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On Sophistical Refutations   


There are two styles of refutation: for some depend on the

language used, while some are independent of language. Those ways of

producing the false appearance of an argument which depend on language

are six in number: they are ambiguity, amphiboly, combination,

division of words, accent, form of expression. Of this we may assure

ourselves both by induction, and by syllogistic proof based on

this-and it may be on other assumptions as well-that this is the

number of ways in which we might fall to mean the same thing by the

same names or expressions. Arguments such as the following depend upon

ambiguity. 'Those learn who know: for it is those who know their

letters who learn the letters dictated to them'. For to 'learn' is

ambiguous; it signifies both 'to understand' by the use of

knowledge, and also 'to acquire knowledge'. Again, 'Evils are good:

for what needs to be is good, and evils must needs be'. For 'what

needs to be' has a double meaning: it means what is inevitable, as

often is the case with evils, too (for evil of some kind is

inevitable), while on the other hand we say of good things as well

that they 'need to be'. Moreover, 'The same man is both seated and

standing and he is both sick and in health: for it is he who stood

up who is standing, and he who is recovering who is in health: but

it is the seated man who stood up, and the sick man who was

recovering'. For 'The sick man does so and so', or 'has so and so done

to him' is not single in meaning: sometimes it means 'the man who is

sick or is seated now', sometimes 'the man who was sick formerly'.

Of course, the man who was recovering was the sick man, who really was

sick at the time: but the man who is in health is not sick at the same

time: he is 'the sick man' in the sense not that he is sick now, but

that he was sick formerly. Examples such as the following depend

upon amphiboly: 'I wish that you the enemy may capture'. Also the

thesis, 'There must be knowledge of what one knows': for it is

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