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Aristotle - The Organon DE SOPHISTICIS ELENCHIS Section 2 Part 7

On the sources of these fallacies

1. The deception comes about in the case of arguments that depend on ambiguity of words and of phrases because we are unable to divide the ambiguous term (for some terms it is not easy to divide, e.g. 'unity', 'being', and 'sameness'), while in those that depend on combination and division, it is because we suppose that it makes no difference whether the phrase be combined or divided, as is indeed the case with most phrases. Likewise also with those that depend on accent: for the lowering or raising of the voice upon a phrase is thought not to alter its meaning-with any phrase, or not with many. With those that depend on the of expression it is because of the likeness of expression. For it is hard to distinguish what kind of things are signified by the same and what by different kinds of expression: for a man who can do this is practically next door to the understanding of the truth. A special reason why a man is liable to be hurried into assent to the fallacy is that we suppose every predicate of everything to be an individual thing, and we understand it as being one with the thing: and we therefore treat it as a substance: for it is to that which is one with a thing or substance, as also to substance itself, that 'individually' and 'being' are deemed to belong in the fullest sense. For this reason, too, this type of fallacy is to be ranked among those that depend on language; in the first place, because the deception is effected the more readily when we are inquiring into a problem in company with others than when we do so by ourselves (for an inquiry with another person is carried on by means of speech, whereas an inquiry by oneself is carried on quite as much by means of the object itself); secondly a man is liable to be deceived, even when inquiring by himself, when he takes speech as the basis of his inquiry: moreover the deception arises out of the likeness (of two different things), and the likeness arises out of the language. With those fallacies that depend upon Accident, deception comes about because we cannot distinguish the sameness and otherness of terms, i.e. their unity and multiplicity, or what kinds of predicate have all the same accidents as their subject. Likewise also with those that depend on the Consequent: for the consequent is a branch of Accident. Moreover, in many cases appearances point to this-and the claim is made that if is inseparable from B, so also is B from With those that depend upon an imperfection in the definition of a refutation, and with those that depend upon the difference between a qualified and an absolute statement, the deception consists in the smallness of the difference involved; for we treat the limitation to the particular thing or respect or manner or time as adding nothing to the meaning, and so grant the statement universally. Likewise also in the case of those that assume the original point, and those of false cause, and all that treat a number of questions as one: for in all of them the deception lies in the smallness of the difference: for our failure to be quite exact in our definition of 'premiss' and of 'proof' is due to the aforesaid reason.


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