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in their exceptionally strict sense) hold only of objects (therefore they do not
hold of thoughts); truth and falsehood (the properties signi¬ed by ˜true™ and
˜false™ in their ordinary sense) hold only of thoughts (therefore they do not
hold of objects); hence, ˜being in the strictest sense true™ is not only distinct
from truth, but does not even entail it (because the latter fails to hold of
some “ indeed, all “ of the items of which the former holds); similarly,
[diano©a€]™ (1027b 27“8), what he means is that in the case of simple items truth and falsehood are
not even in discursive thought (di†noia), the ground for this being that (as 10 is sometimes taken
to claim) they are in a thought of a different kind, i.e. intuitive thought (n»hsiv) (for the distinction
between discursive and intuitive thought in connection with truth and falsehood see Metaph. 7,
1012a 2“5 with Maier (1896/1936), i 21, 79).
70 Vollrath (1959), 177; Tugendhat (1966b), 405; Fleischer (1984), 27; Schmitz (1985), 116“17.
66 Bearers of truth or falsehood
˜being in the strictest sense false™ is not only distinct from falsehood, but
does not even entail it; ˜being in the strictest sense true™ and ˜being in the
strictest sense false™ owe their peculiar strictness to their being fundamental
(they are fundamental because they are appealed to in de¬ning truth and
falsehood);71 ˜being in the strictest sense true™ and ˜being in the strictest
sense false™ are theoretical constructs introduced to set up a better theory
of truth; the veridical sense of ˜to be™ and ˜not to be™ addressed in E 4
is different from, although connected to, the one addressed in 10 (because
the veridical sense of ˜to be™ and ˜not to be™ addressed in E 4 covers only
or mainly the truth and the falsehood that hold of thoughts, while the
veridical sense of ˜to be™ and ˜not to be™ addressed in 10 covers only the
˜being in the strictest sense true™ and the ˜being in the strictest sense false™
that hold of objects). So, it could well be the case that E 4™s remark commits
Aristotle to [a] while 10™s remark commits him to [c], where ˜being in
the strictest sense true™ and ˜being in the strictest sense false™ bear to truth
and falsehood the relationship indicated.72
In E 4 Aristotle promises to discuss later certain questions about what ˜is™
in the sense of being true and what ˜is not™ in the sense of being false, and
he seems to ful¬l this promise in 10.73 As I argued in the last paragraph,
what Aristotle does in 10 can be plausibly taken to be to introduce
˜being in the strictest sense true™ and ˜being in the strictest sense false™ as
properties that hold of objects but not of thoughts, and to de¬ne the truth
and the falsehood that do hold of thoughts by appealing to ˜being in the
strictest sense true™ and ˜being in the strictest sense false™ holding of objects.
It can then be plausibly inferred that the questions about what ˜is™ in the
sense of being true and what ˜is not™ in the sense of being false whose later
discussion Aristotle promises in E 4 concern precisely this issue, i.e. de¬ning
the truth and the falsehood that hold of thoughts by appealing to ˜being
in the strictest sense true™ and ˜being in the strictest sense false™ holding of
objects.

E 4 on the truth and falsehood of af¬rmative and negative predications. Given
that 10, and in particular its beginning (1051a 34“1051b 9 = T 2), expands
on E 4, some of the results established above in the analysis of the beginning
of 10, and especially [1]“[7], can be used as a guide in the search for a

71 Cf. n. 42 above and the paragraph it pertains to.
72 Cf. Heidegger (1926), 168, 305“6; (1930), 87“91; Reale (1968/93), iii 311; Seidl (1989/91), i 429; Thorp
(2001), 20“1. For different attempts to reconcile the remarks of E 4 and 10 see Aquinas in Metaph.
1230“40 Cathala/Spiazzi; Wieland (1962), 194; Luther (1966), 183; Graeser (1981), 88; Halper (1989),
217.
73 Cf. n. 67 above and the portion of the main text it pertains to.
States of affairs, thoughts, and sentences 67
plausible interpretation of E 4. It is then plausible to assume that when, in
E 4, he says that ˜truth has the af¬rmation in the case of what is combined
and the denial in the case of what is divided, while falsehood has the
contradictory of this apportionment™ (1027b 20“3), Aristotle means (i) that
an af¬rmative predicative belief should be assigned the truth-value truth
(falsehood) when and only when certain objects (the universal grasped by its
predicate and the universal or individual grasped by its subject) of which
it thinks that they are combined are in fact combined (divided) (cf. [6]
above), and (ii) that a negative predicative belief should be assigned the
truth-value truth (falsehood) when and only when certain objects of which
it thinks that they are divided are in fact divided (combined) (cf. [7] above).
A proviso is in place here. As we shall see in chapter 3, Aristotle probably
thinks that beliefs concerning composite items are not only predicative
beliefs, but also existential beliefs about material substances. I leave this
aspect of Aristotle™s theory for later: for the time being I speak as if for
Aristotle beliefs concerning composite items coincided with predicative
beliefs.

Af¬rmative (negative) predications involve joining (separating). In E 4 Aristo-
tle says that ˜the connection and the division are in thought, not in objects™
(1027b 29“31). He also says that ˜thought joins or subtracts either the “what
it is” or that it is such-and-such or that it is so much or something else,
whatever it may be™ (1027b 31“3).74 By saying this Aristotle probably com-
mits himself, on the one hand, to the claim that in an af¬rmative predicative
belief one item is joined with one item, and, on the other, to the claim that
in a negative predicative belief one item is separated from one item.

What is the joining (separating) involved in af¬rmative (negative) predications?
At the beginning of 10 (1051a 34“1051b 9 = T 2) Aristotle does not explicitly
say that in an af¬rmative predicative belief a person joins one item with
one item, nor does he explicitly say that in a negative predicative belief a
person separates one item from one item. However, at those points of the
beginning of 10 where (having read E 4) one would expect him to say
that in an af¬rmative predicative belief a person joins one item with one
item, Aristotle seems to say instead that in an af¬rmative predicative belief
a person thinks of a certain state of affairs that it is combined, i.e. that
in an af¬rmative predicative belief a person thinks of certain objects (the
individuals or universals of which the relevant state of affairs is composed)
that they are combined; and at those points of the beginning of 10

74 Cf. Int. 1, 16a 9“18.
68 Bearers of truth or falsehood
where (having read E 4) one would expect him to say that in a negative
predicative belief a person separates one item from one item, Aristotle seems
to say instead that in a negative predicative belief a person thinks of a certain
state of affairs that it is divided, i.e. that in a negative predicative belief a
person thinks of certain objects that they are divided. The following views
(to be compared with [6] and [7] above) can then be plausibly attributed
to Aristotle:
[8] In an af¬rmative predicative belief an item p is joined with an item s.
For p to be joined with s is for p to be thought to be combined with s. p
and s are the objects (individuals or universals) which are being thought
of. The af¬rmative predicative belief is true (false) when and only when
p is combined with (divided from) s.
[9] In a negative predicative belief an item p is separated from an item s.
For p to be separated from s is for p to be thought to be divided from s. p
and s are the objects (individuals or universals) which are being thought
of. The negative predicative belief is true (false) when and only when p
is divided from (combined with) s.75
A Platonic view could be the source of [9]. For in the Sophist Plato seems to
claim, ¬rst, that otherness is a cause of division among kinds,76 and, second,
that negative assertions say that certain items are other than certain items.77
Plato therefore seems committed to the view that negative assertions say
that certain items are divided from certain items. This view could be a
source of the idea (expressed in [9]) that in a negative predicative belief one
item is thought to be divided from one item.

˜Thinking together™ and ˜thinking separately™. Proposition [8] says that for p
to be joined with s is for p to be thought to be combined with s; [9] says that
for p to be separated from s is for p to be thought to be divided from s. If this is
Aristotle™s view, some light is shed on an aspect of E 4. At 1027b 23 Aristotle
speaks of ˜thinking together™ and ˜thinking separately™, and these mental acts
or states seem to be the same as the joining and the separating of af¬rmative
and (respectively) negative predicative beliefs. If joining two items in an
af¬rmative predicative belief is thinking that they are combined, then it can
also be described as thinking of two items together (take ˜thinking together™
as describing the contents of a single act or state of thinking, i.e. what one is

75 Cf. Kirwan (1971/93), 198“9. Some commentators (e.g. Kessler (1976), 183) believe that according to
E 4 the items joined (separated) in an af¬rmative (negative) predicative belief are (not objects, but)
thoughts.
76 77 257b1“257c4.
253c2“3; 256b2“3.
States of affairs, thoughts, and sentences 69
thinking with regard to the things one is thinking of “ avoid taking ˜think-
ing together™ as expressing a relation that obtains between two ontologically
independent acts or states of thinking). Similarly, if separating two items
in a negative predicative belief is thinking that they are divided, then it
can also be described as thinking of two items separately (take ˜thinking
separately™ as describing the contents of a single act or state of thinking, i.e.
what one is thinking with regard to the things one is thinking of “ avoid
taking ˜thinking separately™ as expressing a relation that obtains between
two ontologically independent acts or states of thinking). This interpre-
tation of the expressions ˜thinking together™ and ˜thinking separately™ is
con¬rmed by what Aristotle says immediately afterwards: ˜I use “together”
and “separately” in such a way that what comes to be is not something
continuous but a single thing™ (1027b 24“5). Aristotle is pointing out that
the expressions ˜thinking together™ and ˜thinking separately™ should not be
so understood as to presuppose a series78 of two (or more) ontologically
independent thoughts between which the relation of being ˜together™ or
that of being ˜separately™ obtains.79

Combination and division on different levels. In general, to join (separate) is
to bring about a combination (division) of some sort. Hence the joining
(separating) involved in an af¬rmative (negative) predicative belief brings
about a combination (division) of some sort in the items on which it is
performed, i.e. in the objects thought of. But the combination (division)
of objects which is brought about by the joining (separating) involved in
an af¬rmative (negative) predicative belief is different from the ˜ontolog-
ical™ combination (division) which may concern those same objects and
determines the truth or falsehood of the predicative belief: the combina-
tion (division) of an object p and an object s that is brought about by
the joining (separating) involved in an af¬rmative (negative) predicative
belief consists in the fact that the ˜ontological™ combination (division) is
thought to obtain between p and s. Of course, the combination (division) of
objects that is brought about by the joining (separating) of an af¬rmative
(negative) predicative belief must be different from the ˜ontological™ com-
bination (division) of those objects lest every predicative belief should be
true.80

78 In de Aninma 1.3 Aristotle says that thoughts ˜are one by continuity like number, not like magnitude™
(407a 8“9).
79 Cf. Ascl. in Metaph. 374, 1“4; Aquinas in Int. 26 Spiazzi; in Metaph. 1229 Cathala/Spiazzi; Jaeger
(1912), 23; Geyser (1917), 57“8; Brandt (1965), 21“2; Pritzl (1984), 145; de Rijk (1987), 50; Vigo (1997),
4, 11, 19; Pritzl (1998), 181“2, 183.
80 Cf. Tugendhat (1966a), 254“5; (1966b), 405; Pritzl (1998), 181.
70 Bearers of truth or falsehood
Denials also involve joining. In E 4 Aristotle contrasts af¬rmative and neg-
ative predicative beliefs insofar as in an af¬rmative predicative belief one
item is joined with one item while in a negative predicative belief one
item is separated from one item. However, in some passages he says that
both in an af¬rmative and in a negative predicative belief one item is
joined with one item.81 Why does he say this? At least three answers are
possible.
(i) Both the joining involved in an af¬rmative predicative belief and the
separating involved in a negative predicative belief are acts or states in which
one item is somehow joined with one item. For the separating involved in a
negative predicative belief is not a complete dissolution whereby the things
which are being thought of remain totally unrelated, but a particular way
to join those things. For example, one wants to distinguish between the
separation involved in the belief that no man is an invertebrate, on the
one hand, and the separation involved in thinking successively and inde-
pendently of man and of invertebrate, on the other. The joining involved
in both af¬rmative and negative predicative beliefs amounts to setting or
holding the objects which are being thought of in the subject“predicate
relation; the joining that is involved only in af¬rmative predicative beliefs,
and is opposed to the separating involved in negative predicative beliefs,
occurs when the subject“predicate relation is realised in its af¬rmative
form.82
(ii) As in an af¬rmative predicative belief an ˜af¬rmative™ state of affairs
is thought ˜to be™ in the sense of being true, so in a negative predicative
belief an ˜af¬rmative™ state of affairs is thought ˜not to be™ in the sense of
being false. Thus, both af¬rmative and negative predicative beliefs involve
the joining whereby the ˜af¬rmative™ state of affairs with which they are
concerned comes to be.


