BENEDICT M. ASHLEY, O.P.: THE ARTS OF LEARNING AND COMMUNICATION
Dialectics and Demonstrative Logic:
ART OF DEFINITION
Science and Literature
The worlds of literature and of science seem to have little in common. Literature, whether it be poetic or rhetorical, is emotional, imaginative, intuitive, creative. The poet or novelist is free to invent a world of his own fancy. The rhetorician is not so free, and yet he has the liberty to carry us into the future, and paint for us the world as we can make it. The man of research and of science, on the other hand, seems cold, matter of fact, strictly logical. He deals with the world as he finds it, and scorns the imaginative flights and the emotional experiences of the poet and the politician. He tries to eliminate emotion and subjectivity from all his work.
Yet this impression is false. The world of literature and of science is the same world, the wonderful world that God has made more full of marvels than even poet or explorer realizes. Literature, to be good literature, must be essentially true to the world in which we live; it must imitate nature and human life. Even the most fantastic fairy-story. if it is to have real charm for us, must reveal the marvels of God's creation under the form of imaginative symbols. On the other hand, even the most hard-headed scientist is a creative thinker, one who employs his intuitions and his imagination to find new and ingenious ways to unlock the secrets of nature. Literature must be true to life, science must be imaginative, or both will die.
Yet it is very true that there is a great difference between the methods and approach of literary thinking (poetics and rhetoric) and scientific thinking (dialectics and demonstrative logic). The former seeks to lead us to truth by the way of reasoning and emotion, the latter rises above emotion to pure truth. We have already seen how dialectics is useful for discussion and debate. In this capacity it is closely linked with rhetoric, since such discussion and debate prepare for persuasion. But it is also closely linked with science, since it is through dialectic that we make preliminary investigations that lead to scientific discovery and proof. Today when we speak of scientific research we are talking about that part of science which is largely dialectical. It is only when research is completed that science in the fullest sense begins, the establishment of basic laws.
Difficulty and Need of This Study
Many students and even teachers find literature and rhetoric interesting. These are warm and human subjects which deal with human problems. Scientific research and thinking at first seem very cold and dry and obscure. Yet the human reason is at its best only when it is able to attain to the clarity and sureness of science. This does not mean that science can ever replace literature. But science gives us a clear and exact knowledge about the world which literature cannot give. Both are necessary in our life, and both can go hand in hand.
During this year much of our time is to be spent considering the scientific ways of thinking, but we will not leave literature behind. Rather we will begin to see the difference and contrast between these two ways of thought, and then see how they have certain basic principles in common, and how they supplement and assist each other.
The Main Problems of Investigating Truth
When a scientist begins to study a problem such as the problem of cancer, he has two main tasks: (1) To get the facts; (2) to explain the facts, that is, to find the reasons or causes for these facts.
The gathering of facts, however, is not a mere random process. There are an unlimited number of facts in the world, and a scientist might go on forever collecting them without getting anywhere in understanding them. The great problem of investigation is to use one's intelligence to understand these facts. One must look through the facts to the reality which underlies them and gives them meaning. This is a matter of intuition, just as the poet's insight into life, or the rhetorician's insight into his audience, is a matter of trained intuition. This intuition into the nature of things which underlies the facts is nothing other than definition. The first problem of a scientist studying the problem of cancer is to gather and examine facts with the purpose of finding out what a cancer is. What makes a cancer different from a healthy organ of the body, or from some other nonmalignant growth? The only answer to this is found in looking at the facts, but the facts give an answer only to a trained intelligence that is able to see differences and similarities.
TECHNICAL TERMS: USING THE ENCYCLOPEDIA
In Chapter I we studied the dictionary or nominal definition of terms, but in science we must have much more accurate definition of terms. In scientific thinking and writing, unlike literary work, what is needed is not vividness but clarity and accuracy. In such writing we should avoid metaphors and other figures of speech. When analogy must be used, then proper analogy may be employed, but we should try as far as possible to exclude all equivocation and to use only univocal terms.
