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[21] I mean by dialectical and rhetorical syllogisms those which are concerned with what we call “topics,” which may be applied alike to Law, Physics, Politics, and many other sciences that differ in kind, such as the topic of the more or less, which will furnish syllogisms and enthymemes equally well for Law, Physics, or any other science whatever, although these subjects differ in kind. Specific topics on the other hand are derived from propositions which are peculiar to each species or genus of things; there are, for example, propositions about Physics which can furnish neither enthymemes nor syllogisms about Ethics,
and there are propositions concerned with Ethics which will be useless for furnishing conclusions about Physics; and the same holds good in all cases. The first kind of topics will not make a man practically wise about any particular class of things, because they do not deal with any particular subject matter; but as to the specific topics, the happier a man is in his choice of propositions, the more he will unconsciously produce a science quite different from Dialectic and Rhetoric. For if once he hits upon first principles, it will no longer be Dialectic or Rhetoric, but that science whose principles he has arrived at.1

1 The common topics do not deal with particular subject matter, as the specific topics do. In making use of the latter, the “better” (that is, in regard to a special science) the propositions chosen by a man, the more he will without knowing it quit the domain of Rhetoric and Dialectic, and become a professor of that special science whose first principles he has hit upon.

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