A Marble Lion Mauls Nobody

I made a subtle reference to what Renaissance logicians called a ‘determinato alienans’ context in my last post, claiming that ‘printed money’ and ‘counterfeit money’ both establish such a context. Here is a nice explanation of how that context works, from a 1605 work by Amandus Polanus von Polansdorf (Syntagma Logicum Aristotelico-Ramaeum) – one of many attempts from that period to reconcile Aristotelian and Ramist logic.

I particularly like the last example given.

Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 11.52.31

My not very good translation:

Alienating determination is the term for an adjective attached to a word in a statement, which sweeps away the proper meaning of that word and leads the mind to comprehend something else. Thus it is called distracting determination. So where one says, ‘I saw a painted Cicero’, the adjective ‘painted’ is an alienating or distracting determination, because it shows that it is not the real Cicero that is to be understood but only the one in the picture. Likewise with ‘This is false gold’, or ‘A painted dog does not bite’, or ‘A marble lion mauls nobody’.


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