Such accurate words are said to be technical terms and they must be carefully defined. For this it is not sufficient merely to define the word (nominal definition); rather we need to define the thing (a real or scientific definition), since science is not so much concerned with words as with things.
To give a definition of a thing requires a great deal of knowledge about that thing, since we must know just what makes it different from any other kind of thing. Hence we have encyclopedias which treat not merely of the usage of words but summarize our knowledge of things themselves.
A great deal of a student's time in studying mathematics, natural science, social science, philosophy, theology, or even grammar is devoted to learning technical definitions. Without this accuracy in thought and speech our knowledge of these subjects would become very confused and false.
A technical or scientific definition must satisfy the following rules:
1. It must be equal in extension to the thing defined.
2. It must be clearer than the thing defined.
3. It must not be circular (that is, it must not include the name of the thing to be defined).
4. It must not be merely negative.
5. It must be brief (that is, it must not include anything unnecessary).
6. It must be complete.
The last requirement is not easy to fulfill, but the great philosopher, Aristotle, showed that we can make a definition complete if we are careful to state the four causes on which the existence of the thing depends (see Introduction, page 7):
- 1. Its final cause: that for which the thing exists, its function, use or perfect development.
- 2. Its formal cause: what kind of a thing it is, or what it is able to do.
- 3. Its material cause: what it is made out of, or exists in.
- 4. Its efficient cause: what produced it.
The efficient and final causes are often very helpful in defining a thing, but they need not always be included, since often they are obvious once we know the formal cause. But the formal and material causes should always be included, except in mathematical definitions, where the formal cause is sufficient.
How can we state the material and formal cause of a thing in a brief way? A thing is made out of much the same material as are other things similar to it. For example, a monkey and a man have very much the same kind of tissues, muscles, and bones in their body. Hence we state the material cause by mentioning the class of things which most resemble the thing to be defined. This we call its genus. Nevertheless, the thing to be defined differs in some way from all the other things in its genus because it has its own special sort of form; this we call its difference. The two taken together state exactly what kind of a thing it is, and this we call its species or definition. Thus a man is defined as an animal (genus) who can reason (difference).
A species or definition applies to many individual things which are all essentially alike, but which differ from each other in unessential ways (color, size, location, etc.). These unessential differences, which are not included in the most perfect definition of a thing, are called contingents.** Commonly the term "accident" is used instead of "contingent." This leads to confusion, however, since "accident" can mean two things: (1) A real characteristic of a thing other than its substantial form. This is a "predicamental accident," and is classified in the last nine categories or predicaments. (2) Anything predicated of a subject in a contingent way. This is a "predicable accident." It seems better to use the term "accident" for the first meaning, and "contingent" for the second.When we define a thing by its genus and difference we have a perfect or essential definition. Unfortunately we cannot always find the precise difference between one thing and another, so that frequently in defining a thing we have to substitute something in the definition for the unknown difference. This can be either a property (that is, some difference which, although it is not the precise one, nevertheless always marks this thing off from others) or it can be a group of contingents which taken together are equivalent to a property.
Examples of Definitions
1. The definition given by St. Thomas. In Whether Piety is a Special Virtue? we find the following definition: "Piety is a special virtue pertaining to justice which pays duty and homage to our parents and country." This states the species of piety. We can divide this definition into two parts:
- 1. The difference: That which makes piety the kind of virtue it is and distinguishes it from every other kind of justice is that it pays duty and homage to parents and country. This tells us the form of piety, that is, exactly what kind of virtue it is.
- 2. The genus: The class of things which most resemble piety are the other virtues of justice which pay duty and homage to something.
This tells us the matter or subject of piety since (as St. Thomas has already shown in previous articles of the Summa) all types of justice exist in the human will. Thus piety exists in the human will as its subject, or material cause. From the difference or formal cause of piety we can readily see its efficient and final cause:
- 3. The final cause of piety (that is, its purpose) is the honor of our family and country.
- 4. The efficient cause of piety is practice in honoring parents and country, since it is by repeatedly giving honor to our parents and country that we develop the virtue of piety or patriotism. "Practice makes perfect," as the saying goes. When we are speaking about Christian patriotism, we must also remember that the grace of God is required to produce this supernatural virtue in us, as well as our cooperation with that grace by keeping the command "honor thy father and thy mother."
