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Aristotle - The Organon - index for DE SOPHISTICIS ELENCHIS Section 2 Part 15

How to ask questions effectively

  
Paragraph 1 With a view then to refutation, one resource is length - for it is difficult to keep several things in view at once;
Paragraph 2 To counter those who refuse to grant whatever they suppose to help one's argument, one should put the question negatively, as though desirous of the opposite answer, or at any rate as though one put the question without prejudice;
Paragraph 3 A strong appearance of having been refuted is often produced by the most highly sophistical of all the unfair tricks of questioners, when without proving anything, instead of putting their final proposition as a question, they state it as a conclusion, as though they had proved that 'Therefore so-and-so is not true'
Paragraph 4 It is also a sophistical trick, when a paradox has been laid down, first to propose at the start some view that is generally accepted, and then claim that the answerer shall answer what he thinks about it, and to put one's question on matters of that kind in the form 'Do you think that.
Paragraph 5 Moreover, just as in rhetorical discourses, so also in those aimed at refutation, you should examine the discrepancies of the answerer's position either with his own statements, or with those of persons whom he admits to say and do aright, moreover with those of people who are generally supposed to bear that kind of character, or who are like them, or with those of the majority or of all men.


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