Topics (Aristotle)/Book 8

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Topics by Aristotle, translated by Octavius Freire Owen
Book 8

(1853) Translator's annotations not included.

Chapter 1[edit]

We must next speak about order, and in what manner it is necessary to interrogate. In the first place then, he who is about to interrogate, should discover a place whence he may argue; secondly, he should interrogate and arrange the several particulars to himself; thirdly and lastly, he should advance them against another person. Now as to the discovery of the place, its consideration pertains alike to the philosopher and to the dialectician; but how to arrange these, and to interrogate, is the peculiar province of the dialectician, since the whole of this refers to another person; but to the philosopher, and to him who investigates by himself, it is no concern, if the particulars through which the syllogism is constructed, be true and known, whether the respondent admits them or not, because of their nearness to the original question, and from their foreseeing the result; they even perhaps would endeavour that axioms should be especially known and approximate, as from these, scientific syllogisms subsist.

The places then, whence we must derive (arguments), have been enunciated before, but we must speak of order, and interrogation, distinguishing the propositions which are to be assumed, besides such as are necessary. Now those are called necessary, through which a syllogism arises, but those assumed besides these, are four; for (they are so), either for the sake of induction that the universal may be granted; or for amplifying what is said; or for concealment of the conclusion; or for greater perspicuity of expression. Besides these however, we must assume no proposition, but endeavour through these to increase, and to interrogate: those which are for concealment (are to be assumed) for the sake of contention, yet since the whole of this treatise is with reference to another person, it is necessary to use these also.

The necessary (propositions) then through which a syllogism arises, must not be advanced immediately, but we must retire to what is highest; for instance, not requiring it to be granted, that there is the same science of contraries, if it is desired to assume this, but of opposites, for when this is laid down, it will be syllogistically inferred that there is the same of contraries also, since contraries are opposites. If, again, (a person) does not admit this, we must assume it through induction, proposing contraries particularly, for we must assume the necessary propositions either through syllogism, or through induction, or some by induction, but others by syllogism; such however as are very perspicuous, we shall propose (straightway), for the result is always more obscure in receding and induction; and at the same time, it is easy for him to propose those which are useful, who cannot assume them in that way. Such as have been enumerated besides these, we must assume for the sake of these, but use each in this way; inducing from singulars to the universal, and from things known to those unknown; those however are more known, which are according to sense, either simply, or to the multitude. He however who conceals, must prove by pro-syllogisms those things through which there will be a syllogism of the original (proposition), and these as many as possible, which will happen if a person not only collects syllogistically, necessary propositions, but some one from among such as are useful to these. Again, we ought not to mention the conclusions, but afterwards conclude them in a body; for thus he (the interrogator) will recede farthest from the original thesis. In a word, it is requisite that he who secretly interrogates, should so question, that when the whole assertion has been questioned, and the conclusion is announced, it may be asked why it is so. Now this will be particularly done through the before-mentioned mode, for when the last conclusion only is mentioned, it will not be evident how it results, from the respondent not foreseeing from what the inference would be drawn, the previous syllogisms not having been dissected, but the syllogism of the conclusion would be least of all dissected, when we do not lay down its assumptions, but those by which the syllogism arises.

Moreover, it is useful to take the axioms from which the syllogisms arise, not continuously, but alternately mixed with the conclusions, for when the appropriate ones are placed by each other, the result from them will be more evident.

It is right also, to assume in the definition, as far as we can, an universal proposition, not in the things themselves, but in their conjugates, for (the respondents) deceive themselves by paralogism, when the definition is assumed in the conjugate, as if they did not grant the universal; e. g. if it should be necessary to assume that the angry man desires vengeance on account of apparent contempt, and anger should be assumed to be the desire of vengeance on account of apparent contempt, for it is evident when this is assumed, we should have the universal, which we prefer. Where however, it is proposed in the very things themselves, it frequently happens that the respondent rejects it, because he has rather the objection to it; e. g. that the angry man does not desire vengeance, for we are angry with our parents, and yet do not desire vengeance. Perhaps therefore, this objection is not enough, as in some things it is sufficient vengeance only to grieve, and to produce repentance, nevertheless it has something persuasive, in order that what is proposed, may not seem to be denied without reason: to the definition however, of anger, it is not similarly easy to find an objection.

Again, (we ought) to propose as if we did not propose on account of the thing itself, but for the sake of something else, for (respondents) are cautious of such things as are useful against the thesis. In short, as much as possible the (interrogator) ought to render it obscure, whether he desires to assume the thing proposed or the opposite, for when what is useful against the argument is doubtful, they rather lay down that which seems true to them.

