Aristotle, On Sophistical Refutations

LCL 400: 12-13

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Aristotle

164 b ἔστι μέν, φαίνεται δὲ διὰ τὴν ἀπειρίαν· οἱ γὰρ ἄπειροι ὥσπερ ἂν ἀπέχοντες πόρρωθεν θεωροῦσιν. 165 aὁ μὲν γὰρ συλλογισμὸς ἐκ τινῶν ἐστὶ τεθέντων ὥστε λέγειν ἕτερόν τι ἐξ ἀνάγκης τῶν κειμένων διὰ τῶν κειμένων, ἔλεγχος δὲ συλλογισμὸς μετ᾿ ἀντιφάσεως τοῦ συμπεράσματος. οἱ δὲ τοῦτο ποιοῦσι μὲν οὔ, δοκοῦσι δὲ διὰ πολλὰς αἰτίας, ὧν 5εἷς τόπος εὐφυέστατός ἐστι καὶ δημοσιώτατος ὁ διὰ τῶν ὀνομάτων. ἐπεὶ γὰρ οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτὰ τὰ πράγματα διαλέγεσθαι φέροντας, ἀλλὰ τοῖς ὀνόμασιν ἀντὶ τῶν πραγμάτων χρώμεθα συμβόλοις, τὸ συμβαῖνον ἐπὶ τῶν ὀνομάτων καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν πραγμάτων ἡγούμεθα συμβαίνειν, καθάπερ ἐπὶ τῶν 10ψήφων τοῖς λογιζομένοις. τὸ δ᾿ οὐκ ἔστιν ὅμοιον. τὰ μὲν γὰρ ὀνόματα πεπέρανται καὶ τὸ τῶν λόγων πλῆθος, τὰ δὲ πράγματα τὸν ἀριθμὸν ἄπειρά ἐστιν. ἀναγκαῖον οὖν πλείω τὸν αὐτὸν λόγον καὶ τοὔνομα τὸ ἓν σημαίνειν. ὥσπερ οὖν κἀκεῖ οἱ μὴ δεινοὶ 15τὰς ψήφους φέρειν ὑπὸ τῶν ἐπιστημόνων παρακρούονται, τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν λόγων οἱ τῶν ὀνομάτων τῆς δυνάμεως ἄπειροι παραλογίζονται καὶ αὐτοὶ διαλεγόμενοι καὶ ἄλλων ἀκούοντες. διὰ μὲν οὖν ταύτην τὴν αἰτίαν καὶ τὰς λεχθησομένας ἔστι καὶ συλλογισμὸς καὶ ἔλεγχος φαινόμενος 20μὲν οὐκ ὢν δέ. ἐπεὶ δ᾿ ἐστί τισι μᾶλλον πρὸ ἔργου τὸ δοκεῖν εἶναι σοφοῖς ἢ τὸ εἶναι καὶ μὴ δοκεῖν (ἔστι γὰρ ἡ σοφιστικὴ φαινομένη σοφία οὖσα δ᾿ οὔ,

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On Sophistical Refutations

owing to men’s inexperience; for the inexperienced are like those who view things from a distance. Reasoning is based on certain statements made in such a way as necessarily to cause the assertion of things other than those statements and as a result of those statements; refutation, on the other hand, is reasoning accompanied by a contradiction of the conclusion. Some refutations do not affect their object but only appear to do so; this may be due to several causes, of which the most fertile and widespread division is the argument which depends on names. For, since it is impossible to argue by introducing the actual things under discussion, but we use names as symbols in the place of the things, we think that what happens in the case of the names happens also in the case of the things, just as people who are counting think in the case of their counters. But the cases are not really similar; for names and a quantity of terms are finite, whereas things are infinite in number; and so the same expression and the single name must necessarily signify a number of things. As, therefore, in the above illustration, those who are not clever at managing the counters are deceived by the experts, in the same way in arguments also those who are unacquainted with the power of names are the victims of false reasoning, both when they are themselves arguing and when they are listening to others. For this reason, therefore, and for others which will be mentioned hereafter, there exist both reasoning and refutation which appear to be genuine but are not really so. But since in the eyes of some people it is more profitable to seem to be wise than to be wise without seeming to be so (for the sophistic art consists in apparent and

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-sophistical_refutations.1955