81 To formulate the claim that both in an af¬rmative and in a negative predicative belief one item is
joined with one item Aristotle uses ˜composition™ (˜s…nqesiv™) and ˜to compose™ (˜suntiq”nai™) (see
de An. 3.6, 430a 26“430b 3; Metaph. 7, 1012a 2“5) as well as ˜interweaving™ (˜sumplokž™) (see de
An. 3.8, 432a 10“12; Metaph. K 8, 1065a 21“3) (cf. Brentano (1889), 18; Maier (1896/1936), i 24“5; Ross
(1923), 26; Keeler (1932), 247; Wilpert (1940), 9; Kirwan (1971/93), 199; Miller (1971), 15“16).
Aristotle™s claim that both in af¬rmative and negative predicative beliefs one item is joined with
one item ¬ts well with his using the formulae ˜one thing about one thing™ (˜šn kaq™ —n»v™) and
˜something about something™ (˜tª kat‡ tin»v™) both for denials and for af¬rmations: see Int. 6,
17a 34“5; 8, 18a 13“14; 11, 20b 13; APr. 1.1, 24a 16“17; 24a 29; APo. 1.2, 72a 8“9; 2.3, 90b 33“4; 10, 93b 35“7;
SE 6, 169a 7“8; 189a 10“11; 169a 14; 30, 181a 39; 181b 23“4; de An. 3.6, 430b 26“7; Metaph. 7, 1011b 24
(cf. Int. 12, 21b 19“20; APr. 2.15, 63b 35“8; Mignucci (1975a), 32; Cavini (1998), 6).
82 Cf. Geyser (1917), 57“8; Frege (1918/19), 147“9; Scarpat (1950), 26“7.
States of affairs, thoughts, and sentences 71
(iii) As in an af¬rmative predicative belief an ˜af¬rmative™ item is joined
with one item (e.g. in the af¬rmative predicative belief that Socrates is
white, to-be-white, or the thought of being white, is joined with Socrates,
or with the thought of him), so in a negative predicative belief a ˜negative™
item is joined with one item (e.g. in the negative predicative belief that
Socrates is not white, not-to-be-white, or the thought of not being white,
is joined with Socrates, or with the thought of him).83
I suspect that each of these three answers partly explains why Aristotle
says that both in af¬rmative and in negative predicative beliefs one item is
joined with one item. In any case, the joining involved in both af¬rmative
and negative predicative beliefs should be distinguished from the joining
which is involved only in af¬rmative predicative beliefs and is opposed to
the separating involved in negative predicative beliefs. Aristotle never draws
explicitly the distinction between the two types of joining.

Af¬rmations and denials ˜can be called divisions™. In de Anima 3.6 Aristotle
says that ˜all [sc. all af¬rmations and denials] can also be called divisions™
(430b 3“4). This remark is baf¬‚ing. Its most plausible interpretation appeals
to the fact that from the start of de Anima 3.6 Aristotle is interested in
indivisible items (cf. 430a 26), which are probably the items thought of by
means of simple (indivisible) thoughts which could be obtained from those
complex (divisible) thoughts which are af¬rmative and negative predica-
tive beliefs by dividing them along the joints determined by their subject“
predicate structure. It is because this subject“predicate structure of af¬r-
mative and negative predicative beliefs is a guide for a possible division
of them into simple (indivisible) thoughts that they ˜can also be called
divisions™.84

83 Cf. de An. 3.6, 430b 2“3 (with F¨ rster (1912), 175); de Ideis fr. 118, 3 Gigon 378a 8“379a 3 (= Alex. Aphr.
o
in Metaph. 80, 7“81, 22). In de Interpretatione 3 (16b 12“15) Aristotle treats ˜does not recover™ and ˜does
not ail™ as single expressions: this might be the linguistic counterpart of explanation (iii).
84 Cf. Phlp. in de An. 70, 90“71, 99 Verbeke; [Phlp.] in de An. 546, 8“9; 548, 11“20 Hayduck; Tren-
delenburg (1833), 502; Torstrik (1862), 191“2; Trendelenburg (1877), 414“15; Rodier (1900), ii 472;
Heidegger (1924/25), 186; Wilpert (1940), 8, 14; Vollrath (1959), 22“3, 26“7; Hamlyn (1968/93), 143;
Movia (1979), 384; Horn (1994), 110“11; Movia (1996), 285; Vigo (1997), 11“13. Other commentators
explain differently Aristotle™s remark that both af¬rmative and negative predicative beliefs ˜can also
be called divisions™. Some (Them. in de An. 109, 33“110, 1; Maier (1896/1936), i 26“30; Hicks (1907),
514“15; Ross (1923), 26; Oehler (1962/85), 156“7) take Aristotle to mean that the thoughts composed
by an af¬rmative or negative predicative belief involve or result from some abstracting or separating
away (e.g. abstracting or separating away a form from an image where it is encapsulated) (cf. de An.
3.3, 427b 27“9; 7, 431a 16“17; 431b 2; 431b 6“10; 8, 432a 7“14; Ph. 1.1, 184a 21“6). Others (Simp. in de
An. 250, 37“40; Aquinas in de An. 750 Pirotta; Maurus (1668), iv 96; Wallace (1882), 275; Heidegger
72 Bearers of truth or falsehood

3 sente n ce s
Utterances as bearers of truth or falsehood. Aristotle probably thinks that every
sentence85 which is true or false is an utterance, i.e. an event which occurs
over a relatively short portion of time, i.e. an expression-token and not an
expression-type.86 In the following four subsections I offer four arguments
for crediting Aristotle with such a view.

First argument. The idea that every sentence which is true or false should
be an utterance, rather than a sentence-type or a statement, agrees with the
˜spirit™ of some ontological views advanced by Aristotle in the Categories.
This (admittedly vague) agreement is brought out by a double analogy. Just
as, according to the Categories, primary substances, which are individuals,
are ˜prior™ to secondary substances, which are the kinds ( genera and species)
of which primary substances are members,87 so utterances, which are indi-
viduals, are ˜prior™ to sentence-types, which are kinds of which utterances
are members;88 just as, according to the Categories, primary substances are
˜prior™ to the items from other categories, which depend on primary sub-
stances because they are in them, so utterances are ˜prior™ to statements,
which depend on utterances because they are the products or results of those

(1925/26), 136“51; Ross (1961), 301; Siwek (1965), 336; de Koninck (1990), 217“18) offer different but
less plausible interpretations.
85 ˜Sentence™ here translates ˜l»gov™. Between 9.30 and 9.35 Jim produced exactly two utterances, each
of which was a token of the type ˜I am sleepy™. How many sentences did Jim utter between 9.30
and 9.35? The fact that one might answer both ˜One™ and ˜Two™ shows that ˜sentence™ is ambiguous
and can mean both ˜sentence-type™ and ˜sentence-token™ (cf. Kneale/Kneale (1962), 49). Thanks
to this ambiguity of ˜sentence™, translating ˜l»gov™ by ˜sentence™ does not prejudge the question
whether for Aristotle the linguistic items which are bearers of truth or falsehood are sentence-types
or sentence-tokens.
86 Cf. Bochenski (1951), 31; Sullivan (1970), 794; Miller (1971), 33; Nuchelmans (1973), 27, 43, 44;
Waterlow (1982), 135; Barnes (1993), 49“50; Seel (2001a), 219; Goldin (2002), 240. The idea (here
tentatively ascribed to Aristotle) that the linguistic items which are bearers of truth or falsehood
are utterances (events, expression-tokens) is apparently avowed by many late-ancient commentators
(see Ammon. in Cat. 53, 22“4; 60, 10“12; Phlp. in Cat. 82, 19“20; Simp. in Cat. 118, 19“25; Olymp.
in Cat. 79, 14“33; Elias in Cat. 183, 34“184, 3; anon. in Cat. 18, 33“5; Sullivan (1970), 790“800 “ the
position might originate with Alexander, see Schmidt (1966), 284“5). It is also avowed by Buridan
(see Scott (1966), 15) and many medievals (see Spade (1982), 251). Some modern philosophers (e.g.
Field (1972), 351“3; Quine (1986), 13“14) endorse it, but others (e.g. Strawson (1950), 162“5; A. R.
White (1970), 8, 9“10) criticise it. This idea is close, but not identical, to that, averred by Austin and
Strawson, that the bearers of truth or falsehood are statements, which are the products or results of
those events that are cases of making a statement (see Austin (1950), 151; Strawson (1950), 162“5).
Some commentators (e.g. B¨ck (2000), 100) think that for Aristotle the linguistic items which are
a
bearers of truth or falsehood are (not expression-tokens, but) expression-types.
88 Cf. Metaph. L 5, 1071a 23“4; M 10, 1087a 20“1.
87 Cat. 5, 2a 14“19; 2b 29“30.
States of affairs, thoughts, and sentences 73
events that are cases of making a statement, i.e. of utterances.89 Such a ˜pri-
ority™ of utterances with respect to sentence-types and statements makes
them more apt to be bearers of truth or falsehood.