Moreover, we must interrogate through similitude, for the universal is persuasive and more latent; for instance, that as there is the same science and ignorance of contraries, so also there is the same sense of contraries, or on the contrary, since there is the same sense, there is also the same science. This, indeed, is like, yet not the same as, induction, for there the universal is assumed from singulars, but in similars, what is assumed is not universal, under which, all the similars are contained.

Again, it behoves him sometimes to object to himself, since the respondents have no suspicion towards such as appear to argue justly, and it is also useful to say besides this, that such a thing is what is usually asserted, since they are reluctant to change what is usual when they have no objection; at the same time, because they use such things themselves they are careful not to change them. Besides, (we must) not be earnest, although the thing be altogether useful, for men make greater opposition against persons in earnest; also (we should) propose as by comparison, for what is proposed on account of something else, and is not of itself useful, men rather admit. Again, we must not propose that, which ought to be assumed, but that to which this is necessarily consequent, for men more readily concur, from the inference from this not being similarly manifest, and when this. is assumed that also, is assumed. In the last place, let the interrogator ask that, which he wishes especially to assume, for (the respondents) will at first especially deny, because most interrogators assert those things first, about which they are most in earnest. Against some however, propose such things first; since those who are difficult to be persuaded, concede at first, especially if the result is not perfectly apparent, but at the last they assent with difficulty; likewise, also, they who think themselves acute in answering, for admitting many things, at last they make use of sophistical arguments, as if the conclusion did not follow from the things laid down, but they allow readily, trusting to habit, and apprehending that they will suffer no inconvenience. Moreover, we must extend the discourse and insert things which are of no use to it, as they do, who write falsely, for when there are many things, it is dubious in which consists the falsity, wherefore sometimes also, interrogators escape notice, proposing secretly, things which proposed by themselves, would not be admitted.

For concealment then, we must use the thing stated, but for ornament, we must employ induction and division of things homogeneous. What kind of thing then induction is, is clear, but division is one of such a kind, as that one science is better than another, either from its being more accurate, or from its belonging to better subjects; and that of sciences, some are theoretical, others practical, but others effective, for each thing of this kind adorns a speech, yet it is not necessary that it should be adduced, in order to the conclusion.

For the sake of perspicuity, we must adduce examples and comparisons; examples indeed appropriate, and from which we derive information, such as Homer, not as Chœrilus (employs), for thus, what is proposed will be more perspicuous.

Chapter 2[edit]

In disputation we must employ syllogism with dialecticians, rather than with the multitude, but induction, on the contrary, rather with the multitude, concerning which also we have spoken before. Still, in some cases, he who makes an induction may question the universal, but in others this is not easy, from a common name not being laid down in all similitudes, but when it is necessary to assume the universal, they say it is thus in all such particulars; yet it is one of the most difficult things to define this, viz. which of those adduced are, and which are not, such. Wherefore in disputation they oftentimes circumvent each other, some asserting that those which are not similar are similar, but others doubting whether similars are not similars. On this account, in all such cases he (the disputant) must endeavour to assign a name, so that it may neither be possible for the respondent to doubt, as if what is adduced is not similarly stated, nor for the interrogator to find fault, as if it were similarly stated, since many things which are not similarly stated, appear to be so.

When, an induction being made in many things, a person does not grant the universal, then it is fair to demand the objection; he however who does not state in what this occurs, does not justly demand in what it is not so, for he ought, having first made an induction, thus to demand the objection. It must be claimed too, that the objections be not alleged in the thing itself, which is proposed, unless there should be only one such thing, as the dual alone is the first of even numbers, since it is necessary that the objector should bring the objection in something else, or should state that this alone is a thing of such a sort. As to those indeed, who object to the universal, yet do not allege the objection in the same (genus), but in the equivocal, (as that some one may have not his own colour, or foot, or hand, for a painter may have colour, and a cook a foot, not his own,) employing division in such things, the interrogation must be made, since from the equivocation escaping notice, he will appear to object rightly to the proposition. Still if the objector impede the interrogation, by objecting not in the equivocal, but in the same genus, it is necessary by removing that, in which the objection consists, to bring forward the remainder, making it universal, until what is useful is assumed. Thus, in the case of oblivion and of having forgotten, for they do not allow that he who has lost knowledge, has forgotten, because the thing failing, he has lost indeed knowledge, yet has not forgotten removing: then that, in which the objection consists, we must assert the remainder, as if, the thing remaining, he has lost knowledge, (we must say) that he has forgotten. Likewise, also, against those who object that a greater evil is opposed to a greater good, for they advance this, that to health being a less good than good bodily habit, a greater evil is opposed, since disease is a greater evil than cachexy, therefore in this case also we must take away that in which the objection consists, for when it is removed, the person would more readily concede, as that a greater evil is opposed to a greater good, unless one thing co-introduces another, as a good bodily habit, does health. Still, not only must this be done when there is an objection, but also if without an objection there should be a denial, from foreseeing something of this kind, since when that is removed in which the objection lies, (the objector) will be obliged to concede from his not foreseeing in the remainder, as to what particular thing it is not so, but if he should not concede when he is asked for his objection, he will not be able to allege it. Propositions indeed of this kind are such as are partly false and partly true, for in these it is possible, when we have taken away, to leave the remainder true; nevertheless, if (when interrogating), he proposes in many things, (the other) does not adduce an objection, concession must be claimed, since the proposition is dialectic, against which thus subsisting in many things there is not an objection.

