§16. Arguments in History of Logic [257-258

δὲ σύνθεσίν τινα, ἣν ἄνευ τῶν συγκειμένων οὐκ ἔστι νοῆσαι.4 In this passage Aristotle is speaking of verbs, which—as he says—carry with them the signification of time, for which reason we are accustomed in German to call them Zeitworte, time-words. We shall give an elucidative translation of the passage cited from the text. If we utter verbs for themselves, for example, going, making, striking, then they are nouns and signify something: the going, the making. For he who utters such words ἵστησι τὴν διάνοιαν, arrests his thinking: he dwells on something, he means something specific by them. And, correspondingly, he who hears such words as going, standing, lying comes to rest: he stops with something, with what is understood by these words. All these verbs mean something but they do not say whether what they mean is or is not. If I say "to go," "to stand," "going," "standing," then I haven't said whether anyone is actually going or standing. Being, not-being, to be, not to be, do not signify a thing—we would say they do not at all signify something which itself is. Not even if we utter the word "being," τὸ ὄν, quite nakedly for itself, for the determination being [Sein], in the sense of to-be, in the expression "being" is nothing; being is not itself a being. But the expression certainly consignifies something, προσσημαίνει, and indeed a certain σύνθεσις, a certain combining, which cannot be thought unless what is already combined or combinable has been or is being thought. Only in thinking of the combined, of the combinable, can σύνθεσις, combinedness, be thought. So far as being means this combinedness in the proposition S is P, being has a meaning only in our thinking of the combined. Being has no independent meaning but προσσημαίνει, it implies, it signifies in-addition, besides, namely, the additional signifying and meaningful thinking of such items as are related to each other. In doing this, being expresses the relation itself. The εἶναι προσσημαίνει σύνθεσίν τινα expresses a certain combining. Kant, too, says that being is a combining-concept.

We cannot enter into further detail in regard to the passage here cited any more than in regard to the whole treatise De interpretatione. It offers immense difficulties for exegesis. The ancient commentators on Aristotle, Alexander of Aphrodisias and Porphyry, each interpreted this passage in a different way. Thomas views it still differently. This is a sign, not of a

4. Ibid., 166 19-25. "Verbs in and by themselves are substantival and have significance. for he who uses such expressions arrests the hearer's mind, and fixes his attention; but they do not, as they stand, express any judgment, either positive or negative. For neither are 'to be' and 'not to be' and the participle 'being' significant of any fact, unless something is added; for they do not themselves indicate anything, but imply a copulation, of which we cannot form a conception apart from the things coupled." Trans. E. M. Edghill, in The Works of Aristotle, ed. W. D. Ross (Oxford: Clarendon, 1908-). De interpretatione is included in vol. 1.]