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Aristotle - The Organon TOPICA Book 8 Part 6

What the aims of the answerer should be

1. It is clear, then, what the aims of the answerer should be, whether the position he lays down be a view generally accepted without qualification or accepted by some definite person. Now every question asked is bound to involve some view that is either generally held or generally rejected or neither, and is also bound to be either relevant to the argument or irrelevant: if then it be a view generally accepted and irrelevant, the answerer should grant it and remark that it is the accepted view: if it be a view not generally accepted and irrelevant, he should grant it but add a comment that it is not generally accepted, in order to avoid the appearance of being a simpleton. If it be relevant and also be generally accepted, he should admit that it is the view generally accepted but say that it lies too close to the original proposition, and that if it be granted the problem proposed collapses. If what is claimed by the questioner be relevant but too generally rejected, the answerer, while admitting that if it be granted the conclusion sought follows, should yet protest that the proposition is too absurd to be admitted. Suppose, again, it be a view that is neither rejected generally nor generally accepted, then, if it be irrelevant to the argument, it may be granted without restriction; if, however, it be relevant, the answerer should add the comment that, if it be granted, the original problem collapses. For then the answerer will not be held to be personally accountable for what happens to him, if he grants the several points with his eyes open, and also the questioner will be able to draw his inference, seeing that all the premisses that are more generally accepted than the conclusion are granted him. Those who try to draw an inference from premisses more generally rejected than the conclusion clearly do not reason correctly: hence, when men ask these things, they ought not to be granted.


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