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Of the use of sophistical arguments and hypothetical and the like.

1 THE handling of sophistical and hypothetical arguments, and of those which derive their conclusions from questioning, and in a word the handling of all such arguments, relates to the duties of life, though the many do not know this truth. For in every matter we inquire how the wise and good man shall discover the proper path and the proper method of dealing with the matter. Let then people either say that the grave man will not descend into the contest of question and answer, or, that if he does descend into the contest, he will take no care about not conducting himself rashly or carelessly in questioning and answering. But if they do not allow either the one or the other of these things, they must admit that some inquiry ought to be made into those topics (τόπων) on which particularly questioning and answering are employed. For what is the end proposed in reasoning? To establish true propositions, to remove the false, to withhold assent from those which are not plain. Is it enough then to have learned only this? It is enough, a man may reply. Is it then also enough for a man, who would not make a mistake in the use of coined money, to have heard this precept, that he should receive the genuine drachmae and reject the spurious? It is not enough. What then ought to be added to this precept? What else than the faculty which proves and distinguishes the genuine and the spurious drachmae? Consequently also in reasoning what has been said is not enough; but it is necessary that a man should acquire the faculty of examining and distinguishing the true and the false, and that which is not plain? It is necessary. Besides this, what is proposed in reasoning? That you should accept what follows from that which you have properly granted. Well, is it then enough in this case also to know this? It is not enough; but a man must learn how one thing is a consequence of other things, and when one thing follows from one thing, and when it follows from several collectively. Consider then if it be not necessary that this power should also be acquired by him, who purposes to conduct himself skilfully in reasoning, the power of demonstrating himself the several things which he has proposed,2 and the power of understanding the demonstrations of others, and of not being deceived by sophists, as if they were demonstrating. Therefore there has arisen among us the practice and exercise of conclusive arguments3 and figures, and it has been shown to be necessary.

But in fact in some cases we have properly granted the premises4 or assumptions, and there results from them something; and though it is not true, yet none the less it does result. What then ought I to do? Ought I to admit the falsehood? And how is that possible? Well, should I say that I did not properly grant that which we agreed upon? But you are not allowed to do even this. Shall I then say that the consequence does not arise through what has been conceded? But neither is this allowed. What then must be done in this case? Consider if it is not this: as to have borrowed is not enough to make a man still a debtor, but to this must be added the fact that he continues to owe the money and that the debt is not paid, so it is not enough to compel you to admit the inference5that you have granted the premises (τὰ λήμματα), but you must abide by what you have granted. Indeed, if the premises continue to the end such as they were when they were granted, it is absolutely necessary for us to abide by what we have granted, and we must accept their consequences: but if the premises do not remain6 such as they were when they were granted, it is absolutely necessary for us also to with- draw from what we granted, and from accepting what does not follow from the words in which our concessions were made. For the inference is now not our inference, nor does it result with our assent, since we have withdrawn from the premises which we granted. We ought then both to examine such kinds of premises, and such change and variation of them (from one meaning to another), by which in the course of questioning or answering, or in making the syllogistic conclusion, or in any other such way, the premises undergo variations, and give occasion to the foolish to be confounded, if they do not see what conclusions (consequences) are. For what reason ought we to examine? In order that we may not in this matter be employed in an improper manner nor in a confused way.

And the same in hypotheses and hypothetical arguments; for it is necessary sometimes to demand the granting of some hypothesis as a kind of passage to the argument which follows. Must we then allow every hypothesis that is proposed, or not allow every one? And if not every one, which should we allow? And if a man has allowed an hypothesis, must he in every case abide by allowing it? or must he sometimes withdraw from it, but admit the consequences and not admit contradictions? Yes; but suppose that a man says, If you admit the hypothesis of a possibility, I will draw you to an impossibility. With such a person shall a man of sense refuse to enter into a contest, and avoid discussion and conversation with him? But what other man than the man of sense can use argumentation and is skilful in questioning and answering, and incapable of being cheated and deceived by false reasoning? And shall he enter into the contest, and yet not take care whether he shall engage in argument not rashly and not carelessly? And if he does not take care, how can he be such a man as we conceive him to be? But without some such exercise and preparation, can he maintain a continuous and consistent argument? Let them show this; and all these speculations (θεωρήματα) become superfluous, and are absurd and inconsistent with our notion of a good and serious man.

