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Logic and Linguistics 105

Logic and Linguistics:


Aristotles Account of the Fallacies
of Combination and Division in the
Sophistical Refutations*
Pieter Sjoerd Hasper

Introduction

In his Sophistical Refutations Aristotle introduces a list of thirteen fallacies. Six of them he classifies as depending on the formulation, fallacies which rely on purely linguistic features of the statements involved
in the reasoning. Two of these are the sophisms of combination and
division. Aristotle does not characterize them abstractly in any way, but
his introductory examples seem clear enough:
Depending on combination [is] ... for example [i] being able to
walk while sitting and [ii] [being able] to write while not writing
( ). (SE 4,
166a23-5)

And:
Depending on division [are the arguments] [iii] that five is two and
three, and odd and even, and [iv] [that] the larger [is] equal, as it is

Dedicated to Erik Krabbe on the occasion of his retirement as Professor of Argumentation Theory at the University of Groningen (February 2008) with many
thanks for comments and the most enjoyable cooperation in trying to understand
Aristotles dialectic and theory of fallacy.

APEIRON a journal for ancient philosophy and science


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Pieter Sjoerd Hasper

so-much and something in addition (


).
(SE 4, 166a33-5)

The two examples of combination (i and ii) exhibit the same pattern, as
the phrase being able to while not-ing can be interpreted in two
ways:
(1a) while not-ing, being able to
(1b) being able to [ while not-ing]
The two examples of division (iii and iv) likewise are structurally similar, as the phrase a is b and c is interpretable in two ways:
(2a) a is [b and c]
(2b) a is b, and c
For if five is two and three is understood along (2b), then we may
claim that five is even, because it is two, and odd, because it is three.
And if what is larger than x is x and something in addition is similarly understood, then it follows that what is larger than x is something
equal to x.
In terms of how they work these introductory examples may be sufficiently perspicuous, but that is not the case with the two fallacies of
combination and division in general. For one, quite a few of the further
examples Aristotle gives are difficult to understand and have caused
commentators trouble as we shall see, some cases of combination or
division have not even been identified as such. More serious, however,
is that what little Aristotle sets forth on a theoretical level about combination and division seems incomplete and inconsistent. One point on
which Aristotles account is incomplete is that he, on the one hand, tells
us that the fallacies of combination and division arise because of thinking that a combined or divided does not differ at all (SE 7, 169a2526), but, on the other hand, does not give any criterion for counting one
reading as divided and another as combined. Of course, in the case of
(i) and (ii) it is natural to suppose that (1b) constitutes the combined
reading, as it is somehow linguistically intuitive, which is confirmed by
the fact that the fallaciously drawn conclusion, which is said to depend
on combination, derives from reading (1b). (Similarly with (iii) and (iv)
reading (2b) would be the divided reading.) But a clear criterion would
have been useful with examples as the following:

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Logic and Linguistics 107

All such arguments are dependent on combination or division: Was


he being hit with that with which you saw him being hit? And: Did
you see him being hit with that with which he was being hit? (

) (SE 20, 177a35-8)

These two questions, which are each others converse, can be analysed
in two ways, depending on where with which and with that respectively are to be placed, but both these ways can be phrased in terms of
combination as well as of division: combined with you saw/did you
see or with him being hit, or, alternatively, divided from him being
hit or from you saw/did you see.1
Aristotle is, secondly, also incomplete in so far as he fails to provide
an explanation why there is in the one case a fallacy of combination
and in another one of division. It is true that Aristotle does say of most
examples of fallacies he gives whether they are dependent on combination or on division, and sometimes, as with examples (i)-(iv), a natural
explanation for their classification suggests itself. However, with some
of the examples where such a qualification is lacking an explicit explanation would have been most helpful. In addition, it remains to be
shown that whatever explanation we may want to ascribe to Aristotle
on the basis of the examples explicitly called the one or the other, can be
extended to all examples unproblematically.
Now incompleteness may perhaps be compensated for, but inconsistency is quite another matter. The first point on which Aristotle seems to
contradict himself derives from the fact that even though every fallacy
of combination or division involves two readings of one sentence and
thus underlying both fallacies is the same kind of what one may term
doubleness, Aristotle counts them as two separate fallacies. For when
Aristotle wants to establish that there are merely these six linguistic fallacies he has just listed, he seems to argue from types of doubleness:
Of this [i.e. that there are these six fallacies] there is a proof both [] by
way of induction and [] as a deduction, [that is,] both [] when some
other [case] is taken up () and [] that in so many
ways we may indicate with the same words and sentences what is not

Cf. S.G. Schreiber, Aristotle on False Reasoning. Language and the World in the Sophistical Refutations (New York 2003), 91-2.

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the same (
). 2 (SE 4, 165b27-30)

How then are we going to end up with six rather than five linguistic
fallacies if those of combination and division involve the same way of
indicating what is not the same?
A similar inconsistency seems to occur because Aristotle often likens
the doubleness involved in the fallacies of combination and division to
that in the fallacy of accent. Both, he states, do not concern one statement or one word with several meanings and are thus not based on ambiguity. Rather they involve two statements or words, corresponding
to two readings of the same sentence (as a string of words) or written
word, in the former case a combined and a divided reading, in the latter
a reading with higher pitch and one with lower pitch. This doctrine he
states most explicitly in the following passage:
Of the [apparent deductions and refutations] which reside in the
formulation, some are dependent on something double, such as
homonymy, amphiboly ( ) and similarity of formation (
) ..., whereas combination and division and accent
[come about] because of the statement not being the same or [because
of] the word [being] what is different (
). (SE 6, 168a23-8)3

For alternative translations of this sentence, see e.g. L.-A.Dorion, Aristote: Les
rfutations sophistiques (Paris and Laval 1995), 124; J. Barnes, ed., The Complete
Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation [CWA] (Princeton, NJ: 1984), 280;
Schreiber, False Reasoning, 20; E. Poste, Aristotle on Fallacies or the Sophistici Elenchi
(London 1866), 7; E.S. Forster, Aristotle: On Sophistical Refutations, On Comingto-be and Passing-away [together with: D.J. Furley, Aristotle: On the Cosmos]
(Cambridge, MA 1955), 17; and P. Fait transl. and comm, Aristotele: Le confutazioni
sofistiche. Organon VI (Rome and Bari 2007), 7, who at 107-9 offers an overview
of all attempted interpretations. All these translations ignore the clearly parallel
double ... ... structure. One should confer, moreover, Topica I 8, 103b3-8. It
might be objected against my translation that I cannot supply any masculine word
with from the context. However, in a classification of fallacious arguments
the word easily springs to mind (cf. a few lines further, at 165b31).

Cf. the remarks immediately following at SE 6, 168a28-31; cf. also SE 7, 169a25-9


and 21, 178a2-3.

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Logic and Linguistics 109

He even goes on to claim that they are to be solved similarly:


In general in the case of arguments dependent on the formulation the
solution will always be according to the opposite of that on which the
argument is dependent. For example, if the argument is dependent on
combination, there is a solution for someone who has divided it, while
if the argument is dependent on division, there is one for someone
who has combined it. Again, if it is dependent on a sharp accent, a low
accent is the solution, while if it is dependent on a low accent, a sharp
[accent is the solution]. (SE 23, 179a11-15)

But why then does Aristotle not distinguish likewise two fallacies of
accent, one depending on a sharp accent and one depending on a low
accent?4
To add to the confusion, sometimes Aristotle seems to forget about
this claim that combination and division involve two readings or statements rather than one. For example, he states that a fallacy may occur when a divided and combined signifies something else (SE
20, 177a34-5).5 Moreover, this inconsistency points to a further issue on
which Aristotles account is not complete. For why do we have, rather
than one ambiguous statement, two separate statements in the case of
combination and division? We could ask the same question by comparing combination and division with the fallacy of amphiboly, which occurs when the same statement can be construed grammatically in two
different ways. Aristotle himself seems to acknowledge that they are
quite similar, for after giving the two examples of hitting someone with
the same as that with which one saw him being hit, he continues:
It has, then, also something belonging to amphibolous questions (
), though it is dependent
on combination.6 (SE 20, 177a38-b1)

Cf. Dorion, Les rfutations, 79.

See also SE 4, 166a35-6 and 7, 169a25-6.

At a38 I hesitatingly read , with manuscripts D, u and V, and Boethius translation, against the reading of A and B, which is adopted by W.D. Ross, ed.,
Aristotelis Topica et Sophistici Elenchi (Oxford 1958) (for the letters standing for
the manuscripts, see J. Brunschwig, ed and trans, Aristote: Topiques I Livres IIV [Paris 1967] the reports about V, which has not yet been used in any edition of the Sophistici Elenchi, are based on my own inspection of the manuscript).

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What is the principle difference Aristotle has in mind? (And when we


have answered that question, why does he think that in this particular
case there is something smacking of amphiboly?7)
In this article I shall try to deal with all these issues, trying to show
that Aristotles account may be completed in ways suggested by his
own remarks and examples, and that it is certainly not inconsistent. I
will only be able to do so, however, after having discussed all the examples to be found in the Sophistical Refutations. These examples will
provide part of the evidence on which my answers to the theoretical
questions are to be based. Moreover, what is foremost required, as a
first step towards answering these questions, is a uniform account of
all the examples. It is therefore to such a uniform account that I shall
proceed first.

Analysing Aristotles examples

2.1 Looking for a uniform account


In their attempts at analysing Aristotles examples, scholars have traditionally gone about in a case by case way, trying for each example to
come up with at least two readings in which lexical items are combined
or divided. This has worked perfectly well for the easy examples, like
those mentioned in the introduction. On the other hand, with the less
perspicuous cases this has given rise, for lack of a common scheme to
adhere to, to a large variety of proposals, without one of them obviously or more plausibly being the correct analysis. It has, moreover,
not given us anything to build on in answering the further theoretical
worries listed above.