When we can syllogistically infer the same thing, both without and through the impossible, it signifies nothing to him, who demonstrates, and does not dispute, whether the syllogism be in this, or in that way, but a syllogism through the impossible must not be used by him, who disputes against another. For no doubt can exist, if he syllogizes without the impossible, but when the impossible is inferred, except the falsity be very evident, they say that it is not impossible, so that the interrogators do not obtain what they desire.

It is necessary indeed to propose such as subsist thus in many things, but the objection either is not at all, or is not easily perceived, since not being able to see where it is not so, men admit a thing as being true.

Yet we ought not to make the conclusion a question, for otherwise the (respondent) denying, a syllogism does not appear to have been framed. For frequently they deny when the person does not question, but infers as a consequent, and doing this, they do not appear to confute, to those who do not see that, it happens from the things laid down; when then he interrogates, not asserting that the conclusion follows, but the other denies, a syllogism does not entirely appear to have been framed.

Neither does it seem that every universal is a dialectic proposition, as "what is man?" or "in how many ways is good predicated?" since a dialectic proposition is one, to which we can answer either yes or no, which is impossible to those above-named. Hence, such interrogations are not dialectic unless the person speaks by defining or dividing, as; "is good predicated in this or in that way?" for the answer to such things is easy either by affirmation or denial. Wherefore we must endeavour to set forth such propositions in this way, and at the same time it is perhaps just to ask him in how many ways good is predicated, when the (interrogator) divides and proposes, but he (the respondent) by no means concedes.

Nevertheless, whoever questions for a long time one reason, interrogates badly, for if he who is interrogated answers the question, it is evident that (the querist) asks many or oftentimes the same questions, so that he either trifles or has not a syllogism, since every syllogism is from a few things; but if he does not answer, why does he not reprove him, or depart?

Chapter 3[edit]

Notwithstanding, it is difficult to attack, and easy to maintain, the same hypothesis; such are those which are first and last naturally, for those which are first require definition, but the last are concluded through many things, by him who wishes to assume continuously from the first, or the arguments appear captious, as we cannot demonstrate any thing without beginning from appropriate principles, and continuing in a regular series, as far as the last. Respondents, therefore, neither think fit to define, nor consider whether the questionist defines, but when it is not evident what the proposition is, it is not easy to attack it; now, such a thing especially occurs about principles, for other things are demonstrated through these, but these cannot possibly be through others, but it is necessary to make known each thing of this kind by definition.

Those also are difficult to impugn which are very near the principle, since it is impossible to provide many arguments against them, since there are but few media between the thing itself and the principle, through which it is necessary that things subsequent to them should be demonstrated. Still, of all definitions, those are most difficult to impugn which employ such names, as at first are uncertain whether they are predicated simply or multifariously; besides which, it is unknown, whether they are predicated by the definer properly or metaphorically. For from their obscurity a person does not obtain arguments, but from his being ignorant whether such things are said metaphorically, he is without reprehension.

In short, every problem, when it is difficult of opposition, must be supposed either to stand in need of definition, or as among the number of things predicated multifariously, or metaphorically, or as not remote from principles, or from its not being first apparent to us, to which of the before-named modes this very thing which occasions the doubt is to be referred; for the mode being evident, it is clear that it will be necessary, either to define, or to divide, or to prepare middle propositions, since through these, the last are demonstrated.

In many theses also, when the definition is not well delivered, it is not easy to discourse and argue, as whether one thing is contrary to one or many things, but contraries being defined properly, we can easily collect whether there can be possibly many contraries of the same thing or not. In the same way also, as to other things which require definition, and in mathematics, some appear not easily described through a defect of definition, as that a line which laterally cuts a superficies divides similarly both a line and a space. When, however, the definition is stated, the assertion is forthwith evident, for both the spaces and the lines have a correspondent division, but this is the definition of the same sentence. In short, the first elements when definitions are laid down, as what is a line, and what a circle, are easy of demonstration, except that we cannot advance many arguments against each of these, from there not being many media, but if the definitions of the principles be not laid down, it is difficult, and perhaps altogether impossible; likewise also in those, which belong to disputations.

