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Franz Brentano – The organic stucture of Aristotle

October 26, 2014

“One must not be hasty in taking apparently incompatible propositions of the Philosopher to be truly contradictory, then reject one set as less trustworthy, and finally palliate this strange procedure by means of even stranger hypotheses. If one does not thus sidestep these problems, then the very difficulties in bringing about agreement will enhance the value of the clues that have thus been saved, and here, too, to speak with Aristotle, the aporia [difficulty] becomes an euporia [advantage]. The reason for this is that we will of course search for the conditions under which the various utterances appear compatible with each other. Thus a given passage brings to light not only the correct interpretation of another, it also enhances the understanding of many branches of the Aristotelian system which in his often terse and fragmentary formulations are nowhere explicitly expressed, but are required to generate cohesion. The thought-structure of a great thinker is like the organism of a living being where each part depends on the other in its constitution. It must often be quite possible to do with such a philosophical work what Cuvier did so well with the remains of prehistoric animals when he precisely determined the nature of the missing parts from the nature of the given ones. And once a fuller understanding of the true character of the whole has been reached, so that the kinship of this thinker with others, whose works are more fully preserved, has become undeniable, the consideration of these other thinkers will give us further aid and will lead us more readily to grasp one case in analogy to another.”

(from Aristotle and his World View [1911], translated by Rolf George and Roderick M. Chisholm)

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