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[454a] “is the power of the art of contradiction1!” “Why so?” “Because,” said I, “many appear to me to fall into it even against their wills, and to suppose that they are not wrangling but arguing, owing to their inability to apply the proper divisions and distinctions to the subject under consideration. They pursue purely verbal oppositions, practising eristic, not dialectic on one another.” “Yes, this does happen to many,” he said; “but does this observation apply to us too at present?”

1 ἀντιλογικῆς: one of several designations for the eristic which Isocrates maliciously confounds with dialectic while Plato is careful to distinguish them. Cf. E. S. Thompson, The Meno of Plato, Excursus V., pp. 272 ff. and the introduction to E.H. Gifford's Euthydemus, p. 42. Among the marks of eristic are the pusuit of merely verbal oppositions as here and Euthydemus 278 A, 301 B, Theaetetus 164 C; the neglect to distinguish and divide, Philebus 17 A, Phaedrus 265 E, 266 A, B; the failure to distinguish the hypothesis from its consequences, Phaedo 101 E, Parmenides 135-136.

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