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On Sophistical Refutations   


'Did you see him being beaten with that with which he was being

beaten?' This fallacy has also in it an element of amphiboly in the

questions, but it really depends upon combination. For the meaning

that depends upon the division of the words is not really a double

meaning (for the expression when divided is not the same), unless also

the word that is pronounced, according to its breathing, as eros and

eros is a case of double meaning. (In writing, indeed, a word is the

same whenever it is written of the same letters and in the same

manner- and even there people nowadays put marks at the side to

show the pronunciation- but the spoken words are not the same.)

Accordingly an expression that depends upon division is not an

ambiguous one. It is evident also that not all refutations depend upon

ambiguity as some people say they do.

The answerer, then, must divide the expression: for

'I-saw-a-man-being-beaten with my eyes' is not the same as to say 'I

saw a man being-beaten-with-my-eyes'. Also there is the argument of

Euthydemus proving 'Then you know now in Sicily that there are

triremes in Piraeus': and again, 'Can a good man who is a cobbler be

bad?' 'No.' 'But a good man may be a bad cobbler: therefore a good

cobbler will be bad.' Again, 'Things the knowledge of which is good,

are good things to learn, aren't they?' 'Yes.' 'The knowledge,

however, of evil is good: therefore evil is a good thing to know.'

'Yes. But, you see, evil is both evil and a thing-to-learn, so that

evil is an evil-thing-to-learn, although the knowledge of evils is

good.' Again, 'Is it true to say in the present moment that you are

born?' 'Yes.' 'Then you are born in the present moment.' 'No; the

expression as divided has a different meaning: for it is true to

say-in-the-present-moment that "you are born", but not "You are

born-in-the-present-moment".' Again, 'Could you do what you can, and

as you can?' 'Yes.' 'But when not harping, you have the power to harp:

and therefore you could harp when not harping.' 'No: he has not the

power to harp-while-not-harping; merely, when he is not doing it, he

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