Dorion, Les rfutations, 340, argues that should here mean ambiguous rather than amphibolous, on the grounds that amphiboly only concerns
statements in which terms can be assigned two different grammatical functions
and that and retain their grammatical function, whether they belong to
or . However, not only does this seem too strict an application
of the concept of grammatical function, but it also leaves Aristotle with a case of
ambiguity which he cannot accommodate in his scheme. For the only two cases
of ambiguity Aristotle distinguishes in the Sophistical Refutations are homonymy
(lexical ambiguity) and amphiboly (syntactical ambiguity), and these two examples obviously do not involve any kind of lexical ambiguity.
7

Cf. Fait, Le confutazioni, 184.

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111

Things have changed, however, with the proposal by Annamaria


Schiaparelli to analyse the fallacies of combination and division consistently as involving an operator with wide and narrow scope respectively.8 Her starting point, of course, is provided by examples (i) and
(ii), which lend themselves very easily to such an analysis, with being
able to as the operator which governs either just (narrow scope) or
while not-ing as a whole (wide scope). The obvious advantage of
such a uniform account is that it would give us a clear criterion what to
call the divided reading and what the combined reading. For example,
in Was he being hit with that with which you saw him being hit? the
operator would be saw, which either governs him being hit or with
which ... him being hit, so that we have good reason to call only the second reading combined, despite the fact that on the first reading with
which is in a sense also combined, namely with you saw.
Schiaparelli has difficulties, however, with examples like (iii) and
(iv), where there is no operator to be found. In such cases she takes recourse to what she calls analogues of operators, namely one- or manyplace relations and elliptical expressions with several empty slots, of
which then either one place or slot (combined reading) or two places
or slots (divided reading) are filled. Thus example (iii) five is two and
three becomes on her analysis either a conjunction of two one-place
predicates five is ... with two and three as constants respectively, or
a two-place predicate five is ... and ... with two and three as the two
terms. Similarly she analyses the example I made you free while being
a slave () to be discussed further
below as example (viii) in such a way that it consists of the elliptical
expression with two empty slots I made you (...) (...) and either the
whole expression free while being a slave filling only one of these slots
(combined reading) or free filling the one slot and while being a slave
filling the other (divided reading).
The very fact that Schiaparelli has to come up with such a way out
of the difficulties tells already against her proposal. For even though
she insists that these analogues of operators are merely analogues, the
unity of her account is thus seriously undermined. The two analogues

See A. Schiaparelli, Aristotle on the Fallacies of Combination and Division in Sophistici Elenchi 4, History and Philosophy of Logic 24 (2003) 111-129 though she
was perhaps preceded as far as the main idea is concerned by J.D.G. Evans, The
Classification of False Refutations in Aristotles De Sophisticis Elenchis, Proceedings
of the Cambridge Philological Society NS 21 (1975) 42-52, at 50.

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are not identical to operators and cannot even be made identical to each
other, so it seems that on Schiaparellis account Aristotle is committed
to there being three kinds of division and combination fallacies, without a uniform nature.
What is more, her two proposed analogues are problematic in themselves. To take the first analogue first, in five is two and three Aristotle does not consider five as the one- or two-place predicate which is
predicated either of two and three separately or of two and three
together, but as the subject which either has two and three as two
separate predicates or two and three as one single predicate. For otherwise he cannot deduce, as we saw he does, the further point that five
is odd and even from the divided reading of five is two and three
without committing a further fallacy.
The analogue of an elliptical expression with empty slots is even
more deficient, as it lacks a crucial feature of the analysis in terms of
operators with wide and narrow scope. For while that analysis allows
us to say that there is a combined reading if some string of words as a
whole is governed by an operator, and a divided reading if only part of
that same string is governed by the same operator, this feature is lost
with the analogue. Thus in the example of I made you free while being
a slave, it does not matter whether we divide the string of words free
while being a slave over one or two slots in the elliptical expression
I made you (...) (...): there is nothing in the so-called divided reading
which necessitates us to take while being a slave with you rather
than with free, because a specification to that effect is not part of the
elliptical expression.
This is not to say, however, that Schiaparelli is not on to something
with her proposal to analyse these fallacies as involving an operator
with wide and narrow scope. For with the clear criterion for what
counts as a combined reading and what as a divided reading there is
definitely something in her proposal worth preserving.9 This element
is that whereas on a divided reading two strings of words make independent contributions to the sentence as a whole, on a combined
reading the same two strings of words contribute something together.
That is, what needs to be brought out if we want to come up with an
informative as well as uniform account of the fallacies of division and
combination is that there is more than one way the same sentence (in

And because of which I was woken from my, perhaps not dogmatic, but certainly
ignorant, slumber.

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113

terms of a string of words in a certain order, not in terms of a statement


with a certain grammatical structure and a certain meaning) may be
hierarchically composed out of these words. However, while looking for
different hierarchies of composition, we should abstract from the logical
terminology of operators with scope and analyse the examples as having different hierarchical structures of grammatical composition.
These different hierarchical structures are most easily represented
with the device of grammatical trees exhibiting their composition. The
main idea of the analysis in terms of grammatical trees is that within
one sentence there can be several levels of grouping words together,
groupings which are then embedded the one in the other. If we regard
the level of the sentence as a whole as the highest, then the lower the
connection between (groups of) words is, the more closely these (groups
of) words belong to each other within the context of the sentence as a
whole. So if there are several possible grammatical trees for the same
sentence, then there are several interpretations of the compositional
structure of the sentence.
Now if we look at the examples Aristotle uses to introduce the fallacies of combination and division, an analysis in terms of grammatical
trees suggests itself immediately. For the difference between the two
readings of (i) can be represented as
follows:

This is exactly the distinction Schiaparelli wants to capture by employing the terminology of operators with a scope. But unlike with her
proposal, the analysis in terms of grammatical trees works equally well
in order to bring out the difference between the two readings of (iii)
. For that example can be represented by the
following trees:

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114

Pieter Sjoerd Hasper


and:

where in the second analysis the function of is to combine the two


trees into one sentence.

2.2

The remaining examples

Thus the benefits of the analysis in terms of grammatical trees rather


than in terms of logical operators with scope are immediately clear.
What I want to show next is that this approach is also heuristically very
valuable: all of Aristotles examples can be made sense of by presupposing that such an analysis in terms of trees of composition can be applied and some of the examples have hitherto proved to be resistant
to any convincing analysis.10 However, primarily for reasons of space
I shall hardly discuss previous attempts at reconstruction; I shall set
forth my analyses in a rather dogmatic way, and confine myself to some
comparative remarks in the footnotes. In giving the analyses, I shall not
characterize the obtained readings as combined or divided, as that issue will be addressed in the next section.
The third example of a fallacy of combination (v) Aristotle formulates as follows:

10

Notably the examples which I have numbered (v), (xii) and (xiv) see below. For
the limited heuristic value of the approach of analysing these examples in terms
of logical operators with scope, see Schiaparellis rather strained attempts (in her
Combination and Division, 117-19) at finding anything like a logical operator in
examples (v) and (xii).

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115

And [v] learning now letters, since he was learning what he knows
(). 11 (SE 4,
166a30-1)

This is a summary of an argument,12 in which it is first admitted that


someone was learning the things he knows and then this concession is
interpreted as being on a par with assigning to someone the apparently
absurd predicate learning now letters (which is absurd in the sense
that it is false of this person because he already knows letters). For the
statement can be analysed either as:

imperfectum

or as:

imperfectum

In the former case it is about someone who was learning things he now
knows, while in the latter case it says that this person was in the process
of learning things he already knows. If someone makes the concession
that someone was learning things he knows as interpreted in the latter way, he could just as well concede that one may ascribe instances of
the predicate learning now things one knows to someone, for example

11

In maintaining the imperfect I follow the consensus of all manuscripts;


the emendation into proposed by Ross is unnecessary. In writing the
infinitive I follow manuscripts A1, B and u as well as Boethius translation and Michael of Ephesus commentary. It is the reading attested by the two
best manuscripts A and B and by our oldest source, Boethius translation. It is also
clearly the lectio difficilior.

12

For a justifiedly critical discussion of alternative interpretations, see Schiaparelli,


Combination and Division, 115-17; there is some similarity between my interpretation and hers (119) in that she as well sees it as a summary of an argument.

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the predicate learning now letters on the assumption that at least


this person already knows letters and does not have to learn them any
more.
Aristotles next example of a fallacy of combination (vi) is:
[vi] While being able to carry only one thing being able to carry many
things (). (SE 4,
166a31-2)

Again this is the summary of an argument,13 namely one in which it is


first conceded that someone can only carry one thing and then that this
person can carry many things. For the predicate
is either to be analysed as:

or as:

This is Aristotles analysis of what we would call a quantifier-shift. Interpreted in the first way, there is no inconsistency with the earlier concession that this person can only carry one thing (unless we would wish
to propose a similar distinction between two readings for that statement
as well), but if interpreted in the second way, it is in straight contradiction with it. Thus someone could be refuted in a sophistical way.
That this is the correct analysis is confirmed by another example of
the same quantifier-shift, but which has not been identified yet as a case
of combination and division: example (vii). It appears in De Generatione et Corruptione I 2 and concerns the property everywhere divisible
():

13

But not the argument envisaged by Schiaparelli, Combination and Division,


122-3.

