Topical logic is the logic of topical argument, a branch of rhetoric developed in the Late Antique period from earlier works, such as Aristotle's Topics and Cicero's Topica. It consists of heuristics for developing arguments, which are in the first place plausible rather than rigorous, from commonplaces (topoi or loci). In other words, therefore, it consists of standardized ways of thinking up debating techniques from existing, thought-through positions. The actual practice of topical argument was much developed by Roman lawyers.Cicero took the theory of Aristotle to be an aspect of rhetoric. As such it belongs to inventio in the classic fivefold division of rhetoric.
The standard classical work on topical logic was the De Topicis Differentiis (On Topical Differentiae) by Boethius. Differentiae refer to case analysis, being the differentiations used to distinguish the cases into which a question is divided. Besides Aristotle and Cicero, Boethius built on Themistius.In terminology, the Greek axioma and topos in Boethius became the Latin maxima propositio (maxim, universal truth) and locus.
In the Middle Ages topical logic became a theory of inference, for which the name "axiomatic topics" has been suggested.Abelard wanted to complete a theory of entailment by invoking the loci in Boethius to fill in conditionals, a flawed if bold development. Peter of Spain, in his De locis, developed the ideas of Boethius.
The De inventione dialectica of Rodolphus Agricola (1479) made large claims for this method, as an aspect of dialectic (traditionally contrasted with rhetoric) subordinated to inventio.The precise relationship of "dialectic" and "rhetoric" remained vexed well into the sixteenth century, hinging on the role assigned to loci. It was expounded in different fashions by Philipp Melanchthon and Petrus Ramus. The debate fed into the later development of Ramism.
Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. Along with grammar and logic, it is one of the three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the capacities of writers or speakers needed 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; or 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.
Rodolphus Agricola was a pre-Erasmian humanist of the northern Low Countries, famous for his supple Latin and one of the first north of the Alps to know Greek well. Agricola was a Hebrew scholar towards the end of his life, an educator, musician and builder of a church organ, a poet in Latin as well as the vernacular, a diplomat and a sportsman of sorts (boxing). He is best known today as the author of De inventione dialectica, as the father of northern European humanism and as a zealous anti-scholastic in the late-fifteenth century.
Scholasticism was a medieval school of philosophy that employed a critical method of philosophical analysis presupposed upon a Catholic Christian theistic paradigm which dominated teaching in the medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700. It originated within the Christian monastic schools that were the basis of the earliest European universities. The rise of scholasticism was closely associated with the rise of these 12th and 13th century schools that flourished in Italy, France, Spain and England.
Dialectic or dialectics, also known as the dialectical method, is at base a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments. Dialectic resembles debate, but the concept excludes subjective elements such as emotional appeal and the modern pejorative sense of rhetoric. Dialectic may be contrasted with the didactic method, wherein one side of the conversation teaches the other. Dialectic is alternatively known as minor logic, as opposed to major logic or critique.
The history of logic deals with the study of the development of the science of valid inference (logic). Formal logics developed in ancient times in India, China, and Greece. Greek methods, particularly Aristotelian logic as found in the Organon, found wide application and acceptance in Western science and mathematics for millennia. The Stoics, especially Chrysippus, began the development of predicate logic.
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, commonly called Boethius, was a Roman senator, consul, magister officiorum, and philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born about a year after Odoacer deposed the last Western Roman Emperor and declared himself King of Italy. Boethius entered public service under Ostrogothic King Theodoric the Great, who later imprisoned and executed him in 524 on charges of conspiracy to overthrow him. While jailed, Boethius composed his Consolation of Philosophy, a philosophical treatise on fortune, death, and other issues, which became one of the most popular and influential works of the Middle Ages. As the author of numerous handbooks and translator of Aristotle, he became the main intermediary between Classical antiquity and following centuries.
Petrus Ramus was an influential French humanist, logician, and educational reformer. A Protestant convert, he was one of the most prominent victims of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre.