Second argument. In the last part of chapter 5 of the Categories (4a 21“4b 19)
Aristotle uses systematically ˜l»gov™ to refer to items of which he says that
they are true or false.90 Shortly afterwards, at the beginning of chapter 6,
he uses ˜l»gov™ to refer to items of which he says that they are quantities.91
This usage of ˜l»gov™ strongly suggests that Aristotle would grant that those
items of which in the last part of chapter 5 he says that they are true or
false and to which he there refers by using ˜l»gov™ are included among
those items of which at the beginning of chapter 6 he says that they are
quantities and to which he there refers by using ˜l»gov™.92 To prove that an
item of those of which at the beginning of chapter 6 he says that they are
quantities and to which he there refers by using ˜l»gov™ is not composed
of parts which have position with respect to one another, Aristotle offers
the following argument:
T 8 For none of its parts endures, but once it has been uttered it can no longer
be recaptured. So its parts cannot have position, seeing that none of them
endures. (5a 33“6)
This argument strongly suggests that Aristotle would grant that those items
of which at the beginning of chapter 6 he says that they are quantities and to
which he there refers by using ˜l»gov™ are utterances.93 So Aristotle would

89 Cf. A. R. White (1970), 16. Objection: propositions and states of affairs are self-subsistent entities
which do not depend on utterances. Answer: propositions and states of affairs are not linguistic items
and are therefore irrelevant to this subsection™s argument.
90 4a 22; 4b 11; etc. 91 4b 23; 4b 32; etc.
92 Waitz (1844/46), i 281, 292 and Bod´us (2001), 17“21 rightly render the occurrences of ˜l»gov™ in

the last part of Categories 5 and in the ¬rst of Categories 6 by the same word (the Latin ˜oratio™ and
the French ˜discours™). O™Brien (1978), 29“32 claims that the items of which at the beginning of
chapter 6 Aristotle says that they are quantities and to which he there refers by using ˜l»gov™ are (not
sentences, but) words. If O™Brien™s claim were correct, then the items of which in the last part of
chapter 5 Aristotle says that they are true or false and to which he there refers by using ˜l»gov™ would
probably be (not included among, but) distinct from those of which at the beginning of chapter 6
he says that they are quantities and to which he there refers by using ˜l»gov™. O™Brien™s argument on
behalf of his claim is that the items of which at the beginning of chapter 6 Aristotle says that they are
quantities and to which he there refers by using ˜l»gov™ are there described as consisting of syllables
(see Cat. 6, 4b 32“7): it is words, not sentences, that consist of syllables. This argument, however, is
not conclusive. It might well be the case that the items Aristotle has in mind are sentences, and that
his reason for describing them as consisting of syllables is that syllables are the ultimate constituents
of sentences and provide him with a ground for saying that sentences are quantities.
93 Cf. Sullivan (1970), 790“1; Heinaman (1981), 300.
74 Bearers of truth or falsehood
probably grant that those items of which in the last part of chapter 5 he
says that they are true or false and to which he there refers by using ˜l»gov™
are utterances. Hence Aristotle probably thinks that those sentences which
are true or false are utterances.

Third argument. At the beginning of chapter 3 of de Interpretatione Aristotle
de¬nes a verb:
T 9 A verb is that [sc. that spoken sound signi¬cant by convention] which addi-
tionally signi¬es time, none of whose parts is signi¬cant in separation, and is
always94 a sign of things said of something else. (16b 6“8)95
At the beginning of chapter 4 he de¬nes a sentence:
T 10 A sentence is a spoken sound signi¬cant by convention96 some part of which
is signi¬cant in separation.97 (16b 26“7)
Shortly afterwards in chapter 4 he says:
T 11 Not every sentence is assertoric, but only that where being true or false is
present. (17a 2“3)
Thus, Aristotle applies ˜spoken sound™, ¬rst, to those items to which he also
applies ˜verb™ (cf. T 9), and, second, to those items to which he also applies
˜sentence™ and of which he says that they are true or false (cf. T 10 and
T 11).
Now, in chapter 3 Aristotle says:
T 12 Verbs said on their own are names and signify something (for the speaker
arrests the thought98 and the hearer pauses), but they do not yet signify
whether it is or not. (16b 19“22)
T 12 is a dif¬cult passage. On its likeliest interpretation, in T 12 Aristotle
uses the phrase ˜verb said on its own™ to denote utterances which are not
parts of larger utterances (i.e. of sentences) and really are not verbs but
names (because while they ˜signify something™ “ in that the speaker who

At 16b 7 I read ˜kaª ›stin ˆeª™ with B and most editions. Minio-Paluello and Zadro follow other
94
witnesses and read ˜›sti d•™.
95 Cf. 16b 8“18; Po. 20, 1457a 14“18.
At 16b 26 I adopt A™s reading ˜shmantikŸ kat‡ sunqžkhn™, which is printed by Pacius, Bekker,
96
Weise, and D¨ bner. Most witnesses have ˜shmantikž™, the reading preferred by Waitz, Cooke,
u
Minio-Paluello, Colli, Montanari, and Zadro. I retain ˜kat‡ sunqžkhn™ because it is required by the
back-reference at 17a 1“2 (cf. Montanari (1984/88), i 192; n. 24 of chapter 2).
97 Cf. Rh. 3.2, 1404b 26“7; Po. 20, 1457a 23“4.
98 Whose thought? For Montanari (1984/88), ii 242“8 the hearer™s, for Weidemann (1994/2002), 179“80
the speaker™s. Cf. Metaph. 4, 1006a 21“2.
States of affairs, thoughts, and sentences 75
produces one of them brings the hearer to ˜pause™, i.e. to think for some
time in a certain way “ they fail to perform the other two jobs that are
characteristic of verbs, i.e. the job of indicating that the item signi¬ed
holds, or does not hold, of the item signi¬ed by a close-by name, and the
job of indicating when it is that this holding, or not holding, occurs).99
Thus, in T 12 Aristotle probably applies ˜verb™ to utterances. (Note that if in
T 12 Aristotle were applying ˜verb™ to expression-types, it would be dif¬cult
to make sense of T 12™s ¬rst sentence: ˜Verbs said on their own are names
and signify something.™) So, when he applies ˜spoken sound™ to those items
to which he also applies ˜verb™, by ˜spoken sound™ Aristotle probably means
˜utterance™.
The upshot of the last paragraph™s argument is that when he applies
˜spoken sound™ to those items to which he also applies ˜verb™, by ˜spoken
sound™ Aristotle probably means ˜utterance™. Hence, when he applies ˜spo-
ken sound™ to those items to which he also applies ˜sentence™ and of which
he says that they are true or false, by ˜spoken sound™ Aristotle probably
means ˜utterance™. So Aristotle probably thinks that every sentence which
is true or false is an utterance.

Fourth argument. In de Interpretatione and in other works Aristotle speaks of
a person who in saying something ˜is right™ (literally, ˜has truth™, ˜ˆlhqe…ei™)
or ˜is wrong™ (literally, ˜has falsehood™, ˜ye…detai™).100 Moreover, to say that
somebody is saying something true, he uses ˜to say truly™ (˜ˆlhq¤v e«pe±n™)
followed by (a Greek expression which in English would be rendered by)
a ˜that™-clause.101 These linguistic facts ¬t well with the hypothesis that for
Aristotle the linguistic items which are true or false are events of saying, i.e.
utterances.102

Relative truth. Some modern philosophers make the truth of a sentence
relative to an interpretation: they claim that ˜true™ expresses not a property
(i.e. a one-place attribute) of sentences, but a relation between a sentence
and an interpretation (signi¬cation) of the linguistic expressions in the
sentence. Usually, the reason why these modern philosophers make such a
claim is that they assume that any sentence one might want to evaluate as
true or false is not associated with a signi¬cation of the linguistic expressions
it contains: it is the signi¬cation of the linguistic expressions contained in
the sentence that determines its being true or false, so much so that the same
99 Cf. Miller (1971), 17“18; Whitaker (1996), 55, 57“8.
100 Int. 9, 18a 35“7; 18b 7“8; 10, 20a 36; 14, 24b 8; APo. 2.19, 100b 6; SE 25, 180b 2“5; etc.
101 Int. 9, 19a 4; APo. 1.6, 75a 27; 22, 83a 1“2; SE 32, 182a 10; etc. 102 Cf. Wieland (1972), 237.
76 Bearers of truth or falsehood
sentence will be true under one, but not true under another, signi¬cation
of the linguistic expressions it contains.
Aristotle does not make the truth of a sentence relative to an interpre-
tation. If, as I suggested in the foregoing subsections, for Aristotle every
sentence that is true or false is an utterance, i.e. an event which occurs
over a relatively short portion of time, then Aristotle is justi¬ed in not
making the truth of a sentence relative to an interpretation. For he can
claim (i) that every sentence one might want to evaluate as true or false,
being an utterance, is by its very essence an expression of a certain language
(the language which the person who produced the utterance took herself
or himself to be speaking on that occasion), and therefore (ii) that every
sentence one might want to evaluate as true or false is essentially associated
with a signi¬cation of the linguistic expressions (utterances) it contains.
If Aristotle makes this claim, he is in a position to reply to those modern
philosophers who make the truth of a sentence relative to an interpretation
because they assume that any sentence one might want to evaluate as true
or false is not associated with a signi¬cation of the linguistic expressions it
contains: he can reply by rejecting their ground, i.e. by asserting that every
sentence one might want to evaluate as true or false is associated with a
signi¬cation of the linguistic expressions it contains.
c h ap t e r 2

Truth conditions for predicative assertions




This chapter examines what truth conditions for predicative assertions
Aristotle is committed to.
Section 1 addresses a preliminary issue: Aristotle™s conception of uni-
versals. Universals are neither concepts nor linguistic expressions: rather,
universals are objects whose nature is neither mental nor linguistic. A uni-
versal is an object which is predicated of many things, an individual is an
object which is not predicated of many things.
Sections 2“4 concentrate on the truth conditions for singular and quanti-
¬ed predicative assertions (evidence is mainly provided by passages from de
Interpretatione). Section 2 addresses the discussion of truth and falsehood in
de Interpretatione 1, where Aristotle alludes to the theory of Metaphysics E 4:
in an af¬rmative (negative) predicative belief one object is joined with (sep-
arated from) one object. The bulk of section 2 is taken up by a discussion
of two objections that could be raised against connecting de Interpretatione
1 with Metaphysics E 4. Section 3 addresses Aristotle™s theory of assertions.
Not every sentence is true or false (prayers are neither), and every sentence
that is true or false is an assertion (the converse fails). Every af¬rmative
predicative assertion asserts something ˜about™ something, every negative
predicative assertion asserts something ˜away from™ something. The opera-
tion of asserting-about (asserting-away-from) performed by an af¬rmative
(negative) predicative assertion is the linguistic counterpart of the operation
of joining (separating) performed in an af¬rmative (negative) predicative
belief. In both cases the operations are performed on objects (not on lin-
guistic expressions or on thoughts). Section 4 expounds the semantic theory
of de Interpretatione 7. Here Aristotle distinguishes predicative assertions
whose subjects signify individuals (i.e. singular predicative assertions) from
predicative assertions whose subjects signify universals (i.e. general predica-
tive assertions). He then contrasts two ways in which a predicative assertion
can assert something to hold, or not to hold, of the universal signi¬ed by

77
78 Bearers of truth or falsehood
its subject: it can either assert universally that something holds, or does not
hold, of this universal (in which case it is a universal assertion) or assert
non-universally that something holds, or does not hold, of this universal (in
which case it is an indeterminate assertion). Particular predicative assertions
(not to be confused with indeterminate predicative assertions) are intro-
duced as the contradictories of universal predicative assertions: all universal
predicative assertions are now regarded as af¬rmative (because they all af¬rm
universality, i.e. they af¬rm that it is universally that one universal holds,
or fails to hold, of one universal), while all particular predicative assertions
are now regarded as negative (because they all deny universality, i.e. they
deny that it is universally that one universal holds, or fails to hold, of one
universal). Such a theory commits Aristotle to different truth conditions
for predicative assertions that differ in quantity (i.e. by being universal, par-
ticular, indeterminate, or singular): predicative assertions of different kinds
assert different relations of combination and division, and it is different
relations of combination and division that are appealed to in their truth
conditions.
The ¬nal section 5 focuses on the last part of Metaphysics E 4. It argues that
the relevant differences among the relations of combination and division
introduced by a predicative assertion have to do not only with the assertion™s
quantity, but also with the categories: some predicative assertion asserts
that it is the combination or division corresponding to the category of
substance that obtains between the universal signi¬ed by its predicate and
the object signi¬ed by its subject, another predicative assertion asserts that
it is the combination or division corresponding to the category of quality
that obtains, etc. This dependence of truth on the categories is a reason for
leaving truth at the margins of metaphysical inquiry.


