Aristotle on False Reasoning: Language and the World in the Sophistical Refutations (Suny Series in Ancient Greek Philosophy)

Aristotle on False Reasoning: Language and the World in the Sophistical Refutations (Suny Series in Ancient Greek Philosophy)

Scott G. Schreiber

Language: English

Pages: 264

ISBN: 0791456609

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Presenting the first book-length study in English of Aristotle s Sophistical Refutations, this work takes a fresh look at this seminal text on false reasoning. Through a careful and critical analysis of Aristotle s examples of sophistical reasoning, Scott G. Schreiber explores Aristotle s rationale for his taxonomy of twelve fallacy types. Contrary to certain modern attempts to reduce all fallacious reasoning to either errors of logical form or linguistic imprecision, Aristotle insists that, as important as form and language are, certain types of false reasoning derive their persuasiveness from mistaken beliefs about the nature of language and the nature of the world."















KINDS OF REASONING Central to Aristotle’s philosophic method is his analysis of reasoning or the syllogism (sullogism¬V).1 He defines a syllogism as “an argument in which, when certain things are set down, something different from the things set down follows necessarily by means of the things set down.”2 In Topics I, 1, Aristotle makes some preliminary distinctions among syllogisms. He divides them into four types, differentiated by the character of the “things set down,” that is, by the

statements. In both Greek and English the same words are used to express both absolute and relative necessity and possibility.20 Put that way, it sounds as though the Kneales are citing an equivocation — the homonymous use of d§nasqai—as the cause of the fallacy.21 Aristotle’s first answer to the Kneales probably would be to point out the distinction between fallacies due to linguistic double meaning and fallacies due to Secundum Quid. When one uses a word in a relative sense, elliptically and

same as the conjunction (1 and 2). Actions 1 and 2 are two general types, whereas 3 is a different action at a higher level of specificity. The fallacy is a result of mistaking two acts of different specificities to be one and the same act. The resolution would require a distinction between the two acts. This, like all fallacies of Composition and Division, is not a case of double meaning. There is no single account that signifies two acts. Rather, it is a failure to distinguish between two

still supposed the error to be founded on the nature of things rather than on the multivocity of words. That remained the standard early medieval understanding of Aristotle’s contrast between fallacies due to language (in dictione) and fallacies outside of language (extra dictione). By the fourteenth century, however, there came to coexist with this Boethian interpretation a tradition of accounting for particular examples of Aristotle’s fallacy by appealing to linguistic double meaning in one or

words correlated to ontological similarities in the things signified may have struck him more forcefully than the failure to recognize different Categories of predicates. In both cases, however, correction of the linguistic error presupposes prior understanding of the ontological distinctions in question. If Aristotle’s position is that fallacy types due to language are characterized by some false presupposition about language that is necessary for the appearance of proper reasoning, then false

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