Fatalism is a philosophical doctrine that stresses the subjugation of all events or actions to destiny.
The Organon is the standard collection of Aristotle's six works on logic. The name Organon was given by Aristotle's followers, the Peripatetics. They are as follows:
Pathos appeals to the emotions of the audience and elicits feelings that already reside in them. Pathos is a communication technique used most often in rhetoric, as well as in literature, film and other narrative art.
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.
Ramism was a collection of theories on rhetoric, logic, and pedagogy based on the teachings of Petrus Ramus, a French academic, philosopher, and Huguenot convert, who was murdered during the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in August 1572.
The Topics is the name given to one of Aristotle's six works on logic collectively known as the Organon. The treatise presents the art of dialectic — the invention and discovery of arguments in which the propositions rest upon commonly held opinions or endoxa. Topoi (τόποι) are "places" from which such arguments can be discovered or invented.
The Tree of Porphyry is a classic device for illustrating what is also called a "scale of being". It was suggested—if not first, then most famously in the European philosophical tradition—by the 3rd century CE Greek neoplatonist philosopher and logician Porphyry. It is also known as scala praedicamentalis.
Commentaries on Aristotle refers to the great mass of literature produced, especially in the ancient and medieval world, to explain and clarify the works of Aristotle. The pupils of Aristotle were the first to comment on his writings, a tradition which was continued by the Peripatetic school throughout the Hellenistic period and the Roman era. The Neoplatonists of the late Roman empire wrote many commentaries on Aristotle, attempting to incorporate him into their philosophy. Although Ancient Greek commentaries are considered the most useful, commentaries continued to be written by the Christian scholars of the Byzantine Empire and by the many Islamic philosophers and Western scholastics who had inherited his texts.
Medieval philosophy is the philosophy that existed through the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the Renaissance in the 15th century. Medieval philosophy, understood as a project of independent philosophical inquiry, began in Baghdad, in the middle of the 8th century, and in France, in the itinerant court of Charlemagne, in the last quarter of the 8th century. It is defined partly by the process of rediscovering the ancient culture developed in Greece and Rome during the Classical period, and partly by the need to address theological problems and to integrate sacred doctrine with secular learning.
Stoic logic is the system of propositional logic developed by the Stoic philosophers in ancient Greece. It was one of the two great systems of logic in the classical world. It was largely built and shaped by Chrysippus, the third head of the Stoic school in the 3rd-century BCE. Chrysippus's logic differed from Aristotle's term logic because it was based on the analysis of propositions rather than terms. The smallest unit in Stoic logic is an assertible which is the content of a statement such as "it is day". Assertibles have a truth-value such that at any moment of time they are either true or false. Compound assertibles can be built up from simple ones through the use of logical connectives. The resulting syllogistic was grounded on five basic indemonstrable arguments to which all other syllogisms were claimed to be reducible.
Orator was written by Marcus Tullius Cicero in the latter part of the year 46 B.C. It is his last work on rhetoric, three years before his death. Describing rhetoric, Cicero addresses previous comments on the five canons of rhetoric: Inventio, Dispositio, Elocutio, Memoria, and Pronuntiatio. In this text, Cicero attempts to describe the perfect orator, in response to Marcus Junius Brutus’ request. Orator is the continuation of a debate between Brutus and Cicero, which originated in his text Brutus, written earlier in the same year.
Logic is the systematic study of the forms of inference, the relations that lead to the acceptance of one proposition, the conclusion, on the basis of a set of other propositions, the premises. More broadly, logic is the analysis and appraisal of arguments. The premises may or may not support the conclusion; when they do not, the relation is characterized as a fallacy.
Peter William David Mack was director of The Warburg Institute from 2010 to 2015. He succeeded Charles Hope and was succeeded by David Freedberg. He is a specialist in the history of rhetoric and was formerly professor of English at the University of Warwick.