On Sophistical Refutations
possible by this phrase to mean that knowledge belongs to both the
knower and the known. Also, 'There must be sight of what one sees: one
sees the pillar: ergo the pillar has sight'. Also, 'What you profess
to-be, that you profess to-be: you profess a stone to-be: ergo you
profess-to-be a stone'. Also, 'Speaking of the silent is possible':
for 'speaking of the silent' also has a double meaning: it may mean
that the speaker is silent or that the things of which he speaks are
so. There are three varieties of these ambiguities and amphibolies:
(1) When either the expression or the name has strictly more than
one meaning, e.g. aetos and the 'dog'; (2) when by custom we use
them so; (3) when words that have a simple sense taken alone have more
than one meaning in combination; e.g. 'knowing letters'. For each
word, both 'knowing' and 'letters', possibly has a single meaning: but
both together have more than one-either that the letters themselves
have knowledge or that someone else has it of them.
Amphiboly and ambiguity, then, depend on these modes of speech. Upon
the combination of words there depend instances such as the following:
'A man can walk while sitting, and can write while not writing'. For
the meaning is not the same if one divides the words and if one
combines them in saying that 'it is possible to walk-while-sitting'
and write while not writing]. The same applies to the latter phrase,
too, if one combines the words 'to write-while-not-writing': for
then it means that he has the power to write and not to write at once;
whereas if one does not combine them, it means that when he is not
writing he has the power to write. Also, 'He now if he has learnt
his letters'. Moreover, there is the saying that 'One single thing
if you can carry a crowd you can carry too'.
Upon division depend the propositions that 5 is 2 and 3, and odd,
and that the greater is equal: for it is that amount and more besides.
For the same phrase would not be thought always to have the same
meaning when divided and when combined, e.g. 'I made thee a slave once
a free man', and 'God-like Achilles left fifty a hundred men'.