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On Sophistical Refutations   


For people do not wish the same things as they say they wish: they say

what will look best, whereas they wish what appears to be to their

interest: e.g. they say that a man ought to die nobly rather than to

live in pleasure, and to live in honest poverty rather than in

dishonourable riches; but they wish the opposite. Accordingly, a man

who speaks according to his wishes must be led into stating the

professed opinions of people, while he who speaks according to these

must be led into admitting those that people keep hidden away: for

in either case they are bound to introduce a paradox; for they will

speak contrary either to men's professed or to their hidden opinions.

The widest range of common-place argument for leading men into

paradoxical statement is that which depends on the standards of Nature

and of the Law: it is so that both Callicles is drawn as arguing in

the Gorgias, and that all the men of old supposed the result to come

about: for nature (they said) and law are opposites, and justice is

a fine thing by a legal standard, but not by that of nature.

Accordingly, they said, the man whose statement agrees with the

standard of nature you should meet by the standard of the law, but the

man who agrees with the law by leading him to the facts of nature: for

in both ways paradoxical statements may be committed. In their view

the standard of nature was the truth, while that of the law was the

opinion held by the majority. So that it is clear that they, too, used

to try either to refute the answerer or to make him make paradoxical

statements, just as the men of to-day do as well.

Some questions are such that in both forms the answer is

paradoxical; e.g. 'Ought one to obey the wise or one's father?' and

'Ought one to do what is expedient or what is just?' and 'Is it

preferable to suffer injustice or to do an injury?' You should lead

people, then, into views opposite to the majority and to the

philosophers; if any one speaks as do the expert reasoners, lead him

into opposition to the majority, while if he speaks as do the

majority, then into opposition to the reasoners. For some say that

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