It ought not, therefore, to escape us, that when a thesis is opposed with difficulty, it has experienced some one of the above-mentioned (modes); since, however, it is more difficult to discuss an axiom and a proposition than a thesis, a person may doubt whether things of this kind are to be laid down or not. For if he does not admit them, but thinks fit to discuss this also, he will enjoin a greater work than what was at first laid down, but if he does admit, he will believe from things less credible. If, then, we ought not to make the problem more difficult, (that axiom) must be laid down, but if it is necessary) to syllogize through things more known, it must not be laid down; or must it not be posited by the learner, except it be more known, but must be laid down by him who exercises himself, if it only appear true? so that it is evident that the querist, and the teacher ought, not similarly to require a thing to be laid down.

Chapter 4[edit]

Almost sufficient then, has been said as to how it is necessary to interrogate and arrange, but about reply, we must first determine what is the employment of him who answers rightly, as also of him who rightly interrogates. Now, it is the duty of the interrogator, so to induce the argument, as to make the respondent assert the most incredible things, of those which are necessary through the thesis, but of the respondent (to take care) that the impossible, or the paradoxical, do not seem to result through him, but through the thesis, since perhaps it is another fault, to place that first which ought not to be so, and not to keep what is laid down, in a proper manner.

Chapter 5[edit]

Since the several particulars are indefinite, (which should be observed) by those who dispute for the sake of exercise and experiment—(for the same objects are not (proposed) to the teacher or the learner, and to those who contend, nor to both these, and to those who practise with each other for the sake of inquiry; for to the learner always, things which appear (true) are to be laid down, since no one attempts to teach a falsity; but of those who contend, it is necessary that the querist, should altogether seem to do something, but the respondent appear to suffer nothing; yet in dialectic associations it has not yet been distinctly explained by those who dispute, not for the sake of contest, but of experiment and inquiry, what the respondent ought to aim at, also what to concede and what not, in order to preserve the thesis well, or ill)—since then, we have nothing delivered by others, we shall endeavour to say something, ourselves.

The respondent then is required, to sustain the dispute, a probable or improbable thesis, or neither, being laid down, and which is either simply, or definitely, probable, or improbable, as to a certain person, whether himself, or another. In what way it is probable, or improbable, makes no difference, as the method of answering well, and of granting, or not granting, the question, will be the same; if then the thesis is improbable, it is necessary that the conclusion be probable, but if that, is probable, that this, should be improbable, for the querist always concludes the opposite, of the thesis. If however what is laid down, be neither improbable, nor probable, the conclusion also will be of this sort, but since he who syllogizes properly, demonstrates the proposed question, from things more probable and better known, it is evident that when what is laid down, is simply improbable, the respondent must not grant either that which does not seem simply, nor that which seems indeed, but is less apparent than the conclusion, for the thesis being improbable, the conclusion is probable, so that it is necessary that all the assumptions, should be probable, and more so, than what is proposed, if what is less known, is to be concluded, through things better known. Wherefore, except such a thing as this, is amongst the things questioned, it must not be laid down by the respondent, but if the thesis be simply probable, it is clear that the conclusion is simply improbable. Whatever then seems (true) must be laid down, and of those which do not appear (true), such as are less improbable than the conclusion, for it will appear then, that the disputation has been sufficiently well conducted. In like manner, if the thesis be neither improbable nor probable, for thus all things apparent must be admitted, and of those which do not appear, such as are more probable than the conclusion, for thus it will happen that the arguments will be more probable. If then what is laid down be simply probable or improbable, we must make a comparison with reference to those which appear simply (true), but if what is laid down, be not simply probable or improbable, but to the respondent, it must be laid down, or not, with reference to him deciding what appears, and what does not appear. If moreover the respondent defends the opinion of another, it is clear that the several particulars must be laid down and denied, looking to the conception which he forms; wherefore they who entertain strange opinions, e. g. that good and evil are the same, as Heraclitus says, do not admit that contraries are not simultaneously present with the same thing, not as if this did not seem so, to them, but because, according to Heraclitus, so it must be asserted. They also do this who receive theses from each other, since they conjecture what he who lays the thesis down will say.

