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On Sophistical Refutations   


matter of that, the false refutations likewise belong to the number of

the infinite: for according to every art there is false proof, e.g.

according to geometry there is false geometrical proof, and

according to medicine there is false medical proof. By 'according to

the art', I mean 'according to the principles of it'. Clearly, then,

it is not of all refutations, but only of those that depend upon

dialectic that we need to grasp the common-place rules: for these

stand in a common relation to every art and faculty. And as regards

the refutation that is according to one or other of the particular

sciences it is the task of that particular scientist to examine

whether it is merely apparent without being real, and, if it be

real, what is the reason for it: whereas it is the business of

dialecticians so to examine the refutation that proceeds from the

common first principles that fall under no particular special study.

For if we grasp the startingpoints of the accepted proofs on any

subject whatever we grasp those of the refutations current on that

subject. For a refutation is the proof of the contradictory of a given

thesis, so that either one or two proofs of the contradictory

constitute a refutation. We grasp, then, the number of

considerations on which all such depend: if, however, we grasp this,

we also grasp their solutions as well; for the objections to these are

the solutions of them. We also grasp the number of considerations on

which those refutations depend, that are merely apparent-apparent, I

mean, not to everybody, but to people of a certain stamp; for it is an

indefinite task if one is to inquire how many are the considerations

that make them apparent to the man in the street. Accordingly it is

clear that the dialectician's business is to be able to grasp on how

many considerations depends the formation, through the common first

principles, of a refutation that is either real or apparent, i.e.

either dialectical or apparently dialectical, or suitable for an

examination.


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