PREDICATION AND ONTOLOGY IN ARISTOTLE’S ORGANON
Keith E. McPartland, Ph. D.
Cornell University 2009
In the Categories, Aristotle recognizes two relations that an entity can bear to a
subject: it can either inhere in or be said-of a subject. In this dissertation, I offer an
interpretation of the natures of these relations and their relata. I also examine
Aristotle’s views about predication, the nature of truthmakers, and ontological priority.
At Categories 1a24-25, Aristotle offers a definition of inherence which, on the
most natural reading, holds that a nonsubstance can inhere in a substance only if it
cannot exist without that substance. An entity that inheres in a particular substance
must be a nonsubstantial particular which is numerically distinct from any entity that
inheres in a distinct substance. This reading of 1a24-25, however, is inconsistent with
the most natural reading of Aristotle’s claim 2a34ff that the universal color must
inhere in a particular body. To render Aristotle’s claims consistent, we must
reinterpret either 1a24-25 or 2a34ff. In chapters 2-6, I show that various attempts to
reinterpret these passages are not successful.
I argue that Aristotle’s claims really are inconsistent. In chapters 7-10, I
consider what might have led Aristotle to this inconsistency. I conclude that
Aristotle’s error results from a confusion about the nature of the said-of relation.
In chapter 7, I argue that Aristotle regards the said-of relation as a whole-part
relation holding between universals and particulars, but is confused about whether the
said-of relation is purely extensional. In chapter 8, I argue that the same confusion
infects some of Aristotle’s views about kath’ hauto and katholou predication in the De