1 unive rs a ls
Universals and individuals in de Interpretatione 7. A comprehensive exami-
nation of Aristotle™s views on universals would require a book-length treat-
ment in its own right, which is far beyond what I dedicate to it here. I
restrict myself to a succinct discussion of three points: de Interpretatione 7™s
de¬nition of universals and individuals, the ontologically dependent nature
of universals, and the everlastingness of universals.
At the beginning of de Interpretatione 7 Aristotle de¬nes universals and
individuals:
Truth conditions for predicative assertions 79
T 13 Of objects some are universal, others individual (and I call ˜universal™ what is
of such a nature as to be predicated of many things, while I call ˜individual™
what is not such, e.g. man is a universal, Callias an individual).1 (17a 38“17b 1)

T 13™s de¬nitions probably commit Aristotle to the thesis that all univer-
sals are objects whose nature is neither linguistic nor mental.2 To be sure,
alternative interpretations of T 13 are possible that do not commit Aristotle
to this thesis. For example, T 13 is consistent with the claim that the only
objects that are universal are words (the translation should be slightly mod-
i¬ed by replacing ˜man™ with ˜“man”™ “ Greek lacked quotation marks).
However, a bit of re¬‚ection shows that such alternative interpretations are
unnatural and implausible.
T 13™s de¬nition of a universal turns on the verb-phrase ˜is of such a nature
as to™, which is open to two interpretations: it can mean ˜can by virtue of its
nature™ as well as ˜must by its very nature™.3 On the ¬rst interpretation, T
13™s de¬nition of a universal leaves the possibility open that some universal
could be predicated of nothing, a position Aristotle is commonly taken to
reject. On the second interpretation, T 13™s de¬nition of a universal entails
that every universal is predicated of many things. The second interpretation
could be attacked on the ground that it commits Aristotle to the implausible
view that a species should become extinct when exactly one of its members
is surviving. However, on re¬‚ection, the second interpretation does not
commit Aristotle to this implausible view: for the position it attributes to
Aristotle does not require that a universal should exist at a certain time only
if it is predicated then of many things. The position attributed to Aristotle
by the second interpretation is compatible with the view that a universal
exists at a certain time only if it is predicated then of at least one thing and
at some time or other of at least one other thing. What conclusively favours
the second interpretation over the ¬rst is that in de Partibus Animalium 1.4
Aristotle says:
1 Cf. APr. 1.27, 43a 25“32; APo. 1.1, 71a 23“4; SE 22, 178b 37“9; 179a 8“10; PA 1.4, 644a 27“8; Metaph. B 4,
999b 33“1000a 1; 9, 1018a 1“4; 26, 1023b 29“32; Z 13, 1038b 11“12; 1038b 16; 16, 1040b 25“6.
2 Cf. APr. 1.27, 43a 25“32; APo. 1.11, 77a 5“9; 24, 85b 15“18; Trendelenburg (1836/92), 61; Brentano (1909),
61“2; Ross (1923), 164“5; Graeser (1978), 447“9; Fine (1980), 210“11; Graeser (1983b), 200; Benson
(1988), 283; Brakas (1988), 17“19, 56“9, 108“10; Irwin (1988), 78“9; Fine (1993), 25; Upton (1988), 381;
Barnes (1995a), 97; Hafemann (1999), 110“11, 112“13; Modrak (2001), 48. Not everyone agrees that
for Aristotle universals are non-linguistic and non-mental objects: see e.g. A. C. Lloyd (1981), 1“2.
3 Cf. Fine (1984b), 39; Irwin (1988), 79“80; Fine (1993), 250. Most commentators (e.g. M. Frede (1978),
55; Fine (1984b), 39; Benson (1988), 283“7; Irwin (1988), 79“80; Devereux (1992), 116) favour the
second interpretation, whereby ˜is of such a nature as to™ means ˜must by its very nature™, others (e.g.
Viano (1955), 30“1; Brakas (1988), 97, 99“100) the ¬rst.
80 Bearers of truth or falsehood
T 14 Universals are common: for that which holds of many things we call a uni-
versal. (644a 27“8)4
T 14, which does not contain the verb-phrase ˜is of such a nature as to™,
commits Aristotle to the view that every universal is predicated of many
things.
So, the verb-phrase ˜is of such a nature as to™ in T 13 can be plausibly taken
to mean ˜must by its very nature™. It is probably indicating that the attribute
signi¬ed by the immediately following phrase constitutes the essence of a
universal. If this is correct, T 13™s de¬nition of a universal amounts to the
following:
[10] A universal is an object which is predicated of many things.
According to T 13™s de¬nition of an individual, an individual is an object
which does not satisfy the de¬niens of the de¬nition of a universal:
[11] An individual is an object which is not predicated of many things.5

Universals depend on individuals. In Metaphysics Z 16 Aristotle says:
T 15 None of the universals exists separately from individuals. (1040b 26“7)6
I cannot discuss here the issue of what ˜separately™ means in T 15 and in other
comparable passages. My view is that ˜separately™ here means something like
˜independently™,7 and that part of what Aristotle is committing himself to
in T 15 is that
[12] Every universal exists when and only when it is predicated of some
individual or other that at some time or other exists.8

Universals are everlasting. Aristotle does not explicitly say how long univer-
sals exist. However, some passages show beyond reasonable doubt that in
his view some universals are everlasting, i.e. exist always.

4 Cf. Metaph. 26, 1023b 29“32.
5 For Aristotle™s ˜negative™ de¬nition of an individual as what does not satisfy the de¬niens of the
de¬nition of a universal cf. Cat. 2, 1b 6“9; APr. 1.27, 43a 32“6; 43a 39“40; M. Frede (1978), 54.
6 Cf. de An. 1.1, 402b 7“8; Metaph. K 2, 1060b 20“2; M 9, 1086a 31“1086b 11; EE 1.8, 1217b 1“16.
7 Cf. Cat. 2, 1a 24“5 (with Oehler (1984), 181; Fine (1985), 164“5); GC 1.3, 317b 8“11; 317b 31“3; Long. 3,
465b 12“14; Metaph. Z 1, 1028a 31“4 (with Fine (1984b), 35“6); EE 1.8, 1217b 1“16 (with Fine (1984b),
37“8); de Ideis fr. 119 Gigon 384a 12“15 (= Alex. Aphr. in Metaph. 98, 19“20); Irwin (1977), 154; M.
Frede (1978), 65; Fine (1980), 205“6; (1984b), 33, 34“45, 79; (1985), 159“60; (1993), 51“2, 269. The idea
that ˜separately™ in T 15 and other parallel passages means something like ˜independently™ is attacked
by Morrison (1985), 128“38 and other commentators.
8 Cf. Cat. 11, 14a 7“10; Fine (1984b), 77“8; Irwin (1988), 80; Fine (1993), 247, 249, 269. For ˜at some
time or other™ see the subsection to which n. 1 of the introduction is appended.
Truth conditions for predicative assertions 81
(i) In Posterior Analytics 1.24 he says:
T 16 If there is some single account and the universal is not a homonymy, uni-
versals are to no less degree than some of the particulars, but even more,
inasmuch as imperishable things are among them, while particulars are more
perishable. (85b 15“18)
By saying that ˜imperishable things are among™ universals (85b 17“18), Aris-
totle commits himself to the view that some universals never perish.9
(ii) Several passages show that according to Aristotle at least some natural
kinds exist always. Here is the most explicit passage:
T 17 A kind “ of men, animals, and plants “ exists always. (GA 2.1, 731b 35“732a 1)10
Since Aristotle regards natural kinds as universals, he is committed to the
view that some universals exist always, i.e. are everlasting.
So Aristotle is committed to the view that some universals are everlasting.
Moreover, some remarks he makes seem to commit him to the view that
all universals are everlasting. For in Metaphysics Z Aristotle makes two con-
nected claims about de¬nitions: ¬rst, that whatever is de¬nable is necessary;
second, that only universals are de¬nable.11 By making the ¬rst of these two
claims Aristotle commits himself to the view that all de¬nable universals are
necessary. Since Aristotle believes that whatever is necessary is everlasting,12
he is committed to the view that all de¬nable universals are everlasting.
But now, Aristotle is likely to hold both that every non-de¬nable universal
is an ingredient (as genus or differentia) of some de¬nable universal, and
that every universal which is an ingredient (as genus or differentia) of some
de¬nable universal exists at least as long as that de¬nable universal. Since
he is committed to the view that all de¬nable universals are everlasting,
Aristotle is probably also committed to the stronger view that all universals
are everlasting.
Thus, although Aristotle never says that all universals are everlasting,
there is some plausibility to the assumption that for him all universals are
everlasting.

Universals are always instantiated. Aristotle probably thinks that every uni-
versal exists when and only when it is predicated of some individual or
9 Cf. Irwin (1988), 513.
10 Cf. GC 2.11, 338b 5“19; de An. 2.4, 415a 22“415b 7; GA 3.10, 760a 35“760b 1.
11 For the ¬rst claim see Z 15, 1039b 27“1040a 7 (cf. 10, 1036a 2“9; EN 6.3, 1139b 19“24). For the second
claim see Z 10, 1035b 34“1036a 1; 11, 1036a 28“9. Aristotle reports that Plato endorsed claims which
are, in fact, very close to these: see Metaph. A 6, 987a 29“987b 7; M 4, 1078b 12“17 (with Fine (1984b),
47“51).
12 EN 6.3, 1139b 22“4 (cf. n. 54 of ch. 1).
82 Bearers of truth or falsehood
other that at some time or other exists. If, as I just argued, he believes that
all universals are everlasting, i.e. exist always, then he is committed to the
view that every universal is at all times predicated of some individual or
other that at some time or other exists “ in short, that all universals are
always instantiated.

2 t ru t h a nd fa lseh ood i n d e i n t e r p r e tat i o n e 1
Joining and separating in de Interpretatione 1. Here is the second half of de
Interpretatione 1:
T 18 Just as in the soul some thoughts are neither true nor false while others
are necessarily one or the other, so also with spoken sounds: for falsehood
and truth have to do with joining and separating. Thus names and verbs
by themselves resemble thoughts that are without joining and separating,
e.g. ˜man™ and ˜white™ when nothing is added: for they are neither false nor
true so far, though they are signs of some speci¬c thing (for even ˜goatstag™
signi¬es something but is not yet either true or false “ unless ˜to be™ or ˜not
to be™ is added, either simply or with reference to time).13 (16a 9“18)14
T 18 contrasts thoughts that ˜are neither true nor false™ (16a 10) and ˜are
without joining and separating™ (16a 14), on the one hand, with thoughts
that ˜are necessarily one or the other [sc. true or false]™ (16a 11) and do involve
joining or separating, on the other. Although T 18 says nothing about
the nature of the operations of joining and separating, the parallel with
Metaphysics E 4 (= T 7) shows that the operation of joining (separating)
mentioned in T 18 is the one involved in af¬rmative (negative) predicative
beliefs.15 Hence in T 18 the thoughts that involve joining (separating) are
af¬rmative (negative) predicative beliefs.

