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Such, then, is the ori- gin and nature of the essays gathered in the present volume.
For my own part, in the course of this thirty-year period, I have contin- ued to elaborate the occasional personal offering, even returning from time to time to a topic previously explored — not to mention that chapter in semi- otic history to which I devoted my La ricerca della lingua perfetta (1993), translated as The Search for a Perfect Language (1995).
2 We may safely ignore, however, the metaphysics that underlies the Arbor Porphyri- ana, given that what interests us is the fact that this tree, whatever its meta- physical roots, is conceived of as a representation of logical relationships.
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A definition is not a demonstration: to reveal the essence of a thing is not the same as to prove a proposition about that thing; a definition says what From the Tree to the Labyrinth 5 something is, whereas a demonstration proves that something is (II, iii, 91a 1), and, consequently, in a definition we assume what a demonstration must on the contrary prove (II, 3, 91a 35).
Those who define do not prove that some- thing exists (II, iii, 92a 20).
This means that for Aristotle a definition is con- cerned with meaning and has nothing to do with processes of reference to a state of the world (II, iii, 93b 30).
To find the right way to construct good definitions, Aristotle develops the theory of predicables, that is, of the ways in which categories can be predi- cated of a subject.
How- ever that may be, he is the first to translate Aristotle in terms of a tree, and 1.
Probably Aristotle does not include difference among the predicables be- cause it appears when, registered along with genus ( Topics 1 101b 20), it constitutes the definition.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Eco, Umberto. English] From the tree to the labyrinth : historical studies on the sign and interpretation / Umberto Eco ; translated by Anthony Oldcorn. I decided not to attempt to rewrite them in a more uniform style, and I have kept the apparatus of notes and references in the case of the more specialized contri- butions and the conversational tone in the case of the more essayistic pieces.
They were conceived under various circumstances, some for strictly aca- demic occasions, others as discourses addressed to a broader general public.
In his Topics (I, iv, 101b 17-25) he identifies only four predicables (genus, proprium or unique property, definition, and accident), while Porphyry — as we shall see — will speak of five predicables (genus, species, difference, proprium, and accident).