We will inquire back so as to ask ourselves the following: How does it really come about that the definitio determines the being in its being? How does it come about that a definitio, which is genuine knowledge of the matter, becomes a matter of logical perfection? In this, Kant’s position on definitio, lies the fate of Aristotelian research.
We therefore inquire back: definitio is ορισμός, ορισμός is a λόγος, a “self-expression” about being-there as being. Ορισμός is not a way of apprehending through sharp determination, but rather the specific character of ορισμός ultimately arises from the fact that the being itself is determined in its being as circumscribed by the πέρας. Being means being-completed.12
§4. The Aspects of the Conceptuality of Aristotle’s Basic Concepts and the
Question Concerning Their Indigenous Character
What authorized the return to definition was the fact that, according to traditional logic, the concept is expressed in the genuine sense through definition, that in the definition the concept comes to itself. The concept is, for Kant, distinguished from intuition insofar as intuition simply sees an individual in its being-there, while the concept sees the same object but, so to speak, understands it. In the representatio of the concept, I know what one understands by it, and another also knows. That is, the concept makes the represented intelligible for others too, and thus it is a general representation. The concept of a represented res makes the represented matter intelligible to others also; it represents the matter with a certain bindingness. In the definition, the concept is to come to itself. The definition should yield a matter in such a way that it is represented and understood in the ground of its possibility, that I know whence it comes, what it is, why it is that. The genuine definition is that of the matter, the real definition. In the Middle Ages, genuine definition is the real and essential definition. It is genuine and is accomplished insofar as the basic procedure of definition is satisfied, insofar as one specifies the penultimate type or genus of an object, as well as its specific difference. Thus, for example, a circle is a closed, curved line (genus), on which every point is equidistant from the center (specific difference). Or, homo animal (genus) rationale (specific difference).
We go back to Aristotle in order to show that what, in traditional logic, is treated as definitio has a fully determinate origin, that definition is a symptom of decline, a mere thought technique that was once the basic possibility of human speech. In the definition, the concept becomes explicit. Still, what the concept itself is in its conceptuality is not yet visible. We do not want to merely become acquainted with Aristotelian basic concepts, a mere acquaintance which would lead us to ask such questions as: What did Aristotle mean
12. See Hs. p. 335 ff.