The Philosopher and the Dialectician in Aristotle's Topics

History and Philosophy of Logic 37 (1):78-100 (2016)
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I claim that, in the Topics, Aristotle advises dialectical questioners to intentionally argue fallaciously in order to escape from some dialectically awkward positions, and I work through the consequences of that claim. It will turn out that, although there are important exceptions, the techniques for finding arguments described in Topics I–VII are, by and large, locations that Aristotle thought of as appropriate for use in philosophical inquiry. The text that grounds this claim, however, raises a further problem: it highlights the solitary nature of philosophical inquiry, which puts into question the philosophical relevance of Topics VIII. I find that the Topics provides inadequate grounds for thinking that Aristotle saw Topics VIII as describing standards or techniques of argument that were appropriate for philosophy, and so these texts cannot be used by contemporary commentators to shed light on Aristotle's philosophical practice. Finally, although Aristotle saw philosophy as a solitary activity, he th..

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David Merry
National University of Singapore

Citations of this work

Endoxa and Epistemology in Aristotle’s Topics.Joseph Bjelde - 2021 - In Joseph Andrew Bjelde, David Merry & Christopher Roser (eds.), Essays on Argumentation in Antiquity. Cham: Springer. pp. 201-214.
Seneca’s Argumentation and Moral Intuitionism.David Merry - 2021 - In Joseph Bjelde, Christopher Roser & David Merry (eds.), Essays on Argumentation in Antiquity. Springer. pp. 231-243.

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Aristotle's topics.Paul Slomkowski - 1997 - Leiden and New York: Brill.

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