On Sophistical Refutations
man got the cart down from the stand'; and 'Where are you bound?'
'To the yard arm'; and 'Which cow will calve afore?' 'Neither, but
both behind;' and 'Is the North wind clear?' 'No, indeed; for it has
murdered the beggar and the merchant." Is he a Good enough-King?' 'No,
indeed; a Rob-son': and so with the great majority of the rest as
well), while others appear to elude the most expert (and it is a
symptom of this that they often fight about their terms, e.g.
whether the meaning of 'Being' and 'One' is the same in all their
applications or different; for some think that 'Being' and 'One'
mean the same; while others solve the argument of Zeno and
Parmenides by asserting that 'One' and 'Being' are used in a number of
senses), likewise also as regards fallacies of Accident and each of
the other types, some of the arguments will be easier to see while
others are more difficult; also to grasp to which class a fallacy
belongs, and whether it is a refutation or not a refutation, is not
equally easy in all cases.
An incisive argument is one which produces the greatest
perplexity: for this is the one with the sharpest fang. Now perplexity
is twofold, one which occurs in reasoned arguments, respecting which
of the propositions asked one is to demolish, and the other in
contentious arguments, respecting the manner in which one is to assent
to what is propounded. Therefore it is in syllogistic arguments that
the more incisive ones produce the keenest heart-searching. Now a
syllogistic argument is most incisive if from premisses that are as
generally accepted as possible it demolishes a conclusion that is
accepted as generally as possible. For the one argument, if the
contradictory is changed about, makes all the resulting syllogisms
alike in character: for always from premisses that are generally
accepted it will prove a conclusion, negative or positive as the
case may be, that is just as generally accepted; and therefore one
is bound to feel perplexed. An argument, then, of this kind is the
most incisive, viz. the one that puts its conclusion on all fours with