This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Top. VII. Definition. The definition of terms is the basis of all sound argument, and the ambiguity of terms one of the most abundant sources of fallacy and misunderstanding. A clear definition is therefore necessary for intelligible reasoning. To establish definitions, and so come to a clear understanding of the thing in controversy, was, as Aristotle tells us, the end and object of the Socratic method. The use of the definition in dialectics is treated in the Topics, A 15, 107 a 36 —b 5 [Grote's Ar. I p. 404], B 2, 109 b 13 seq. and 30 seq. Cic. Topic. V 26—VII 32. De Inv. II 17. 53—56. Orat. Part. XII 41. De Orat. II 39. 164. Quint. V 10. 36, and 54 seq. The first example of the argument from definition, is the inference drawn by Socrates at his trial from the definition of τὸ δαιμόνιον, Plat. Apol. Socr. c. 15. Meletus accuses him of teaching his young associates not to believe in the gods recognized by the state, and introducing other new divinities, ἕτερα δαιμόνια καινά, in their place. Socrates argues that upon Meletus' own admission he believes in δαιμόνια divine things (27 C); but divine things or works imply a workman; and therefore a belief in δαιμόνια necessarily implies a belief in the authors of those works, viz. δαίμονες. But δαίμονες are universally held to be either θεοί or θεῶν παῖδες (27 D), and therefore in either case a belief in δαιμόνια still implies a belief in the gods. The conclusion is τοῦ αὐτοῦ εἶναι δαιμόνια καὶ θεῖα ἡγεῖσθαι (E). In Xenophon's apology this argument is entirely omitted; and Socrates is represented as interpreting the καινὰ δαιμόνια (which he is accused of introducing) of τὸ δαιμόνιον, the divine sign which checked him when he was about to do wrong; and this is referred to the class of divine communications—oracles, omens, divination and so forth. As to the status of the δαίμονες opinions varied: but the usual conception of them was, as appears in Hesiod, Op. et D. 121, and many passages of Plato, Timaeus, Laws (VIII 848 D, θεῶν τε καὶ τῶν ἑπομένων θεοῖς δαιμόνων), IV 713 B, οὐκ ἀνθρώπους ἀλλὰ γένους θειοτέρου τε καὶ ἀμείνονος, δαίμονας, and elsewhere, that they were an order of beings, like angels, intermediate between men and gods, and having the office of tutelary deities or guardian angels to the human race. So Hesiod, u. s., Theogn. 1348 (of Ganymede), Plat. Phaedo 108 B, 107 D, 113 D. Aristotle seems to imply the same distinction when he says, de Div. per Somn. 1 2, init., that dreams are not θἐπεμπτα, because they are natural, δαιμόνια μέντοι: ἡ γὰρ φύσις δαιμονία, ἀλλ᾽ οὐ θεία. This argument of Socrates is repeated, III 18. 2, more at length, and with some difference of detail. The second example is taken from Iphicrates' speech upon the prosecution of Harmodius, the δίκη πρὸς Ἁρμόδιον, supra § 6, “cum Harmodius generis obscuritatem obiiceret, definitione generosi et propinqui fastum adversarii repressit et decus suum defendit.” Schrader. Harmodius had evidently been boasting of his descent from the famous Harmodius, and contrasting his own noble birth with the low origin of Iphicrates. The latter replies, by defining true nobility to be merit, and not mere family distinction (comp. II 15, and the motto of Trinity College, virtus vera nobilitas [Iuv. VIII. 20 nobilitas sola est atque unica virtus]); ‘for Harmodius (himself) and Aristogeiton had no nobility anterior to their noble deed’. Next as to the relationship which Harmodius claimed: he himself is in reality more nearly related to Harmodius than his own descendant: true kinsmanship is shewn in similarity of actions: ‘at all events my deeds are more nearly akin to those of Harmodius and Aristogeiton than thine’. This is still more pointedly expressed in Plutarch's version, Ἀποφθέγματα βασιλέων καὶ στρατηγῶν Iphicr. έ, p. 187 B, πρὸς δὲ Ἁρμόδιον, τὸν τοῦ παλαιοῦ Ἁρμοδίου ἀπόγονον, εἰς δυσγένειαν αὐτῷ λοιδορούμενον ἔφη: τὸ μὲν ἐμὸν ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ γένος ἄρχεται, τὸ δὲ σὸν ἐν σοὶ παύεται. This seems to be taken, with alterations, from a speech of Lysias, ap. Stob. flor. 86. 