[Footnote 1: Wycherley’s Plain Dealer.]
[Footnote 2: Eccles, vii. I.]
[Footnote 3: In a volume of translated Letters on Wit, Politicks, and Morality, edited by Abel Boyer, in 1701. The letters ascribed to Aristaenetus of Nicer in Bithynis, who died A.D. 358, but which were written after the fifth century, were afterwards translated as Letters of Love and Gallantry, written in Greek by Aristaenetus. This volume, 12mo (1715), was dedicated to Eustace Budgell, who is named in the Preface as the author of the Spectator papers signed X.]
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No. 239. Tuesday, December 4, 1711. Addison.
Bella, horrida bella!
I have sometimes amused myself with considering the several Methods of managing a Debate which have obtained m the World.
The first Races of Mankind used to dispute, as our ordinary People do now-a-days, in a kind of wild Logick, uncultivated by Rules of Art.
Socrates introduced a catechetical Method of Arguing. He would ask his Adversary Question upon Question, till he had convinced him out of his own Mouth that his Opinions were wrong. This Way of Debating drives an Enemy up into a Corner, seizes all the Passes through which he can make an Escape, and forces him to surrender at Discretion.
Aristotle changed this Method of Attack, and invented a great Variety of little Weapons, call’d Syllogisms. As in the Socratick Way of Dispute you agree to every thing which your Opponent advances, in the Aristotelick you are still denying and contradicting some Part or other of what he says. Socrates conquers you by Stratagem, Aristotle by Force: The one takes the Town by Sap, the other Sword in Hand.
The Universities of Europe, for many Years, carried on their Debates by Syllogism, insomuch that we see the Knowledge of several Centuries laid out into Objections and Answers, and all the good Sense of the Age cut and minced into almost an Infinitude of Distinctions.