The 'Poetic Syllogism' Revisited 

Gregor Schoeler Basel 


The term 'poetic syllogism' appears in the late antique Greek commentary and scholia literature. Arabic philosophers, however, are the first to explain how this kind of syllogism is constructed; al-Farabi introduces one type and Avicenna adds two more. Each syllogism that follows one of these three types includes among its premises or its conclusion at least one figurative statement. The poetic syllogism plays a key role in Arabic 'philosophical' poetics, which contains an important theory of figurative language.-A treatise on Poetics by Ibn Turnlfis discusses the relationship between the three types. The present study closely analyses Ibn Tumlus's reasoning. Furthermore, it clarifies previously unexplained or misunderstood terms such as 'poetic statement: 'poetic premise' and 'poetic definition'. It finally points to an example for a specific type of sophistical inference Aristotle introduces in his Sophistical Refutations which Avicenna and other Arabic philosophers cite as a poetic syllogism. Commentators, perhaps as early as late antiquity, could have taken this type of inference to be the poetic syllogism they failed to find in Aristotle's Poetics. 


'Philosophical' poetics, al-Parabi, Avicenna, Ibn Tumlus, figurative language, three types of poetic syllogism, poetic premise, poetic definition, sophistical and poetic syllogism 

There are several reasons why the Arabo-Islamic 'logical' ( or 'philosophical', or Aristotelian) poetics, in which the concept of the 'poetic syllogism' plays a central role, is worthy of note: on the one hand, 'philosophical' poetics was discussed in all Arabo-Islamic accounts of logic and was therefore apparently regarded as an integral part of logic as a whole. On the other hand, it developed a remarkable theory of figurative language, its characteristics and purpose; a theory which deserves to be considered in the context of contemporary philosophy of language and philosophical accounts of metaphor.1 Finally, its impact was felt both in Arabo-Islamic religious philosophy and in Arabic literary theory: al-Farabi ( d. 9 SO) developed the theory of figurative language into a comprehensive theory 

*I would like to thank Dr Uwe Vagelpohl, Berlin, for his excellent English translation.-Prof Dr. Gregor Schoeler, Bollwerkstrasse 96, CH-4102 Binningen, Switzerland, gregor.schoeler@ 

I) Black, Logic, pp. 242-258. 

of religion;2 and, roughly three centuries later, terms and concepts derived from 'logical' poetics exerted a key influence on one of the most original works of Arabic literary theory, Hazim al-Qartajanni's (d. 1285) Path of the Eloquent (Minhdj al-bulagha)).3 

Exactly thirty years ago my study "Der poetische Syllogismus. Ein Beitrag zum Verstandnis der 'logischen' Poetik der Araber" [ The poetic syllogism. A contribution to the understanding of the 'logical' poetics of the Arabs appeared in the ZDMG.4 In its introduction I wrote that the system of Arabic 'logical' poetics had been studied relatively thoroughly, especially the theory of figurative language, and that the concept and provenance of the 'poetic syllogism' had been known for a long time. Contemporary scholarship, however, had by then still not given any answer based on relevant textual evidence rather than speculation to the central question of what exactly a poetic syllogism was.5 Under closer scrutiny all of the answers given to this question turned out to be false. The reason, as I was able to establish, was that the sources known at the time often described the result in the listerner s mind and the purpose of this type of syllogism, but they never showed how it was actually constructed. 6 I reported in my article that I had discovered an explicit description of the poetic syllogism, including examples, in Avicenna's (Ibn Sina's) (d. 1037) K al-Qjyas.7 On the basis of Avicenna's exposition I demonstrated how this syllogism was to be composed. 

Scholarship on philosophical poetics (and rhetoric8) has of course not stood still in the meantime. On the contrary, the theory of figurative language, partic- 

2Heinrichs, "Poerik, Rhetorik," p. 190 ("For al-Farabi, religious statements are figurative [physical] representations of the abstract [mental] statements of philosophy for the purpose of instructing the masses"); id., "Die antike Verknupfung," esp. p. 254; p. 287 ("Religion is an imitation [ figurative representation] of philosophy"); idem, "Takhyil;' in E/2, X, p. 130b. 

3Cf. Heinrichs, Arabische Dichtung; Schoeler, Grundprobleme.-H.azim al-Qartajanni was the first to make productive use of elements of Arabic Aristotelian poetics for indigenous literary theory. 4) See Bibliography. 

5) Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogismus;' pp. 43-45; in particular notes 5 and 6. 

6) Some definitions mention ( and exemplify) the 'poetic' premise, but do not cite the full syllogism; e.g. al-Sharif al-jurjani, al-Tarrifat, p. 67: " ... And poetry in the usage of the logicians (i.e., as a technical term): a syllogism that is composed of (premises) creating mental images ... as, e.g., 'Wine is a liquid ruby', or 'Honey is vomited bile'." The syllogistic operation triggered by the wine/ruby example in the mind of the listener works as follows: 'Wine is a liquid ruby; everything which is a liquid ruby of such a description is bright red, gemmy, precious (etc.): therefore wine is liquid, bright red, gemmy, precious (etc.),' (This is a correction of the explanation put forward in Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogismus;' p. 50, n. 26.)-See also Maimonides,Maqala, p. 49, and al-Tahanawi, Kashshaf I, p. 7 46; cf. Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogismus," p. 44, notes 5 and 6. 

7Avicenna, 0yas, p. 57, l. 9-11. 

8) E.g. Wiirsch,Avicennas Bearbeitungen; Aouad (Ed.), Commentaire moyen la Rhetorique d'Aristote; id., "Les Fondcrnents:" Aouad et M. Rashed, "L' Exegese de la Rbetorique d' Arisrore:" Vagelpohl, Aristotle's Rhetoric in the East. 

ularly the concept of takhyil ('evocation of mental representations'),9 has been the focus of a number of studies. IO There have also been valuable new findings on the poetic syllogism. I I This article aims to introduce and discuss new results presented by other scholars and myself. In the light of these findings, some of the claims others and I have made in earlier studies will have to be revised or updated. 

To start with, I will give a brief summary of the main features of Arabo-Islamic 'logical' poetics in order to give the reader an overview of the field and help him understand the following discussion. 

We are essentially dealing with two strands or complexes of transrnission.P 

  1. The tradition of translations of and commentaries on Aristotle's Poetics. The Nestorian logician Abu Bisr Matta b. Yiinus (d. 940) translated the Poetics into Arabic on the basis of a Syriac version; his student Yal).ya b. (Adi ( d. 97 4) is credited with another Arabic version, but chis was probably a revision of his teacher's text rather than a new translation. The translation suffers from numerous misunderstandings because Abu Bisr (and Yal).ya b. (Adi as well) lacked the requisite knowledge of Greek language and literature and were therefore unable to understand central concepts of the Poetics such as tragedy and comedy. For the same reason philosophers commenting on the Poetics, most importantly Avicenna (d. 1037) and Averroes (Ibn Rushd) (d. 1198), were unable to resolve these misunderstandings; for example, they equated tragedy with panegyric and comedy with invective poetry. This is why chis tradition has been called "the history of a misunderstanding."13 

9) Heinrichs, "Takhyil: Make-Believe", p. 6.-For more comprehensive definitions cf. n. 15. 

