I am looking for books on Aristotle's Categories with academic commentary, preferably with references to further development of logic.


2 Answers 2


The third treatise, "On Predicaments*" ("De prædicamentis"), of the Summulæ Logicales (PDF pp. 65-77) by Peter of Spain is a commentary on Aristotle's Categories.

*"Predicaments" is another word for "Categories".
Summulæ, or "little summary works," are works written for beginners.
‡Petrus Hispanus or Pope John XXI, d. 1277


Aristotle, Aristotle's Categories and De Interpretatione, Published by Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1963. Translated with notes by J.L.Ackrill. Ackrill was a fine scholar and I still find this book reliable.

Jonathan Barnes is a principal expert on Aristotle and the relevant part of his Aristotle: A Very Short Introduction, ISBN 10: 0192854089 / ISBN 13: 9780192854087 Oxford University Press is worth a scan.

Markus Kohl, 'Substancehood and Subjecthood in Aristotle's "Categories"', Phronesis, Vol. 53, No. 2 (2008), pp. 152-179 repays attention.

Wolfgang-Rainer Mann, The Discovery of Things: Aristotle's Categories and Their Context, Published by Princeton University Press, United States (2000) ISBN 10: 069101020X ISBN 13: 9780691010205 is not an easy but certainly a valuable read.

As to the connection of the Categories with later developments in logic, Kneale, William ; Kneale, Martha, The Development of Logic, ISBN 10: 0198247737 / ISBN 13: 9780198247739, Clarendon Press/ Oxford University Press, 1991, is useful.

The authenticity of the Categories

The question has been put to me :

Do any of these authors question Aristotle's authorship of the Categories? Bocheński writes in History of Formal Logic p. 40: "the Categories alone is seriously considered to be spurious.

I offer the following information.

There are three separate questions : about the authenticity of (a) the Categories as a whole, (b) Cat. ch. 1 - 9, and (c) Cat.10-15.

All these matters have been investigated by L. M. de Rijk, 'The Authenticity of Aristotle's Categories', Mnemosyne, Fourth Series, Vol. 4, Fasc. 2 (1951), pp. 129-159. (There is earlier work by Isaac Husik, William David Ross The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 36, No. 16 (Aug. 3, 1939), pp. 427-433. A large body of 19th-century German scholarship should also be mentioned. I keep to de Rijk.)

The Categories as a whole

We may draw the following conclusions from this part of our investigation : 1. All the ancient commentators are themselves convinced of the authenticity of the Categories. 2. Only two Anonymi mention any arguments against it, but such arguments are merely academic hypotheses which they themselves reject. (de Rijk : 139.)

Cat. 1 - 9

To sum up our conclusions: 1). The view about ousia in the Categories is nearer to Plato's than that of the Metaphysics. 2). The starting-point of the investigations about true substance (in Metaph. Z 1) agrees very well with the view of the Categories; there is a continuous line of thought running from the Categories to the definitive doctrine about ousia (in Metaph. Z 17). 3). The originality and early formulation of the doctrine about ousia in the Categories strongly supports the authenticity of the treatise (Categories Chs. 1-9). (de Rijk : 149.)

Cat, 10 - 15

These chapters, the so-called Postpraedicamenta, have been widely regarded as spurious but have had distinguished modern defenders - e.g. Sir David Ross and L. Minio-Paluello (de Rijk : 149.). Jonathan Barnes, a principal Aristotelian scholar, in his revised translation of the Oxford Aristotle (Princeton, 1984, vol. 1) accepts the Categories as genuinely Aristotelian.

There is a problem, though, in that there is some kind of dividing line between 1 - 9 and 10 - 15 :

d that there is undoubtedly a dividing-line between Chs. 1-9 and Chs 10-15. This disjointedness has always been observed 3). It is noticeable, moreover, that for Hamelin, who believes the teaching of Chs. 10-15 to be thouroughly Aristotelian, it is only the disjointedness that gives any grounds for doubting the authenticity. It is obvious that the treatise should be considered as a separate entity. By doing so we can explain adequately why the term e?e??, which is already spoken about (or rather "dis- missed") in Categ. Ch. 9,1 lbl2 ff., is dealt with once again in Categ. Ch. 15. ((de Rijk : 159.)

The texts on my original list, save for Barnes, do not discuss the question of authenticity since the Categories has largely been regarded by scholars of the last half-century as genuine. Since Bocheński is not a leading voice in contemporary Aristotelian scholarship, and in the absence of any grounds he gives for his opinion, I am reluctant to surrender the authenticity of the Categories on the basis of the reference you give.

  • Do any of these authors question Aristotle's authorship of the Categories? Bocheński writes in History of Formal Logic p. 40: "the Categories alone is seriously considered to be spurious."
    – Geremia
    Oct 24, 2018 at 16:54
  • 1
    @Geremia. I have responded to your indeed pertinent question in my revised answer. I hope to have been of assistance. Best : GT
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Oct 24, 2018 at 18:46
  • 1
    New papers have been written after Rijk in 1952, but interestingly the debate on authenticity seem more lively in French see e.g. Achard M., 2000, Laval. theol.56(2) erudit.org/en/journals/ltp/2000-v56-n2-ltp2167/401302ar.pdf
    – sand1
    May 3, 2019 at 21:46
  • I do not know French... Thanks anyway... May 5, 2019 at 4:46

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