Two objections could be raised against the view that the operations of join-
ing and separating mentioned in T 18 are the same as those mentioned
in Metaphysics E 4. The ¬rst objection claims that there is an important
difference between the operations of joining and separating mentioned in

My punctuation of the Greek text here (16a 16“18) is: ˜. . . ˆlhq”v pw, shme±on d™ –stª to“de (kaª
13
g†r . . . cr»non).™ (cf. APo. 1.1, 71a 14“15; Pagliaro (1954), 118; Weidemann (1994/2002), 156; Sedley
(1996), 93; Whitaker (1996), 32“3). All the editions I consulted print: ˜. . . ˆlhq”v pw. shme±on d™
–stª to“deá kaª g†r . . . cr»non.™ (to be translated by ˜. . . true so far. And there is a sign of this: for
even . . . time.™).
14 Cf. Cat. 4, 2a 4“10; 10, 13b 10“11; Int. 4, 16b 26“8; 5, 17a 17“20.
15 Cf. Ammon. in Int. 26, 23“27, 8; in APr. 23, 2“4; Boeth. in Int. Pr. Ed. 43, 11“14; in Int. Sec. Ed.
48, 21“49, 23; Steph. in Int. 6, 22“5; Aquinas in Int. 26 Spiazzi; Pacius (1597b), 87“8; (1597a), 61;
Waitz (1844/46), i 326; Brandt (1965), 15; Weidemann (1994/2002), 154; Whitaker (1996), 26“7; Vigo
(1997), 3.
Truth conditions for predicative assertions 83
T 18 and those mentioned in Metaphysics E 4: the former are performed
on thoughts, the latter on objects.16 The second objection claims that the
theory expounded in T 18 is incompatible with the views about truth and
falsehood expounded in Metaphysics 10, views that I took to be in the
background of E 4.
The following two subsections answer these objections, and thus defend
the view that the operations of joining and separating mentioned in T 18
are the same as those mentioned in Metaphysics E 4.

Of what kind are the items joined and separated in predicative beliefs? T 18
draws a double analogy: on the one hand, ˜names and verbs™ (16a 13), which
are neither true nor false, correspond to certain ˜thoughts that are without
joining and separating™ (16a 14), which also are neither true nor false; on
the other hand, certain linguistic expressions which are either true or false
correspond to certain thoughts which involve joining or separating and
also are either true or false. Although Aristotle does not explicitly say so,
the linguistic expressions which in T 18™s analogy are taken to be either true
or false are almost certainly predicative sentences.17
The exact import of T 18™s analogy is unclear. At least two interpretations
of it are possible.
(i) Names and verbs which are not parts of sentences are isolated (i.e. not
combined with other linguistic expressions in such a way as to compose
a predicative sentence). Their condition corresponds to that of thoughts
that are isolated (i.e. not combined with other thoughts in such a way as to
compose a predicative belief ) and are ˜without joining and separating™. Then
what corresponds to the condition of names or verbs that are combined
with other linguistic expressions in such a way as to compose a predicative
sentence is the condition of thoughts that are combined with other thoughts
in such a way as to compose a predicative belief and do involve joining or
separating. Not only the joining involved in an af¬rmative predicative
belief, but also the separating involved in a negative predicative belief is
a combination that yields a predicative belief. The joining (separating)
involved in an af¬rmative (negative) predicative belief is performed on
thoughts.18

16 Cf. the subsection to which n. 75 of ch. 1 is appended.
17 Cf. Ammon. in Int. 28, 29“31; 29, 18“26; Weidemann (1994/2002), 155.
18 Cf. Ammon. in Int. 26, 12“22; 29, 23“6; Trendelenburg (1836/92), 54; Steinthal (1863/90), i 236;
Maier (1896/1936), i 6, 109; Geyser (1917), 52; Ross (1923), 26; Keeler (1932), 244; Brandt (1965),
16“18; Kirwan (1971/93), 198“9; Miller (1971), 12, 45; Seidl (1971), 56; Ringbom (1972), 10; Kessler
(1976), 183, 184; Arens (1984), 34; Burnyeat et al. (1984), 154, 156; Zanatta (1992), 145; Sadun Bordoni
(1994), 65; Whitaker (1996), 29; Caston (1998a), 286; (1998b), 205; Segalerba (2001), 243.
84 Bearers of truth or falsehood
(ii) On the one hand, every predicative sentence is composed of a name or
a verb combined with some other linguistic expression, and an af¬rmative
(negative) predicative sentence joins (separates) objects “ while a name or a
verb neither joins nor separates objects. On the other hand, every predicative
belief is composed of a thought combined with some other thought, and an
af¬rmative (negative) predicative belief joins (separates) objects “ while the
thoughts of which the predicative belief is composed neither join nor sepa-
rate objects. The joining (separating) involved in an af¬rmative (negative)
predicative belief is performed (not on thoughts, but) on objects.19
The most important difference between these two interpretations con-
cerns the nature of the items which are joined (separated) by an af¬rma-
tive (negative) predicative belief: on interpretation (i) they are thoughts,
while on interpretation (ii) they are objects which are being thought of.
The following two considerations tell against interpretation (i), and there-
fore favour interpretation (ii).
First, if interpretation (i) is correct, then Aristotle holds that in a nega-
tive predicative belief one thought is separated from one thought, and he
also holds that this separation of thoughts is a way to join them (because
it is a way to establish some link between them). Given the isomor-
phism which Aristotle takes to obtain between the sphere of thoughts and
that of linguistic expressions, if interpretation (i) is correct then Aristotle
should describe the negative sentence ˜A goatstag is not™ as the result either
of separating ˜to be™ from ˜goatstag™ or of adding ˜to be™ to ˜goatstag™. But
now, at the end of T 18 (16a 15, 17“18) Aristotle describes ˜A goatstag is not™
as the result of adding ˜not to be™ to ˜goatstag™.20
Second, in the other passages where he speaks of af¬rmative and negative
predicative beliefs as being the result of some operation performed on
further thoughts, Aristotle mentions combination but ignores separation.21
This would be surprising if, as interpretation (i) assumes, Aristotle believed
that in a negative predicative belief one thought is separated from one
thought.
A problem for interpretation (ii) is that it is not clear how the beliefs
that correspond to the sentences alluded to at the end of T 18, ˜A goatstag
is™ and ˜A goatstag is not™, could be taken to involve joining or separating
objects. This problem can be plausibly solved by assuming that the beliefs
19 Cf. Boeth. in Int. Sec. Ed. 48, 21“49, 23; Pacius (1597a), 61; Brentano (1889), 18“19; Kapp (1942),
50“1; Ackrill (1963), 127; Matthen (1984), 32; Weidemann (1994/2002), 154.
20 In other passages also Aristotle describes a negative sentence as obtained by ˜adding™ something (a
negative expression): see Int. 4, 16b 28“30; 5, 17a 11“12; 10, 19b 24“6; 19b 29“30; 20a 35“6; 12, 21b 21“2;
21b 26“33; APr. 1.1, 24b 16“18 (cf. Brandt (1965), 19; Smith (1989), 108“9; Barnes (1996), 187“8).
21 De An. 3.6, 430a 26“430b 3 (the ˜division™ mentioned at 430b 3 has probably nothing to do with denial,
cf. the subsection to which n. 84 of ch. 1 is appended); 8, 432a 10“12.
Truth conditions for predicative assertions 85
corresponding to the sentences ˜A goatstag is™ and ˜A goatstag is not™ join
or separate the universals goat and stag. After all, the reason why Aristotle
discusses the name ˜goatstag™ is that it comes close to being a linguistic
expression that is either true or false. It does so on two grounds: it is
˜empty™ (hence a candidate for falsehood) and composite (hence resembling
predicative sentences, which are composite and are either true or false).22
Given that Aristotle discusses ˜goatstag™ partly because this name, being
composite, resembles predicative sentences, he can be plausibly taken to
hold that the beliefs that correspond to the sentences ˜A goatstag is™ and ˜A
goatstag is not™ join or separate the universals goat and stag.
In conclusion, interpretation (ii) should be preferred. Hence, in T 18™s
analogy, the items which are joined (separated) in an af¬rmative (negative)
predicative belief are probably (not further thoughts, but) objects.

The apparent clash of de Interpretatione 1 with Metaphysics ˜ 10. In de Inter-
pretatione 1 Aristotle says that ˜falsehood and truth have to do with joining
and separating™ (16a 12“13 < T 18). This seems to clash with what Aristotle
says in Metaphysics 10. For in 10 he says that certain thoughts con-
cerning non-composite items are true, and these true thoughts concerning
non-composite items probably involve neither joining nor separating “
thoughts that involve joining or separating concern composite items
because to join (separate) is to think that a certain composite item ˜is™
in the sense of being true (˜is not™ in the sense of being false).
The clash, however, is only apparent. For in de Interpretatione 1 Aristotle
can be understood as claiming that it is only where joining or separat-
ing is present that truth and falsehood are both possible. In the case of
thoughts concerning non-composite items, it is not the case that truth and
falsehood are both possible: as we shall see, if the thought concerning a non-
composite item is an af¬rmative existential belief then it is necessarily true
(and therefore cannot be false), while if it is a negative existential belief
then it is necessarily false (and therefore cannot be true). So: among the
thoughts that involve neither joining nor separating, some are necessarily
true (af¬rmative existential beliefs concerning non-composite items), others
are necessarily false (negative existential beliefs concerning non-composite
items), yet others are necessarily neither true nor false (concepts). When
in de Interpretatione 1 he compares names and verbs with thoughts that
are neither true nor false and involve neither joining nor separating, Aris-
totle is comparing names and verbs with a proper subclass of the class of
thoughts that involve neither joining nor separating, i.e. with that subclass

22 Cf. Boeth. in Int. Sec. Ed. 50, 1“51, 3; Ackrill (1963), 114; Zanatta (1992), 146.
86 Bearers of truth or falsehood
that consists of concepts. For, within the class of thoughts that involve
neither joining nor separating, only concepts are neither true nor false,
and therefore ¬t Aristotle™s comparison with names and verbs. Aristotle™s
comparison is therefore expressed rather misleadingly because it gives the
impression that names and verbs correspond to all thoughts that involve
neither joining nor separating, while they can only correspond to some of
them, i.e. to concepts.23

3 af firmative a nd negati ve pre d icat i ve a s se rt i on s
Assertions. Some passages from chapters 4“6 of de Interpretatione enable
one to spell out an account of the truth and the falsehood of af¬rmative
and negative predicative sentences which can be plausibly attributed to
Aristotle:
T 19 Every sentence is signi¬cant (not as a tool but, as we said,24 by convention).
However not every sentence is assertoric,25 but only that where being true
or false is present. They are not present in all: e.g. a prayer is a sentence but
is neither true nor false.26 (4, 17a 1“5)
The ¬rst single assertoric sentence is the af¬rmation, next is the denial.27 (5,
17a 8“9)
An af¬rmation is an assertion of something about something, a denial is an
assertion of something away from something.28 (6, 17a 25“6)
In Aristotle™s view, every assertoric sentence, or assertion,29 is a sentence.
T 19 leaves one with the impression that for Aristotle sentences constitute
a genus with several subordinate species, among which rank the species
assertoric sentence, the species prayer, etc.30
Does Aristotle believe that being true or false is the differentia that isolates
the species assertoric sentence within the genus sentence? At 17a 2“3 he says:

