Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Aristotle
Pages of On Sophistical Refutations

Previous | Next

On Sophistical Refutations   

contradiction there was no refutation. Whenever, on the other hand,

the many senses lie in the questions, there is no necessity to begin

by denying the double-edged premiss: for this was not the goal of

the argument but only its support. At the start, then, one should

reply with regard to an ambiguity, whether of a term or of a phrase,

in this manner, that 'in one sense it is so, and in another not so',

as e.g. that 'speaking of the silent' is in one sense possible but

in another not possible: also that in one sense 'one should do what

must needs be done', but not in another: for 'what must needs be'

bears a number of senses. If, however, the ambiguity escapes one,

one should correct it at the end by making an addition to the

question: 'Is speaking of the silent possible?' 'No, but to speak of

while he is silent is possible.' Also, in cases which contain the

ambiguity in their premisses, one should reply in like manner: 'Do

people-then not understand what they know? "Yes, but not those who

know it in the manner described': for it is not the same thing to

say that 'those who know cannot understand what they know', and to say

that 'those who know something in this particular manner cannot do

so'. In general, too, even though he draws his conclusion in a quite

unambiguous manner, one should contend that what he has negated is not

the fact which one has asserted but only its name; and that

therefore there is no refutation.


It is evident also how one should solve those refutations that

depend upon the division and combination of words: for if the

expression means something different when divided and when combined,

as soon as one's opponent draws his conclusion one should take the

expression in the contrary way. All such expressions as the

following depend upon the combination or division of the words: 'Was X

being beaten with that with which you saw him being beaten?' and

Previous | Next
Site Search