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Aristotle's De InterpretationeContradiction and Dialectic$
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C. W. A. Whitaker

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199254194

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199254192.001.0001

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Chapter 14: Contrary Beliefs

Chapter 14: Contrary Beliefs

(p.171) 14 Chapter 14: Contrary Beliefs
Aristotle's De Interpretatione

C. W. A. Whitaker

Oxford University Press

The investigation of contradictory pairs has so far dealt only with assertions. Now we see the study turn to the relation between utterances and thoughts, established in Ch. 1. Aristotle questions which beliefs are contrary to each other, that is, which are the most opposite possible. He argues that the deepest error on a subject is to hold the belief that contradicts it exactly. Contrary beliefs are expressed by assertions that contradict each other. Therefore, if we demonstrate that a certain assertion expresses an erroneous belief, we have shown that it is contradictory must be accepted as true. This is refutation, the goal of all dialectical argument. In this chapter, then, Aristotle establishes the vital principle on which dialectic, and all the work of the Topics, rests. This final chapter of the De Interpretatione thus acts as the summation of the treatise, demonstrating the importance of the study of contradiction for dialectic.

Keywords:   Aristotle, assertion, belief, contradictory, contrary belief, De Interpretatione, dialectic, error, thought, Topics

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