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117

This, then, is the argument which seems to necessitate that there


are atomic magnitudes. Let us state, however, that it commits a
hidden fallacy and [say] in what way it is hidden (
). For since a point is not
contiguous to a point, being divisible everywhere belongs in one sense to
magnitudes, but in another sense not (
).
It seems that, when that [scil. being divisible everywhere] has been
posited, there is a point both anywhere and everywhere (
), in the sense that it is necessary () that
a magnitude is divided into nothing. For [it seems then that] there is a
point everywhere, in the sense that it either consists of contacts or of
points ().
However, there is a sense in which [being divisible] belongs everywhere, because there is one point anywhere (), and all are like
each (). ...
This is division or combination ().
(316b34-17a12, omitting 317a9-12)

One of Aristotles goals in this passage is to explain that the argument


for the existence of atoms as ascribed by him to Democritus is based
on the confusion of two senses of the phrase everywhere divisible.14
For the absurdity of composing a magnitude from what would result if
there were a division everywhere may be enough to infer that a magnitude does not have the property of possibly divided everywhere, but
not enough to follow Democritus and claim that it is not everywhere,
but only at some places, possibly divided. That is, Aristotle somehow
wants to distinguish between the following two readings of everywhere divisible:
(a)

at every position on m, m is possibly divided

(b)

m is possibly [divided at every position on m]

14 For a full discussion of the issues involved with this passage and of the mysterious
phrases in it, see my Aristotles Diagnosis of Atomism, Apeiron 39 (2006) 121-156.

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Pieter Sjoerd Hasper

He does so by introducing, with the notion of points, possible divisions and by correlating them to the positions (which we would call
points) on a magnitude. The basic correlation is that between a possible
division and a position, which Aristotle describes in terms of there being a point anywhere, which is common to both senses we could
represent this correlation with the property of there being a possible division at x, that is, being divisible at x. Now in order to describe sense (a) of
everywhere divisible Aristotle quantifies over these possible divisions
or over these correlations between possible divisions and positions: all
[points or possible divisions] are like each in that they belong to a position. So we get:

all

possibility of division

position

On the other hand, in order to describe sense (b) of everywhere divisible Aristotle does not quantify over these possible divisions or over
these correlations, but only over the positions: not only is there a point
or possible division anywhere, but there is also a point everywhere. So
we get:

possibility of division

all

position

Applying this distinction to itself we get either:

or:

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119

This distinction between two interpretations of everywhere divisible


Aristotle has thus every right to describe in terms of a hidden fallacy
and of division or combination15 it follows exactly the same pattern
as I have ascribed to the similar example from Sophistical Refutations
4. With the first analysis in mind, we conceive of the possibility that
a magnitude is divided everywhere and thus of the possibility that it
merely consists of points. Such a conception does not result from the
second analysis.
After these examples of fallacies depending on combination, Aristotle introduces the fallacy depending on division by way of the examples
mentioned in the introduction and analysed above. Then he continues
his discussion with what seems a general remark about there being divided and combined readings of the same sentence:
For the same sentence divided and combined would not always seem
to signify the same, such as: [viii] I made you free while being a slave
() and [ix] Fifty to a hundred men
the divine Achilles left behind16 (
). (SE 4, 166a35-8)

As this seems a general remark, it is not clear under which fallacy each
of these two examples (viii and ix) should be classified probably they
are not even meant as examples of fallacies, but merely of sentences
which can be read in two ways.17 But again they may be analysed with
the help of trees. The first example (viii) can be interpreted either as:

15

In Aristotles Diagnosis, 141, I offered a different interpretation of the sentence:


, but the one given here seems much more plausible. It should be noted, though, that the reinterpretation of this one sentence does
not affect anything else I have said there.

16

This translation is not literally correct, but is meant to capture the ambiguous
structure of the Greek example.

17

Cf. Schiaparelli, Combination and Division, 125-8.

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or18 as:

On the first analysis this statement turns out to be the absurd claim that
I have made you free while at the same time being a slave, while on
the second analysis it merely says that I have made you, while being
a slave, free. (That there are here in fact two trees is meant to signify
that the state indicated by has nothing to do with, or is at
least relatively independent from, the act referred to with , but is
merely tagged on to .)
The second example of this passage (ix) allows both for the following tree:

and for:

<>

18

Alternatively, we could group together with , so that we get a


first tree with [ [ ]] and a second composition with [
] tagged on to and only functioning as predicative with .
For present purposes the two alternative pairs of analyses are equivalent. The reason why I have adopted this pair is that it is closer to the allusion to this sentence,
presumably taken from a comedy-play, in Terentius, Andria, 37: feci ex servo ut
esses libertus mihi.

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Logic and Linguistics 121


where the first disappears with the combination of
<> with , just as < > might also be
said to disappear on the second reading of (iii) if it is to be constructed
as: < > . (Again, the fact that
there are two trees here is meant to signify that has
nothing to do with or is at least relatively independent from the act
referred to with , but is merely tagged on to in
order to indicate the group out of which these fifty are taken.) On the
latter analysis the divine Achilles left behind fifty <men> of the hundred men, while on the former analysis the divine Achilles left behind
fifty and a hundred men.19
Aristotle resumes the discussion of fallacies depending on division
and combination in Chapter 20 of the Sophistical Refutations. There his
first two examples are the ones already mentioned in the introduction:
(x) Was he being hit with that with which you saw him being hit?
( ) and: (xi)
Did you see him being hit with that with which he was being hit? (
;). It is the part with or which lends
itself to being analysed in two different ways, either as:

or as:

19

As Schiaparelli, Combination and Division, 126, note 32, remarks correctly, because of its hexametric form one need not expect the example to adhere to the normal rule that in composed numerals the smaller unit (here:
) may only precede the larger (here: ) if linked by way of
It is also possible to have a tree of the second type with and
<> switching rles: { } [ <>]
: Of fifty men the divine Achilles left a hundred behind (see e.g.
Schiaparelli, Combination and Division, 126), but as this tree does not differ in
structure from the one given, and yields a completely absurd and therefore uninteresting reading, it does not seem likely that Aristotle had this one in mind.

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On the first analysis, this part of the sentence refers to that with which
he was being hit, as you saw it, while on the second analysis it is about
that with which you saw it happening. Thus on the first analysis one
would be asking the trivial question whether that with which he was
being hit, as you saw it, was indeed the same thing as that with which
he was being hit. On the second analysis, on the other hand, the question would be whether that with which you saw that happening was
the same thing as that with which he was being hit a question which
can only be answered with an emphatic no.
The next example (xii) Aristotle gives of this kind of fallacy is notoriously short:
And there is Euthydemus argument: [xii] Do you know now being in Sicily the triremes being in Peiraeus? (
.) (SE 20, 177b12-13)

In principle there are three elements one may move around in a possible
tree which for the rest consists of and its object :
and , for all three could in principle
both belong and not belong to what is known ( may take both a
noun-phrase or a participle-phrase for its object and could latch on
to either kind of phrase). However, that alone would be the element
to have different places in a tree seems unlikely, as Aristotle gives such
an example only a little later, at 177b20-22. That could
belong to different branches in a tree seems again unlikely, as it would
involve positing a grammatically strained participle-phrase
(with or without it seems equally strange)
in at least one tree. Therefore it is preferable to interpret the example in
such a way that may appear in two different roles.
Aristotles example seems most effective if it is analysed20 either as:

or as:

20

In the following trees I have, for the sake of brevity and simplicity, left out the
phrase , which should be understood as tagged on to .

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Logic and Linguistics 123

(in which latter case we have again two trees, one for the main statement and another for a statement tagged on). Thus according to the first
analysis you, rather problematically, know that some triremes are now
in Peiraeus, even though you are in Sicily, while on the second analysis
you know, while you are in Sicily, of some triremes, which, as a matter
of fact, without you knowing so, are now in Peiraeus.
That this is the right interpretation of the point of the example is confirmed by Aristotles other reference to the argument of Euthydemus,
which we find in the Rhetoric:
Another [way of giving an apparent enthymeme] is talking about
something divided while combining it or about something combined
while dividing it. For since often it seems to be the same without being the same, one should do that, whichever of the two ways is more
useful. This is the argument of Euthydemus, such as knowing that
there is a trireme in Peiraeus for one knows each (
<>
). (II 24, 1401a24-8)

Just as in my proposed analysis, the focus is completely on knowing a


trireme (or triremes) to be in Peiraeus.
One may object, however, that it is difficult to use the reference to
the argument of Euthydemus in the Rhetoric as evidence regarding the
interpretation of the reference in the Sophistical Refutations.21 Traditionally the example in the Rhetoric has been interpreted very differently,
because of Aristotles explanatory remark: . In the
context this remark suggests that one knows that a trireme is in Peiraeus because one knows each element. Thus one would know the trireme in Peiraeus because, say, one knows the trireme and one knows

21

Cf. Dorion, Les rfutations, 344, who despairs of getting anything even relatively
secure from the passage in the Rhetoric.

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124

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Peiraeus.22 However, that is not the only possible way of reading this
remark; it could also be a theoretical remark about grammar, to the effect that verbs of knowing may also be complemented with a nounphrase: For one knows of x.23 And one may know of something under
different descriptions: one may know a trireme merely as that trireme
(because one has seen it once, for example, or even because one has
heard about it), but also as it is now, namely as a trireme which is in
Peiraeus. It is this construction which is abused by Euthydemus in his
argument, by phrasing the question in such a way that it is ambiguous
under what description you know some triremes, whether just like that
or as triremes which are now in Peiraeus.
The next example (xiii) is very simple:
And again: [xiii] Is it possible to be a miserable cobbler who is good?
( ;) But [then] there
could be some miserable cobbler who is good (
). Hence there will be a good miserable cobbler.
(SE 20, 177b13-15)

The initial question (and also the first affirmative statement) could be
read either as:

<>

or as:

<>

22

See e.g. C. Rapp, Aristoteles: Rhetorik II (Darmstadt 2002), 782; cf. Schreiber, False
Reasoning, 71-2, Fait, Le confutazione, 186, and the translation in CWA, 2233.

