VIII. - Augustine - De Dialectica - Сочинения и рассказы - Философия на vuzlib.su
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VIII.

Now for the judging of truth, let us see what profit there is to dialectic from this power of words whose seeds we have just sown, and what impediments arise. The listener is hindered from seeing the truth in words by obscurity and ambiguity. The difference between the ambiguous and the obscure is that in the ambiguous many things are exhibited, of which one is unsure as to which one to take; in the obscure, however, nothing or not enough appears. But where it is too little which appears, the obscure is similar to the ambiguous: e.g. as if someone beginning a trip is faced by a fork in the road or a three-way road or even a multi-way road, where nothing lights up the road, say, because of the density of a fog. He is first kept from continuing by obscurity, but when the fog begins to lift a little, something is seen which may be either the road or the ground itself, since the color is not quite clear enough. This is an obscurity which is like ambiguity. When the sky has brightened and it is light enough for the eye and the view of all the roads is clear, it is not obscurity but ambiguity which makes him doubt as to which one to take. Thus, there are three types of ambiguity: 1. Open to the senses, closed to the mind: If someone sees a picture of a pomegranate who has never seen one before nor heard what one is, it is not the eye, but the mind, which does know what the picture is of. 2. Open to the mind, closed to the senses, e.g. a picture of a man in darkness. When it appears to the eye, the mind does not doubt that a man is pictured. 3. Both hidden from the sense and not at all clearer to the mind, the greatest obscurity of all, e. g. if an inexperienced person were required to recognize that painted pomegranate in the dark.

Now turn your mind to the words of which these are similitudes. Constitute in your mind some teacher, his students having been called together and silence having been invoked, who says in a low voice «temetum» (booze). Those sitting close hear well enough, those further removed poorly, the furthest removed are reached by no sound at all. For some reason, those who are somewhat remote partly know what «temetum» is, partly do not, and those who heard the teacher»s voice immediately did not know what it was. All were thus hindered by obscurity. Those who were sure about what they heard are like our first type, i.e. those ignorant of the pomegranate even when painted in the light. Those who knew the word but perceived the voice poorly or not at all with the ear are of the second type, similar to the image of a man in an unclear or dark place. Those who were privy neither to the significance of the word nor the voice of the teacher involve themselves in the blindness of the third type, which is the worst of all. You can see that that which has been called obscure is similar to the ambiguous by the example of those to whom the word was known but who did not perceive the voice well or with any certainty. For he avoids all kinds of obscure speech who speaks in a clear enough voice, not kept from the ear, and makes use of known words. See now by the example of the same teacher what a distinction there is between ambiguity and obscurity in words. Let those who were there (the aforementioned group, Tr.) both perceive well by sense the voice of the teacher and let him pronounce a word known well by all -- e.g. have him say «magnus» (big) and no more. Note what uncertainties are attached to this noun («nomen» is used both for noun and adjective in Latin, Tr.) which has been heard. For example, one might ask: What part of speech is it? Or ask concerning the meter: What foot is it? Or about the story: How many wars did «magnus» (great) Pompey wage? Or if one of his admirers were to say for the sake of the poem: Virgil is a great poet almost without equal. Or someone scolding the negligence of students erupts in these words: A great torpor has invaded your study. Do you see after the cloud of obscurity has been lifted that that which has been said almost clears up the manifold way? For that one thing which was said, i.e. «magnus» is both a noun (Latin did not distinguish between noun and adjective, Tr.) and a foot and Pompey and Virgil and the torpor of negligence, etc., or even innumerable things which we did not mention, which nevertheless can be understood in the pronunciation of this word.





 
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