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- The earliest systematic account of fallicies was given by Aristotle in his treatise was on sophistical arguments (Περὶ σοφιστικῶν ἐλέγχων). The aim of this treatise was to name and examine the various tricks that were relied on by many of the sophists to win the applause of their audience. We may say, therefore, that it contains an examination of the various forms of 'sophistry' current among the Greeks of the fourth century B. C. To this practical employment of the term corresponds, in a general way, the meaning that must be assigned to it when, at the present day, it is used in a popular sense. From this point of view, a fallacy may be said to be any error of statement or belief. If, for example, any one should believe that the sun revolves around the earth, such a belief would be called fallacious, and the statement of that belief would be called a fallacy. This meaning of the word, however, is too indefinite for the purposes of logic, and it covers too miscellaneous a group of cases to be of much service in directing its inquiries. It is customary, therefore, to narrow the interpretation of the term by confining its application to any breach of the principles and rules of logical procedure.
- Arthur Ernest Davies (1915) A text-book of logic. p.508 (direct link)
- Aristotle's explanation of the nature of Fallacies, if not satisfactory, seems to be as complete and intelligible as any that has since been offered. As his doctrines, indeed, are the source and substance of those of his successors, it appeared to the translator that the student of this theory would prefer to resort for instruction to the fountain-head, if it were made more easy of access.
"Is not, however, the whole subject of Fallacies somewhat trumpery, and one that may be suffered, without much regret, to sink into oblivion ?"
Possibly: but besides the doctrine of Fallacies, Aristotle offers either in this treatise, or in other passages quoted in the commentary, various glances over the world of science and opinion, various suggestions on problems which are still agitated, and a vivid picture of the ancient system of dialectic, which it is hoped may be found both interesting and instructive.
- Aristotle, Edward Poste transl. (1866) Aristotle on fallacies: or, The Sophistici elenchi Macmillan. Preface.
- PETITIO PBINCIPII (... or begging the question) — is one of the seven paralogisms or false reasonings which Aristotle refutes in the fifth chapter of his Sophistical Refutations. It consists in assuming or taking for granted in some way the point which is really in dispute. Now, in all reasoning, that which is employed as proof should be more clear and better known than that which it is employed to prove. To infer the actual occurrence of eclipses, recorded in Chinese annals, from an assumption of the authenticity of these annals, is an example of petitio principii.
- William Fleming (1857) The vocabulary of philosophy, mental, moral, and metaphysical. p.377