23

This use of for, as we would call it, a free variable without any generalising import can be seen as an extension of the use of with widest possible
scope.

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Logic and Linguistics 125

The second reading then licences the final conclusion through a fallacy
dependent on accident.
The next example (xiv), however, is far more obscure, and even involves textual issues. The text as read by all the authoritative manuscripts is as follows:
[xiv]
24

25 . (SE 20, 177b16-20)

Commentators, not being able to find anything remotely similar to combination or division in the rest, have only paid attention to the inference
from what is bad is both bad and a thing learned to what is bad is a
thing learned which is bad,26 even though they are quite aware that it
is in fact a fallacy dependent on accident. There may be a problem here,
but even if there is, it seems quite unlikely that that inference constitutes the core of the example. For if it were, Aristotles presentation of
examples in this chapter would be inconsistent, for they are all adduced
in the form of questions27 in reply to which the answerer must draw a
distinction ( at 177b10).28 Moreover,

24

With the exception of c1 and u, which merely have , all manuscripts (A, B,
D, V and also c2) as well as Boethius translation and Michael of Ephesus commentary have . Ross, however, following Poste, reads
. The thought behind this emendation is that otherwise the initial question does not seem to play any real part in the argument, but that is only correct
if one assumes that the question is syntactically unambiguous which is not the
case, as we shall see below.

25

Ross reads, with Michael of Ephesus, after , but none of the manuscripts have it, and it is not necessary at all, since Aristotle could just as well be
talking about a science of bad things. I suspect that Ross insertion of derives
from his adoption of Postes emendation at 177b17 (see the previous note).

26

Dorion, Les rfutations, 345-6; Schreiber, False Reasoning, 66-7; Fait, Le confutazioni, 187.

27

The first question concerned is referred to in 177b10-12 (and is stated in 177b36-8),


the others are mentioned at 177b12-13, b13-15, b20-2, b22-6.

28

This phrase should not be translated as: The answerer must bring about a division in the sense of giving a divided reading, as it seems to be almost universally
rendered (e.g. Dorion, Les rfutations 172, CWA, 302, and Forster, Sophistical Refu-

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126

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why would Aristotle, this most succinct of philosophers, go through a


whole stretch of dialectical argumentation if only a fragment would illustrate the fallacy he is concerned with?
If one looks carefully, however, one can find an ambiguity of a syntactical nature in the question. It concerns the hidden antecedent of :
that may be either or . In the first case we get the analysis:

<>

whereas in the second case29 we get:

<>

Conceding this syntactically ambiguous question thus allows the sophistical interlocutor to use both constructions, the one in which
goes with an genitive of object, and the other in which a

tations, 105; see, however, Fait, Le confutazione, 63). In addition to the fact that
then Aristotle is advising something else than what he himself does in the subsequent examples, it is then not possible either to make sense of Aristotles reason for
this advice:
(177b10-12). By adding quotation marks, Ross tries to get
two versions out of the identical phrases , in order that one may translate: for ... is not the same as ... (cf. Dorion, Les rfutations,
172-3). However, this interpretation would leave one wondering what the function
of were indeed, Ross suggests that it should perhaps be omitted. This
problem is avoided by understanding Aristotle as saying that
, that is, saying is not [something which
is one and] the same [thing]. (Thus I take to be used in an only implicitly
comparative way one should supply understood with combination or division
to indicate the domain of comparison.) Thus interpreted, the reason can only be
a reason for the advice that the answerer must draw a distinction between two
different readings a pertinent meaning of the verb in the Sophistical
Refutations (e.g., 18, 176b36 and 177a4-5).
29

For the construction, see W.W. Goodwin, A Greek Grammar (London 1879), 919.

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Logic and Linguistics 127

is identified with something, and to switch between them. And that


is precisely what we see in the remainder of the passage quoted. The
switch occurs in the inference from the statement that of what is bad
something learned is beneficial (), to
the statement that what is bad is a thing learned which is beneficial
( ). I take it that Aristotle holds both
this former statement and the first analysis of the initial concession
to be unproblematically true, but is aware of the smell of paradox involved in the second statement: how can what is bad be beneficial, even
if only as a thing learned?30
It is this danger the sophistical interlocutor, being allowed to talk
about in the second way as well, is going to exploit by stating that: However, what is bad is also bad and a thing learned hence
what is bad is a thing learned which is bad. This follows the pattern of
a fallacy depending on accident, as what is bad does not signify what
is bad in itself, but something which has being bad as an accident, to
which the further accident of being a also belongs. However,
that this is a fallacious inference should not blind us for the fact that
in this context Aristotle is more concerned with the point that with the
construction of as identified with something there is room for
the fallacy; the conclusion arrived at is not solely due to the final fallacious inference.31

30

One might be tempted, as I initially was, to posit a switch in meaning of the term
, from what is learned (or study) to the object of what is learned (or
object of study), but then it would be hard to understand what Aristotle thought
possibly problematic about the second statement and about the second analysis
of the initial concession. Moreover, in Greek is what is learned, and that
comprises, just as in the case of what is known and what is said, both the things
or facts one acquires knowledge of and the content of the knowledge one acquires
about these things or facts. I suppose that if Aristotle did feel a difference in meaning, he would locate it precisely where he seems to locate it here, in the difference
between as identifiable with something, and with a genitive of
object: where with genitive can only be interpreted as the content learned
about things, as identified with things can be ambiguous.

31

It is in order to play down the emphasis on the fallacious inference that I have
translated the final conclusion as: Hence what is bad is a thing learned which
is bad, rather than more straightforwardly as: Hence what is bad is a bad thing
learned. One may even be tempted to deny that this inference is fallacious, by insisting that what is bad is a bad thing to learn as an art (the art of evil is obviously
evil itself), but this interpretation would involve a shift in meaning in from

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Pieter Sjoerd Hasper

This is confirmed by the fact that it is apparently necessary to have a


second application of the concession formulated with the syntactically
ambiguous sentence, this time only as analysed in the second way. For
Aristotles remark: But the science of things which are bad is beneficial is only relevant and suggesting a contradiction with the statement
that what is bad is a thing learned which is bad, if from that remark
one can infer that things which are bad, are things learned which are
beneficial. It is precisely this inference which is licensed by the concession, which on the second reading says: The things whose sciences are
beneficial, are things learned which are beneficial. Thus in this passage
the syntactically ambiguous sentence is both used to facilitate the some
further inference the sophistical arguer wishes to make, by allowing for
a switch from one type of vocabulary to another, and to point out that
this inference is inconsistent with a generally accepted proposition, by
applying one of its readings.
Aristotle continues his list of problematic questions with an easy example (xv):
[xv] Is it correct to say now that you have been born? (
) Therefore you have been born now
(). Or does it signify something else when a distinction has been brought about ( )?32 For it is
now correct to say that you have been born, but not that you have
been born now (
). (SE 20, 177b20-2)

As in so many constructions in Greek with indirect speech introduced


with , part of what is said may appear before . Often it is the subject of the reported statement, but here it concerns the temporal adverb
. Thus we get the two analyses:

something learned in an intellectual way to something learned as an art to be practiced.


32

My choice for this translation is based on the considerations that at 177b10


should be translated similarly (see note 28) and that what Aristotle
does in the next sentence is only draw a distinction between two different readings
of the same sentence (just as he does so in a completely parallel way at 177b25-6).
Though I do prefer this translation, it is not mandatory; one could also render the
question as: Or does it signify something else when a division has been brought
about?

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Logic and Linguistics 129

Finally Aristotle concludes his discussion with a generalised version (xvi) of the two fallacies depending on combination (i and ii) with
which he introduced them in chapter 4 of the Sophistical Refutations:
[xvi] May you do the things which you can [do] in the way in which
you can [do them]? (
) But while not playing the guitar you have the ability of
playing the guitar. Therefore you may play the guitar while not playing the guitar. Or: he does not have the ability of that: of playing the
guitar while not playing the guitar, but when he is not doing it [the
ability] of playing the guitar.(SE 20, 177b22-6)

The crucial relative clause in the initial question one may either analyse
as:

<> <>

<> <>33

or as:

33

For the crucial addition of , compare SE 20, 177b27-8: ... ...,


and b29: ... ...

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130

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The syntactical ambiguity of this general rule is then used to licence


the inference from the statement that while you are not playing the guitar you have the ability to play the guitar to the statement that you
therefore may play the guitar while not playing it. If one compares Aristotles discussion here to the examples with which he introduced the
fallacy of composition there is in fact nothing new here.