Chapter 6[edit]

It is evident then what the points are, which the respondent should direct his attention to, whether what is laid down be simply probable, or is so to a certain person; since however every question must be of necessity either probable or improbable, or neither, also must pertain either to the disputation or not, if indeed it be probable and not relevant to the argument, it must be admitted when it has been stated that it is probable; but if it be improbable and irrelevant to the argument, it must be admitted indeed, yet we must signify besides, that it does not seem probable, for the sake of avoiding silliness. If, on the other hand, it does belong to the argument, and is probable, we must say that it seems indeed, but is too near to the original proposition, and that this being admitted, the position is subverted. Still if it be relevant to the argument, but the axiom be very improbable, we must say that from this position, a conclusion indeed follows, but that what is proposed is very silly; and if it be neither improbable nor probable, if indeed it is in no respect relevant to the argument, we must grant it with no definition; but if relevant to the argument, we must signify that the original position is subverted, from this being laid down. For thus the respondent will seem to suffer nothing through himself, if the several things be laid down with foresight, and the interrogator will obtain a syllogism, when all things more probable than the conclusion are admitted by him. Nevertheless, it is clear that they do not syllogize well, who endeavour to argue from things more improbable than the conclusion, wherefore they must not be conceded by the questionists.

Chapter 7[edit]

Likewise, we must meet those things which are obscurely and multifariously enunciated; for since it is allowed to the respondent, if he does not comprehend, to say, I do not comprehend, and if a thing be multifariously predicated, not to confess, or deny it, of necessity, it is clear that, first, if the statement be not lucid, he must not hesitate to say, that he does not understand it, since frequently, from persons interrogated, not clearly conceding, some difficulty occurs. If however a thing multifariously predicated be known, if too what is asserted be in all things true or false, it must be simply admitted or denied, or if it be partly false and partly true, we must moreover signify that it is multifariously predicated, and why it is partly false and partly true; for if this distinction is made afterwards, it will be doubtful whether he (the respondent) perceived the ambiguity at first. Now, if indeed he did not foresee the ambiguity, but laid down the position, looking to the other (signification), it must be said against him, leading to the other, that he granted without looking to this, but to the other of the things (signified); for since there are many, under the same name or sentence, a doubt easily occurs; still if the question asked be clear and simple, the answer to it must be yes or no.

Chapter 8[edit]

Since every syllogistic proposition, is either some one of the things, from which a syllogism is formed, or (is assumed) for the sake of one of them, (for it appears manifest when it is assumed for the sake of one of them, i. e. from many things of a similar nature being interrogated, since men assume the universal, for the most part, either through induction or through similitude,)—therefore all the several particulars, must be laid down; if they be true and probable, yet we must make an attempt to urge an objection against the universal, for without an objection either real, or apparent, to impede the argument, is to be perverse. If then, where many things appear, a person does not admit the universal, having no objection, it is clear that he is perverse; moreover, if he has no argument on the contrary, (to show) that it is not true, he will seem much more perverse. Yet neither is this enough, for we have many arguments opposed to opinions, which it is difficult to solve, as that of Zeno, that nothing can be moved, nor pass through a stadium; still things opposite to these, are not on this account, to be laid down. If, then, a person does not admit when he has neither an objection nor a contrary argument, he is evidently perverse, for perversity in argument is a responsion contrary to the stated modes, destructive of syllogism.

Chapter 9[edit]

We ought so to maintain both the thesis and the definition, that he (the respondent) may previously argue against himself; for from what the questionists subvert the position, it is clear that to these, opposition must be made.

Still we must beware of maintaining an improbable hypothesis, and it may be improbable in two ways, for both (that is improbable) from which absurdities happen to be enunciated; as if some one should say that all things are moved, or that nothing is; and also whatever things are chosen by the more depraved disposition, and which are contrary to the will; as that pleasure is the good, and that to injure, is better than to be injured. For men hate a person who makes these assertions, not as maintaining them for the sake of argument, but as what approve themselves (to him).

Chapter 10[edit]

Whatever arguments collect the false, must be solved, by subverting that, from which the falsity arises; for the solution is not effected by subverting any thing whatever, even if what is subverted be false. For an argument may contain many falsities, as if some one assumed that he who sits writes, but that Socrates sits, since it follows from these that Socrates writes, when then, it is subverted that Socrates sits, the argument is not the more solved, though the axiom is false. Still, not on this account is the argument false, for if any one happen to be sitting indeed, but not writing, the same solution would no longer be suitable to such an one, so that this is not to be subverted, but that he who sits, writes, since not every one who sits, writes. He then, altogether solves (the argument) who subverts that, from which the falsity arises, but he understands the solution who knows that the argument depends on this, as (happens) in the case of false descriptions, since it is not sufficient to object, not even if what is subverted be false, but we must show why it is false, for thus it will be evident whether a person makes the objection from foreseeing something or not.

