, core-related homonyms.

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Oxford: OUP, Bryn Mawr Classical Review Ward, Aristotle on Homonymy: Dialectic and Science. ISBN Review of Julie K. Ward, Aristotle on Homonymy: Dialectic and Science. Aristotle on the Homonymy of Being. Frank A.


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Aristotle on Homonymy: Dialectic and Science. By Julie K. Ward

Homonymy in the Philosophy of Aristotle. Oxford: Clarendon Press, ISBN: Lang - - The Classical Review 50 01 Book Review: Cynthia A. Feminist Interpretations of Aristotle. Added to PP index Total views 21 , of 2,, Recent downloads 6 months 1 , of 2,, How can I increase my downloads? Sign in to use this feature. This article has no associated abstract. No keywords specified fix it.