Aristotles theoretical account of the fallacies


of division and combination

Now that all examples Aristotle gives have been discussed and shown
to be susceptible to an analysis by way of trees of grammatical composition, we are in a position to take up the theoretical issues concerning
the fallacies of division and combination. First I shall formulate the criteria Aristotle apparently presupposes for calling a reading combined
or divided and for classifying a fallacy as dependent on combination
or division; thus the first two counts of incompleteness will be taken
care of. Then I shall address Aristotles inconsistency in saying that
combination and division involve one or two separate statements, as
well as the related charge of incompleteness, that he has not given us
a reason to consider the divided and combined readings as two separate statements rather than as one ambiguous statement, as is the case
with amphiboly. Finally I shall try to absolve Aristotle from the two remaining accusations of inconsistency, by showing that despite the fact
that combination and division, just as the fallacy of accent, involve the
same kind of doubleness, there are nevertheless grounds for counting
two fallacies of combination and division, without these considerations
likewise leading to two fallacies of accent.
3.1 Combined and divided readings
As already stated at the introduction of the analysis in terms of grammatical trees as the framework in which to understand these fallacies,
the first benefit to be reaped from this way of analysing them is that it
should yield a criterion as to what will count as a combined and what
as a divided reading. For the idea suggested by Schiaparellis analysis
in terms of operators and their scope which I strove to retain by applying grammatical trees was that:

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Logic and Linguistics 131

In case of there being a string of words consisting of parts X


and Y, there is a combined reading of a sentence S featuring X
and Y if X and Y together fulfil a single grammatical function
within S as a whole, and a divided reading of S if X and Y fulfil
different grammatical functions within S.
With this rule in hand it will in most cases be intuitively clear which
reading is combined and which divided. For example, in (i) it is natural,
as I suggested, to assume that the second tree [
] represents the combined reading, with together fulfilling the grammatical function of the complement required
by ; whereas the first tree [} {]34
exhibits the divided reading, as stills functions as the complement of , but now has a different rle.
Nevertheless, however intuitively clear this may be, the rule as formulated above still does not fully capture the idea. For what are we going to say about cases in which there is string of words X which in the
one tree is grouped with Y and in the other tree with Z? There are three
such cases among our examples: (x) and (xi) as well as (xv). In (x) and
(xi) and are either grouped with or with
, in both cases fulfilling the rle of indicating an instrument
with which one sees or is beaten. In (xv) is either a temporal adverb
belonging to or going with . What we need is a
criterion in order to privilege one of these groupings over the other.
Once we recognize this problem, we also see that it can be generalised to all examples. For even in the supposedly obvious example (i),
we could entertain the possibility that it is not [
] which is the combined reading, but rather [ }
{]. Certainly the fact that in this example X and Y
are connected in the sense of being adjacent and forming one uninterrupted stretch of words, is not sufficient for calling the reading which
groups X and Y more intimately together, rather than X and Z, the combined reading. For if connectedness in this sense were the criterion, example (i) should be treated differently
from example (xvi) , whereas the latter is

34

In this representation of the compositional structure, the words between squared


brackets [...] belong together as a group on a relatively low level in the grammatical tree; I use } and { to indicate that such a group is interrupted within the
sentence.

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132

Pieter Sjoerd Hasper

clearly meant to be a generalisation of the former. Without the criterion


of connectedness, however, it seems conceivable that and
together make up the string of words which on one reading
are to be combined and on another divided.
A more successful way of deciding the issue would be to introduce
the concept of what I call a grammatical determinator this is my,
more flexible, substitute for Schiaparellis logical operator. A grammatical determinator is a word or string of words which requires certain complements which it can be said to govern. In (i), for example,
requires an infinitive clause as a complement to specify the
contents of the ability the same applies to examples (ii), (vi), (vii) and
(xvi). In examples (iii), (iv) and (xiii) it is the copulative , requiring
a predicate as its complement, which functions as a grammatical determinator. In (x), (xi), (xii) and (xv) we have with , and
verbs which require to be complemented with verbal phrases in the
form of an accusative with infinitive or participle, or of a subordinate
sentence introduced with , in order to describe the content of what
is seen, known or said. But also verbs requiring just an object, as in
(ix), or verbs with an object and a predicate, such as in (viii), can
be grammatical determinators, and even the morphology indicative of
the imperfect tense, as in (v), or of capacity, as in (vii). The only example
in which it may be difficult to find such a grammatical determinator
would be (xiv), as the difference between the two readings seems so
great: in the first tree is the
subject of which is predicated, while in the second tree
is the subject with as a predicate, to
which belongs in a predicative position.35 However, in both
readings there is a close predicative connection between and
; therefore I propose to take as the grammatical
determinator, requiring a complement to be true of.
With the help of this concept of a grammatical determinator we can
formulate our rule adequately:
In case of there being a string of words (not necessarily connected) consisting of parts X and Y, there is a combined reading
of a sentence S featuring X and Y if X and Y together constitute
a single group within S as a whole, as governed by a single

35

Again, see Goodwin, Greek Grammar, 919.

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Logic and Linguistics 133

grammatical determinator, and a divided reading of S if X


and Y form within S different groups with regard to the single
grammatical determinator.
Thus in (x) and (xi) the combined reading is [/} {
] and / [ ] the divided
reading. Similarly in (xv) belongs to on the combined
reading and to on the divided reading. Finally, in (xiv)
[} {] is the combined
reading, as there is one phrase serving as a subject to the predicate
, while with the divided reading
[ ] it is only of which
says something.36
3.2 Fallacies dependent on combination and fallacies dependent on division
Thus having a clear criterion why the one reading is called divided and
the other combined, we seem to be in an excellent position to explain
why Aristotle calls some fallacies dependent on combination and others dependent on division: as already hinted at in the introduction, a
fallacious argument is dependent on combination or on division if the
conclusion is based on the combined or on the divided reading of a certain sentence, while it is the opposite, divided or combined, reading of
that sentence which the answerer has in mind when accepting it. This
is indeed the pattern for most of the examples. In (i) it is the divided
reading [} {] which makes the sentence
featuring that clause acceptable, but the questioner fallaciously uses the
combined reading to derive the unacceptable conclusion that one may
be walking while sitting. In (iii), on the other hand, it is the combined
reading [] which is acceptable, but the absurd
conclusion that five is odd and even is derived through the divided
reading [ ] [<> ].
There are, however, counter-examples to and a difficult case for this
explanation. The counter-examples are (x) and (xi), which Aristotle calls

36

It is interesting to note that it is possible to construct examples with multiple grammatical determinators, so that a certain reading may be both combined (relative
to one grammatical determinator) and divided (relative to another): On what
ground do you think he assumes that the decision is taken?

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134

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dependent on combination,37 even though the questions can only be answered affirmatively because of their combined reading and can only
be used to derive unacceptable conclusions if they are understood in a
divided sense. The difficult case is (xiv), for there the sentence which
lends itself to two readings may be accepted because of only one of
its readings, but it is not the case that it is subsequently not used on
only one of them to derive a further, unwished for conclusion; rather
it serves as a kind of derivational principle which allows for jumping
from the one grammatical construction ( with a genitive of object) to the other ( identified with an object).
There are three remarks to be made about the two apparent counter-examples. The first is that if (x) is dependent on combination, also
(xvi) should be dependent on combination, for it has exactly the same
structure: both consist of a relative clause (starting with and respectively) which has a divided as well as a combined reading and a
main clause which, by leaving out the grammatical determinator, unambiguously combines the two parts which can be either divided or
combined in the relative clause. Now in the case of (xvi) we have the
following argument:
(a)

You may do the things which you can do in the way in which
you can do them.

(b)

While not playing the guitar you have the ability of playing the
guitar.

(c)

Therefore, while not playing the guitar you can play the
guitar.

(d)

By (a) and (c), you may, while not playing the guitar, play the
guitar.

The easiest way to describe the use of (a) is to take (c) to be a reformulation of (b) to make (a), including its possibility of being read in two
ways, applicable for use in modus ponens. In a quasi-formal way (with
gd standing for the grammatical determinator) the argument can be
represented as follows:
(a*)

37

XY (if gd [XY] / X[gdY], then XY)

See SE 20, 177b1, quoted above in section 1.

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Logic and Linguistics 135

(c*)

Gd[X1Y1] / X1[gdY1]

(d*)

Therefore X1Y1

And the initial concession in (x) is put to the same kind of use as (a) in
(xvi), in order to arrive at a conclusion featuring a problematic combination (X1Y1). Aristotle hints at the use (x) is put only a few lines further:
, that is, saying
is not [something which is one and] the same [thing]. (SE
20, 177b10-12)38

That you saw with eyes him being hit is only acceptable on a divided
reading, but leads through (x) immediately to the conclusion that he
was being hit with eyes.
The second remark is that, though Aristotle does not say when discussing (xvi) whether it constitutes a fallacy dependent on division or
combination, we know from (i) and (ii), which tacitly presuppose a general scheme as formulated in (xvi), that he considers this use a fallacy
of combination. The reason is that (c) is crucially readible in two ways
and, as Aristotle assumes when discussing (i) and (ii), is acceptable
on the divided reading alone, but is subsequently abused in its combined reading. Therefore it is not surprising that he also states that (x)
is dependent on combination, for it is used to argue from a proposition
which is accepted because of its divided reading, to a conclusion which
is based on its combined reading.
The third remark is, however, that we shall have to admit that example (xi) cannot be called dependent on combination, precisely because it
is the converse of (x) and can only be put to use for converse purposes,
like arguing from the proposition that he was being hit with a stone to
the conclusion that you saw it with a stone. Such an argument depends
on the divided reading of , and should
therefore be called dependent on division. Having said that, though, it
seems to me perfectly possible that Aristotle only had (x) in mind when
saying that we have here an argument dependent on combination.
The difficult case (xiv) can also be made sense of by describing similarly in a quasi-formal way the use to which its initial concession, readable in two ways, is put. As said in section 2.2, the concession

38

For the translation, see note 28.