It is possible, notwithstanding, to prevent an argument being conclusive in four ways; either by the subversion ot that whence the falsity proceeds; or by urging an objection against the questionist, (for frequently when no solution is given (by the respondent), yet the querist can proceed no further); thirdly, (by objecting) against the interrogations made, (for it may happen what we wish may not arise from the questions, because they are improperly made, yet when something is added that a conclusion may result; if, then, the querist can proceed no further, the objection would lie against the querist, but if he can, against the questions asked); the fourth and worst objection is that which relates to time, for some object such things as require more time for discussion, than the present exercise (admits).

Objections, then, as we have said, arise in four ways, but of the particulars mentioned, the first alone is a solution, the rest being certain preventions and hindrances to the conclusions.

Chapter 11[edit]

The reprehension of an argument is not the same with respect to the argument itself, and when it forms the subject of interrogation, as often the person questioned is the cause of the argument not being well discussed, because he does not allow things from which it might be properly argued against the thesis, since it does not belong to the other alone, that the common work is properly effected. Wherefore sometimes it is necessary to argue against the speaker, and not against the thesis, when the respondent, out of contumely, makes observations contrary to the questionist; hence they cause through perverseness, the exercises to be contentious and not dialectic. Besides, since arguments of this kind are for the sake of exercise and experiment, and not of doctrine, it is evident that not only what is true, but also what is false, must be collected, neither always through what is true, but sometimes also through the false, for often when what is true is laid down, it is necessary for the disputant to subvert it, so that false assertions must be proposed. Sometimes, also, when the false is laid down, it must be subverted through falsities, since there is nothing to prevent things which have no existence, seeming to some person to be, rather than those which are true, so that when the argument subsists from things appearing (true) to him, he will be more persuaded than profited. Still, it is necessary that he who would transfer the reasoning properly, should transfer it dialectically, and not contentiously, as the geometrician (argues) geometrically, whether what is concluded be false or true; of what nature however, dialectic syllogisms are, we have shown before. Yet since he is a depraved associate, who impedes a common work, it is evident that (this is true also) in arguments, for there is something common proposed in these also, except amongst those who dispute, for the sake of contest, as it is impossible for both these to obtain the same end, for they cannot vanquish more than one. Now it is of no conseqence whether this is done, through the answer or through the question, since he who interrogates contentiously, disputes badly, also he who in his answer does not admit what is apparent, nor receives what the questionist wishes to inquire. Wherefore it is clear from what we have stated, that we must not similarly reprehend an argument per se, and the questionist; since nothing hinders the argument being bad, but the questionist discoursing against the respondent in the best way possible; for against the perverse, it is not perhaps possible, to frame immediately, such syllogisms as some one would, but such as he can, frame.

Since also it is indefinite when men assume contraries, and when things (investigated) in the beginning, (for often speaking by themselves they assert contraries, and having before denied, they afterwards admit, hence when questioned they frequently allow contraries, and that which (was investigated) in the beginning,) bad arguments, must necessarily arise. The respondent however is the cause, by not admitting some things, yet admitting such as these, wherefore it is clear that we must not similarly reprehend querists and arguments.

Now there are five reprehensions of an argument per se, the first indeed, when from the questions asked nothing is concluded, neither the proposition, nor, in short, any thing; all or the greatest part of those, from which the conclusion (arises), being either false or improbable; and neither things being taken away, nor being added, nor some being taken away, but others added, the conclusion is produced. The second is, if there be not a syllogism against the thesis from such things, and in such a way, as was mentioned before. The third, if there is indeed a syllogism, from certain additions, but these should be worse than those questioned, and less probable than the conclusion. Again, if certain things are taken away, for sometimes men assume more than is necessary, so that the syllogism does not result from these being (granted); further, if from things more improbable and less credible than the conclusion, or if from things true indeed, but which require more labour to demonstrate than the problem.

Notwithstanding, we need not require the syllogisms of all problems to be alike probable and convincing; for some things investigated, are straightway by nature more easy, but others more difficult, so that he will discourse well, who argues from such as are of the greatest possible probability. Wherefore, it is evident then, there is not the same reprehension of an argument, as to what is laid down in the question, and when it is per se, for nothing prevents an argument being per se reprehensible, but commendable as to the problem; and again, vice versâ, praiseworthy per se, but reprehensible as to the problem, when it is more easy to conclude from many things probable and true. For sometimes an argument, even when conclusive, may be worse than what is inconclusive, when the one concludes from foolish things, the problem not being such, but the other requires such as are probable and true, and the argument does not consist in the things assumed. Still, it is not just to reprehend those who conclude the true through the false, for the false must of necessity always be collected through the false, yet sometimes it is possible to collect the true, even through the false, indeed it is evident from the Analytics.

