Abstract

Contemporary interpretations of Aristotle’s modal syllogisms frequently employs tools of modern modal logic. But do these devices really represent what Aristotle meant by “necessarily” and “contingently (possibly)”? A significant source of confusion is Boethius’s translation of the Prior Analytics into Latin about 500 A.D. In the translation, Boethius gives a fatally misleading interpretation, which has formed the understanding of Aristotle’s modal syllogisms ever since. I try to make clear what Aristotle’s modal syllogisms are about. It is a logic of predication – and nothing else – which can only be understood against the background of Aristotle’s essentialist metaphysics, and the epistemology based thereupon.