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is first used to jump from


propositions which exhibit a combined pattern ( with a genitive of object) to propositions with a divided pattern ( identified
with an object), and then solely on its divided reading (<>
[]) applied to a particular
case of something the science of which is beneficial. The initial concession can be represented as follows:
X (gd [XY] / X[gdY]),
from which, on the basis of the fallacious idea that if one concedes this
sentence, then if one accepts it on one reading, one should also accept it
on the other, and vice versa, an inference-rule is derived:
X (gd [XY] if and only if X[gdY]),
that is:
For all things of which the branches of science are beneficial,
if of them are beneficial, then they are
which are beneficial, and vice versa.
This then is applied to infer for an instance of X, namely what is bad,
that, since of it something learned is beneficial, it is a thing learned
which is beneficial:
Gd [X1Y] X1[gdY]
As stated above, the second application of the initial concession is
confined to its divided reading:
X X[gdY].
For it is used to infer for an instance of X, again for what is bad, that
it cannot be true that what is bad is a thing learned which is bad (and
thus not beneficial):
X1[gdY] not: X1[not-gdY]
Now do these two applications of the syntactically ambiguous initial
concession fallacies of division or of combination? For the second application the answer is easy: as we have seen, Aristotle holds that the
initial concession is only unproblematical on its combined reading, but

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Logic and Linguistics 137

on the second application only its divided reading is used, in order to


show, somewhat more problematically, that one cannot hold that what
is bad is a thing learned which is bad. That should thus constitute a fallacy of division.
For the first application we cannot answer that question in a way
analogous to examples (x) and (xvi), for these concerned fallacies of
combination because the concessions (c*) to which the syntactically
ambiguous inference-rules were applied, allowed themselves for a
divided and a combined reading, and were admitted in their divided
reading, while being abused in their combined reading there is not
such a syntactically ambiguous sentence here. We cannot say either that
the initial concession is admitted on one reading, namely the combined
one, and then abused on the other reading, for what is abused is not
the divided reading, but rather the fact that the two readings can be
confused: if confusion is apparently allowed, then we may also jump
from the one reading to the other. Still, as the initial concession is only
unproblematic on the combined reading ( with genitive of object), and are suspicious on the divided reading, just as non-quantified
statements featuring as identified with something (e.g. what is
bad is a thing learned which is beneficial), we may say that the initial
concession is abused because it can crucially be read in a divided way
too. Therefore the first application of the initial concession concerns a
fallacy of division as well.
3.3 One or two statements?
As said in the introduction, it is Aristotles official doctrine that the fallacies of combination and division involve two different statements
(constituted by two different readings of a single sentence as a string of
words, neither of which is ambiguous), rather than a single statement
with two different meanings. At the same time, however, Aristotle seems
to be vacillating between holding that a sentence which allows for a divided and a combined reading does not express one , and talking
about these readings as two uses of one and the same . Should we
take this variation seriously? Some commentators have taken it very
seriously indeed, suspecting it betrays uncertainty on Aristotles part as
39
to what counts as a single . Assuming that the only reason why

39

C. Atherton, The Stoics on Ambiguity (Cambridge 1993), 205-6

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Pieter Sjoerd Hasper

with combination and division there are two statements rather than one
ambiguous one, is that the difference between the two readings always
shows up in pronunciation, others have seen this variation as an indication that the syntactical fallacies of combination and division are in fact
merely superficially different from the syntactical fallacy which does
depend on there being one statement with two different meanings, amphiboly.40 In reply I want to argue in this sub-section that there are other
indications that at least for Aristotle the point that combination and division involve two separate statements expressed with one sentence is
one of importance, that the assumption that the difference between the
combined and divided readings always shows up in pronunciation is
mistaken, and that we may ascribe to Aristotle a more relevant account
as to what counts as a single in the sense of a single statement.
Aristotle may be loose in using both for the sentence allowing two
readings and for the statement constituting one of these two readings,
but that does not mean that the underlying account is inconsistent or
unclear.
One sentence, two statements. A first small indication that in the case
of combination and division Aristotle distinguishes between the two
statements and the one sentence expressing them appears, if my translation is correct, in the following remark, quoted before:
, that is, saying
, is not [something which is one and] the same [thing]. (SE
20, 177b10-12)41

This emphasis that it is the sentence as formulated which is not one


and the same thing (in the combined and divided readings) only makes
sense if we assume that Aristotle distinguishes between a sentence and
the two statements expressed by it.
A slightly more significant indication can be found in the following
claims:
[The deception] of [fallacies] dependent on combination and division
comes about because of thinking that a combined or divided
does not differ at all, as in most cases. (SE 7, 169a25-7)

40

Dorion, Les rfutations, 82; cf. Schreiber, False Reasoning, 57-8.

41

Again see note 28 for a defence of this translation.

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Logic and Linguistics 139


[T]he same divided and combined would not always seem to
signify the same. (SE 4, 166a35-6)

The additions of as in most cases and not always imply that there are
cases in which the combined reading and the divided reading do not
differ at all in meaning. The same conclusion can be drawn from the
conditional remark:
If a divided and combined signifies something different, ... (SE
20, 177a34-5)

The one Aristotle is referring to in these passages, therefore, cannot be one statement with two different meanings, as with amphiboly,
but must be the sentence which can be construed in two different ways
so as to produce two different statements which may or may not have
the same meaning.
A third and final consideration can be found in an argument Aristotle gives us as to why some argument does not constitute a fallacy of
amphiboly but one of combination:
It [i.e., example (x)] has, then, also something belonging to amphibolous questions, though it is dependent on combination. For what
is dependent on division is not double (
). For not the same statement comes into being when it
is divided ( ), as it is not
the case that as well as , as pronounced with the accent,
signify something else (
).42 Rather, in the case of writing there is the

42

There are textual issues here. I omit the accents and breathings on , as Aristotle himself did not read them. The rest of the text I have adopted it is as read by
manuscript V, with the exception of and interchanged. It is also the text translated, of course without articles and with other examples, by Boethius: si quidem
non et malum et malum secundum accentum prolata significant aliud. With the
exception of the plural it is also read by manuscripts D and c. On the other hand, all the other manuscripts have the singular and, moreover, A and
B as well as Michael of Ephesus leave out . If we were to follow those readings,
we would get: ,
which would make the very same point as the text adopted: since it is not the case
that also , that is, pronounced with the accent, signifies something else.
It thus does not matter a great deal which text we adopt, though in defence of my

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140

Pieter Sjoerd Hasper


same word (),43 if it is written
consisting of the same letters and in the same way (
) though also there they already avail themselves of additional signs (
) , while when pronounced they are not the same (
). Hence what is dependent on division is not
double. (SE 20, 177a38-b7)

This argument runs as follows: a particular fallacious argument is not


dependent on amphiboly but on combination, because, on a universal
level, what depends on division is not ambiguous, as what depends on
accent is not ambiguous either. It consists of two steps, the first implying that it is because what depends on division is not ambiguous that
some particular argument is not a case of amphiboly but rather one of
combination, the second arguing that what depends on division is not
ambiguous because what depends on accent is not ambiguous either.
This second step we shall return to below here I confine myself to
the first step. Now there are three points which are puzzling about the
first step. One is that Aristotle argues from what is the case with division
to the classification of an example as one of combination why not say
something about combination from which it follows that this is a case of
it? A second puzzling point is that Aristotle argues immediately, without any apparent application of a criterion, from what is the case with
division in general to the classification of one particular example as one
of combination as if that would be relevant. And thirdly, the step as a
whole has the same structure as the following argument: some particular argument is not a case of amphiboly, but rather one depending on
one sense of an amphibolous statement, because an amphibolous statement as understood in the other sense is not ambiguous clearly that
is nonsense, so what is it about Aristotles argument here that could
make it meaningful?

reading I want to point out that Boethius translation is actually our oldest authority and represents a tradition which apparently survives in the old Byzanthine
manuscript tradition (V is from the tenth century). I cannot exclude the possibility,
however, of Boethius translation and V featuring convergent modifications of the
alternative text. What is anyway clear is that we do not have reason to follow Ross
in emending to <> [] .
43

I leave out the which Ross inserts before ; it is completely unnecessary.

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Logic and Linguistics 141

In order to understand Aristotles argument we need to take into account the context in which Aristotle presents it. This concerns the solution of fallacious arguments depending on combination and division:
It is clear as well how one should solve [fallacies] depending on division and combination. For if a sentence divided and combined signifies something different, one should, once the conclusion is being
drawn, state the contrary (). (SE
20, 177a33-5)

Aristotle makes the same point in a passage already quoted before:


In general in the case of arguments dependent on the formulation the
solution will always be according to the opposite of that on which the
argument is dependent.
For example, if the argument is dependent on combination, there is
a solution for someone who has divided it, while if the argument is
dependent on division, there is one for someone who has combined
it. (SE 23, 179a11-14)

This explains why considerations about what depends on division is


relevant for characterizing the fallacy as one of combination: apparently
assuming that a divided reading is the solution for this particular argument, Aristotle may thus conclude that the argument is one depending on combination. However, in order for this conclusion to follow,
he needs to secure on a general level that a divided reading is itself not
ambiguous, at least not in so far it is divided, for if that were the case,
it could not be a solution to an argument depending on combination
there would then not be an argument depending on combination, but
rather one depending on amphiboly. For since an amphiboly concerns
one ambiguous statement with two meanings, there is in case of an amphibolous argument no such thing as giving the contrary statement as a
solution; rather, we should give a specification of at least one of the two
meanings involved. This is also what Aristotle says elsewhere concerning amphiboly (as well as homonymy):
At the beginning [of the discussion, when one has to choose a thesis]
one should answer to what is twofold, both in word and in statement,
thus: that there is a sense in which it is so, and a sense in which it is not
so, such as to speaking of silence () that there is a sense

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142

Pieter Sjoerd Hasper

in which it is so and a sense in which it is not so. ... While if it goes


unnoticed, one should make a correction at the end by providing an
addition to the questioning: Is speaking of silence possible? (
)44 No, but for this man speaking of silence is. (
) And with those [discussions] having what is
manifold among the propositions [asked] similarly: Do people therefore not understand what they know? Yes, but not those who know
in this sense. (SE 19, 177a20-8, with one short omission)45

With this picture in mind even the third puzzling point ceases to be
troublesome: it is precisely because it is possible to solve a fallacy depending on combination or division by giving its contrary, while it is
not with amphiboly, that one cannot run the same argument for fallacies dependent on amphiboly. Thus the difference between amphiboly

44

The translation is meant to be ambiguous between speaking by silence and speaking of silence as a subject. Unfortunately the element of amphiboly is thus lost
(the example is Aristotles standard case of amphiboly, as may both be
construed as the subject of and as its object).