When the before-named argument is a demonstration of something, if there is something else which has nothing to do with the conclusion, there will not be a syllogism about it; but if there should appear (to be one), it will be a sophism, not a demonstration. Now, a philosophema is a demonstrative syllogism; an epicheirema, a dialectic syllogism; but a sophism, a contentious syllogism; and an aporema, a dialectic syllogism of contradiction.

If moreover any thing should be demonstrated from both probable (propositions), yet not similarly probable, there is nothing to prevent what is demonstrated, being more probable than either (proposition), but if one be probable, but the other neither (probable nor improbable), or if one be probable, but the other not, if they be similarly so, (the conclusion) will also similarly be and not be, but if one is more, (the conclusion) will follow that which is more.

Now this also is an error in syllogisms, when a person demonstrates through more, what is possible through fewer things, which also are inherent in the argument; as if any one, (in order to show) that one opinion is better than another, should require it to be granted, that each thing itself subsists in the most eminent degree, but that the object of opinion is truly itself; wherefore it is more than certain other things, but what is said to be more, is referred to the more, and the opinion itself is true, which will be more accurate than certain things; yet it was required to be granted that opinion itself is true, and that each thing itself most eminently subsists, wherefore this opinion itself is more accurate. Now, what is the fault here? It is that it makes the cause latent, from which the reasoning is derived.

Chapter 12[edit]

An argument is most clear in one way, and that the most popular, if it be so concluded, as to require no further interrogation; but in another way, which is especially said to be, when things are assumed, from which (the conclusion) necessarily results, but (the argument) concludes through conclusions; moreover, if there is any thing deficient, of what is very probable.

Again, an argument is called false in four ways; one when it appears to conclude, yet does not do so, which is called a contentious syllogism; another when it concludes, indeed, that which does not pertain to the proposed (problem), and this happens especially in arguments leading to the impossible; or it concludes pertinently to what is laid down, yet not after an appropriate method, and this is when a non-medical argument appears medical, or the non-geometrical to be geometrical, or the non-dialectic to be dialectic, whether the result be false or true. Another way, if it concludes through falsities, and of this the conclusion will be sometimes false, and sometimes true, as the false is always concluded through falsities, but it is possible that the true may be so even from things not true, as was said also before.

That the reasoning, then, is false, is rather the fault of the arguer than of the argument, and neither is it always the fault of the arguer but when it escapes him, since of many truths per se, we admit rather that, which from things especially appearing (probable), subverts something true. For such (reasoning) is a demonstration of other truths, as it is requisite that some one of the positions should not altogether be, so that there will be a demonstration of this; but if it should conclude the true through false, and very silly assertions, it will be worse than many, which collect the false, and such will be the reasoning, collecting the false. Wherefore, it is evident that the first consideration of the argument per se will be whether it concludes; next, whether (it concludes) the true or false; thirdly, from what assertions, for if from those which are false but probable, it is a logical argument, but if from what are (true) yet improbable, it is faulty. If, also, they are false, and very improbable, the argument is evidently bad, either simply, or with respect to the thing (discussed).

Chapter 13[edit]

As to what was (investigated) in the beginning and contraries, how the questionist demands a postulate according to truth, indeed, has been told in the Analytics, but must now be discussed according to opinion.

Now, men appear to beg what was in the beginning in five ways, most evidently, indeed, and primarily, if any one begs the very thing which ought to he demonstrated; this, however, does not easily escape notice, as to the thing itself, but rather in synonyms, and wherein the name and the definition signify the same thing. Secondly, when what ought to be demonstrated particularly, any one asks for, universally, as when endeavouring to show there is one science of contraries, he demands it to be altogether granted, that there is one of opposites, for he seems to beg together with many things, that which he ought to demonstrate per se. Thirdly, if any one proposing to demonstrate the universal, begs the particular; as if when it is proposed (to be shown), that there is one science of all contraries, some one should require it to be granted, that (there is one) of certain contraries; for he also seems to beg per se separately, that which he ought to show, together with many things. Again, if a person dividing (the problem) begs the thing proposed for discussion; as if when it is necessary to show that medicine belongs to the healthy, and the diseased, he should claim each of these, to be granted separately. Or if some one should beg one of these, which are necessarily consequent to each other, as that the side of a square is incommensurate with the diameter, when he ought to show, that the diameter is incommensurate with the side.

Contraries, are begged in as many ways, as the original question; for first, if any one should demand the opposites, affirmation and negation; secondly, contraries according to opposition, as that good and evil are the same; thirdly, if a man claiming universal to be granted should require contradiction particularly, as if assuming one science of contraries, he should desire it to be granted that there is different science of the wholesome and the unwholesome, or begging this, endeavoured to assume opposition as to the universal. Again, if a man should beg the contrary to what happens necessarily through the things laid down; if also, a person should not indeed assume the opposites themselves, but should claim two such things from which there will be an opposite contradiction. Still, there is a difference between assuming contraries and a petitio principii, because the error of the one belongs to the conclusion, (for having respect to this, we say that the original question is begged,) but contraries are in the propositions, from these subsisting in a certain way, as to each other.

