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On Sophistical Refutations   

too, it deals with everything: for every 'theory' of anything

employs also certain common principles. Hence everybody, including

even amateurs, makes use in a way of dialectic and the practice of

examining: for all undertake to some extent a rough trial of those who

profess to know things. What serves them here is the general

principles: for they know these of themselves just as well as the

scientist, even if in what they say they seem to the latter to go

wildly astray from them. All, then, are engaged in refutation; for

they take a hand as amateurs in the same task with which dialectic

is concerned professionally; and he is a dialectician who examines

by the help of a theory of reasoning. Now there are many identical

principles which are true of everything, though they are not such as

to constitute a particular nature, i.e. a particular kind of being,

but are like negative terms, while other principles are not of this

kind but are special to particular subjects; accordingly it is

possible from these general principles to hold an examination on

everything, and that there should be a definite art of so doing,

and, moreover, an art which is not of the same kind as those which

demonstrate. This is why the contentious reasoner does not stand in

the same condition in all respects as the drawer of a false diagram:

for the contentious reasoner will not be given to misreasoning from

any definite class of principles, but will deal with every class.

These, then, are the types of sophistical refutations: and that it

belongs to the dialectician to study these, and to be able to effect

them, is not difficult to see: for the investigation of premisses

comprises the whole of this study.


So much, then, for apparent refutations. As for showing that the

answerer is committing some fallacy, and drawing his argument into

paradox-for this was the second item of the sophist's programme-in the

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