Enthymeme

Last updated

An enthymeme (Greek : ἐνθύμημα, enthýmēma) is a rhetorical syllogism used in oratorical practice. Originally theorized by Aristotle, there are four types of enthymeme, at least two of which are described in Aristotle's work. [1]

Contents

Aristotle referred to the enthymeme as "the body of proof", "the strongest of rhetorical proofs...a kind of syllogism" ( Rhetoric I, 1.3,11). He considered it to be one of two kinds of proof, the other of which was the paradeigma. Maxims, Aristotle thought, were a derivative of enthymemes. (Rhetoric II.XX.1)

Syllogism with an unstated premise

The first type of enthymeme is a truncated syllogism, or a syllogism with an unstated premise.

Here is an example of an enthymeme derived from a syllogism through truncation (shortening) of the syllogism:

The complete formal syllogism would be the classic:
All humans are mortal. (major premise – unstated)
Socrates is human. (minor premise – stated)
Therefore, Socrates is mortal. (conclusion – stated)

While syllogisms lay out all of their premises and conclusion explicitly, these kinds of enthymemes keep at least one of the premises or the conclusion unstated.

Syllogism based on signs

In the Rhetoric , Aristotle argues that some enthymemes are derived from syllogisms that are based on signs (semeia) instead of absolute facts. In this context, signs are "things [that] are so closely related that the presence or absence of one indicates the presence or absence of the other." [2] Examples are given below.

In the examples, 'having a cough' and 'having a child' are signs of illness and giving birth respectively. In both cases the enthymeme is only probably true because there are other sources of coughs and children besides pathogens and parturition respectively, such as allergies and adoption.

Syllogism where the audience supplies a premise

The third kind of enthymeme consists of a syllogism with a missing premise that is supplied by the audience as an unstated assumption. In the words of rhetorician William Benoit, the missing premise is: "assumed by rhetor when inventing and by audience when understanding the argument." [3]

An example of this kind of enthymeme is as follows:

In this case, the missing term of the syllogism is "French novels are vulgar" and might be an assumption held by an audience that would make sense of the enthymematic argument. Such unstated premises can also rise to the level of axioms (statements so commonly accepted as to be thought universally true).

Visual enthymemes

Another kind of enthymeme is the visual enthymeme. Scholars have argued that words are not the only form of expression that can be understood to form enthymematic arguments. Pictures can also function as enthymemes because they require the audience to help construct their meaning. [4] [5] Modern-day internet memes are a good example of this, their meaning being inherited through the input and adaptations of the collective group of users who come across them, share them, and (unsurprisingly) create them.

Criticism

Some scholars argue that our understanding of the enthymeme has evolved over time and is no longer representative of the enthymeme as originally conceived by Aristotle. This is obviously true of the visual enthymeme, only conceived in the early twenty-first century and may also be true of the enthymeme as truncated syllogism. Carol Poster argues that this later interpretation of the enthymeme was invented by British rhetoricians such as Richard Whately in the eighteenth century. [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

Rhetoric Art of discourse

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic, is one of the three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or speakers utilize to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. Aristotle defines rhetoric as "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion" and since mastery of the art was necessary for victory in a case at law, for passage of proposals in the assembly, or for fame as a speaker in civic ceremonies; he calls it "a combination of the science of logic and of the ethical branch of politics". Rhetoric typically provides heuristics for understanding, discovering, and developing arguments for particular situations, such as Aristotle's three persuasive audience appeals: logos, pathos, and ethos. The five canons of rhetoric or phases of developing a persuasive speech were first codified in classical Rome: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery.

In logic, more precisely in deductive reasoning, an argument is sound if it is both valid in form and its premises are true. Soundness also has a related meaning in mathematical logic, wherein logical systems are sound if and only if every formula that can be proved in the system is logically valid with respect to the semantics of the system.

Begging the question Type of fallacy, where a proposition is assumed as a premise, which itself needs a proof and directly entails the conclusion

In classical rhetoric and logic, begging the question or assuming the conclusion is an informal fallacy that occurs when an argument's premises assume the truth of the conclusion, instead of supporting it.

A syllogism is a kind of logical argument that applies deductive reasoning to arrive at a conclusion based on two propositions that are asserted or assumed to be true.

A sophist was a teacher in ancient Greece in the fifth and fourth centuries BC. Sophists specialized in one or more subject areas, such as philosophy, rhetoric, music, athletics, and mathematics. They taught arete – "virtue" or "excellence" – predominantly to young statesmen and nobility.

A fallacy is the use of invalid or otherwise faulty reasoning, or "wrong moves" in the construction of an argument. A fallacious argument may be deceptive by appearing to be better than it really is. Some fallacies are committed intentionally to manipulate or persuade by deception, while others are committed unintentionally due to carelessness or ignorance. The soundness of legal arguments depends on the context in which the arguments are made.

Deductive reasoning, also deductive logic, is the process of reasoning from one or more statements (premises) to reach a logical conclusion.

Inferences are steps in reasoning, moving from premises to logical consequences; etymologically, the word infer means to "carry forward". Inference is theoretically traditionally divided into deduction and induction, a distinction that in Europe dates at least to Aristotle. Deduction is inference deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true, with the laws of valid inference being studied in logic. Induction is inference from particular premises to a universal conclusion. A third type of inference is sometimes distinguished, notably by Charles Sanders Peirce, contradistinguishing abduction from induction.

