The list of katēgoriai (lit. predications) presented at the start of Top. I 9 was traditionally interpreted as a version of the canonical Aristotelian list of categories, and as largely equivalent to the list we find in Categories 4. Accordingly, its first item, the what it is, was identified with the category of substance. This interpretation has been challenged by Michael Frede and a number of scholars after him, all sharing the view that the what it is in Top. I 9 is not, and cannot even help to define, the first ontological class of entities, since it collects items belonging to all Aristotelian categories (e.g. human being, colour, length). It is rather, they say, a manner of predication –i.e. essential predication– and can only determine a class of items with regard to this feature. I criticize this family of proposals and argue that, with minor adjustments, the traditional interpretation is correct. But in so doing I take full advantage of Frede’s crucial distinction between kinds of predicates and kinds of predications.
Chair: Luca Castagnoli
Workshop in Ancient Philosophy Convenors: Prof Ursula Coope, Dr Karen Margrethe Nielsen, and Dr Luca Castagnoli