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On Sophistical Refutations   


their case, so that our object in correcting them must be to dispel

the appearance of it. For if refutation be an unambiguous

contradiction arrived at from certain views, there could be no need to

draw distinctions against amphiboly and ambiguity: they do not

effect a proof. The only motive for drawing further distinctions is

that the conclusion reached looks like a refutation. What, then, we

have to beware of, is not being refuted, but seeming to be, because of

course the asking of amphibolies and of questions that turn upon

ambiguity, and all the other tricks of that kind, conceal even a

genuine refutation, and make it uncertain who is refuted and who is

not. For since one has the right at the end, when the conclusion is

drawn, to say that the only denial made of One's statement is

ambiguous, no matter how precisely he may have addressed his

argument to the very same point as oneself, it is not clear whether

one has been refuted: for it is not clear whether at the moment one is

speaking the truth. If, on the other hand, one had drawn a

distinction, and questioned him on the ambiguous term or the

amphiboly, the refutation would not have been a matter of uncertainty.

Also what is incidentally the object of contentious arguers, though

less so nowadays than formerly, would have been fulfilled, namely that

the person questioned should answer either 'Yes' or 'No': whereas

nowadays the improper forms in which questioners put their questions

compel the party questioned to add something to his answer in

correction of the faultiness of the proposition as put: for certainly,

if the questioner distinguishes his meaning adequately, the answerer

is bound to reply either 'Yes' or 'No'.

If any one is going to suppose that an argument which turns upon

ambiguity is a refutation, it will be impossible for an answerer to

escape being refuted in a sense: for in the case of visible objects

one is bound of necessity to deny the term one has asserted, and to

assert what one has denied. For the remedy which some people have

for this is quite unavailing. They say, not that Coriscus is both

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