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On Sophistical Refutations   



the propositions asked; and second comes the one that argues from

premisses, all of which are equally convincing: for this will

produce an equal perplexity as to what kind of premiss, of those

asked, one should demolish. Herein is a difficulty: for one must

demolish something, but what one must demolish is uncertain. Of

contentious arguments, on the other hand, the most incisive is the one

which, in the first place, is characterized by an initial

uncertainty whether it has been properly reasoned or not; and also

whether the solution depends on a false premiss or on the drawing of a

distinction; while, of the rest, the second place is held by that

whose solution clearly depends upon a distinction or a demolition, and

yet it does not reveal clearly which it is of the premisses asked,

whose demolition, or the drawing of a distinction within it, will

bring the solution about, but even leaves it vague whether it is on

the conclusion or on one of the premisses that the deception depends.

Now sometimes an argument which has not been properly reasoned is

silly, supposing the assumptions required to be extremely contrary

to the general view or false; but sometimes it ought not to be held in

contempt. For whenever some question is left out, of the kind that

concerns both the subject and the nerve of the argument, the reasoning

that has both failed to secure this as well, and also failed to reason

properly, is silly; but when what is omitted is some extraneous

question, then it is by no means to be lightly despised, but the

argument is quite respectable, though the questioner has not put his

questions well.

Just as it is possible to bring a solution sometimes against the

argument, at others against the questioner and his mode of

questioning, and at others against neither of these, likewise also

it is possible to marshal one's questions and reasoning both against

the thesis, and against the answerer and against the time, whenever

the solution requires a longer time to examine than the period

available.

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