Why are we still indolent and negligent and sluggish, and why do we seek pretences for not labouring and not being watchful in cultivating our reason? If then I shall make a mistake in these matters may I not have killed my father? Slave, where was there a father in this matter that you could kill him? What then have you done? The only fault that was possible here is the fault which you have committed. This is the very remark which I made to Rufus7 when he blamed me for not having discovered the one thing omitted in a certain syllogism: I suppose, I said, that I have burnt the Capitol. Slave, he replied, was the thing omitted here the Capitol? Or are these the only crimes, to burn the Capitol and to kill your father? But for a man to use the appearances presented to him rashly and foolishly and carelessly, and not to understand argument, nor demonstration, nor sophism, nor, in a word, to see in questioning and answering what is consistent with that which we have granted or is not consistent; is there no error in this?

1 The title is περὶ τῆς χρείας τῶν μεταπιπτόντων καὶ ὑποθετικῶν καὶ τῶν ὁμοιων. Schweighaeuser has a big note on μεταπίπτοντες λόγοι, which he has collected from various critics. Mrs. Carter translated the title 'Of the Use of Convertible and Hypothetical Propositions and the like.' But “convertible” might be understood in the common logical sense, which is not the meaning of Epictetus. Schweighaeuser explains μεταπίπτοντες λόγοι to be sophistical arguments in which the meaning of propositions or of terms, which ought to remain the same, is dexterously changed and perverted to another meaning.

2 See Schweig.'s note on ἀποδείξειν ἕκαστα ἀποδόντα.

3 These are syllogisms and figures, modes (τρόποι) by which the syllogism has its proper conclusion.

4 Compare Aristotle, Topic. viii. 1, 22 (ed. J. Pac. 758). Afterwards Epictetus uses τὰ ὡμολογημένα as equivalent to λήμματα (premises or assumptions).

5 “The inference,” τὸ ἐπιφερόμενον.Ἐπιφορά est 'illatio' quae assumptionem sequitur” (Upton).

6 This, then, is a case of μεταπίπτοντες λόγοι (chap. vii. 1), where there has been a sophistical or dishonest change in the premises or in some term, by virtue of which change there appears to be a just conclusion, which, however, is false; and it is not a conclusion derived from the premises to which we assented. A ridiculous example is given by Seneca, Ep. 48: “Mus syllaba est: mus autem caseum rodit: syllaba ergo caseum rodit.” Seneca laughs at this absurdity, and says perhaps the following syllogism (collectio) may be a better example of acuteness: “Mus syllaba est: syllaba autem caseum non rodit: mus ergo caseum non rodit.” One is as good as the other. We know that neither conclusion is true, and we see where the error is. Ménage says that though the Stoics particularly cultivated logic, some of them despised it, and he mentions Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Antoninus. Upton, however, observes that Epictetus and Marcus Antoninus did not despise logic (he says nothing about Seneca), but employed it for their own purposes. It has been observed that if a man is asked whether, if every A is B, every B is also A, he might answer that it is. But if you put the conversion in this material form: “Every goose is an animal,” he immediately perceives that he cannot say, “Every animal is a goose.” What does this show? It shows that the man's comprehension of the proposition, every A is B, was not true, and that he took it to mean Something different from what the person intended who put the question. He understood that A and B were coextensive. Whether we call this reasoning or something else, makes no matter. A man whose understanding is sound cannot in the nature of things reason wrong; but his understanding of the matter on which he reasons may be wrong somewhere, and he may not be able to discover where. A man who has been trained in the logical art may show him that his conclusion is just according to his understanding of the terms and the propositions employed, but yet it is not true.

7 Rufus is Musonius Rufus (i. 1). To kill a father and to burn the Roman Capitol are mentioned as instances of the greatest crimes. Comp. Horace, Epode, iii.; Cicero, De Amicit. c. 11; Plutarch, Tib. Gracchus, c. 20.

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