The Aristotelian elenchus

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Abstract

The Importance of The Sophistical Refutations The work of Aristotle which we call the Sophistical Refutations has received relatively little attention from modern scholars. This neglect persists still today despite the importance of the work for various topics of special current interest. The professed aim of the Sophistical Refutations is to consider the nature of the sophistical elenchus, i.e. of the elenchus, or refutation, which is only apparent, and thus false and not true, the elenchus of which the sophists are the masters (SE 1.164a20f). Aristotle’s purpose is to enable us to understand all of the types of false but apparent refutation so that we will be able to identify and expose them, and not be deceived by them, when we encounter them (see, e.g., SE 1.165a34–7, 16.175a3–12). But Aristotle investigates the nature of sophistical and false refutation in large part by considering how it differs from true refutation (see e.g., SE 5.167a21ff, 8.169b40ff, 11.171b34ff.). So this work gives us some of our best information as to what is required for and what is accomplished by a true refutation, in Aristotle’s view. This is a matter of some importance since Aristotle devotes a good deal of attention, throughout his works, to the refutation of the views of his opponents. It is necessary for us to know just what it is that Aristotle thinks is accomplished by these refutations in order to understand their role in his inquiry overall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Development of Dialectic from Plato to Aristotle
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages270-295
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9780511997969
ISBN (Print)9781107012226
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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    Bolton, R. (2010). The Aristotelian elenchus. In The Development of Dialectic from Plato to Aristotle (pp. 270-295). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511997969.015