IO) Heinrichs, "Die antike Verkniipfung," esp. pp. 252-273; idem, "Takhyil," in E/2, X, pp. 129- 132; van Gelder and Hammond, Takhyil. 

11Black.Logic; eadem, "The Imaginative Syllogism;" Kemal, The Philosophical Poetics; id., "Aristotle's Poetics;" Schoeler and Aouad, "Le syllogisme poetique;" Aouad, "Le syllogisme poctique selon Ibn umhis": Lame er, Al-Fara bi and Aristotelian Syllogistics. "-Without scholarly merit is T. Ludeschers article "The Islamic Roots of the Poetic Syllogism;' in College Literature 23 ( 1996), pp. 93- 99. 

12) There is an additional strand: excerpts from various Greek writings that are quoted by al-Farab! and Avicenna (cf. Dahiyat,Avicenna's Commentary, p. 3; Schader, Grundprobleme, p. 48; Heinrichs, "Die antike Verkniiptung," p. 256, n. 12; idem, "Poctik," p. 188, n. 15).-Al-Farabi even names his sources on occasion ('~ccounts of the poetic art ascribed to the philosopher Aristotle, Themistius and others of the ancients and the interpreters of their writings") (Risala, p. 270, 3-5). This material includes a list of Greek poetic genres al-Farabi quotes in his Risa/a [pp. 269-270] and Avicenna, following him, in the introduction to his K al-Shier (pp. 29-31) and the section on poetics (fi ma 'dni K al-Sh fr) of his K al-Majmu' (pp. 30-33); and also a typology of poets quoted by al-Farabi (Risala, p. 271, 1-3) (for which cf. Schader, Grundprobleme, pp. 46-52, esp. 48). This typology influenced Hazim al-Qartajanni (cf. Schoeler, Grundprobleme, pp. 54-56), but this material has otherwise not had much of an impact. 

13) Gabrieli, "Intorno alla versione araba," p. 235.-Some scholars now argue for a less pessimistic 

More fruitful than this strand of transmission has been the following: 

IL The prooemium tradition. At a certain point during late antiquity Aristotle's Rhetoric and Poetics were incorporated into the Organon the corpus of Aristotle's logical writings). Late antique commentators then developed theories about the systematic coherence of these writings. Most of these discussions took place in prooemia which introduced Aristotle's Categories. According to one theory proposed at the time, each of the last five books of the extended Organon (Posterior Analytics, Topics, Sophistical Refutations, Rhetoric and Poetics) was associated with a specific type of syllogism; for example, the demonstration ( burhdn) was assigned to the Posterior Analytics and the poetic syllogism to the Poetics. 

Muslim philosophers, al-Farabi ( d. 950 ), Avicenna (Ibn Sina) ( d. 1037), Averroes (Ibn Rushd) (d. 1198) and others, continued this late antique 'logical' tradition of poetics. Its main characteristics are as follows: 

  1. The poetic phenomenon logicians are interested in is particularly figurative language ( e.g. ' [ this man is a sun: or 'sun' for a beautiful man or woman), that is, similes and metaphors. 
  2. Figurative statements rely on 'imitation' (mu/:;dkah ): a poet 'imitates' a beautiful man or woman with the sun, that is, he compares him or her with the sun. 
  3. Figurative statements are based on a syllogism: the 'poetic syllogism' (qiyds fi'ri). In the case of the metaphor 'sun' for a beautiful man its structure is ( according to al-Farabi) as follows: [this] man is beautiful, the sun is beautiful; therefore, [ this man is a sun. 
  4. Unlike sophistical syllogisms ( or sophisms, or fallacies), which are (like poetic syllogisms) also false, the intention of the syllogism a figurative statement is based on is not to deceive, but to evoke a mental image (khayal) in the listener's mind. 14 

interpretation. Uwe Vagelpohl ("The Rhetoric;' p. 18) suggests that" [i]n the process of translation and commenting, even misunderstandings became occasions for acute insights in fields as varied as psychology, political philosophy, aesthetics, and philosophy of religion. Given the creative potential of this highly fascinating process, it would be short-sighted simply to stress its problematic aspects and dismiss the results as a massive misunderstanding." -Cf. also Jorge L. Borges's short story "Averroes's Search." 

14) It is vital to stress "that poetic utterances, like all non-demonstrative logical propositions formed according to the various logical arts [i.e. dialectical, rhetorical and sophistical propositions], are directed to a listener who is meant to be influenced by them" (Heinrichs, art. "Takhyil" in E/2, X, p. 130). But cf. n. 86! 

  1. In accordance with item ( 4), the purpose of 'imitation' is the 'evocation of a mental image' (takhyil).15 This 'evocation: which disables a listener's rational faculty, disposes his soul negatively or positively towards someone or something so that he aspires to or recoils from him or it. A listener's acceptance or rejection does not depend on whether he regards the statement in question as true or false or whether the mental image that arises in his soul conforms to reality or not.-The rational process of syllogistic reasoning in the listener's mind that is set in motion by figurative language therefore immediately turns into a psychological process that results in an action or a reaction. 16 Example 1: The philosopher and physician Avicenna notes: if a physician, while administering a (red) purgative decoction, explains to the patient that it is similar to wine, he achieves with this that the patient (at least momentarily) suspends his aversion to it and takes the medication.17 Example 2: 'This honey is vomited bile'. By saying this to someone who wants to eat honey at that moment, one achieves with this that that person is disgusted by and loses his appetite for it. 18 
  2. The syllogistical reasoning in question is a purely internal process that takes place in the mind of the speaker/poet or the listener. This is why poetic syllogisms are almost never explicitly sed out. What we actually encounter in speech, especially in poetry, are statements such as ' [this] man is a lion' or, at most,'[ this man is a lion because he is brave'. An even shorter, purely metaphorical form consists of statements about a 'lion: namely a man who is brave. 
  3. Arabo-Islamic philosophical poetics is essentially a theory of figurative language; this applies in full to al-Farabi's theory of poetics. His theory is rigorously complementary insofar as the evocation of mental images is triggered exclusively by 'imitative' (figurative) statements.19 Avicenna on the other hand maintains that other characteristics of speech besides 'imitation' can also evoke mental images, for example its meter or a range of figures of 

15) Heinrichs proposed the most comprehensive definition of takhyil in his article " 'Takhyil' and Its Traditions" (p. 228): " [the] creation of a mental image which forces the soul of the listener to accept or reject the assertion in question without a declaration of true or false and to act accordingly;" or, more briefly, " [the] evocation of images of things in the minds of listeners by means of figurative language" (in "Takhyil: Make-Believe;' p. 3; cf also the definition in his article "Takhyil" in EP, X, p. 129). 

16) Al-Farabi gave the most comprehensive account of this process (J/:J1a' af-<Ufum, pp. 68-69); cf. Black, "The Imaginative Syllogism," pp. 260-265, esp. 263; eadem, Logic, pp. 231-241, esp. 238- 239.-0n Avicenna, see his K al-Sbi'r, p. 24; cf. Schoeler, "Poetischer Syllogismus-bildliche Rcdcwcise," pp. 50-5 l. 

17) Avicenna, Burhdn, p. 63. 

18) Ibid.-Further references in n. 31. 

19) Schoeler, "Poetischer Syllogismus-bildliche Redeweise," pp. 50-51. 

speech and thought; he adds, however, that the term 'image-evoking' is usually mostly applied to 'imitation.P Avicenna also claims that the evocation of mental images is inevitably linked with an effect he calls 'astonishment' ('ajab) or 'causing astonishment' (ta Jib) (e.g. "on the beauty of imitation"),21 a term unknown to al- Fara.hi. 

  1. While they are typical for poetry, figurative statements also occur in speeches and in everyday language. Non-metrical figurative statements are not 'poetry: but they are still 'poetic utterances' (aqdwil shi'riyya ).22 

The Three Types of Poetic Syllogisms and Their Relationship 

In my 1983 article I only presented and analysed a single type of poetic syllogisms (A 1).23 In the meantime two more types have been discovered and discussed: the second (A II) by Deborah Black (in Avicenna)24 and the third (F) by Maroun Aouad (in al-Farabi).25 Aouad then edited, translated and analysed a short tract by the Andalusian philosopher and physician Ibn Tumlus (d. 1223), a student of Averroes, which forms the beginning of his 'Book of Poetics' (K al-shi'r ),26 itself the last part of Ibn Turnlus's Introduction to the Art of Logic (Madkhal ild sind'at al-mantiq ). The importance of this tract rests on the fact that, as Aouad was able to demonstrate, Ibn Tumlus presented a synthesis of the various accounts of poetic syllogisms and clarified the relationships between its three types. The following discussion is indebted to Aouad's perspicacious analysis, which I largely follow, but the issue needs to be investigated once more because my interpretations occasionally differ from Aouad's. 

20) Cf e.g. Avicenna, Livre des Directives, pp. 188-189 .-Cf. on this issue also Heinrichs, Arabische Dichtung, p. 159; Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogismus;· pp. 67-71. 

21) Avicenna, Livres des Directives, p. 188; Avicenna, K as-Sbi'r, pp. 24-25; cf. Heinrichs, Arabische Dichtung, p. 159; Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogismus;· p. 68; idem, "Poetischer Syllogismusbildhafte Redeweise," pp. 49-50. 

22Al-Farabi, K al-Shi'r, p. 92, l. 9-12. 23Avicenna, Qjyds, p. 57, l. 9-13. 

24) Avicenna, Qjyas, p. 57, l. 15-58, l. 3; cf. Black, "The Imaginative Syllogism;' pp. 259-261 with n. 43; andeadem,Logic, pp. 226-231. Black's two studies (published in 1989 and 1990) contributed many new ideas and interesting findings, but substantial parts of them are compromised by her erroneous belief that al-Farabi did not yet have an explicit concept of the poetic syllogism.-For a critical assessment of Black's book see J. Lameer's review-article "Aristotelian Rhetoric and Poetics" and R. Wiirsch's comprehensive review ( see Bibliography) .-Aouad and Schoeler reported in a joint study published in 2002 that Aouad had discovered a passage in an as yet unstudied short treatise by al- (Qawl fi l-tandsub) in which the author illustrates and explains a type of poetic syllogism (F). In his 1983 study "Der poetische Syllogism us" (p. 53) Schoeler had already postulated that al-'s discussions had to be based on a syllogism of this type (F). 

25) al-Farabi, Qawl, pp. 504-506; cf. Aouad and Schoeler, "Le syllogisme poetique," 26) Aouad, "Le syllogisme poetique selon lbn Tumlus," 

At first, let us recall the three types of poetic syllogisms. 

Al-Farabi (F)27 

Al- describes 'his' type as follows: 

We produce its syllogism with correspondences and similitudes (bi-l-na:?d)ir wa-lashbah ), as e.g. 

[This] man is beautiful. (minor premise) The sun is beautiful. (major premise) Therefore, [this] man is a sun. (conclusion) 

The sword kills quickly. 

Fire kills quickly. 

Therefore, the sword is fire. 

In formal terms, these are incorrect, inconclusive syllogisms in the second figure with two affirmative premises.28 The premises, however, contain correct assertoric propositions. Al-Farabi calls this syllogism a 'potential syllogism'29 and puts it on par with induction and analogy. 

Avicenna I (A 1)3° 

[This] man has a beautiful face. (minor premise) 

Each person with a beautiful face is a moon. (major premise) Therefore, [this] man is a moon. ( conclusion) 

Avicenna's favourite example, which he quotes in an abridged form,31 would take the following form if spelled out: 

27) al-Farabi, Qawl, pp. 504-506. 

28) Not all syllogisms with this structure, however, are 'poetic'. They are only 'poetic', when their subject (S) and predicate (P) terms are similar; more precisely, when the relationship between S and Pis that between Urbild (archetype, model) andAbbild (image, copy); cf. below, p. 20. (This is a correction of the argument we put forward in Aouad and Schoeler, "Le syllogisme poetique," pp. 194-196. )- The following is an example of a syllogism that, in spite of its identical formal structure, is non-lpoeric': [this] man is evil, thieves are evil; therefore, [this] man is a thief-Aristotle and his commentators classify syllogisms of this kind as 'rhetorical' or 'sophistical' ( cf. below, notes 81-84). 

29) al-Farabi, Risdla, p. 268, 1. 7-8 and 18; cf. Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogismus;' pp. 52-53; Aouad and Schoeler, "Le syllogisme poetique," pp. 188-189, 193. 

30Avicenna, Qjyds, p. 57, 1. 9-13. 

31) He adduces only the poetical premise ('honey is vomited bile').-See Qjyds, p. 5;, p. 63; Najdt, p. 64; Livre des Directives, p. 188.-Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogismus;· p. 45, n. 6, and Black, "The Imaginative Syllogism;' p. 257, n. 36 and eadem, Logic, p. 228, n. 4 give numerous other examples. 

Honey is yellow. (minor premise) 

Everything yellow is vomited bile. (major premise) Therefore, honey is vomited bile. ( conclusion) 

In this type minor premise and conclusion are identical with those ofF, while the major premise is a reversion of F's major premise. 

Unlike F, this is a conclusive syllogism in the first figure (mode Barbara), but it differs from normal categorical syllogisms with two assertoric premises insofar as its major premise (and therefore its conclusion as well) is not assertoric, but contains false propositions-or at least propositions with a questionable truth value ( figurative statements). 

Avicenna II (A II)32 

The rose is a mule's anus, in the middle of which dung is visible. (minor premise) Everything that resembles a mule's anus ( i.e. that is red on the outside and yellow on the inside) is dirty and disgusting. (major premise) 

Therefore, the rose is dirty and disgusting. ( conclusion) 

This is also a conclusive syllogism in the first figure, but this time, the minor premise is non-assertoric and figurative. Major premise and conclusion, however, are assertoric. 

Avicenna does not discuss the distinctive features and potential different functions of the two types ofsyllogism he presents. Black has filled this gap and argued that the first type (A I) is poet-oriented by displaying the mental steps a poet takes in creating a metaphor; the second type (A II), on the other hand, is centred on the audience because it leads the listener to the conclusion that the thing in question has certain properties and should be aspired to or avoided (in this case: the rose is dirty and disgusting).33 

As an aside, let us briefly discuss a procedure al-Farabi presented34 and that some scholars have apparently regarded as quasi-syllogistic or even the proper procedure for producing regular poetic syllogisms.35 First of all, this procedure has nothing to do with 'poetic syllogisms' as understood by al-Farabi and Avicenna. Al-Farabi's point is the different quality of similes: he proposes that far- 

32) Avicenna, Qjyas, p. 57, 1. 15-58, 1. 3. 33Black, Logic, pp. 229-231. 

34) al-Farabi, Risala, p. 272, 1. 6-9. 

35) Kemal seems to regard this procedure as al-Farabi's paradigm for poetic syllogisms (he is unaware of type F) (The Poetics, p. 106, 113, 118-120).-This lapse of judgment impairs Kemal's entire analysis of al-Farabi's 'poetic discourse' and also his assessment of al-Farabi's achievement in this field ('Problems with al-Farabi's Account: pp. 129-138 ).-Black's attempts to explain the procedure ("Imaginative Syllogism;' p. 258; Logic, pp. 214-217) also seem to miss the point. 

fetched similes are superior to obvious ones. The procedure works as follows: the poet first compares A and B, because they are commonly known to be similar; he then compares and C, because they are also commonly known to be similar. Finally, he induces the listener to believe that A and C are similar, even though the similarity between them is at best very slight.36 As is often the case with alFardbi, there are no examples. We could illustrate the procedure as follows: poets often compare spearheads with stars ( or vice versa), and they often compare stars with white flowers ( or vice versa).37 Now, it could be interesting and enjoyable for the listener if a poet would proceed from there to the uncommon and striking comparison between spearheads and white flowers. 

Ibn Tumlus's Synthesis 

At the beginning of his treatise38 Ibn Tumliis declares (in accordance with his predecessors) that 'imitation' is the foundational principle of the poetic art and that it functions on the basis of the similarity between two things. With the help of a syllogism ( the author mentions a type F syllogism and refers to his discussion of it in his Book of Rhetoric )39 a poet induces the belief that the two similar things are one and the same, i.e., identical ( cf. al-Farabi's conclusion in his syllogistic example: this person is a sun). 

The structure of the inference Ibn umlus puts forward as an example (mithal), however, differs from that of the Farabian syllogism (F): 

Yellow colour is in honey and also in bile; this suggests to us that everything that is yellow is bile. 

(The same example would take the following form in accordance with F: Yellow colour is in honey and also in bile; therefore, honey is bile.) 

To explain the structure of his example Ibn Turnhis refers to the 'topos of the consequence' ( or the 'law of the consequence', mawt/P al-labiq). Aristotle and his Arabic commentators treat this topos'" in the Sophistical Refutations41 and elsewhere.42 Ibn Tumlus adduces the same example Aristotle already used 

36) expresses a similar idea in K al-Shi'r, pp. 94-95, where he discusses imitations that are removed from reality by two or more degrees. 

37) For these similes see 'Abd al-Qahir al-Curcani, Asrdr, pp. 197 -19 8 ( 13 / 9) and 191-192 ( 13 / 4), respectively. 

38) Ed., transl. and comm. by M. Aouad, "Le syllogisme poctique selon Ibn Tumliis", pp. 265-267. 39) Ibn Tumliis, Le Livre de la Rhetorique, p. 8. 

40) More on this below. 

40 Aristotle, Sophistical Refutations, ch. S (167bS-6); for Arabic translations (by Yahya b. <Adi, 'Isa. b. Zur'a and the naql qadim the 'old' translation]) see Mantiq Aristu, III, p. 778 f., 780, 782. 

42) E.g. in the Rhetoric: Aristotle, Rhetoric II, ch. 7 (140lb9-14)= Arabic translation: Aristutalis, 

(' ... people often equated honey with bile, because the yellow colour is also connected to honey')43 and that his commentators also cited,44 and gives it the form quoted above. He notes in this context that the example 'suggests' that "the reverse ('the yellow is bile') of the proposition that is generally affirmed ('bile is yellow') is identical with it:" 

Bile is yellow (Everything) yellow is bile. Bile is yellow= (Everything) yellow is bile. 

His use of the term 'suggest' (awhama) indicates chat he means a mukhataba an 'address' to a person, an 'appeal') with a specific aim, with which the speaker/poet intends to induce a certain belief in the listener or predispose him towards something. 45 ( Cf. Aristoteles' version in which the incorrect inference arises from human misperception.) 

Ibn Tumlus does not explicitly say that this topos can be reduced to an inconclusive syllogism in the second figure with two affirmative premises.46 Compared to the syllogistic form, however, the topos is incomplete, it lacks the inference from the general (the/everything yellow is bile) to the particular ( therefore, honey is bile). Ibn Tumlus then remedies chis omission by saying: 

Hence, our syllogism is as follows: 

(Everything) yellow is bile [the reverse of'Bile is yellow'].47 Honey is yellow. 

Therefore, honey is bile. 

As a result of the evocation of a mental image, which affects us through the similarity (of the two things), we get the impression that the thing that is compared is identical to the thing it is compared to ['Honey is not only similar to bile, it is bile'], and our souls dislike or accept it. 

With the help of chis operation, Ibn Tumliis achieved the transformation of the Farabian (F) into the first Avicennan poetic syllogism; what we have here is a syllogism of the type A I. 

al-Khataba, p. 173f.; commented on by Averroes, Commentaire Moyen la Rhetorique II, p. 255, par. 2.24.8; Ibn Tumliis, Le Livre de la Rbetorique, p. 41. 

43) As a student of Averroes Ibn Tumhis consulted Averroes's paraphrase rather than directly quoted the relevant Aristotelian text (Averroes, TalkhiJ K Sufistiqi TalkhiJ Mantiq Aristi; II, pp. 681- 682). 

44Al-Farabi, K al-Amkina al-mughlita, pp. 142-144; Avicenna, al-Shija~, al-Safsata, p. 24. 45Cf n. 14. 

46) Al-Farabi and Avicenna explicitly make this connection: al-Farabi, K al-Amkina al-mughlita, p. 144, and 189, 1-2; Avicenna, ai-Kbatdb«, p. 189; but Avicenna does not mention it in al-Safsata, pp. 23-24. 

47By way of exception, place the major before the minor premise in this example-against Ibn Tumliis's procedure. 

Ibn Tumlus then turns to the structure of the A II syllogism, which Avicenna had cited but not explained to his readers. Ibn Tumlus gives the following explanation: 

"The thing that is imitated (compared) is ofcen48 taken together with the imitating thing as premise to thereby produce as the conclusion the similarity with the thing with which it is imitated (compared)." His example: 

Zayd is a lion. (minor premise) 

Lions are brave. (major premise) Therefore, Zayd is brave. (conclusion) 

In terms of the example quoted above: 

Honey is bile. 

Bile is [ disgustingly yellow. 

Therefore, honey is [disgustingly] yellow. 

This syllogism (A II) has the conclusions of syllogisms A I and Fas premise and the minor premises of A I and F as conclusion. 

Hence, Ibn Tumlus envisages the syllogistic operation that results in a poetic 

statement as follows: 

Honey is yellow. ( minor premise) 

(Bile is ycllow -e ) Everything yellow is bile. (major premise) Therefore, honey is bile. ( conclusion) 

The conclusion in turn is the starting point of the following syllogism, in which it becomes itself a premise (more specifically, the minor premise), namely the 'poetic premise': 

Honey is bile. (minor, 'poetic' premise) 

Bile ( or: Everything that has the same properties as bile) is disgusting. (major premise) 

Therefore, honey is disgusting. ( conclusion) 

As Aouad correctly pointed out, Ibn Turnhis identified with this analysis the relationship between the three types of poetic syllogism and at the same time created a synthesis of the various accounts of the poetic syllogism. 

48) Unlike Aouad ("Le syllogisme poetique selon Ibn Tumlus," p. 268; cf. 269), I understand the particle qad here as an expression not for rarity or paucity, but for frequency; cf. Wright, Grammar, I, 286 C.-This type of figurative statement ('Zayd is a lion'; i.e., the 'poetic premise') is the most commonly used one in poetry and in speech in general. 

Function and Mode of Operation of the Different Types of Poetic Syllogism In the first step of the syllogistic operation outlined above, Ibn umlus reduced syllogisms of the F and A I types to a single structure.49 Hence, in terms of their function and mode of operation, there are essentially only two types of poetic syllogisms: F / A I and A II. 

Ibn Tumlus thinks that the difference in their respective functions consists in the following: F / A I aims to identify similar things with each other, while A II uncovers the element of similarity. 

According to Aouad.t" a poet or speaker puts forward one or the other type of syllogism in accordance with the knowledge and requirements of the listener. Aouad maintains that this interpretation contradicts that of Black, who claims that one of the syllogisms (A I) is poet-centred, the other (A II) audience-centred. After Aouad and I had adopted Black's interpretation, Aouad now wants to discard it entirely as a result of discovering Ibn Tumliiss account. 

I do not want to go that far, because poetic utterances in poetry and also in other forms of speech largely take the form ' [ This man is a moon' ( or 'moon' for a man, who is beautiful).51 This kind of statement, which contains an identification of two similar things, is structured in a way that leads the listener to infer the similarity between the two things in question (in logical parlance: to construct a syllogism of type A II, not A I). Hence, the listener takes the statement ( e.g c [ This man is a moon') as a premise and mentally follows the syllogistic pattern until he reaches the conclusion that the person in question is beautiful. 

On the other hand, it makes sense to assume with Black that the syllogism the poet/ speaker mentally constructs to arrive at the poetic statement takes the form of A I ( or F, which Black was not aware of), because the poet's intention here consists in identifying similar things, which he then expresses in a poem (' [ This man is a moon: {Wine is a liquid ruby'). 

Poetic Statement-Poetic Premise-Poetic Definition52 

Producing a poetic syllogism is a process that takes place in the mind of the poet/speaker (Fl A I) or listener (A II). This is why we almost never encounter 

49) Without knowing Ibn Turnlus's account I had already done this in a similar manner in "Der poetische Syllogismus;' p. 53. 

5o) Aouad, "Le syllogisme poetique selon Ibn Turnlus," pp. 269-270. 

51) Sometimes also ' [This] man is a moon, because he has a beautiful face' ( cf. Avicenna, Qjyds, p. 5 7, 1. 9-11). In this case, the minor premise is enthymematically appended as a causal clause. 

52) The following chapter includes important corrections of some arguments and research results put forward in Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogismus;' pp. 48-49 (para 2.), and Black, Logic, pp. 220-223. 

poetic syllogisms in poetry ( or elsewhere) in their full, explicit form. Averroes gives the following explanation in his]awdmie K al-Shier (Short Commentary on Aristotle's Poetics) (p. 205): 

wa-hadhihi l-sind'a wa-in kanat qiydsiyatan fa-laysat tasta'milu l-qiyds'l uia-la !aha nato' minhu takhtassu bihi bal matd sta'rnalat qawlan qiyasiyan bi-l-.fii Ja-1ild 

jihat al-ghalat wa-li-tashbihihd bi-sin.i:« ukhrd. 

Even though this discipline [ sc. the art of poetry is syllogistic, it does not employ the actual syllogism [al-qiyds al-.fiii] and it does not have a type [ of syllogism] that is specific to it;53 rather, when it employs an actual syllogism, it does so in a defective manner and to render it similar to another discipline.54 

Statements that in fact typically occur in poetry (but also in 'poetic' prose) take forms such as '[This man is a lion', 'Wine is a liquid ruby', 55 'The sword is fire' or, even more condensed, 'a lion' (for a brave man) or 'ruby' (for wine), that is, figurative statements (similes) or figurative expressions (metaphors).56 The label al-Farabi uses for this in both his treatises on the Poetics, most frequently in the Risdla, is qawl shi'ri (poetic statement) (pl. aqdwil shi'riya}. Avicenna prefers in his logical writings and his short accounts of the Poetics the term 'poetic premises' (muqaddi/amdt shi'riya]. In the section on the Poetics (entitled fi ma'dni K al-Shier) of his K al-Majmit e, he exclusively uses this term. The work begins with a definition of it that focuses on the result of the poetic premises in the listener's mind: 

53) This is a somewhat surprising statement: it puts Averroes in opposition to all other Arabic philosophers (including his disciple Ibn Tumlus) who unanimously regard the poetic syllogism as a syllogism in its own right. (Avicenna does so on account of the special character of its figurative premise.) It is actually not at all strange that he did not propose and discuss such a syllogism in his Talkhif ('Middle Commentary') on the Poetics because in his series of Middle Commentaries he executed a 'Ruckwendung' to Aristotle who, in fact, did not know a separate class of poetic syllogisms. But in his]awdmi' ('Short Commentaries') Averroes usually follows al-Farabi, and the question arises why he denies the existence of a class of syllogisms labelled 'poetic'. The reason may be that Averroes-who, in the wake of al- Farab], probably refers to the incorrect, inconclusive syllogism in the second figure with two affirmative premises (F)-wants to suggest that this type of inference is used not only in poetry, but also e.g. in sophistical and rhetorical speech (cf. below, pp. 18-20) and therefore cannot be treated as a separate class of syllogisms.-On the dependence of Averroes's Short Commentaries on the Organon (which he wrote early on during his career) on al-Farabi, cf. Schoeler, "Averroes' Ruckwendung," p. 295 and ff. 

54) Poetry can, for example, occasionally employ rhetorical syllogisms. Cf. Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogismus;' pp. 58-60. 

55) This example is quoted by al-Sharif al-jurjani, al-Ta'rifat, p. 67 (cf. n. 6) and al-Tahanawi, Kashshaf I, p. 7 46. 

56) Cf. the classification of and examples for 'types of imitation' in Avicenna, K al-Majmi/,fi ma'dni K al-Shi'r, pp. 16-17. 

al-muqaddi/amd: al-sbi'riya hiya l-muqaddi/nmd: allati min sha)niha idha qubil«: an tuqi'a li-l-nafii takhyilan la tasdiqan 

Poetic premises are those whose nature is that they, when they are accepted, evoke a mental image [takhyil] rather than assent [tafdiq] in the soul [of the listener]. 

In my previous article I made the claim that Avicenna's term 'poetic premise' invariably denotes the (figurative) major premise of A I ('A/Each beatiful person is a moon'), that is, a general proposition. 57 I arrived at this (erroneous) assumption because at the time I had only recognised type A I syllogisms ( in which only the major premise is figurative) as poetic syllogisms. Black rightly criticised and corrected this view. 58 What Avicenna actually means here ( and everywhere else he uses this term) is the (figurative) minor premise of A II ('[this] man is a moon'), which appears as the conclusion of A I. In fact each and every example of poetic premises Avicenna quotes is a particular proposition in the mould of the minor premise of A 1159 rather than a general proposition in the mould of the major premise of A II. After the discovery of type A II, which (unlike A I) contains a (minor) premise that consists of a figurative proposition, the qualification of this premise as 'poetic' has now become altogether plausible. 

We encounter in Ibn Tumlus's explanation another term that is important in 

this context: 'poetic definition'. Ibn Tumlus explains it as follows:60 

kama yujadu qiyas sbi'ri fa-kadhalika yujadu badd shi'ri wa-huwa lladhi yakienu bi-l-asmd' al-musta'dra wa-l-majaziya bi-l-jumla ka-qawlina: ura-md huwa ilia babr khirj,amm uia-md hiya ilia durra maknuna ... 

Just as there is a poetic syllogism, there is also a poetic definition. It is a [definition] that is formed by metaphorical or figurative expressions; briefly, as if one said: 'he is a vast ocean' or 'she is a hidden pearl'. 

As these examples show, Ibn Tumlus's 'poetic definitions' are what al-Farabi called 'poetic statement' and Avicenna labelled 'poetic premise'. 

What are we to make of his use of the term 'definition'? In the sphere of apodictic, certain knowledge, a definition can be rendered in two ways: either by specifying the higher-level category (genus) of the term to be defined ( the deftniendum) and the differences that set it apart (differentia); or by giving a 

57) Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogismus;' pp. 48-49 with n. 20 and 21. 

ss) Black, "The Imaginative Syllogism;' p. 2 5 9, esp. n. 41; eadem, Logic, pp. 22 7 -228, esp. n. 54. 59) E.g. Avicenna, Qjyas, p. 5, l. 7 ('honey is vomited bile'); Majmi:', p. 16, I. 1-4 ('a brave person is a lion', 'a beautiful person is a moon', 'a generous person is an ocean'); these and other examples are quoted in Black, "Imaginative Syllogism;' p. 259, n. 41. 

60) I am indebted to Dr Maroun Aouad for making this passage, which is not part of the edition, available to me. 

comprehensive list ofits essential attributes.61 The use of figurative expressions is explicitly prohibited on the grounds that they are too vague. 62 In stark contrast to this, 'poetic' definitions employ precisely metaphoric, figurative expressions. Also, the list of attributes does not have to be comprehensive: the associations elicited by the single or few figurative expressions that are used compensate in a way for any deficiency. 

Statements like 'Honey is vomited bile' can to some extent be understood as definitions: they may not present all, but at least some of the characteristics (in this case: its yellow colour and fluid consistency) of the definiendum (here: honey) with the help of a figurative expression (here: bile).63 

Ibn Tumluss explanation of 'poetic definitions' helps us to understand a hith- 

erto unexplained or misunderstood64 passage in al-Farabi's K al-Sbi'ri'? 

wa-yultamasu bi-l-qawl al-muJallaf mimmd yubaki l-shay' takhyil dhalika l-shay' waimmd takhyilahu fl nafsihi wa-immd takhyilahu fl shaf akhar; fa-yakunu l-qawl al-mubdki darbayn, 4,arb yukhayyilu l-shay' nafsahu ioa-darb yukhayyilu wujud alshaf fl shaf akhar kamd taeunu l-aqdwil al- 'ilmiya fa-inna ab adahumd yu 'arrifu I-shay' nafsahu mithl al-badd uia-l-thdni yu(arrifu wujud al-shay)fi akhar mithl 

With a statement composed of something that imitates the thing, one seeks to evoke a mental image of the thing, either in ( with respect to) itself or in ( with respect to) something else. Hence, there are two kinds of imitative (al-mubaki) statements: one kind that evokes a mental image of the thing itself, and another kind that evokes a mental image of the thing's presence in ( with respect to) something else, just as there are two kinds of scientifical [ i.e. apodictic] statements: one kind that explains the thing in itself, namely the definition, and another [kind] chat explains the presence of the thing in ( with respect to) something else, namely the demonstration. 

We have ample grounds to equate Ibn Tumlus's poetic definition (example: 'He is a vast ocean') with al-Farabi's 'evocation of a mental image of the thing itself' (example: 'The sword is fire'), which is the counterpart of the definition in the sphere of apodictic (certain) knowledge. 

Since, according to al-Farabi, the demonstration is the counterpart of the poetic syllogism in the sphere of apodictic knowledge, we arrive at the following correspondences: 

60 Cf e.g. Avicenna, Livre des Directives, pp. 103-106; A.-M. Goichon, art. "Hadd" in EP, III, pp. 21-22. 

62) Avicenna, Livre des Directives, p. 107. 

63) In the field of apodictic knowledge, definitions that omit essential characteristics of the de.finiendum are regarded as too wide and therefore flawed. 

64) Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogismus;· pp. 48-49; Black.Logic, pp. 221-223, esp. 223, n. 43. 65al-Farabi, Shirr, p. 93, 1. 7-9; cf. also Risa/a, p. 267, I. 14-1 S. 

Poetics. Apodictic knowledge Poetic syllogism. Demonstration 

(fully-formed example.) 

[This] man is beautiful. Socrates is human. 

A beautiful person is a sun.All humans are mortal. [This] man is a sun.Socrates is mortal. 

enthymematic form) minor premise appended as causal clauseemoticon_smile 

[This] man is a sun because he is beautiful. Socrates is mortal because he is human. 

In a poetic syllogism, the figurative element, in the last example 'sun', is evoked in the hearer's imagination in (with respect to) something else, that is, the man's 'beauty'; in an apodictic syllogism Socrates's mortality is presented by way of demonstration in ( with respect to) something else, that is, his humanity.66 

A Poetic Syllogism in Aristotle's Writings? Sophistical and Poetic Syllogism The Arabs' system oflogical poetics, especially their theory of figurative language, is rooted not in Aristotle's Poetics, but in statements and explanations of his late antique commentators. The same applies to most of its individual components. 