Chapter 14[edit]

For the exercise and practice of such arguments as these, we must, in the first place, be accustomed to convert arguments; for thus we shall be better provided for the subject of discussion, and we shall obtain a knowledge of many arguments in a few. For to convert, is when we have changed the conclusion with the remaining interrogations, to subvert one of the data, since it is necessary, if the conclusion is not, that some one of the propositions should be subverted, as when all these are laid down, the conclusion would of necessity be. We must also consider the argument as to every thesis, both that it is so, and that it is not so, and having discovered (this), the solution must be forthwith investigated, for it will happen thus, that at the same time, we shall be exercised both in question, and answer. If also we have nobody else, (we must dispute) to ourselves; also selecting arguments about the same thesis, we must compare them side by side; for this produces a great abundance, for the purpose of constraining conviction, and affords great aid to confutation, when a person is well supplied with arguments both pro and con; since, thus, it happens that care is taken against contraries. Neither is it a small instrument to knowledge and philosophical wisdom, to be able to perceive and to have perceived the results of each hypothesis, for it remains rightly to select one of these. Now there is need for a thing of this kind of a naturally good disposition, and a good disposition is in reality, thus to be able to select properly the true, and to avoid the false; which those naturally (good) are able to perform well, since they who properly love, and hate what is adduced, judge well, what is best.

It is likewise requisite to know well, the arguments about the problems, which generally occur, and especially concerning first theses, since in these the respondents are often dissatisfied. Moreover, we ought to abound in definitions, and to have at hand those, both of the probable and of the primary, since through these, syllogisms are formed. We must endeavour also to possess those, into which the other disputations generally fall; for as in geometry it is of importance to be exercised about the elements; and in arithmetic, to be prompt in the multiplication of numbers in a regular series up to ten, also contributes greatly to the knowledge of the multiplication of the other numbers besides; so in like manner in arguments, the being prompt about principles, and tenaciously to retain propositions in the memory (are of great service). For as places laid down in the mnemonic (part of the soul) only, immediately cause us to remember them, so these also, will render a person more syllogistic, in consequence of his regarding these (propositions), defined numerically. A common proposition also, rather than an argument, should be committed to memory, since to abound with principle and hypothesis is moderately difficult.

Moreover, we must be accustomed to make one argument many, concealing as obscurely as possible, which sort of thing may be done, if a person very much recedes from the alliance of those things which are the subject of discussion. Such arguments indeed, as are especially universal, will be capable of experiencing this; as that there is not one science of many things, for thus it is in relatives, and in contraries, and in conjugates.

Besides, we ought to make universal records of arguments, even if that discussed, be particular; for thus it will be possible to make one argument many, so also in rhetorical enthymemes. Nevertheless, the disputant ought as much as possible to avoid the universal in introducing syllogisms; and it is also requisite always to observe whether the arguments are conversant with things common, for all particular are conversant with universal, and the demonstration of the universal is inherent in that which is particular, because nothing can be syllogistically concluded without universals.

We should assign the exercise of inductive arguments to a young man, but of syllogistic ones to a practised man; we should also endeavour to assume propositions from those who are skilful in syllogisms, but comparisons from the inductive, for in these each are exercised. In short, from dialectic exercise, we must endeavour to draw either a syllogism about something, or a solution, or a proposition, or an objection, or whether any one has rightly or not rightly questioned, whether himself or another, and about what each is. For from these the power (of discussion arises), and exercise is on account of power, especially in propositions and objections; since, in short, he is the dialectician, who is ready to propose and to object; but to propose is to make many things one, (since it is requisite for that to be assumed in the whole, to which the argument belongs,) but to object (is to make) one many, since a man either divides or subverts, partly admitting, and partly denying the proposition.

It is requisite still, not to dispute with every one, nor to exercise ourselves against any casual person, for it is necessary to employ bad arguments against some, since against him, who altogether tries to seem to elude us, it is just indeed, by all means, to try to draw a conclusion, yet it is not becoming. Wherefore, it is not proper readily to engage with casual persons, since depraved disputation will necessarily occur; for even those who practise themselves, cannot forbear disputing contentiously.

Likewise, also it is requisite to have arguments framed against such problems, in which being supplied with the fewest, we shall have them useful against the most; now, these are universal (arguments), and which are with more difficulty supplied from things that are obvious.