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Friday, December 23, 2011

Sophistry December 23, Figures of Speech

"We didn't lay a hand on it."
Sophistry is a plausible-seeming but misleading argument, often involving telling a partial truth with the intent to deceive.  It comes from a Greek work meaning "wise," and the original Sophists were a school of philosophers; however, they were so ridiculed by Socrates that the word came to mean any logician who makes falsehood seem true.
A famous piece of sophistic cross-examination runs thus.

Sam: You're a son of a bitch.
Joe: I am not.
Sam: I can prove it.  Isn't it true that you own a dog?
Joe: Yes.
Sam: And furthermore that this dog has puppies?
Joe: Yes.
Sam: Therefore this dog is a mother?  And that she belongs to you?
Joe: Yes, yes.
Sam: So therefore, she is a mother that belongs to you?  She is your mother?
Joe: Yes - no, wait a minute.  That's not right.
Sam: Moreover, the puppies also belong to you, do they not.
Joe: Yes, of course.
Sam: And the puppies are brothers and sisters, correct?
Joe: Right.
Sam: So all those brothers and sisters are yours.  They are your brothers and sisters.
Joe: Wait a minute!
Sam: I rest my case.

Ma and Pa Kettle provide another piece of sophistry.

1 comment:

  1. What's that, Charlie? Sleeping with your wife? NO...not a wink.