23 24 4, 16b 26 (with n. 96 of ch. 1) (cf. 2, 16a 19; 16a 27“9).
Cf. Berti (1994), 125; (1996a), 393.
25 I render ˜ˆpojantik»v™, ˜ˆp»jansiv™, and ˜ˆpoja©nesqai™ by ˜assertoric™, ˜assertion™, and ˜to assert™
(cf. Blank (1996), 178).
26 Cf. Po. 19, 1456b 8“13. In Int. 5, 17a 11“12 Aristotle says that ˜the account of man is not yet an assertoric
sentence™ (here ˜account™ translates ˜l»gov™, which in other contexts I render by ˜sentence™).
27 For single assertoric sentences cf. sect. 3 of ch. 5. For the priority of af¬rmations over denials cf. n.
16 of ch. 1.
28 Cf. Int. 5, 17a 20“1; 7, 17b 38“18a 4; APr. 1.30, 46a 14“15; 32, 47b 3; 2.15, 64a 13“15; APo. 1.2, 72a 13“14;
Metaph. 6, 1011b 19“20; 2, 1046b 13“15; Fleischer (1984), 15.
Following Aristotle, I treat ˜assertoric sentence™ (˜l»gov ˆpojantik»v™) and ˜assertion™ (˜ˆp»jansiv™)
29
as synonyms.
30 Cf. Ammon. in Int. 64, 29“30; Anon. in Int. 16, 20“17, 3; Pacius (1597a), 69; Textor (1870), 6; DuLac
(1949), 163; Xenakis (1957), 539; Weidemann (1994/2002), 191.
Truth conditions for predicative assertions 87
˜Not every sentence is assertoric, but only that where being true or false
is present.™ These words are compatible with the claim that being true or
false should be the differentia which isolates the species assertoric sentence
within the genus sentence.31 However, they are also compatible with weaker
claims: that being true or false is peculiar to assertoric sentences (i.e. that
assertoric sentences coincide with the sentences that are true or false), and
that being true or false is present only in assertoric sentences (i.e. that every
sentence that is true or false is an assertoric sentence, the possibility being
left open that some assertoric sentence might be neither true nor false).
Since, as we shall see, Aristotle believes that some assertoric sentence is
neither true nor false, he should be taken to be making the weakest of
the claims with which his words are compatible: that being true or false is
present only in assertoric sentences.32

What does an assertion reveal? ˜Assertoric™ and ˜assertion™ translate ˜ˆpojan-
tik»v™ and ˜ˆp»jansiv™, which are etymologically connected with the verb
˜ˆpoja©nw™, which means ˜to reveal™, ˜to bring to light™. Some commenta-
tors think that the revelation in question is a revelation of reality: to make an
assertion, they suggest, is ˜to reveal reality in discourse™.33 This explanation
is attractive, but probably wrong. The revelation in question is probably a
revelation of the speaker™s views: to make an assertion is ˜to show what one™s
opinion really is™, ˜to make one™s views public™.34 For the Rhetoric de¬nes
a maxim as ˜an assertion [ˆp»jansiv], not about individuals, [. . .] but
general, nor about any subject, [. . .] but about those with which actions
are concerned [. . .]™ (2.21, 1394a 22“5). A parallel passage from the Rhetoric to
Alexander characterises a maxim as ˜a disclosure of one™s individual opinion
[d»gmatov «d©ou džlwsiv] on general matters™ (12, 1430a 40“1430b 1).

˜Asserting-about™, ˜asserting-away-from™. A fundamental idea in Aristotle™s
account of the truth and falsehood of beliefs is that in an af¬rmative (nega-
tive) predicative belief one item is joined with (separated from) one item. T
19™s claim that in an af¬rmative (negative) predicative assertion one item is

31 Some commentators (e.g. Ammon. in Int. 66, 10“19; anon. in Int. 17, 3“5; Aquinas in Int. 82“5
Spiazzi; Peter de Rivo apud Baudry (1950), 72; Pacius (1597a), 69; Textor (1870), 6; Michelis (1886),
23; Heidegger (1925/26), 128“30) do take these words to mean that being true or false is the differentia.
Stephanus (in Int. 18, 26“35) argues that the phrase ˜sentence where being true or being false is present™
is not a de¬niens (¾rism»v), but only a rough description (Ëpograjž).
32 Cf. D. Frede (1970), 80“1; Gaskin (1995), 180. Peter de Rivo (apud Baudry (1950), 72) suggests a
different way of reconciling the characterisation of assertoric sentences as those ˜where being true or
false is present™ with the view that some assertoric sentence is neither true nor false.
33 34 Cf. Nuchelmans (1973), 26“7.
Cf. Heidegger (1925/26), 133; Luther (1966), 188.
88 Bearers of truth or falsehood
asserted ˜about™ (˜away from™) one item seems to be the linguistic counter-
part of this idea.35 It is therefore plausible to credit Aristotle with an account
of the truth and falsehood of predicative assertions which is ˜parallel™ to his
account of the truth and falsehood of predicative beliefs “ the parallel con-
sisting in the circumstance that in the account of the truth and falsehood of
predicative assertions the operations of asserting-about and asserting-away-
from play a role analogous to that played by the operations of joining and
separating in the account of the truth and falsehood of predicative beliefs.
Now, in the account of the truth and falsehood of predicative beliefs, to join
one item with one item is to think of those items that they are combined,
and to separate one item from one item is to think of those items that they
are divided. Thus, in the account of the truth and falsehood of predicative
assertions, to assert one item about one item will be to assert of those items
that they are combined, and to assert one item away from one item will be
to assert of those items that they are divided. More speci¬cally, the follow-
ing views, parallel to [6], [7], [8], and [9], can be plausibly attributed to
Aristotle:
[13] In an af¬rmative predicative assertion the item p signi¬ed by the
predicate is asserted about the item s signi¬ed by the subject. For p to
be asserted about s is for p to be asserted to be combined with s. p and
s are the objects (universals or individuals) which are being spoken
of. The af¬rmative predicative assertion is true (false) when and only
when p is combined with (divided from) s.36

35 Cf. Boeth. in Int. Pr. Ed. 77, 15“24; 78, 24“79, 6; in Int. Sec. Ed. 118, 5“16; 122, 27“123, 22;
Aquinas in Int. 105 Spiazzi; Waitz (1844/46), i 371; Torstrik (1862), 191; Trendelenburg (1876), 82“
3; Vollrath (1959), 22“3; Morpurgo-Tagliabue (1971), 34; Nuchelmans (1973), 27; Brakas (1988),
66“7; Whitaker (1996), 27, 78; Vigo (1997), 3“4; Hafemann (1998), 89; (1999), 110; Fiorentino
(2001), 279“80. In the Sophist (262c12“13) Plato describes what is, in fact, a singular af¬rmative
predicative assertion as combining an object (signi¬ed by the name constituting the subject, cf.
262a6“8; 262b9“262c1) with an action (signi¬ed by the verb constituting the predicative expression,
cf. 262a3“5; 262b5“6).
36 I assume that for Aristotle some linguistic expressions signify universals, others individuals. I also
assume that for him universals are objects whose nature is neither mental nor linguistic. I therefore
also assume that for him some linguistic expressions signify non-mental objects. At the beginning of
de Interpretatione 1 Aristotle says that ˜spoken sounds are symbols of affections in the soul™ (16a 3“4),
which, in turn, are ˜likenesses™ (16a 7) of objects. He also says that ˜the ¬rst items of which these [sc.
spoken sounds] are signs are [. . .] affections of the soul™ (16a 6“7, Minio-Paluello™s text). In saying
this Aristotle is probably implying that objects are the second items of which spoken sounds are
signs. Thus, the theory of signi¬cation sketched at the beginning of de Interpretatione 1 is at least
compatible with the view I assume to be Aristotle™s, i.e. that some linguistic expressions signify non-
mental objects. Further con¬rmation comes from Sophistici Elenchi 1: ˜It is not possible to discuss
by bringing in the objects themselves, but we use names as symbols instead of objects™ (165a 6“8, cf.
Fait (1996), 181“7; Wheeler (1999), 211“12). At Sens. 1, 437a 14 Aristotle says that names are symbols
without specifying what they are symbols of.
Truth conditions for predicative assertions 89
[14] In a negative predicative assertion the item p signi¬ed by the predicate
is asserted away from the item s signi¬ed by the subject. For p to be
asserted away from s is for p to be asserted to be divided from s. p and
s are the objects (universals or individuals) which are being spoken of.
The negative predicative assertion is true (false) when and only when
p is divided from (combined with) s.37

4 assertions a b out ind i vi d ua ls v s a sse rt i on s
a b ou t un i ve rs a ls
Singular, universal, and indeterminate assertions in de Interpretatione 7. In
chapter 5 of de Interpretatione Aristotle separates predicative assertions from
utterances of other types.38 Then, in the ¬rst part of chapter 7, he produces
a classi¬cation of predicative assertions:
T 20 Given that of objects some are universal, others individual (and I call ˜uni-
versal™ what is of such a nature as to be predicated of many things, while I call
˜individual™ what is not such, e.g. man is a universal, Callias an individual),
and it must sometimes be of a universal that one asserts that something holds
or does not hold, sometimes of an individual, it follows that39 if one asserts
universally of a universal that something holds40 or does not hold of it, there
will be contrary assertions (examples of what I mean by ˜to assert universally
of a universal™ are ˜Every man is white™ and ˜No man is white™), while when
one asserts something of universals but non-universally, the assertions are
not contrary, though what is being revealed may be contrary41 (examples of
what I mean by ˜to assert non-universally of universals™ are ˜A man is white™
and ˜A man is not white™:42 man is a universal but it is not as a universal that
one43 uses it in the assertion “ for ˜every™ signi¬es not the universal, but that
one is asserting universally of the universal).44 (17a 38“17b 12)

37 38 Cf. the portion of ch. 5 where T 38 is discussed.
Cf. Matthen (1984), 29, 34; Vigo (1997), 7.
39 Following Bonitz (1862/67), iii 82“3 and Weidemann (1994/2002), 210, I construct ˜o”n™ at 17b 3
with ˜–pe©™ at 17a 38 (cf. APr. 1.4, 26b 14“20). My punctuation differs from those of all the editions I
consulted (it is close to that suggested by Bonitz (1862/67), iii 82“3).
40 At 17b 4 I read ˜Ëp†rcei ti™ with the main manuscripts, Bekker, Waitz, D¨ bner, Bonitz (1862/67), iii
u
82, Cooke, Colli, Weidemann (1994/2002), 210, and Zadro. Pacius, Buhle, Weise, and Minio-Paluello
read ˜Ëp†rcei™ with other witnesses.
41 Cf. n. 18 of appendix 3.
42 Recall that Greek has no inde¬nite article: in ˜›sti leuk¼v Šnqrwpov™ and ˜oÉk ›sti leuk¼v Šnqrw-
pov™, translated as ˜A man is white™ and ˜A man is not white™, nothing corresponds to the occurrences
of ˜a™.
43 The subject of ˜cr¦tai™ (17b 11) must be an understood ˜tiv™: cf. Cat. 5, 3b 21“2; Int. 10, 20a 13“14;
APr. 2.19, 66a 26; 27, 70b 30“1; Waitz (1844/46), i 289.
44 In my translation, the English
[a] ˜Every™ signi¬es that one is asserting universally of the universal
renders the Greek
90 Bearers of truth or falsehood
T 20 divides into two parts. The ¬rst (17a 38“17b 1) contains the de¬nitions
of a universal and of an individual that have already been discussed in
section 1 of this chapter. The second part (17b 1“12) contains a classi¬cation
of predicative assertions which is based, ¬rst, on the type of object the
assertion is about, and, second, on the way in which an assertion can be
made about a universal.

Singular vs general assertions. Aristotle distinguishes two main kinds of
predicative assertions: af¬rmations (denials) where something is asserted
to hold (not to hold) of an individual, and af¬rmations (denials) where
something is asserted to hold (not to hold) of a universal. Assertions of the
¬rst kind are singular predicative assertions, those of the second are general
predicative assertions.

Universal vs indeterminate assertions. Aristotle divides the second kind of
predicative assertions, i.e. that of general predicative assertions, into two
subordinate kinds. He says that there are two ways of asserting that some-
thing holds (does not hold) of a universal: on the one hand, one can assert
universally that something holds (does not hold) of a universal; on the
other, one can assert non-universally that something holds (does not hold)
of a universal.
A predicative assertion of the ¬rst subordinate kind is a universal (af¬r-
mative or negative) predicative assertion. For example, by producing an
utterance of ˜Every man is white™ one asserts universally that the universal
white holds of the universal man (such an utterance is a universal af¬rma-
tive predicative assertion), while by producing an utterance of ˜No man
is white™ one asserts universally that the universal white does not hold of
the universal man (such an utterance is a universal negative predicative
assertion).