45

I think Aristotle makes the same point in the following passage:


If, however, the argument is dependent on homonymy, it is possible to solve
it after one has admitted to the opposite word (
), for example if it follows that one states [that something is] ensouled (), by indicating, after one has denied that it is, in what sense it
is () ensouled (); while if one has
claimed that it is soulless, while the other has deduced [it to be] ensouled, by
saying in what sense it is soulless. Similarly also in the case of amphiboly. (SE
23, 179a15-20)
This is the text as given by all the manuscripts for the first occurrence of
(though Ross, following Poste, emends to ) and by A, B, V and u as well as
Michael of Ephesus for the second occurrence of (against , which
is read by D and V2 as well as Boethius translation). (Ross also brackets , but
I have no idea why.) Normally Aristotle is thought to discuss two separate arguments, that is, arguments with different conclusions (see e.g. Dorion, Les rfutations 365-6); it is to ensure that the conclusions differ that Ross follows Poste in his
emendation. However, we can do without such an emendation if we assume that
Aristotle is not thinking of two separate arguments, but rather of two different
responses to an argument in which one is forced to assent to an ambiguous statement (because of the syntax or of a term): one may deny it, but confirm it in one
sense of the term or statement, or one may confirm it, but indicate that the opposite term or statement also holds in some sense. Thus this passage would rehearse
to the two possible responses (No, but still ... and Yes, but not ...) of SE 19.

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Logic and Linguistics 143

as involving one ambiguous statement and combination and division


as involving two statements expressed with one sentence is crucially
reflected in Aristotle prescribing different strategies for solving them.
No necessary difference in pronunciation. In the quoted argument that
a certain argument is one dependent on combination rather than on
amphiboly the second step was that what depends on division is not
ambiguous because what depends on accent is not ambiguous either.
What are we to make of that connection?
Many scholars conclude from this passage that Aristotle assumes
that any sentence which lends itself to a combined and a divided analysis, just as some words consisting of the same letters in the same order,
is to be disambiguated in pronunciation (whether or not it is indicated
by further signs) and therefore in its written form represents in fact two
sentences, neither of which is ambiguous.46 This view is a development
of an idea already to be found in antiquity itself. For Quintilianus, going back to others before him, states that in such cases a difference in
pronunciation can keep the two readings apart:
In words which are combined there is more ambiguity. Now it comes
about ... [o]n the grounds of arrangement [of words] (per collocationem), where it is unsure what ought to be related to what (quid quo
referri oporteat) and very frequently [1] precisely while it is in between because it may be drawn to either side, for example as Vergil
[says] about Troilus: holding the reins still (lora tenens tamen). Here it
may be asked whether he still holds the reins or whether he, though
holding them, is still dragged along.47 Hence there is the following
point of contention (controversia): By testament someone ordered a
statue holding a spear made of gold be placed (Testamento quidam iussit poni statuam auream hastam tententem). The question is: should there
be a statue made of gold holding a spear or a spear made of gold in a
statue of some other material? The same comes about more often [2]

46

Dorion, Les rfutations, 82, 228; Schreiber, False Reasoning, 64; R.B. Edlow, Galen
on Language and Ambiguity. An English Translation of Galens De Captionibus (On
Fallacies) with Introduction, Text and Commentary (Leiden 1977), 26; C.L. Hamblin,
Fallacies (London 1970), 83

47

The reference is to Aeneis I 476-7: fertur equis curruque haeret resupinus inani /
lora tenens tamen;

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144

Pieter Sjoerd Hasper


on the grounds of a turn [in the sentence] (per flexum)48: Then Achilles
killed fifty there being a hundred (Quinquaginta ubi erant centum inde
occidit Achilles). ...
However, ... [this] is remedied by a division or a transposition of words
(divisione verborum aut translatione) ... Division consists in breathing
and pause (respiratione et mora): statue, then holding a spear made
of gold,49 or a statue holding a spear, then made of gold. (Institutio
Oratoria 7.9.7-11, with omissions)

Quintilianus treats the examples as cases of real ambiguity, but for the
rest they are identical in structure to Aristotles examples, one of which
even reappears in an only slightly changed form. And indeed Quintilianus states that the ambiguity can be removed by a division, that
is, a clear way of relating a word or a string of words to the one side
rather than the other, through a break in the flow of the sentence as
pronounced. However, it would go too far to use this as even an indication that also Aristotle might be thinking along these lines. First of all,
Quintilianus does not claim that division by way of an audible break in
the sentence is the only solution, for he mentions the transposition of
words as well. Apparently division might not work everywhere. Secondly, as Quintilianus presents it, a division is brought about by a conscious effort, with the clear goal to disambiguate, rather than that every
confusion between two readings disappears in spoken language.
If we then turn to Aristotle himself, we do have evidence that he
thought that it was possible to disambiguate sentences with ambiguous syntax by way of pronunciation. The clearest evidence comes from
a passage in the Rhetoric:
In general what is written should be easy to read and easy to deliver
( ... ) that is the same. Precisely that ...
[sentences] which are not easy to punctuate () do not [have],

48

Here flexus cannot refer to the inflection of the voice, as Atherton, Stoics, 479 and
H.E. Butler in: Quintilian: Institutio Oratoria Books VII-IX (Cambridge, MA 1921)
have it, for that could not be the source of the ambiguity. For my translation, see
the lemma in the Oxford Latin Dictionary.

49

The translation differs slightly from the example in Latin, in order to make it fit the
translation of the ambiguous sentence as a whole. In Latin the division is: statuam,
deinde auream hastam; vel statuam auream, deinde hastam.

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Logic and Linguistics 145

such as those of Heraclitus. For it is a real job to punctuate those of


Heraclitus because of it being unclear to which [part] it is attached, to
the later [part] or the earlier [part], for example at the very beginning
of his book; for he says: While this account holds forever men fail
to understand it. (
). For about forever it is unclear with which part [it goes].
(Rhetorica III 5, 1407b11-18)50

Moreover, the verb itself, containing the word for point


(), refers to signs inserted in the text in order to indicate the compositional structure of the sentence. That there existed such a practice
we may also infer from a remark in our passage: though also there [i.e.
in cases of accent] they already avail themselves of additional signs
also there, that is, just as somewhere else, which in the context refers
probably to this practice of punctuating sentences.
However, this evidence does not establish that the difference between a divided and a combined reading necessarily shows up in pronunciation, or even could always show up thus. Punctuating by adding
pauses would not help, for instance, with example (v), and not even
alternatives, such as intonation, could do the job with example (xiv). In
addition, there are also positive indications that Aristotle does not think
so. Firstly, while regarding a fallacy of accent he explicitly states that it
in discussions without writing it is not easy to produce an argument
(SE 4, 166b1-3),51 and indeed there is only one example of an argument,
rather than a mere sentence, he comes up with,52 the examples of arguments depending on combination or division are plentiful, coming, as
we saw, not only from the Sophistical Refutations itself. Secondly, Aristotle adds, as a corollary to the argument quoted above that what depends
on division is not double, that it is also clear that not all refutations are
dependent on something double, as some claim (SE 20, 177b7-9). In
SE 20, 177b27-34 he discusses extensively an alternative solution to example (xvi) which does not depend on distinguishing a divided and a

50

I follow the text as edited by R. Kassel, Aristotelis Ars Rhetorica (Berlin 1976).

51

Cf. SE 21, 177b35-7: Dependent on accent there are no arguments, not among
those in written form nor among those in spoken form, save that some few might
come about.

52

At SE 21, 177b37-178a2, which depends on the fact that can be pronounced as


and as .

