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[12] Nevertheless, Rhetoric is useful, because the true and the just are naturally superior to their opposites, so that, if decisions are improperly made, they must owe their defeat to their own advocates; which is reprehensible. Further, in dealing with certain persons, even if we possessed the most accurate scientific knowledge, we should not find it easy to persuade them by the employment of such knowledge. For scientific discourse is concerned with instruction,1 but in the case of such persons instruction is impossible; our proofs and arguments must rest on generally accepted principles, as we said in the Topics,2 when speaking of converse with the multitude. Further, the orator should be able to prove opposites, as in logical arguments; not that we should do both (for one ought not to persuade people to do what is wrong), but that the real state of the case may not escape us, and that we ourselves may be able to counteract false arguments, if another makes an unfair use of them. Rhetoric and Dialectic alone of all the arts prove opposites; for both are equally concerned with them. However, it is not the same with the subject matter, but, generally speaking, that which is true and better is naturally always easier to prove and more likely to persuade. Besides, it would be absurd if it were considered disgraceful not to be able to defend oneself with the help of the body,
but not disgraceful as far as speech is concerned, whose use is more characteristic of man than that of the body.

1 Almost equivalent to demonstration or strictly logical proof.

2 1.2. The Topics is a treatise in eight books on Dialectic and drawing conclusions from probabilities.

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  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 8
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