[b] t¼ pŽv shma©nei ‚ti kaq»lou (17b 11“12).
[b] is elliptical. The interpretation of [b] on which its rendering by [a] relies is based on the fact
that [b] occurs again later in de Interpretatione, in chapter 10 at 20a 9“10, and on the fact that this
later occurrence of [b] is followed shortly by a remark which sheds some light on it:
[c] ˜Every™ and ˜no™ additionally signify [prosshma©nei] nothing other than that one af¬rms or
denies universally of the name [‚ti kaq»lou to“ ½n»matov kat†jhsin £ ˆp»jhsin] (20a 12“
14, cf. 19b 32).
On the basis of [c], and on the basis of the fact that in T 20 Aristotle mentions twice (at 17b 3“4
and 17b 5“6) ˜asserting universally™ and contrasts it with ˜asserting non-universally™, which he also
mentions twice (at 17b 7 and 17b 9), [b] can be plausibly taken to mean the same as [a]. While T 20
says that assertions are about universals, [c] says that af¬rmations and denials are about names. The
two claims are compatible, and probably highlight different aspects of the same situation.
Truth conditions for predicative assertions 91
An assertion of the second subordinate kind is an indeterminate45 (af¬r-
mative or negative) predicative assertion. For example, by producing an
utterance of ˜A man is white™ one asserts non-universally that the universal
white holds of the universal man (such an utterance is an indeterminate
af¬rmative predicative assertion), while by producing an utterance of ˜A
man is not white™ one asserts non-universally that the universal white does
not hold of the universal man (such an utterance is an indeterminate neg-
ative predicative assertion).
The following view can then be safely attributed to Aristotle:
[15] A singular af¬rmative (negative) predicative assertion asserts that the
universal signi¬ed by its predicate holds (does not hold) of the indi-
vidual signi¬ed by its subject. A universal af¬rmative (negative) pred-
icative assertion asserts universally that the universal signi¬ed by its
predicate holds (does not hold) of the universal signi¬ed by its subject.
An indeterminate af¬rmative (negative) predicative assertion asserts
non-universally that the universal signi¬ed by its predicate holds (does
not hold) of the universal signi¬ed by its subject.

Particular assertions. After discussing universal and indeterminate predica-
tive assertions, Aristotle offers the following characterisation of contradic-
tory pairs where one member is a universal predicative assertion:
T 21 I say that an af¬rmation signifying the <holding, or failing to hold,> uni-
versally is contradictorily opposed to a denial signifying the not <holding,
or failing to hold,> universally,46 e.g. ˜Every man is white™“˜Not every man
is white™, ˜No man is white™“˜Some man is white™. (17b 16“20)
In T 21 all universal predicative assertions are described as af¬rmations:
every (af¬rmative or negative) universal predicative assertion af¬rms uni-
versality. Speci¬cally: a universal af¬rmative (negative) predicative assertion
af¬rms that it is universally that the universal signi¬ed by its predicate holds
(fails to hold) of the universal signi¬ed by its subject. Again, in T 21 the
contradictories of universal predicative assertions (which, following tradi-
tional terminology, I call ˜particular predicative assertions™) are described
as denying what is af¬rmed by the corresponding universal predicative
assertions: every (af¬rmative or negative) particular predicative assertion
45 It is only in the Topics and in the Prior Analytics that Aristotle uses ˜indeterminate™ (˜ˆdi»ristov™)
for sentences of this second subordinate kind: see Top. 3.6, 120a 6“8; APr. 1.1, 24a 16“22; 2, 25a 5; 4,
26a 28“30; 26a 32“3; 26a 39; 26b 23“4; 7, 29a 27“8; 14, 33a 37; 15, 35b 15; 16, 36b 12; 18, 38a 10“11; 19, 38b 36;
20, 39b 2; 21, 40a 1; 27, 43b 14 (cf. 1.5, 27b 38; 6, 29a 8).
At 17b 16“18 I read ˜ˆntike±sqai m•n o”n kat†jasin ˆpoj†sei l”gw ˆntijatik¤v tŸn t¼ kaq»lou
46
shma©nousan t¦€ t¼ oÉ kaq»lou™. For this reading and its translation see appendix 3.
92 Bearers of truth or falsehood
denies universality. Speci¬cally: a particular af¬rmative (negative) predica-
tive assertion denies that the universal signi¬ed by its predicate universally
fails to hold (holds) of the universal signi¬ed by its subject. To summarise,
in T 21 Aristotle commits himself to the following view:
[16] A universal af¬rmative (negative) predicative assertion asserts that the
universal signi¬ed by its predicate universally holds (universally fails to
hold) of the universal signi¬ed by its subject. A particular af¬rmative
(negative) predicative assertion asserts that the universal signi¬ed by
its predicate does not universally fail to hold (does not universally
hold) of the universal signi¬ed by its subject.

Combinations and divisions of different kinds. In chapter 1 of de Interpreta-
tione (16a 9“18 = T 18) Aristotle says that the only thoughts that are either
true or false are those which involve joining or separating. He is certainly
presupposing that in an af¬rmative (negative) predicative belief one item
is joined with (separated from) one item.47
Near the end of chapter 7 Aristotle says:
T 22 Clearly a single af¬rmation has a single denial. For the denial must deny
the same thing as the af¬rmation af¬rmed, and away from the same thing,
either away from an individual or away from a universal (taken either as a
universal or not as a universal).48 I mean, for example, ˜Socrates is white™ and
˜Socrates is not white™. But if something else is asserted away from anything,
or the same thing is asserted away from something else, that will not be the
opposite denial, but a different one. The opposite of ˜Every man is white™ is
˜Not every man is white™; of ˜Some man is white™, ˜No man is white™; of ˜A
man is white™, ˜A man is not white™.49 (17b 38“18a 7)
T 22 contains a list of contradictory pairs of predicative assertions. In
each of the contradictory pairs listed, the ¬rst member is an af¬rmative
predicative assertion while the second member is its contradictory denial:
˜Socrates is white™“˜Socrates is not white™, ˜Every man is white™“˜Not every
man is white™, ˜Some man is white™“˜No man is white™, ˜A man is white™“
˜A man is not white™. According to Aristotle, in each of the foregoing
af¬rmative (singular, universal, particular, or indeterminate) predicative
assertions the universal white, which is signi¬ed by the predicate, is asserted
47 Cf. n. 15 above and the subsection it pertains to.
At 18a 1 I read ˜mŸ Þv kaq»lou™ with n and Weidemann (cf. ˜oÉc Þv kaq»lou™ at 17b 11). Most editors
48
follow B and read ˜Þv mŸ kaq»lou™. The reading ˜Þv mŸ kaq»lou™ would not anyhow enable one to
understand the formula as denoting particular rather than indeterminate predicative assertions: since
the last pair of examples at 18a 6“7 consists of indeterminate predicative assertions, ˜Þv mŸ kaq»lou™
would also have to denote indeterminate predicative assertions.
49 Cf. Int. 6, 17a 25“37.
Truth conditions for predicative assertions 93
˜about™ the object (the individual Socrates or the universal man) signi¬ed by
the subject, and in the opposite negative (singular, particular, universal, or
indeterminate) predicative assertion the universal white, which is signi¬ed
by the predicate, is asserted ˜away from™ the object (the individual Socrates
or the universal man) signi¬ed by the subject. Considerations advanced in
previous subsections allowed one to attribute plausibly to Aristotle, on the
one hand, the view that for a universal p to be asserted ˜about™ an item s is for
p to be asserted to be combined with s (cf. [13] above), and, on the other, the
view that for a universal p to be asserted ˜away from™ an item s is for p to be
asserted to be divided from s (cf. [14] above). Therefore Aristotle probably
believes that in each of the foregoing af¬rmative (negative) predicative
assertions white, the universal signi¬ed by the predicate, is asserted to be
combined with (divided from) the item (the individual Socrates or the
universal man) signi¬ed by the subject.
Aristotle can hardly believe that each of the singular, universal, particular,
and indeterminate af¬rmative (negative) predicative assertions mentioned
in T 22 asserts white, which is the universal signi¬ed by the predicate,
to be combined in the same way with (divided in the same way from)
the object (the individual Socrates or the universal man) signi¬ed by the
subject. Perhaps Aristotle thinks that the combination (division) asserted by
a universal af¬rmative (negative) predicative assertion is different from that
asserted by a particular (or indeterminate or singular) af¬rmative (negative)
assertion.50

Truth conditions for predicative assertions. The nature of some of the relations
of combination and division which according to Aristotle are involved in the
truth and the falsehood of predicative assertions can be conjecturally recon-
structed on the basis of Aristotle™s remarks about contradictory pairs where
one member is a universal predicative assertion. These remarks make it
plausible to assume that Aristotle would avow something like the following
theory (which gives truth conditions for universal, particular, and singular
predicative assertions):51
[17] An utterance p that is a predicative assertion is true when and only
when the universal signi¬ed by (the utterance that is) its predicate
bears a certain relation (of combination or division) to the object

50 Cf. Miller (1971), 29“32. The idea that af¬rmations of different types involve combinations of
different types appears also in Aquinas (S. Th. ia , q. 85, a. 5, ad 3, cf. Galluzzo (2000), 229“30), but
the types of af¬rmation contemplated by Aquinas are different from those distinguished in the main
text above.
51 Henceforth I ignore indeterminate predicative assertions.
94 Bearers of truth or falsehood
(a universal or an individual) signi¬ed by (the utterance that is) its
subject. The relevant relation between the universal signi¬ed by the
predicate and the object signi¬ed by the subject depends on what kind
of predicative assertion p is. If p is a universal (particular) af¬rmative
predicative assertion, then it is true when and only when the universal
signi¬ed by its predicate is combined with the universal signi¬ed by
its subject in such a way as universally to hold (not universally to
fail to hold) of it. If p is a universal (particular) negative predicative
assertion, then it is true when and only when the universal signi¬ed
by its predicate is divided from the universal signi¬ed by its subject
in such a way as universally to fail to hold (not universally to hold) of
it. If p is a singular af¬rmative (negative) predicative assertion, then it
is true when and only when the universal signi¬ed by its predicate is
combined with (divided from) the individual signi¬ed by its subject
in such a way as to hold of (hold outside) it.52
Here is a de¬nition of the relations of combination and division appealed
to by [17]:
[18] A universal u is combined with a universal v in such a way as universally
to hold of it when and only when u holds of every individual of which
v holds. A universal u is divided from a universal v in such a way as
universally to fail to hold of it when and only when every individual
of which v holds is other than every individual of which u holds.
A universal u is combined with a universal v in such a way as not
universally to fail to hold of it when and only when u holds of at
least one individual of which v holds. A universal u is divided from
a universal v in such a way as not universally to hold of it when
and only when at least one individual of which v holds is other than
every individual of which u holds. A universal u is combined with an
individual i in such a way as to hold of it when and only when u holds
of i. A universal u is divided from an individual i in such a way as to
hold outside it when and only when i is other than every individual
of which u holds.
Note that the theory presented in [17] is not one which Aristotle himself
would have put forward. For [17] gives the truth conditions for predicative
assertions of various types, i.e. it indicates necessary and suf¬cient condi-
tions for a predicative assertion of a certain type being true at any time;

52 Appendix 5 offers a rigorous presentation of the theory of truth for predicative assertions of which
[17] is merely a sketchy presentation. Appendix 4 discusses the two-place relations to which [17]
appeals.
Truth conditions for predicative assertions 95
but Aristotle never speaks of truth conditions for assertions (or, for that
matter, for bearers of truth or falsehood of other kinds) “ he never uses an
instance of some schema like ˜A universal af¬rmative predicative assertion
is true when and only when j™. Within the Aristotelian tradition, the idea
of truth conditions for assertions appears explicitly for the ¬rst time in the
Middle Ages.53 For this reason I cautiously said that Aristotle would avow
the theory presented in [17].

