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Flashcards in Rhetoric Deck (33)
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The four kinds of common topic

1. Definition
2. Relationship
3. Circumstance
4. Testimony


The common topics of definition

• Genus
• Division
• Similarity
• Difference
• Degree


The common topics of relationship

• Cause and effect
• Antecedent and consequence
• Contraries
• Contradictions


The common topics of circumstance

• Possible and impossible
• Past fact and future fact


The common topics of testimony

• Authority
• Testimonial
• Statistics
• Maxims
• Law
• Precedents (examples)


The Five Cannons of Rhetoric

• Invention/heuresis
• Dispositio/taxis
• Elocutio (lexis or hermeneia or phrasis)
• Memoria/mneme
• Delivery: pronuntiatio/hypo grists


Invention/heuresis consists of...

The modes of persuasion

* atechnoi pisteis - non-technical means of persuasion, which only need to be discovered, not invented. Laws, witnesses, contracts, tortures, oaths (Aristotle)

* technoi pisteis - artistic means of proof
• Logos - rational appeal
• Pathos - emotional appeal
• Ethos - ethical/authoritative appeal

The Topics of Invention (topoi)


The three kinds of deliberative discourse/three species of rhetoric (Aristotle)

Three species of rhetoric

Deliberative; either:
⁃ Protrepic: exhortation
⁃ Apotrepic: dissuasion
- Concerned with the future

Judicial: either:
⁃ Accusation
⁃ Defence
- Concerned with the past

⁃ Praise
⁃ Blame
- Concerned with the present


Dispositio/taxis is...

Disposition, arrangement, organisation


Parts of a speech according to Aristotle (under Dispositio/taxis)

• Introduction
• Statement of case
• Proof
• Conclusion


Parts of a speech according to later writers (under Dispositio/taxis)

• Introduction (exordium)
• Statement or exposition of the case (narratio)
• Outline of the points or steps in the argument (divisio)
• Proof of the case (confirmatio)
• Refutation of the opposing arguments (confutatio)
• Conclusion (peroratio)


The three levels of style

There was fundamental agreement about three levels of style:
• the low or plain style (attenuata, subtile)
• the middle or forcible style (mediocris, robusta)
• the high or florid style (gravis, florida).


The ten categories (kinds of predicates)(Aristotle)

Predicates that can serve as definition, property, genus and accident are drawn from ten categories, which Aristotle thinks of as exhaustive:

• Essence (what-it-is)
• Quantity
• Quality
• Relation
• Location
• Time
• Position
• State (possession)
• Activity (doing)
• Passivity (undergoing)


The four types of cause

- Material
- Formal
- Efficient
- Final

Aristotle uses “cause” in a broader sense than the one used today. A better translation of the Greek word αἰτία would be “explanation.” The four causes are the four different ways “why?” questions can be answered.


Material cause

The raw material from which an object is composed.


Formal cause

The pattern or form which makes matter into a particular type of thing.


Efficient cause

That which causes change or motion to start or stop; that which brings something about.


Final cause

The end toward which a thing or movement is directed. That for the sake of which a thing is what it is.


Three principles for a good definition

• The defining terms should be clearer and more familiar than the term to be defined.
• The definition should not refer the term to be defined or use synonymous or derivative terms.
• The definition, wherever possible, should be stated positively, not negatively.


Quantity and quality of a proposition

• Quantity can be universal or particular
• Quality can be positive or negative

Most logicians characterised propositions about named individuals, such as “Socrates is mortal,” as universal propositions, because the predicate is being applied to the whole subject (Socrates) and not just a part of it.



The enthymeme is the rhetorical equivalent of the syllogism. Today it is generally regarded as an abbreviated syllogism or formal argument, where one or more of the premisses is not stated but is understood. Aristotle also regarded it as a syllogism that establishes only the probability of its conclusion. The ancients tended to use the term to refer to an incomplete syllogism, and used "epicheireme" for the full rhetorical syllogism.


Ethos, the ethical appeal

The ethical appeal relies on the persuasive character of the speaker’s or writer’s character. It can be very effective, especially in a rhetorical situation where certainty is not available.

Assisted by:
• sound sense (phronesis): adequate grasp of the subject and of the principles of reasoning; wide knowledge; good taste; discriminating judgement
• high moral character (arete): integrity; sincerity; abhorrence of unscrupulous tactics and specious reasoning; respect for common virtues
• benevolence (eunoia): concern for the welfare of the audience; readiness to sacrifice self interest for their benefit.


Richard Whately on the Emotional Appeal (Pathos)

“For in order that the Will may be influenced, two things are requisite:

(i) that the proposed Object should appear desirable; and

(2) that the Means suggested should be proved to be conducive to the attainment of that object.”

—Elements of Rhetoric, Part II, Ch. I.


The four kinds of predicate (Aristotle)

- Definition (essence)
- Unique property
- Genus
- Accident


Aristotle on how to become well supplied with reasonings

The means are four:

1. the securing of propositions;
2. the power to distinguish in how many senses particular expression is used;
3. the discovery of the differences of things;
4. the investigation of likeness.


The common topic of genus

Genus and species are related as set and subset. What is true of the genus must be true of the species.


The common topic of division

Enumerating the parts of thing, stating the species of a genus. Can be used to lay out the organisation of the discussion to follow. Division can also be used to lay out the grounds for an argument, or to set up an argument by elimination.


The common topic of similarity

Comparison based on discovery of what is the same about two or more things; the principle behind all induction and analogy.

"Sameness" has three senses:

- Numerical: more than one thing but only one name, eg "cloak", "doublet"
- Specific: more than one thing but no difference of species, eg one man and another
- Generic: the things fall under the same genus, eg a horse and a man are both animals


The common topic of difference

A comparison based on discovery of how things differ, rather than how they are the same.


The common topic of degree

A comparison that reveals differences not in kind but in degree (more or less). For example, we might argue that the choice an audience faces is not one between good and evil, but between a lesser and a greater evil.

Questions of degree can be hard to settle, because judgements are often subjective rather than objective.