Colloquium: October 21st


Title: "Language, Meaning and Method in Aristotle's Categories"

Speaker: Dr. Michael Griffin (University of British Columbia)

Friday, October 21st at 2:30pm CLE A203


The short treatise Categories influenced European logic, semantics, and metaphysics for more than 2,000 years. It continues to inspire new developments in metaphysics, and remains a core source for modern interpreters of Aristotle’s ontology, or “science of being qua being." But the goals of the Categories, and even its real title and subject-matter, are difficult to pin down. As ancient Greek commentators already observed, the treatise might be read as a contribution to philosophy of language, semantics, logic, dialectic, or first philosophy, an ambiguity that threatens to embroil Aristotle’s metaphysics in use-mention confusions; moreover, the Categories’ account of “primary reality” appears directly to contradict the central books of the Metaphysics

This talk will briefly introduce the treatise Categories itself and its vibrant ancient reception tradition, before exploring several attempts to “solve” the dilemmas that it raises, reflected in both the ancient Greek and modern interpretive traditions: by treating the text as a contribution to metaphysics (Wedin, Mann), philosophy of language, or pragmatic philosophical dialectic (Menn). I’ll close by exploring the implications of this debate for some modern neo-Aristotelian projects.