Some things, again, are present in a subject, but are never predicable of a subject. For instance, a certain point of grammatical knowledge is present in the mind, but is not predicable of any subject; or again, a certain whiteness may be present in the body (for colour requires a material basis), yet it is never predicable of anything.

Aristotle. Aristotle: The Complete Works (p. 26). Pandora's Box. Kindle Edition.

Can you please suggest where is my mistake in understanding:

Thing is either subject or predicate. If A is present in a subject then it is not subject. If it is not subject then it is predicate. But A is never predicable of a subject.

Certain point of grammatical knowledge is present in the mind

Certain point of grammatical knowledge is Subject. Present in the mind is Predicate. Why Aristotle uses 'present in a subject' but not 'predicable of some supreme object'?

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    See also this post Oct 13, 2021 at 9:12
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    According to Aristotle, what is said of a subject ("predicable") must be universal, it can be a substance or a property. Certain point/ certain whiteness are individual substance/property, hence not said of anything even when present in it. But grammatical knowledge/whiteness as universals can be said of mind/body. Similarly, present in is based on the distinction between substance and non-substance, only non-substances can be present in a subject, see Predication and Ontology: The Categories.
    – Conifold
    Oct 13, 2021 at 9:12

1 Answer 1


A property is un universal, predicable of a subject: "Socrates' hair are white".

Here whiteness is predicated of Socrates' hair.

The specific shade of whiteness characteristic of Socrates' hair is a sort of individual property, and thus is not a universal.

Being not a universal, it is not "predicated of" the subject Socrates, but it is "part" of the characteristics of the individual Socrates and thus it is "present in" the subject Socrates.

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