Saturday, January 14, 2012

More about non-men

Anthony has asked for some more about indefinite (or 'infinite') negation.  Well he will have to wait for our book to come out (working title: Time and Existence: Duns Scotus' Questions on the Perihermenias) if he wants much more. Opus II Book I Q4 ("Does an Indefinite Name Posit Something") and Opus II Book II Q2 (Does ‘This Is Not Just; Therefore, This Is Non-Just’ Follow?) refer. Until that happy day, here is Thomas Aquinas on the same subject, in his commmentary on the Perihermenias, Book II lecture 2:

LatinEnglish*
Sicut ipse dicit,enunciatio aliqua virtute se habet ad illud, de quo totum id quod in enunciatione significatur vere praedicari potest: sicut haec enunciatio, homo est iustus, se habet ad omnia illa, de quorum quolibet vere potest dici quod est homo iustus; et similiter haec enunciatio, homo non est iustus, se habet ad omnia illa, de quorum quolibet vere dici potest quod non est homo iustus. It must be noted that, as Aristotle himself says, the enunciation, by some power, is related to that of which the whole of what is signified in the enunciation can be truly predicated. The enunciation, "Man is just,” for example, is related to all those of which in any way "is a just man” can be truly said.So, too, the enunciation "Man is not just” is related to all those of which in any way "is not a just man” can be truly said. 
Secundum ergo hunc modum loquendi, manifestum est quod simplex negativa in plus est quam affirmativa infinita, quae ei correspondet. Nam, quod sit homo non iustus, vere potest dici de quolibet homine, qui non habet habitum iustitiae; sed quod non sit homo iustus, potest dici non solum de homine non habente habitum iustitiae, sed etiam de eo qui penitus non est homo: haec enim est vera, lignum non est homo iustus; tamen haec est falsa, lignum est homo non iustus.According to this mode of speaking it is evident, then, that the simple negative is wider than the infinite affirmative which corresponds to it. Thus, "is a non-just man” can truly be said of any man who does not have the habit of justice; but "is not a just man” can be said not only of a man not having the habit of justice, but also of what is not a man at all. For example, it is true to say "Wood is not a just man,” but false to say, "Wood is a non-just man.”
Et ita negativa simplex est in plus quam affirmativa infinita; sicut etiam animal est in plus quam homo, quia de pluribus verificatur. Simili etiam ratione, negativa simplex est in plus quam affirmativa privativa: quia de eo quod non est homo non potest dici quod sit homo iniustus. Sed affirmativa infinita est in plus quam affirmativa privativa: potest enim dici de puero et de quocumque homine nondum habente habitum virtutis aut vitii quod sit homo non iustus, non tamen de aliquo eorum vere dici potest quod sit homo iniustus. The simple negative, then, is wider than the infinite affirmative-just as animal is wider than man, since it is verified of more. For a similar reason the simple negative is wider than the privative affirmative, for "is an unjust man” cannot be said of what is not man. But the infinite affirmative is wider than the private affirmative, for "is a non-just man” can be truly said of a boy or of any man not yet having a habit of virtue or vice, but "is an unjust man” cannot.
Affirmativa vero simplex in minus est quam negativa infinita: quia quod non sit homo non iustus potest dici non solum de homine iusto, sed etiam de eo quod penitus non est homo. Similiter etiam negativa privativa in plus est quam negativa infinita. Nam, quod non sit homo iniustus, potest dici non solum de homine habente habitum iustitiae, sed de eo quod penitus non est homo, de quorum quolibet potest dici quod non sit homo non iustus: sed ulterius potest dici de omnibus hominibus, qui nec habent habitum iustitiae neque habent habitum iniustitiae.And the simple affirmative is narrower than the infinite negative, for "is not a non-just man” can be said not only of a just man, but also of what is not man at all. Similarly, the privative negative is wider than the infinite negative. For "is not an unjust man” can be said not only of a man having the habit of justice and of what is not man at all—of which "is not a non-just man” can be said—but over and beyond this can be said about all men who neither have the habit of justice nor the habit of injustice.

Note that 'man is just' etc is better translated as 'a [or the] man is just'.  According to Aristotle and the scholastics, the apparently negative 'is non-just' is really something positive or affirmative said about anyone who has a determinate nature such as a man or an animal.  Thus is not as wide as definite negation, because not being a just man can apply to anything you like, so long as it is not just, or is not a man.

That's not to say the matter is any clearer, really.

*Translated by Jean T. Oesterle Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1962

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4 Comments:

Blogger Anthony said...

>> Note that 'man is just' etc is better translated as 'a [or the] man is just'.

But how should "homo non est iustus" be translated? "A man is just. Not!"?

11:21 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>But how should "homo non est iustus" be translated? "A man is just. Not!"?
<<
This is the problem I was alluding to. 'homo est non iustus' means 'a man is non-just', i.e. affirms the existence of a person who is not just. But 'homo non est iustus', with the negative before the verb, is a problem. Your suggestion is internet slang for sentential negation i.e. it is not the case that a man is just. This is logically equivalent to 'no man is just', which is not the intended meaning of 'homo non est iustus'.

That's as much as I can say, because of the confusion surrounding what they meant.

9:58 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

Was the form used much outside of the explicit discussion of it?

1:27 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>Was the form used much outside of the explicit discussion of it?

I don't know. It's often very hard to tease out technical meanings of Latin from their ordinary meaning. Also, the distinction comes from Aristotle's greek, so you have a distinction in Latin being used to express a distinction in Greek.

2:38 pm  

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