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On Sophistical Refutations   


first place, then, this is best brought about by a certain manner of

questioning and through the question. For to put the question

without framing it with reference to any definite subject is a good

bait for these purposes: for people are more inclined to make mistakes

when they talk at large, and they talk at large when they have no

definite subject before them. Also the putting of several questions,

even though the position against which one is arguing be quite

definite, and the claim that he shall say only what he thinks,

create abundant opportunity for drawing him into paradox or fallacy,

and also, whether to any of these questions he replies 'Yes' or

replies 'No', of leading him on to statements against which one is

well off for a line of attack. Nowadays, however, men are less able to

play foul by these means than they were formerly: for people rejoin

with the question, 'What has that to do with the original subject?' It

is, too, an elementary rule for eliciting some fallacy or paradox that

one should never put a controversial question straight away, but say

that one puts it from the wish for information: for the process of

inquiry thus invited gives room for an attack.

A rule specially appropriate for showing up a fallacy is the

sophistic rule, that one should draw the answerer on to the kind of

statements against which one is well supplied with arguments: this can

be done both properly and improperly, as was said before.' Again, to

draw a paradoxical statement, look and see to what school of

philosophers the person arguing with you belongs, and then question

him as to some point wherein their doctrine is paradoxical to most

people: for with every school there is some point of that kind. It

is an elementary rule in these matters to have a collection of the

special 'theses' of the various schools among your propositions. The

solution recommended as appropriate here, too, is to point out that

the paradox does not come about because of the argument: whereas

this is what his opponent always really wants.

Moreover, argue from men's wishes and their professed opinions.

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