Different perspectives on af¬rmations and denials. In de Interpretatione 7 Aris-
totle seems to have two different perspectives on the ˜quality™ of quanti¬ed
predicative assertions. In the ¬rst perspective, a quanti¬ed predicative asser-
tion is af¬rmative (negative) just in case it asserts that the universal signi¬ed
by its predicate is combined with (divided from) the universal signi¬ed by
its subject. Thus, in the ¬rst perspective, ˜every™- and ˜some™-assertions are
af¬rmative, ˜no™- and ˜not every™-assertions are negative. In the second per-
spective, a quanti¬ed predicative assertion is af¬rmative (negative) just in
case it asserts that it is universally (non-universally) that the universal sig-
ni¬ed by its predicate holds, or does not hold, of the universal signi¬ed by
its subject. Thus, in the second perspective, ˜every™- and ˜no™-assertions are
af¬rmative, ˜some™- and ˜not every™-assertions are negative.
These two different perspectives are perhaps re¬‚ected in the lists of con-
tradictory pairs produced to illustrate some general claims about contra-
dictory opposition. In the list at 18a 2“7 ˜No man is white™ is the second
member of a contradictory pair. This list is so structured that in each of the
contradictory pairs mentioned the ¬rst member is af¬rmative, the second
negative. Hence, in this list ˜No man is white™ counts as negative. In the
lists at 17b 18“20 and 18a 14“17 ˜No man is white™ is the ¬rst member of a
contradictory pair. Again, both these lists are so structured that in each of
the contradictory pairs mentioned the ¬rst member is af¬rmative, the sec-
ond negative. Hence, in these lists ˜No man is white™ counts as af¬rmative.


5 tru th an d th e cat eg ori es
The redundancy claim. In the last part (1027b 29“1028a 4) of Metaphysics
E 4 (= T 7) Aristotle argues that the investigation of beings qua beings can
ignore what ˜is™ in the sense of being true. He claims that what ˜is™ in the
53 One remarkable example occurs in Buridan™s Sophismata (see Scott (1977), 45), where the ˜causa
veritatis™ and the ˜requisitum ad veritatem™ of a universal af¬rmative, universal negative, etc. predicative
assertion are discussed. However, recall that already in the third century bc, in the philosophical
tradition of Megarians and Stoics, a vibrant discussion was going on about the truth conditions for
propositions of certain types (see e.g. S.E. P. 2.110“12; M. 8.265; 428; D.L. 7. 73“4).
96 Bearers of truth or falsehood
sense of being true ˜is a different thing that “is” from the things that “are”
in the strict sense™ (1027b 31), i.e. from the things that ˜are™ in the senses that
correspond to the categories. What are his grounds for this claim?

The existential exegesis. According to one answer “ call it ˜the existential
exegesis™ “ Aristotle is arguing that the things that ˜are™ in the senses that
correspond to the categories are prior ˜in respect of nature™54 to what ˜is™ in
the sense of being true. That is, the conclusion Aristotle aims for is:
[19] If nothing ˜were™ in any of the senses that correspond to the categories,
nothing would ˜be™ in the sense of being true.55
According to the existential exegesis, Aristotle™s argument for [19] depends
on two premisses:
[20] Whatever ˜is™ in the sense of being true is a belief.

[21] A belief joins or separates items that ˜are™ in the senses that correspond
to the categories (i.e. it joins or separates either something that ˜is™ in
the sense appropriate to substances, or something that ˜is™ in the sense
appropriate to qualities, or something that ˜is™ in a sense appropriate
to some other category).
Assume [20] and [21]. Suppose that nothing ˜were™ in any of the senses
that correspond to the categories. Then (by [21]) there would be no beliefs
(because there would be nothing for a belief to join or separate). Then (by
[20]) nothing would ˜be™ in the sense of being true. Thus, if nothing ˜were™
in any of the senses that correspond to the categories, nothing would ˜be™
in the sense of being true, as [19] claims.

The conceptual exegesis. On the second promising answer to the question
asked above “ call this ˜the conceptual exegesis™ “ Aristotle is arguing that
the categories are prior ˜in formula™56 to truth.57 That is, the conclusion
Aristotle is trying to establish is:

54 Cf. Cat. 12, 14a 29“35; Ph. 8.7, 260b 16“19; Metaph. 11, 1019a 1“4; Z 1, 1028a 31“4; EE 1.8, 1217b 8“16;
1218a 4“5; Ross (1924), i 317; G. E. L. Owen (1960), 171; Cleary (1988), 44“6.
55 Cf. [Alex. Aphr.] in Metaph. 458, 7“9; Ascl. in Metaph. 374, 12“16; Aquinas in Metaph. 1241
Cathala/Spiazzi; Ross (1924), i 365“6; Apostle (1966), 321“2; Reale (1968/93), i 102; Kirwan (1971/93),
199“200.
56 Cf. Ph. 8.9, 265a 22“4; Metaph. 11, 1018b 30“6; Z 1, 1028a 31“6; 13, 1038b 27“8; 8, 1049b 12“14;
M 2, 1077b 2“4; Cleary (1988), 42“3.
57 Cf. Maier (1896/1936), i 36; S. Mansion (1946/76), 236; Owens (1951/78), 411“12; Oehler (1962/85),
178“9; Vigo (1997), 26“7.
Truth conditions for predicative assertions 97
[22] The de¬nition of truth mentions the categories.
According to the conceptual exegesis, Aristotle™s argument for [22] depends
on a de¬nition of truth that mentions the categories. The de¬nition
prescribes that a belief should be true when and only when the items
thought about are related to one another by that predicative relation of
combination which is the category,58 or by that predicative relation of divi-
sion which is the category™s negative counterpart,59 which the belief posits
them to be related by:
[23] A belief is true when and only when either (it joins a universal p with
an object s by positing that p stands to s in that predicative relation
of combination which is the category of substance, and p does stand
to s in this predicative relation) or (it separates p from s by positing
that p stands to s in that predicative relation of division which is the
negative counterpart of the category of substance, and p does stand
to s in this predicative relation) or (it joins p with s by positing that
p stands to s in that predicative relation of combination which is the
category of quality, and p does stand to s in this predicative relation) or
(it separates p from s by positing that p stands to s in that predicative
relation of division which is the negative counterpart of the category
of quality, and p does stand to s in this predicative relation) or . . .
If [23] is true, it must also be true that the de¬nition of truth mentions
the categories, as [22] claims. Therefore [22] follows from [23], and the
argument attributed to Aristotle by the conceptual exegesis is valid.

Assessment of the two interpretations. Two considerations favour the concep-
tual exegesis.
(i) Priority in respect of nature does not justify leaving aside the study of
what ˜is™ in the sense of being true. Consider: the sea is prior in respect of
nature to sharks: if there were no sea there would be no sharks, while it is not

58 On the conceptual exegesis, in E 4 the categories are (not the highest genera of what exists, but)
predicative relations: the predicative relation linking a kind to its subordinate kinds and its members,
the predicative relation linking a quality to the items it holds of, etc. For the categories as predicative
relations see APr. 1.37, 49a 6“9; APo. 1.22, 83a 18“23; Top. 1.9, 103b 20“39 (cf. Zeller (1921), 261“3;
Wagner (1961/62), 89“91; G. E. L. Owen (1965), 82; Kirwan (1971/93), 141; Stough (1972), 270“1;
M. Frede (1981), 32“48; (1983), 16“17; Morrison (1992), 22; Anton (1992), 8“16; Patterson (1995), 38;
Smith (1997), 74“5). For the categories as highest genera see n. 57 of ch. 3.
59 For the negative predicative relations corresponding to the af¬rmative predicative relations that are
the categories see APr. 1.37, 49a 6“9; Ph. 5.1, 225a 20“6 (= Metaph. K 11, 1067b 25“30); Metaph. 10,
1051a 34“5; L 2, 1069b 26“8; N 2, 1089a 15“19; 1089a 26“7 (cf. Apelt (1891b), 108“9; Sillitti (1968), 476;
Berti (1983b), 120“2).
98 Bearers of truth or falsehood
the case that if there were no sharks there would be no sea (indeed, the sea
existed before sharks did). But, if one for whatever reason were interested
in studying both the sea and sharks, such a priority in respect of nature
would not justify leaving aside the study of sharks. On the other hand,
priority in formula might be thought to justify leaving aside the study of
what ˜is™ in the sense of being true: once one has shown how the notion of
truth is to be reduced to the categories, one might feel justi¬ed in leaving
aside the study of what ˜is™ in the sense of being true and concentrate on
the categories.
(ii) Aristotle remarks that what ˜is™ in the incidental sense and what
˜is™ in the sense of being true ˜do not reveal an outside nature of being™
(1028a 2). Two interpretations of this remark have been offered. On the
¬rst, it means that what ˜is™ in the incidental sense and what ˜is™ in the
sense of being true are not ˜outside the mind™;60 on the second, it means
that what ˜is™ in the incidental sense and what ˜is™ in the sense of being true
are not ˜external™ to the things that ˜are™ in the senses that correspond to
the categories because they mention them in their de¬nitions.61 The ¬rst
interpretation is unacceptable: the charge of not being ˜outside the mind™
could apply to what ˜is™ in the sense of being true, but not to what ˜is™ in the
incidental sense (there is no trace in Aristotle of the idea that what ˜is™ in the
incidental sense should be mind dependent).62 The second interpretation
¬ts well the conceptual exegesis.
Although the conceptual exegesis is more plausible than the existential,
I suspect that they are both right. On other occasions on which he claims
that what ˜is™ in a certain sense is prior to what ˜is™ in another, Aristotle
argues that more than one type of priority obtains.63 Such is probably his
intention in this case too: he is probably arguing that the things that ˜are™
in the senses that correspond to the categories are prior to what ˜is™ in the
sense of being true both in respect of nature (as required by the existential
exegesis) and in formula (as required by the conceptual exegesis).

60 Cf. Aquinas in Metaph. 1243 Cathala/Spiazzi; Schwegler (1847/48), iv 33; Brentano (1862), 14, 23, 38,
131; Ross (1924), i 366; Wilpert (1940), 7“8; Owens (1951/78), 310; de Rijk (1952), 8, 34, 56; Reale
(1968/93), iii 311; Leszl (1975), 215; Graeser (1978), 444; Vigo (1997), 26. The ¬rst interpretation is
favoured by the parallel passage in Metaphysics K (1065a 21“4), which however is probably not by
Aristotle.
61 Cf. [Alex. Aphr.] in Metaph. 458, 18“19; Ascl. in Metaph. 374, 18“21; Aquinas in Metaph. 1243
Cathala/Spiazzi; Bonitz (1848/49), ii 294; Natorp (1888), 192; Maier (1896/1936), i 36; Heidegger
(1926), 166“7, 304; Kirwan (1971/93), 200; Viano (1974), 351.
62 63 Metaph. Z 1, 1028a 31“1028b 2; 8, 1049b 4“1050b 6.
Cf. Viano (1974), 351.

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