In philosophy, term logic, also known as traditional logic, syllogistic logic or Aristotelian logic, is a loose name for an approach to logic that began with Aristotle and was developed further in ancient history mostly by his followers, the peripatetics, but largely fell into decline by the third century CE. Term logic revived in medieval times, first in Islamic logic by Alpharabius in the tenth century, and later in Christian Europe in the twelfth century with the advent of new logic, and remained dominant until the advent of modern predicate logic in the late nineteenth century. This entry is an introduction to the term logic needed to understand philosophy texts written before it was replaced as a formal logic system by predicate logic. Readers lacking a grasp of the basic terminology and ideas of term logic can have difficulty understanding such texts, because their authors typically assumed an acquaintance with term logic.

A statistical syllogism is a non-deductive syllogism. It argues, using inductive reasoning, from a generalization true for the most part to a particular case.

Pathos (, ; plural: pathea or pathê; Greek: πάθος, for "suffering" or "experience" or "something that one undergoes," or "something that happens to one". In medicine it refers to a "failing," "illness", or "complaint. In Stoicism it refers to "complaints of the soul".

Inventio, one of the five canons of rhetoric, is the method used for the discovery of arguments in Western rhetoric and comes from the Latin word, meaning "invention" or "discovery". Inventio is the central, indispensable canon of rhetoric, and traditionally means a systematic search for arguments.

<i>Rhetoric</i> (Aristotle)

Aristotle's Rhetoric is an ancient Greek treatise on the art of persuasion, dating from the 4th century BCE. The English title varies: typically it is titled Rhetoric, the Art of Rhetoric, On Rhetoric, or a Treatise on Rhetoric.

Belief bias is the tendency to judge the strength of arguments based on the plausibility of their conclusion rather than how strongly they support that conclusion. A person is more likely to accept an argument that supports a conclusion that aligns with their values, beliefs and prior knowledge, while rejecting counter arguments to the conclusion. Belief bias is an extremely common and therefore significant form of error; we can easily be blinded by our beliefs and reach the wrong conclusion. Belief bias has been found to influence various reasoning tasks, including conditional reasoning, relation reasoning and transitive reasoning.

In philosophy, a formal fallacy, deductive fallacy, logical fallacy or non sequitur is a pattern of reasoning rendered invalid by a flaw in its logical structure that can neatly be expressed in a standard logic system, for example propositional logic. It is defined as a deductive argument that is invalid. The argument itself could have true premises, but still have a false conclusion. Thus, a formal fallacy is a fallacy where deduction goes wrong, and is no longer a logical process. This may not affect the truth of the conclusion, since validity and truth are separate in formal logic.

Owing to its origin in ancient Greece and Rome, English rhetorical theory frequently employs Greek and Latin words as terms of art. This page explains commonly used rhetorical terms in alphabetical order. The brief definitions here are intended to serve as a quick reference rather than an in-depth discussion. For more information, click the terms.

A premise or premiss is a statement that an argument claims will induce or justify a conclusion. It is an assumption that something is true.

Argument Attempt to persuade or to determine the truth of a conclusion

In logic and philosophy, an argument is a series of statements, called the premises or premisses, intended to determine the degree of truth of another statement, the conclusion. The logical form of an argument in a natural language can be represented in a symbolic formal language, and independently of natural language formally defined "arguments" can be made in math and computer science.

In logic, specifically in deductive reasoning, an argument is valid if and only if it takes a form that makes it impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion nevertheless to be false. It is not required for a valid argument to have premises that are actually true, but to have premises that, if they were true, would guarantee the truth of the argument's conclusion. Valid arguments must be clearly expressed by means of sentences called well-formed formulas. The validity of an argument—its being valid—can be tested, proved or disproved, and depends on its logical form.

In logic, reductio ad absurdum, also known as argumentum ad absurdum, apagogical arguments, negation introduction or the appeal to extremes, is the form of argument that attempts to establish a claim by showing that the opposite scenario would lead to absurdity or contradiction. It can be used to disprove a statement by showing that it would inevitably lead to a ridiculous, absurd, or impractical conclusion, or to prove a statement by showing that if it were false, then the result would be absurd or impossible. Traced back to classical Greek philosophy in Aristotle's Prior Analytics, this technique has been used throughout history in both formal mathematical and philosophical reasoning, as well as in debate.

References

  1. Benoit, William (Winter 1982). "The Most Significant Passage in Aristotle's Rhetoric". Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 12 (1): 2–9.
  2. "Reasoning". University of Pittsburgh. 2008-08-21. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  3. Benoit, William (1987). "On Aristotle's Example". Philosophy and Rhetoric. 20 (4): 261–267.
  4. Smith, Valerie (2007). "Aristotle's Classical Enthymeme and the Visual Argumentation of the Twenty First Century". Argumentation and Advocacy. 43: 114–123.
  5. Finegan, Cara (2001). "The Naturalistic Enthymeme and Visual Argument: Photographic Representation in the 'Skull Controversy.'". Argumentation and Advocacy. 37: 133–149.
  6. Poster, Carol (2003). "Theology, Canonicity, and Abbreviated Enthymemes". Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 33 (1): 67–103.