15, quoted by Sauppe, Fragm. Lys. XVIII. Or. Att. III 180. Another form of Iphicrates' saying, briefer still, is found in Pseudo-Plut. περὶ εὐγενείας c. 21 (ap. Sauppe u. s.), Ἰφικράτης ὀνειδιζόμενος εἰς δυσγένειαν: ἐγὼ ἄρξω, εἶπε, τοῦ γένους. The third is taken from the Alexander of some unknown apologist, quoted before, § 5, and § 12; and c. 24. 7 and 9. On this Schrader; “sententia illius videtur haec esse: Paridem intemperantem habendum non esse, una quippe Helena contentum. Argumentum e definitione temperantis (temperantiae) petitum.” Similarly Victorius, “μὴ κόσμιος est qui una contentus non est...sed quot videt formosas mulieres tot amat. Cum sola Helena ipse contentus vixerit, non debet intemperans vocari.” ἑνός therefore is ‘one only’, and ἀγαπᾶν ‘to be satisfied with’. ἀπόλαυσις, of sensual enjoyment, Eth. N. I 3, sub init., ὁ ἀπολαυστικὸς βίος, the life of a Sardanapalus. Ib. III 13, 1118 a 30, ἀπολαύσει, ἡ γίνεται πᾶσα δἰ ἁφῆς καὶ ἐν σιτίοις καὶ ἐν ποτοῖς καὶ τοῖς ἀφροδισίοις λεγομένοις. VII 6, 1148 a 5, τὰς σωματικὰς ἀπολαύσεις. The fourth is, the reason that Socrates gave for refusing to go to pay a visit to Archelaus; that it would be ignominious to him, to receive favours from a man, and then not to have the power of requiting the benefits (good treatment) in the same way as one would injuries (ill treatment). This was a new definition, or an extension of the ordinary one, of ὕβρις, which is “wanton outrage,” supra II 2. 5, an act of aggression. ὕβρις usually implies hostility on the part of him who inflicts it; in this case the offer of a supposed benefit is construed as inflicting the ignominy. The abstract ὕβρις, for the concrete ὑβριστικόν, occurs often elsewhere, as in Soph. Oed. Col. 883, ἆρ᾽ οὐχ ὕβρις τάδ̓; KP. ὕβρις: ἀλλ᾽ ἀνεκτέα. Arist. Ran. 21, εἶτ᾽ οὐχ ὕβρις ταῦτ̓ ἐστί; Lysistr. 658, Nub. 1299. Similarly Ter. Andr. I 5. 2, quid est si hoc non contumelia est? (Reisig ad loc Soph.) And in other words; ὦ μῖσος (i. e. μισητόν hated object) εἰς Ἕλληνας, Eur. Iph. T. 512; ὦ μῖσος, Med. 1323, and Soph. Philoct. 991. ἄλγος for ἀλγεινόν, Aesch. Pr. Vinct. 261. Eur. Ion, 528 γέλως for γελοῖον, and Dem. de F. L. § 82, ἔστι δὲ ταῦτα γέλως, μᾶλλον δ᾽ ἀναισχυντία δεινή. Arist. Acharn. 125, ταῦτα δῆτ᾽ οὐκ ἀγχόνη. The contempt of Archelaus implied in this refusal is noticed by Diog. Laert., Vit. Socr. II 5. 25, ὑπερεφρόνησε δὲ καὶ Ἀρχελάου τοῦ Μακεδόνος...μήτε παρ᾽ αὐτοὺς ἀπελθών; and see Schneider's note on Xenophon, Apol. Socr. § 17, on Socrates' ordinary conduct in respect of the acceptance of fees and gratuities and favours in general. On Archelaus and his usurpation of the throne of Macedonia, and his tyranny and crimes, see Plato Gorg. c. XXVI p. 470 C—471 C. ‘For all these first define the term (they are about to use), and then, having found its true essence and nature, they proceed to draw their inference (conclude) from it on the point that they are arguing. The ὅρος or ὁρισμός, ‘definition’, is itself defined at length, Metaph. Δ 12, 1037 b 25, seq.: and more briefly Top. A 8, 103 b 15, 101 b 39, Z 6, 143 b 20. The definition of a thing is its λόγος, τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι σημαίνων, that which expresses the formal cause of a thing; the what it was to be; the essence of it, or that which makes it what it is. Only εἴδη or species can, strictly speaking, be defined: the definition of the εἶδος gives the γένος, the essentials, together with the διαφορά, or specific difference: and these two constitute the definition; which is here accordingly said to express τὸ τί ἐστί, ‘the, what the thing really is’. On the definition see Waitz, Organ. II p. 398, and Trend. El. Log. Ar. § 54, et seq. This topic of definition afterwards became the στάσις ὁρική, nomen or finitio; one of the legal ‘issues’, on which see Introduction, Appendix E to Bk III pp. 397—400.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.