PRN

The Law of Identity in Aristotle's Works?

6 posts in this topic

I cannot find a reference in Aristotle to the law of identity. I found non-contradiction in Book 4: Chapter 3 of Metaphysics, but that was it.

Does anyone know where to find it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I cannot find a reference in Aristotle to the law of identity. I found non-contradiction in Book 4: Chapter 3 of Metaphysics, but that was it.

Does anyone know where to find it?

As far as I know, Aristotle did not formulate the law of identity explicitly. According to my notes from Dr. Peikoff's History of Philosophy course, the first explicit formulation of the law of identity was made by someone named Antonius Andreas, in the 12th century A.D.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As far as I know, Aristotle did not formulate the law of identity explicitly.

A sort of negative confirmation comes from H. W. B. Joseph. Usually, in his Introduction to Logic, which is generally modeled on Aristotle's Organon, Joseph eagerly cites Aristotle's writings as a source for Joseph's understanding of logic. For his discussions of the Law of Identify, Joseph cites no source in Aristotle -- or anywhere else.

According to my notes from Dr. Peikoff's History of Philosophy course, the first explicit formulation of the law of identity was made by someone named Antonius Andreas, in the 12th century A.D.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

If this is accurate, it confirms once more that every rational philosopher, great or small, can be a part of the history of the development of rational philosophy. I mention this because I occasionally hear intelligent, ambitious new students of Objectivism who are considering a career in philosophy bemoan the fact, they say, that there is nothing left to do in philosophy!

I have sometimes wondered if there is a sort of oceanic wave action happening in the history of rational philosophy. At a low level, smaller intellects make advances in their own narrow areas; a great intellect -- such as Aristotle -- appears and integrates the small advances into a sweeping system of rational philosophy; and then smaller minds, but still rational, spend centuries making implications explicit, applying broad principles to new areas, and advancing in other ways.

Metaphorically, I think of this possible pattern as: lumberjacks, architects, and carpenters. That is, there are individuals who develop the individual elements; a few rare individuals who integrate the elements; and again many individuals who implement the blueprints.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have sometimes wondered if there is a sort of oceanic wave action happening in the history of rational philosophy. At a low level, smaller intellects make advances in their own narrow areas; a great intellect -- such as Aristotle -- appears and integrates the small advances into a sweeping system of rational philosophy; and then smaller minds, but still rational, spend centuries making implications explicit, applying broad principles to new areas, and advancing in other ways.

The analogy that comes to mind from your own analogy (to stretch analogies to the breaking point and beyond no doubt) is that Ayn Rand was like a tsunami sweeping away centuries of bad philosophy, clearing the way for new growth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As far as I know, Aristotle did not formulate the law of identity explicitly.  According to my notes from Dr. Peikoff's History of Philosophy course, the first explicit formulation of the law of identity was made by someone named Antonius Andreas, in the 12th century A.D.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Thanks. This was something I had been wondering about for a long time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From Dr Peikoff’s Ph.D. thesis, page ii, note 2:

“Of the three ‘laws of thought’ which one commonly associates with the traditional logic, the Law of Identity, as far as I can tell, was not specifically formulated as such until the medieval era. Sir William Hamilton, who is ordinarily encyclopedic in such matters, was unable to find such a formulation of it until Antonius Andreas, at the end of the thirteenth century. (Cf. his Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic, ed. Henry Mansel & J. Veitch [2 vols., Boston, Gould & Lincoln, 1859], II, 65.)”

“The Status of the Law of Contradiction in Classic Logical Ontologism,” by Sylvan Leonard Peikoff (1933- ), New York University, Ph.D., 1964, Philosophy. Printed on demand by University Microfilms, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr Peikoff has spoken disparagingly of this thesis; but I think he was being overly self-critical. He tied ideas to reality as well as anyone could, given that it had to be in a form acceptable to his mini-Kantian philosophy department. His research advisor was Sidney Hook, a well-known pragmatist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites