ANTEPREDICAMENTS (Latin, ante—before; praedicamenta—categories)—the most general modes of predication distinguished by the first and necessary logical operation that precedes more particular analysies concerning categories of beings; rules and instructions for ordering modes of predication.
Aristotle presented the question of antepredicaments at the beginning of the Categories before he discussed the proper theme of the treatise—the division of beings into categories, which is connected with the logical precedence of antepredicaments in relation to the categories.
Traditionally logicians have distinguished the following groups of antepredicaments connected with different criteria for ordering modes of predication.
In the first group of antepredicaments, the modes of predication are ordered with respect to the degree of univocity. Here we have univocal, equivocal, and analogical predication. Expressions that predicate univocally have one definite meaning, e.g., the expression “table”. Equivocal expressions have more than one meaning, but each of these meanings is clearly defined, e.g., the word “lock” which can mean a device for securing a door, a part of a canal, or a group of hairs. Analogical predication can take several forms, in particular the analogy of proportionality, and metaphorical analogy.
The second group of antepredicaments is connected with composition in predication. Thus we have composite predication (e.g., “the man runs”, and incomposite or simple (e.g., “man” “[he] runs”, “[he] wins”). Composite predication takes place in the case of propositions or sentences, and incomposite predication takes place in the case of single expressions. As composite predication we may also mention compositions in expressions other than sentences, e.g., composite names such as “winged bird”.
In the third group of antepredicaments we consider the genus of that of which we predicate. We distinguish four cases: (a) individuals in the category of substance, e.g., a particular man (in Aristotle’s terminology they are neither in an object nor are they predicated of an object); (b) individual accidents (e.g., someone’s definite grammatical knowledge—it is in an object and is not predicated of an object); (c) species and genera in the category of substance (e.g., “man”—it is predicated of an object but is not found in an object); (d) species and genera in the category of accident (e.g., knowledge—it is predicated of something and it is found in an object). If we use the terminology more common today we can formulate this distinction as an intersection of divisions into individual and general names and predication of objects and properties.
Antepredicaments are also understood as operations that lead to the distinction of antepredicaments in the sense described above, or all operations that precede the division of beings into categories—rules and instructions for ordering modes of predication (preambula et praerequisita ad praedicamenta ordinanda). In particular we may mention here a rule that comes from Aristotle, that everything that is predicated of a species or genus in general may also truthfully be referred to a concrete individual object of a given genus or species (when something is predicated of a subject, everything that refers to the predicate that belongs to the subject will also refer to the subject).
Questions concerning the ordering of modes of predication also appear outside of classical philosophy in contemporary semiotics; semiotics, however, rarely refers to what Aristotle and his continuators had to say on these questions.
The above understanding of antepredicaments is fundamental and became a permanent part of scholastic philosophy because of Albert the Great, and it still functions today. Two other meanings mentioned below occur only occasionally.
In the second meaning, the term antepredicaments refers to Porphyry’s work Isagoge which was mentioned in medieval textbooks of the logica vetus as an introduction to Aristotle’s categories. It also designates the so-called praedicabilia (genus, species, specific difference, property, accident), namely those general predicates which are the theme of the Isagoge and are fundamental logical concepts necessary for understanding the categories.
The term antepredicaments is sporadically used in a third sense, to describe extra-categorical transcendental concepts that appear in Thomism: “being”, “thing”, “something”, “one”, “truth” and “good”. The term as used in this sense is connected with the didactic and systematic premises of the categories.
Aristotle, Categories; R. I. Aaron, The Theory of Universals, Ox 1952, 1967²; J. Gredt, Elementa philosophiae Aristotelico-Thomisticae, Fri 1909, Ba 1961³, I 129–135; W. and M. Kneale, The Development of Logic, Ox 1962.
Bożena Czarnecka, Piotr Kulicki