§11. The place of truth, and λόγος

speech in which being-true or being-false is present {as the ways of speaking}.3

This makes it clear in principle that being-true is the distinguishing feature of a certain kind of speech, the kind that states or asserts something. The proposition is determined by its reference to truth—not vice versa, as if truth were derived from the proposition. When Aristotle emphasizes that the statement is a special kind of speech because of its reference to truth, we need to understand this correctly. The statement has a reference to the ability to be true or false. Being-true simpliciter and being true or false, are entirely different phenomena.

According to Aristotle this “either/or,” this “either-true-or-false,” is intrinsic to the proposition. Therefore, for him the proposition certainly does not have to be there in order for truth to be what it is; and if a proposition is true, it is true as something that also can be false.

Of course, we have not yet established what this either/or really means or why the proposition can be characterized in terms of it. We have not even shown what it is about the proposition that requires that it be caught in this alternative.

This either/or is what distinguishes speech qua statement and delimits it from other kinds of speech. [130] What other kinds? Aristotle gives a brief indication of those other kinds when he continues the sentence previously cited:

οὐκ ἐν ἅπασι δὲ ὑπάρχει, οἷον ἡ εὐχὴ λόγος μέν, ἀλλ’ οὔτ’ ἀληθὴς οὔτε ψευδής. (ibid., chap. 4, 17a4)

But being-true-and-false is not present in every kind of speech. A request, for example, is a form of speech, but it is neither true nor false.

Here Aristotle envisions (although he does not name) a rich variety of other forms of speech, including wishes, commands, and questions. Aristotle merely mentions in passing that the proper disciplines for studying them are ῾ρητορικὴ ἢ ποιητική, rhetoric or poetics.4 Sentences like “Please pass me the scissors” or “Get off this land!” or “Was there another storm today?” are not statements, because they are neither true nor false. This division that Aristotle makes within the various forms of

3. “Enuntiativa vero non omnis [oratio], sed in qua verum et falsum inest”; Boethius, Commentarium in librum Aristotelis Peri hermeneias, vol. 2, chap. 4, p. 95 (ed. Besarrion, p. 324); i.e., “in which there is truth or error,” Eugen Rolfes (p. 4). The ἀποφαίνεσθαι is emphasized in Poetics 6, 1450b10–12.

4. ὁ δὲ ἀποφαντικὸς τῆς νῦν θεωρίας (chap. 4, 17a6): “However, the object or theme of the investigation we are now conducting is the indicative-declarative [aussagende] λόγος.”

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