It has been well-known for a long time that the central term takhyil, 'evocation of images of things in the minds of the listeners' ( or the term it was derived from, khayal, 'phantasia, 'mental image'), originated within the debates oflate antique commentators about the 'logical' character of the Poetics.67 Until the publication of an important article by Dimitri Gutas, however, no evidence for the connection between takhyil or khayal) and 'poetry' had been found in extant Greek or Syriac texts. Gutas pointed out a passage that has so far been ignored in this context.68 It is part of a work by Paul the Persian ( 6th cent.) only preserved in 

66) Heinrichs says in his interpretation of this al-Farabi passage(?; he gives no reference): " ... the takhyil operation applies not only to propositions, arrived at as conclusions of syllogisms, but also to single concepts, arrived at as results of definitions" ("Takhyil. Make-Believe:' p. 8; idem, art. "Takhyil;' inEI2, X, p. 130b). While this is true, it is, however, not what al-Farabi says here: he only states that there is a counterpart of definition which belongs to the sphere of certain knowledge) in the sphere of the imaginary, or poetry; al-Farabi means the same thing Ibn Turnlus calls 'poetic definition' (cf. above, p. 14£). There is no mention of the counterpart of the term (or concept) the definition leads to this would be the metaphor). - In the Poetics section of his K al-Majmu ', Avicenna proposes a classification of 'imitation' into two kinds, 1. simile (tashbih) and 2. metaphor (isti'dra). We could consider the latter, especially one of its sub-categories ('gazelle' for the beloved), as 'a single concept, arrived at as the result of a definition'.-For more details, cf Scheeler, ''Averroes' Riickwendung," p. 299. 

67) Cf. Heinrichs, Arabische Dichtung, pp. 149-154. 

68) "Paul the Persian," p. 234,257, 265.-Cf. also Black, Logic, 44-45; Heinrichs, "Takhyil. MakeBelieve;' pp. 4-5. 

Arabic translation,69 which introduces a classification of various types of syllogism according to 1. truth value and 2. mode of operation (mental result). To characterise the poetic syllogism, Paul combines the truth value 'false in all respects' with the mode of operation 'evoking mental images' (mukhayyil). The latter could be the 'missing link: the hitherto unknown connection between the term takhyil and 'poetry' in late antique literature, providing that this combination goes indeed back to Paul and was not read ( and written) into the text by its Arabic translator.7°-We encounter both of these characterisations, the first according to its truth value (which judges them to be 'false in all respects') and the second according to its mode of operation ( which is described as 'evoking mental images'), again in al-Farabi.71 

One key concept of the takhyil theory, however, can be traced back to Aristotle himself, namely the idea that "men often follow their imaginations contrary to knowledge (episteme)").72 It was integrated into the Arabic takhyil theory in the form the commentator Themistius (d. 388) gave it: "people often prefer to follow imaginations rather than insights (polla gar kai anthropoi tais phantasiais akolouthousi mallon e tais epistemais )."73 

Its other key concept, mubakah ('imitation'), was indeed rooted in Aristotle's Poetics, which focuses on the central idea of mimesis (imitation == depiction of reality), but it took on an entirely different meaning in Arabic writings on the Poetics, namely 'figurative language', 'simile' or 'metaphor'. Scholars used to believe that this re-interpretation was the result of Abu Bishr Marta's mistranslation of mimesis ( or its Syriac equivalent meddammydnuthd) as tashbih wa-mubakdh ('comparison and imitation').74 More recent research suggests that it took place already in late antiquity.75 I have shown in my earlier article that Aristotle himself occasionally explained figurative language as based on 'imitation' (mimesis) ("for a metaphor in a way adds to our knowledge of what is 

69Its original was probably written in Syriac. It is extant in Arabic as part of Miskawayh's al-Sa rada ft falsafat al-akhlaq. 

7o) A concern rightly raised by Heinrichs, "Takhyil. Make-Believe," p. 5. 71), Risa/a, p. 267; K al-Sbi'r, p. 93, l. 16. 

72On the Soul III, ch. 10 (433a); translation in Hett,Aristotle VIII, p. 187, l. 14-16. 

73) Themistii in libros Aristotelis de Anima paraphrasis, p. 118. 1. 2 7 - 31; Heinrichs, Arabische Dichtung, p. 153 with n. 4 (with the Thernistius reference).-The relevant passage is missing from the surviving part of the Arabic translation of 'Ihernistius' work.-For this aspect of the Arabic takhyil theory cf, e.g., al-Farabi. lbfd', p. 67 f lfa-inna l-insdn kathiran md yutba'u afaluhu takhayyuldtihi akthara mimmd tatba'u zannahu aw 'ilmahu); Avicenna, K al-Sbi'r, p. 24, 1. 11 (al-nds atwa' liltakhyil minhum lil-ta~diq) and ff. 

74Heinrichs, Arabische Dichtung, pp. 121-123; idem, "Die antike Verkniiptung," p. 256. 

75) Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogismus;· p. 84, 87; Heinrichs, "Takhyil. Make-Believe," pp. 5-6 withn.17; idem, "Takhyil;' inE/2,X,p. 130. 

indicated on account of the similarity;" "an image is something whose coming into being is due to imitation [mimesis]").76 This suggests that his late antique followers went along with him and perhaps even limited the use of this term to this particular meaning.77 

What, then, can be said about the term and theory of the poetic syllogism? In my earlier article I wrote: "Their concrete point of origin can apparently not be found in Aristotle's writings."78 This statement is still correct with regards to the term 'poetic syllogism'; but in what follows I will adduce an Aristotelian passage that describes the formal structure of a syllogism that is identical to that of the syllogism that came to be called 'poetic'.79 

We find the bile/honey example, which was to become popular with Arabic philosophers, already in rudimentary form in Aristotle's On the Soul.80 There he says that the perception that bile is yellow can occasionally lead us to believe that something else that is yellow is also bile. Even closer to the honey/bile example used by the Arabic philosophers is a topos Aristotle cites and explains in the Sophistical Refutations ( and also the Rhetoric) :81 the 'topos of the consequence' (or the 'law of the consequence: mauuli' al-la&iq). The passage in question is as follows: 

The refutation connected with the consequent is due to the idea that consequence is convertible. For whenever, if is, necessarily is, men also fancy that, if is, necessarily is. It is from this source that deceptions connected with opinion based on sense-perception arise. For men often take gall for honey because a yellow colour accompanies honey. 

Even though he does not explicitly say so, Aristotle here describes an incorrect, inconclusive inference in the second figure with two affirmative premises: 

76Aristotle, Topics VI, ch. 2 ( 40a8- 0, 15-16), translation in Tredennick and Forster, Aristotle II, p. 567, 1. 4-6, 14-15.-Cf. Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogisrnus," p. 84, 87. 

77) Cf. Heinrichs, "Takhyil ;' in E/2, X, p. 13 0 b. 