This definition fulfills all the requirements listed above. It is equal in extension to the thing defined because no other virtue accomplishes this work of honoring parents and country, and all piety has this function. It is clearer than the thing defined since it is made of more general terms -- like "virtue," "justice,""duty,""homage,""parents,""country" -- which St. Thomas has already carefully defined earlier in the Summa. It is not circular, since the notion of "piety" is not repeated in the statement of either the genus or the difference. It is in positive and not negative terms. It is as brief as possible and yet complete, since nothing is included in it except the four causes.
2. The definition of Chesterton. In A Defense of Patriotism, the author defines patriotism as "a love of one's country because of its spiritual greatness." At first sight this looks like an entirely different definition than the one given by St. Thomas. Here the genus is "love," and the difference, "of one's country because of its spiritual greatness." Chesterton chooses this definition because it brings out clearly that we must love our country for its spiritual greatness and not for its wealth, power, or size, as many people seem to think. His definition is intended to distinguish true from counterfeit patriotism, since in dialectics the main concern is to compare one view with another, rather than to state a final conclusion.
Nevertheless, this definition is really in agreement with that of St. Thomas, although it is less complete. St. Thomas indicates that piety is a love, not only for country, but also for parents, and be shows that it is a form of justice. Chesterton, however, obviously intends to include the idea of justice in his notion of "love," since he insists that this "love" is not mere emotion, but a rational will to serve the country which has given us so much. St. Thomas in saying that it renders "duty and homage" obviously implies that we honor our parents not merely for physical goods, but for the spiritual goods they have given us, since only spiritual things deserve true honor. Thus the definitions are essentially the same; St. Thomas' definition is scientific, complete, and precise, while Chesterton's is rougher, less accurate, but more suited to bring out strikingly the contrast between true patriotism and jingoism. It is to be noted that Chesterton also brings out the efficient cause of patriotism in the later part of his essay when he shows that one of the ways to develop patriotism in youngsters is by having them study the great men and events of their country's history.
3. The definitions of Emerson and Lincoln. Neither Emerson nor Lincoln state their definitions of patriotism in an explicit way; rather they describe patriotism by giving examples of it. Thus they picture for us the dead heroes of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars who paid their debt of duty and homage to their country by fighting and dying for her. They show that the genus of patriotism is justice by showing us the people of the nation meeting to honor men who did their duty. Emerson symbolizes this by speaking of the beautiful landscape, the monument, the gathering of the people, since all these imply that something noble, honorable, and just is being commemorated. Lincoln speaks of the soldiers as "giving their last full measure of devotion," and insists that we must imitate them. Both the act of the soldiers in dying for their country and our act in honoring and imitating them are acts of justice.
The specific character or difference of patriotism from other forms of justice is brought out by Emerson in the way he ironically dwells on the tendency of men to forget those who have done so much for them. These men died that we might be free; they are the fathers of their country and of us, and yet we forget them! Lincoln makes the same point in his use of the metaphor of birth and death. These dead have died that we might live. They are most truly our fathers since they have laid down their life for us. How great our duty, therefore, to give honor to them by imitating them!
Emerson and Lincoln do not dwell on the efficient cause of patriotism, but with Chesterton they imply that if we only meditate on what the dead have done for us we will be inspired to honor and to imitate them.
4. Conclusion. Thus all four pieces give the same definition of patriotism. St. Thomas gives it in precise, technical form, the other non-scientific writers in a broader, more literary way. Chesterton only brings out the contrast between true and counterfeit patriotism. Lincoln exhorts us to imitate the patriotism of the dead and to complete their unfinished work. Emerson helps us to remember and to honor the patriotism of the past and to feel deeply how noble and precious it is.
LOOKING FOR A DEFINITION
Sometimes a technical definition is given us by an expert, but where did he get it? How can we be sure that it really fits the thing defined? How could we find one for ourselves? Socrates was famous for stopping arrogantly confident people in the midst of one of their speeches and asking them to define their terms. Usually they soon revealed by their confused definitions that they did not really know what they were saying. It is the special task of dialectics to look for technical definitions, which can then be used for scientific purposes.
