Just as Aristotelian dialectic sharply distinguishes between real and fallacious arguments, Aristotelian rhetoric distinguishes between real and fallacious enthymemes. For this reason Aristotle’s Rhetoric includes a chapter – chapter II.24 – that is exclusively devoted to what Aristotle calls “topoi” of fallacious enthymemes. Thus, the purpose of this chapter seems to be equivalent to the purpose of the treatise Sophistici Elenchi, which attempts to give a complete list of all possible types of fallacious arguments. It turns out that, although the Rhetoric’s list of fallacious types of rhetorical arguments basically resembles the list from the Sophistici Elenchi, there also are some striking differences. The paper tries to account for the relation between these two, more or less independent, Aristotelian approaches to the phenomenon of fallacious arguments. Can one of these two lists be seen as the basic or original one? And what is the point in deviating from this basic list? Are all deviations occasioned by the specific contexts of the rhetorical use on the one hand, and the dialectical on the other? Or do the two lists display different (or even incoherent) logical assumptions? Even an only tentative answer to this set of questions will help to clarify another but closely related scholarly problem, namely the relation between the Rhetoric’s list of topoi for real enthymemes and the Topics’ list of topoi for real dialectical arguments. It will also help to account for the general place of fallacious arguments within Aristotle’s dialectic-based approach the rhetoric.
History of Philosophy and Logical Analysis – Brill
Published: Apr 5, 2012