Basel: Johann Amerbach, not after, 1495.
Chancery folio: 28 x 20 cm. 290 leaves. Collation: A-b6, cde8, f6, g8, h10; i-k6, l8, m10; n-s6.8, t6, v10; A-D8.6, E-F6; G-S8.6, T6, V8; a8, b10. Complete.
Bound in contemporary Augsburg morocco over wooden boards, lacking clasps, the boards stamped in blind (Kyriss 078, EBDB w000959, Sechsblatt-Blüte). Small losses to the leather at extremities and head and foot of spine, small chip to corner of upper board. A fine, crisp copy with occ. light damp stains in the gutter and entering the text. Two small wormholes in the outer margin of the closing signatures. Contemporary annotations to a few leaves. Woodcut diagrams.
Provenance: marginalia, including a contemporary indicating the reader's low estimation of Aristotle. The note recalls Jerome’s comment in Against the Pelagians (“I don’t care what Aristotle teaches, but what the apostle teaches.”) and Seneca the Elder’s question to Lucilius (Ep. XLIX), “Why do you torment yourself and lose weight by reading the lyric poets? Cicero said that he wouldn’t have time to read the lyric poets even if he had his lifespan doubled.” While these two passages might seem unrelated, Seneca made the point in the same letter that the dialecticians were even more frivolous than the lyric poets, and merited even less time. Early ownership inscription on title verso, "Joachimus Piscatorius" (Joachim Fischer?)
A compilation of Aristotle’s logical works, collectively known as the “Organon”(Instrument), together with the Neoplatonist Porphyry’s “Isagogue” (Introduction) to Aristotelian logic. The collection also includes additional texts by Gilbert de la Porrée (1073-1154) and Johann Heynlin (Johannes de Lapide) (c. 1425 – 12 March 1496). This is an extremely rare edition in North America, with three copies in North American institutions (Johns Hopkins, Huntington Library, Univ. of Michigan.) The Latin translations of the Aristotelian texts and Porphyry’s “Isagoge” are the work of Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (ca. 475–7 C.E. - 526? C.E.), one of the most important intermediaries between ancient philosophy and the Latin Middle Ages, and Jacobus Veneticus (d. 1147), the most important Aristotelian commentator since Boethius.
With general title “Explanatio librorum artis logicae Porphyrii et Aristotelis”. Contents: Porphyry, “Isagoge in Aristotelis praedicamenta” (Translated by Boethius). Gilbertus Porretanus, “Liber sex principiorum”. Aristotle, “Praedicamenta”; “De interpretatione”; “Analytica priora” (Translated by Boethius); “Analytica posteriora” (Translated by Jacobus Veneticus); “Topica”; “Elenchi sophistici” (Translated by Boethius). Johannes de Lapide, “De propositionibus exponibilibus”; “De arte solvendi sophisticas argumentations”. Goff enters under Porphyrius and BSB-Ink under Johannes de Lapide.
Aristotle’s is the earliest known formal study of logic. A crucial part of the first comprehensive system of Western philosophy, Aristotle’s logical works laid out a structure for human reasoning that could be applied to all manner of intellectual inquiry, from ethical and moral concerns to the examination of the physical world. From antiquity to the Renaissance and into the early modern period, Aristotle’s logic served as the basis of Western thought.
The Latin translations of these works first appeared in print in the 1470s and were the standard versions read and consulted by a European readership that was still largely ignorant of Greek. It was only at the end of 1495 (the year in which this edition of the Latin collection was printed) that the Greek texts of the Organon appeared in print (Venice: Aldus, Nov. 1495).
“The ancient commentators grouped together several of Aristotle’s treatises under the title Organon (“Instrument”) and regarded them as comprising his logical works: 1. Categories, 2. On Interpretation, 3. Prior Analytics, 4. Posterior Analytics, 5. Topics, 6. On Sophistical Refutations.
“In fact, the title Organon reflects a much later controversy about whether logic is a part of philosophy (as the Stoics maintained) or merely a tool used by philosophy (as the later Peripatetics thought); calling the logical works “The Instrument” is a way of taking sides on this point. Aristotle himself never uses this term, nor does he give much indication that these particular treatises form some kind of group, though there are frequent cross-references between the Topics and the Analytics. On the other hand, Aristotle treats the Prior and Posterior Analytics as one work, and On Sophistical Refutations is a final section, or an appendix, to the Topics. To these works should be added the Rhetoric, which explicitly declares its reliance on the Topics.
“Porphyry (234?–305? C.E.) was a Neoplatonist philosopher born in Tyre in Phoenicia. He studied with Longinus in Athens and then with Plotinus in Rome from 263–269 C.E. and became a follower of the latter’s version of Platonism. Porphyry wrote in just about every branch of learning practiced at the time but only a portion of his large output is extant. Porphyry was an influential thinker. He applied Neoplatonism to pagan religion and other spheres and is, as such, a key figure in the promulgation of Neoplatonic thought. His writings on Aristotle’s logical works, preserved in part and influential in the Latin West through Boethius’ translations, contain attempts to harmonize Aristotle’s logical writings with Platonism. Such reconciliatory attitude towards Aristotle characterizes much of his philosophy.
“Porphyry was the first Platonist to write proper commentaries on Aristotle’s logical works and indeed on Aristotle generally, and from what can be gathered from what is extant he does so without assuming a strong Platonist point of view. There is an extant commentary of his on Aristotle’s Categories and another longer one in seven books, Ad Gedalium… He also wrote commentaries on other parts of Aristotle´s Organon. His Isagoge is an introduction to Aristotle’s logical works in general. Through these logical writings Porphyry established himself as an important figure in the history of logic. He is the instigator of the tradition followed by subsequent Neoplatonists of taking Aristotle’s Categories as a basic introductory text and his Isagoge in particular served as a standard introductory text in Byzantium, the Arabic world and in the Latin West through Boethius’ translations and commentary. These texts served as a basic introductory texts in philosophy for at least 1000 years.”(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
ISTC ia01014100; HC 13300 = H 9919*; BMC III 756; BSB-Ink I-468; Goff P-942