78) I further wrote: "We have to credit the commentators at least with staying within the boundaries of Aristotelian thinking: the development of the term and theory of the poetic syllogism was to some degree a consequence of Aristotle's logical approach" ("Der poetische Syllogisrnus," pp. 84-85). 

79I had already mentioned this Aristotelian passage earlier (ibid., p. 45, n. 6), but not yet recognised its importance. 

so) Aristotle, On the Soul III, ch. 1 ( 425b 1-4).-See Themistius' long discussion of this example in his Commentary on Aristoteles' De anima, Arabic transl., p. 140 ff-Cf. also Black, Logic, p. 237 with n. 75. 

81) Aristotle, Sophistical Refutations, ch. 5 (167b5-6), English translation in Forster and Furley, Aristotle III, p. 31, 1. 6-12; Arabic translations in Mantiq Aris tu III, p. 778 f., 780, 782 ( see n. 41); Aristotclcs, Rhetoric II, ch. 24 ( 1401 b) Aristiitalis, al-Khasab«, pp. 173-174.-Aristotle omits the bile/honey example in the Rhetoric. 

Bile is yellow. 

Honey is yellow. Therefore bile is honey. 

Aristotle explains that the fallacy inherent in such inferences consists of people's idea that the proposition of the major premise can be reversed. 

Al-Farabi reiterates Aristotle's example in his Book of Sophistical Topoi (K al-Amkina al-mughlita) while discussing this topos. He explains the mechanism by which the fallacy in question arises very dearly and plausibly in his comments:82 

Yellowness inheres in the honey. Since it is therefore yellow, it makes us think that the/ everything yellow is honey, and yellowness becomes an (external) sign [ (alama] for it. When we then see another yellow thing, and we earlier noted that the yellow [ thing] is honey, we will necessarily think that this [other] thing is honey. Likewise, when we have seen that Zayd wears a black turban, it makes us think the reverse of what was said, and we mentally necessarily conclude that everyone who wears a black turban is Zayd. Hence, when someone who comes around wears a black turban, we necessarily think that it is Zayd. The fallacy in this and similar [cases] is that the fact that Zayd wears a black turban makes us think that everyone who wears a black turban is Zayd. 

Somewhat later al-FarabI writes that this is an incorrect inference in the second figure with two affirmative premises. Avicenna83 and Averroes84 also discuss this topos (including the honey/bile example) in their commentaries on the Sophistical Refutations and, albeit with different examples, in their writings on the Rhetoric. Both assign this topos and the syllogism it is based on to the field of sophistics; but it can undoubtedly also be employed elsewhere, especially in rhetoric. 

Avicenna and Ibn Turnlus also illustrate poetic syllogisms with an inference that concludes 'honey is bile'; as we have seen, this actually happens to be Avicenna's favourite example for it. 85 does not use this example in his writings on the Poetics, but the structure of the poetic syllogism he presents (F) is that of an incorrect inference in the second figure with two affirmative premisesthe same structure he treats as a sophistical topos or sophistical syllogism in the 

82Al-Farabi, K al-Amkina al-mughlipa, pp. 142-143. 

83) Avicenna, al-Safsata, p. 24; idem, al-Khatdb«, p. 189. In the latter, Avicenna explicitly points out that this topos is 'in reality' an incorrect inference in the second figure with two affirmative premises. 

84Averroes, Talkhif K Su.fisfiqi, see idem, Talkhif Mantiq Aristu II, pp. 681-682; idem, Commentaire Moyen la Rhetorique II, p. 255 (par. 2.24.8). 

85) Seen. 31. 

context of the Sophistical Refutations.86 Are sophistical and poetic syllogism therefore identical or is there a difference between them after all? 

In two of his works, the Risala87 and the short treatise Qawl fl l-tandsub, 88 al-Farabi determined the difference between sophistical and poetic syllogism in detail, established it systematically and illustrated it with examples. According to al- Farabi the sophistical syllogism suggests to the listener that the opposite ( or contrary, or contradictory; naqit;I,) of something that exists exists; its purpose is deception. The poetic syllogism on the other hand evokes not the opposite of reality, but something that resembles it (shabih); its purpose is to evoke a mental image in and elicit a corresponding response from the listener. 

Formally both these syllogisms are identical-incorrect inferences in the second figure with two affirmative premises can be used both in sophistical and poetic reasoning. 89 The decisive characteristics that distinguish the two are the purpose of the speaker (does he intend to deceive the listener or to evoke a mental image that leads to a specific act or reaction?) and the relationship of the things that the conclusion equates ( do they contradict or resemble each other?). A syllogism can be classified as sophistical or poetic in accordance with these characteristics. 

The second criterion occasionally admits of both interpretations, as is the case with the bile/honey example: it is possible to regard the equated items as either opposing ( on the basis of their properties) or similar ( on the basis of their visual appearance). At the same time it is possible for their equation to aim to deceive a listener, but also to evoke a mental image in him and elicit a reaction. The former would be a case of a sophistical syllogism, the latter a poetic one. 

Even so, it is normally the case that poetic and sophistical syllogisms can be clearly distinguished. Equating a beautiful man or woman with the sun or a sword with fire is hardly suitable for deceptive, that is, sophistical purposes, but will invariably be used to evoke mental image, that is, fulfil poetic purposes. Most unambiguously 'poetic' are those syllogisms in which the subject term (S) relates to the predicate term (P) like Urbild archetype, model) to Abbild copy, image)90 as they do in the examples cited above. 

86) It should be noted that, according to the writings of Arabic philosophers on the Poetics ( including those by al-Farabi, Avicenna and Ibn Tumlus), this syllogism aims to appeal to and influence the listener (mukhataba). This is, however, not the case in writings on the Sophistical Refutations (and in the Aristotelian passage they are based on), where the bile/honey example relates to human misperceptions in general. 

87) On pp. 267-268. 

88) On pp. 505-506. 

89) But also in rhetorical reasoning, namely when the speaker aims to persuade the listener; cf the example inn. 28. 

90) Cf Schoeler, "Der poetische Syllogismus;' p. 47 with n. 16. 

The passage from Aristotle's Sophistical Refutations discussed above provided us with an additional, hitherto overlooked element that needs to be taken into account for the 'logical' poetics of the Arabs: an inconclusive sophistical syllogism that can ( and was by Arabic philosophers) also be regarded as 'poetic'. It cannot be entirely excluded that in their debates about the inclusion of the Poetics in the Organon late antique commentators already chanced upon this passage in the Sophistical Refutations and identified the type of inference discussed thereor one with a corresponding structure-with the 'false' syllogism that they had postulated for the Poetics, which was still missing in their system. It is also possible that this idea occurred to one of al-Farabi's Arabic predecessors, al-Kindi ( d. after 865) for example, who is credited with a treatise (Risdla) on "the art of poetry."91 

On the basis of the extant texts, however, it seems more likely that this was one of the many achievements of al-Farabi, He apparently connected in the field of philosophical poetics various ideas derived from Aristotle and his commentators with his own and elaborated them into a new, coherent and integrated theory of the nature and purpose of figurative language. 

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