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Aristotle - The Organon TOPICA Book 8 Part 8

A premiss relates to a constituent in the reasoning

1. A premiss in reasoning always either is one of the constituent elements in the reasoning, or else goes to establish one of these: (and you can always tell when it is secured in order to establish something else by the fact of a number of similar questions being put: for as a rule people secure their universal by means either of induction or of likeness): - accordingly the particular propositions should all be admitted, if they are true and generally held. On the other hand, against the universal one should try to bring some negative instance; for to bring the argument to a standstill without a negative instance, either real or apparent, shows ill-temper. If, then, a man refuses to grant the universal when supported by many instances, although he has no negative instance to show, he obviously shows ill-temper. If, moreover, he cannot even attempt a counter-proof that it is not true, far more likely is he to be thought ill-tempered - although even counter-proof is not enough: for we often hear arguments that are contrary to common opinions, whose solution is yet difficult, e.g. the argument of Zeno that it is impossible to move or to traverse the stadium; - but still, this is no reason for omitting to assert the opposites of these views. If, then, a man refuses to admit the proposition without having either a negative instance or some counter-argument to bring against it, clearly he is ill-tempered: for ill-temper in argument consists in answering in ways other than the above, so as to wreck the reasoning.


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