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146

Pieter Sjoerd Hasper

combined reading, but rather on the distinction between granting that


in the way () one can do things one may also do them, and granting
that in every way () one can do things one may also do them.
These alternatives would not be worthwhile referring to in the context
if the difference between combination and division would necessarily
appear in pronunciation.
An identity-criterion for a single statement. Even though it would thus
go too far to assume that Aristotle thinks that the difference between
the combined and divided readings is necessarily reflected in pronunciation, we still need to account for the connection suggested by Aristotles argument between the fact that with accent pronunciation is crucial
and the point that combination and division do not involve any ambiguity (reinforced by his also when remarking on the use of additional
signs). We would not be able to make sense of it if we were to assume
that pronunciation is completely irrelevant to Aristotles point. As it is,
however, in order for it to be relevant it is not necessary that in every
case of combination and division the difference between the two readings shows up in pronunciation; it is enough for Aristotles argument
to make sense if it may show up in some cases. For whereas with accent,
where the identity of the sounds making up a word changes with the
addition of accent, the word itself thus becomes different with the difference in pronunciation, difference in pronunciation is only secondary
with combination and division. For the words remains the same, so
the difference between the two statements only arises at the level of
the sentence as a whole. Thus the difference between the two readings
does not essentially involve difference in pronunciation, but consists
rather in being composed in different ways ways which may lend
themselves to expression in pronunciation, but are not reducible to differences in pronunciation. Underlying Aristotles account, then, is the
following necessary and sufficient condition of identity for statements:
Statement S is identical with statement S* if and only if they
exhibit the same tree of composition with all the same words.
To understand the import of this identity condition a comparison
with amphiboly will be useful. The only examples Aristotle gives of
amphibolous statements are statements in which one or several accusatives may be assigned different functions. His introductory example,
for instance, is: (SE 4, 166a6-7),
which has a different meaning depending on whether is the subject

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Logic and Linguistics 147


for , with being the object, or vice versa. However, there is only one tree of composition:

In other words, the tree only shows how the grammatical functions are
distributed over the words of the statement, not what these grammatical functions are.
According to Aristotle this is also true for those cases where we
would feel the difference between the two interpretations depends on
whether or not a word ought to be supplied, as with the following example:
And: For one can signify both the
person knowing and the thing known as knowing with this statement.
(SE 4, 166a7-9)

One of the reasons why this example is untranslatable is that in English


one cannot suppress the subject of a verb as in Greek: we would have to
choose whether or not to supply one () or an anaphoric expression
referring to . Depending on this choice we would get different trees.
For Aristotle, on the other hand, this would not be so much a matter of
different trees but rather of different sentences altogether, as the words
making it up would be different.
That in case of amphiboly there is only one tree of composition also
makes it in principle impossible that the ambiguity is to be resolved by
way of pronunciation. Similarly we do not find any recommendation
to that effect in later ancient authors. Quintilianus, for example, says
that such cases are to be solved by changing the grammatical cases,53 so
that we would be able to differentiate from
. In disambiguating the second example Aristotle in fact uses a similar device.
Finally, with this difference between combination/division and
amphiboly in mind, we may understand why Aristotle thinks there

53

Institutio Oratorio 7.9.9-10

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148

Pieter Sjoerd Hasper

is something smacking of amphiboly in example (x). Overlooking the


importance of the grammatical determinator, one could interpret the
difference between the two readings merely as a matter of assigning
different grammatical functions to (and in the application), namely as signifying the instrument of seeing or the instrument
of hitting. However, for Aristotle a statement is not merely a series of
words or even groups of words to which functions can be assigned,
but a string of words structured in a tree-like way, as determined by a
grammatical determinator; grammatical functions are only to be determined after one has established this structure.
3.4 One kind of doubleness, two fallacies
Now that we have established how serious Aristotle is about his claim
that combination and division involve two, rather than one, statements,
and what this claim involves for him, we will be able to deal with the
two remaining charges of inconsistency. They can be summarised in the
form of one question: how does Aristotle come to count two fallacies if
they are both based on the same kind of doubleness? Why not one fallacy, as in the case of the similar doubleness in the case of accent?
An answer to this crucial question can be formulated if we compare
the possible arguments dependent on accent with those dependent on
combination or division. Taking stock of the examples, there seem to be
three contexts in which confusion between a combined and a divided
sentence can play a part. The first is simple confusion, without anything else, to be represented as follows:
(1)

[C/D]

This occurs in examples (viii), (ix) and (xii), though the last example is
probably the result of an argument having the divided sentence for its
conclusion which is then understood in a combined sense. The second
context is that from (1) an inferential principle is derived to the effect
that we may go from a statement with the same structure as the divided
reading to a statement with the same structure as the combined reading
and vice versa:
(2)

[C/D] [C*] [D*] and [D*] [C*]

As explained above, we encounter this use in example (xiv). And thirdly, there is the context in which a premiss which lends itself to both

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Logic and Linguistics 149

readings is used to establish a conclusion which only follows on one


reading, typically being the reading on which the premiss would not
have been admitted:
(3)

[C] and [D] , therefore


[D] and [C] , therefore

This structure we see in all the other examples, even if we are not given
arguments by Aristotle, as with example (xi), and if the actual structure
of examples (x), (xi) and (xvi) is slightly more complicated because of
quantification.
In the case of accent, on the other hand, we do not have so many
examples to go on, but a little consideration is enough to conclude that
there are likewise three contexts in which accent may play a part. First
again is the simple confusion of two ways of having an accent:
(1)

[A1/A2]

This we see in almost all examples provided by Aristotle.54 Secondly,


there is the argument with one premiss admitted with one accent and
the other admitted with another, from which a conclusion follows
which still feature the confusing word:
(2)

[A1] and [A2], therefore [A1/A2]

However, as far as the confusion caused by accent is concerned, this


is just a more complicated case of (1), the only difference being that
the conclusion [A1/A2] may be unacceptable on both readings, rather
than just one, as [A1/A2] in (1). The only real type of argument based
on accent has similar premisses, but now has a conclusion which does
not feature the confusing word any more:
(3)

[A1] and [A2], therefore

The only example of an argument based on accent Aristotle gives is of


this type.55

54

See SE 4, 166b4-5, 7-8 and 20, 177b3-4.

55

See note 52.

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150

Pieter Sjoerd Hasper

Now bearing in mind that Aristotle is after a classification of fallacies, that is, deceptive arguments, rather than a classification of types
of confusion, we see that there is a striking difference between the two
lists of contexts. In the case of combination and division we have with
argumentation pattern (3) two separate types of argument, one called
dependent on division as it illicitly uses the inferential possibilities of
the divided reading, the other called dependent on combination as it
illicitly uses the inferential possibilities of the combined reading. Also
with (2) we have reason to call, as explained already before, to call the
use of the one derived implication [C*] [D*] division and the
use of the other derived implication [D*] [C*] combination. In
the case of accent, on the other hand, we do not have any reason to call
argumentation patterns (2) and (3) after the one accent rather than the
other. They are perfectly symmetrical, so there is no reason to privilege
one over the other as the ground of the fallaciously derived conclusion.
It may be objected that I have left out in the case of accent a fourth
type of argument which does show asymmetry. For why could there be
not an argument of the following pattern:
[A1] and [A2] , therefore
However, every such an argument can be reduced to a two-step argument, the first consisting of the substitution of a synonymous word or
phrase for the confusing word (on one of its readings):
[A1] and A2 = B, therefore [B]
[B] and [B] , therefore
And this first step is of type (3), and can thus not be called after one of
the two readings of the confusing word.
On the other hand, such a reduction is not possible for (3) in case
of combination and division, for, unlike with accent, there are no substitutions with a synonym possible. We could of course paraphrase a
sentence, in the way Aristotle paraphrases the divided reading of being able to write while not writing ( )
as: [having] the ability, when one does not write, of writing ([]
) (SE 4, 166a29-30). But this goes
much further than the mere substitution for one word in a larger context we have a whole new sentence.

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Logic and Linguistics 151

Thus in the case of combination and division there are two fallacies
based on single kind of doubleness because there are logically two distinct ways of making use of the confusion caused by this doubleness.
We should therefore understand Aristotles claim that there are six linguistic fallacies because there are six ways in which we may indicate
with the same words and sentences what is not the same in a similar
vein: from a logical perspective there are six ways that is, two ways
based on combination and division in which we may delude ourselves into thinking that while using the same word or statement we
are employing something with the same meaning in our arguments.
These delusions may occur on three levels: on the level of meaning, on
the level of words or statements and on the level of argumentative use.
We may be using the same word or statement, but are not aware that it
has several meanings (homonymy, amphiboly and form of expression);
we may be confusing the one word or statement for another (accent and
combination/division); and we may employ the confusion between
combined and divided statements in opposite directions (combination
and division).
4

Conclusion

The account I have offered thus of Aristotles fallacies of combination


and division as they are discussed in the Sophistical Refutations features
both logical and linguistic elements, in a somewhat complicated interplay. On one linguistic level, that of words, a fallacy of combination or
division concerns one string of words rather than two strings which
differ at least by one word, as is the case with the fallacy of accent. On
the linguistic level of groupings, combination and division are distinguished from the fallacy of amphiboly, as amphiboly occurs if there
is one string of words which is grouped in one way (by one tree), but
there is at least one element having two possible grammatical functions, whereas combination and division concern one string of words
with at least two groupings.
Also the distinction between combination and division itself is based
on a linguistic point, namely the existence of what I have called a grammatical determinator, a word or a string of words requiring a complement, which it can be said to govern. A reading of a string of words is
divided as opposed to combined if there is a word or words which are
not governed by the grammatical determinator, while if they had been
governed by it, the reading of the same string of words would have
been combined.

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152

Pieter Sjoerd Hasper

In addition to these linguistic elements, also matters of logic play a


part in Aristotles account of the fallacies of combination and division.
On one, immediate, level an argument constitutes a fallacy of division
as opposed to one of combination, if a sentence agreed to in a combined
sense is used in its divided sense in order to draw further conclusions,
while if it had been agreed to in a divided sense and used in a combined
sense, it would have been part of a fallacy of combination. On a more
theoretical level the fact that there are these two different possible uses
of a sentence, while such a differentiation cannot be found in the case
of fallacies of accent, accounts for Aristotles position that there is one
fallacy of accent and two fallacies of grouping (combination and division).
Both these two matters of logic, however, depend on the logical use
one can or cannot make of the underlying linguistic situation. Notably,
the explanation for there being two fallacies in case of combination and
division, while there is only one in the case of accent, refers ultimately
to the difference between words and groupings. It is this interplay between logic and linguistic which we need to understand if we are to
make sense of Aristotles account of the fallacies of combination and
division.
Faculty of Philosophy
University of Groningen
Oude Boteringestraat 52
9712 GL Groningen
Netherlands
p.s.hasper@rug.nl

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