In searching for a real definition we usually begin with a tentative nominal definition, and then gradually correct it by comparing real things one with another until their similarities and differences are clearly apparent. This dialectical procedure today is often called "the scientific method." We begin with a hypothesis, or with a tentative definition, and then see if it fits the facts of experiment. If it does not, we modify it step by step until we arrive at something more satisfactory.
This method of searching for a definition by comparison and contrast is what is called classification. To classify things we arrange them according to genus and difference, so that we can easily see where any terms fits in and how to define it. Classification saves us much time and effort, since it saves us from comparing the thing to be defined with everything else: we need only compare it with the things in the same genus. Here is a scheme which is used for every classification:
There can be as many subdivisions as necessary, but the last division is into species, not genera. You will notice that in each case the difference is added to one species and denied of the other.
When we do not know the essential difference, we make use of a property, or a group of contingents. These five relations shown by the diagram (genus; difference, or property, or contingent; and species) and are called the predicables.
THE TEN CATEGORIES
A complete classification like the one which we have just diagrammed is called a category. Obviously it would be a great help in learning and research if we had such a category classifying all those things which have already been studied and defined by previous researchers. Long ago Aristotle attempted to do this, but discovered that it is not possible to classify all realities in a single category as long as we use univocal terms. It is possible, however, to put them in only ten separate categories, each of which supplies the answers to one of the kinds of questions that a scientist might ask. We have already studied these ten categories in Chapter I, and seen how the very structure of our language is based on them (see list of questions and categories on page 45). When you study fundamental natural science you will learn why there are only these ten categories. As you learn each part of science you learn each of these classifications as far as it has been worked out by scientists to the present time. On page 441 ff. there is an outline of each of them, but they will never be wholly completed, since science goes on discovering new things to go into each classification.
Rules for the Categories
Can everything we wish to define be found in a category? The answer to this question will reveal, on examination, that the following restrictions must be applied:
- 1. The term must be simple. A complex term like "a white man" has to be split into two terms. "Man" is classified as substance; "white" is classified as a quality.
- 2. it must be a whole. We define the part of something by placing it in the same place in the category as the whole to which it belongs. Thus "human foot" is part of "man" in the category of substance.
- 3. it must be something natural. An artificial thing, however, can be defined by its four causes, and it can be put in the category with the natural thing which it imitates. On page 460 is a diagram of a classification of artificial things.
- 4. It must be univocal. Analogical terms have many meanings, and each of them may go into a different category. We define an analogical term by defining the meaning which we know best, and then we explain the other meanings as similar and dissimilar to this fundamental meaning.
"Patriotism" and "virtue" are not things (substances) but qualities. You will find them in their place in the category of quality on page 446. St. Thomas arrived at his definition of patriotism by asking himself: Is it a thing that can exist by itself? No. Therefore it is not in the category of substance. Which of the last nine questions does it answer? Obviously it answers the question "what sort of thing?" since we say that a man is a patriotic or virtuous kind of man.
Then he went step by step through each division of the classification until he located patriotism in its right place. Emerson and Lincoln did not need such a systematic classification. Chesterton was speaking dialectically and hence set up a tentative classification. We might diagram it as follows:
It is apparent that Chesterton was considering only a small part of the category of quality.
Although Emerson did not make any general classification, he did make use of many of the categories to show us all the aspects of a thing. You will notice that he speaks of the dead and the stone monument (substance, and in artificial thing made of substance), of the "dark stream," of the "green bank," the "soft stream," and "free children." The words in italics are all qualities. He gives us little about quantity except that there were a number of soldiers, and that the time was long. He speaks of relations: "foe and conqueror," "sire and sons," "to them and thee." He tells us of place: "by the bridge," "here," "seaward," and of position, since the bridge is "arched" over the river, and the stone is "on this green bank," "the flag unfurled." The poem, however, does not mention vestition, although Emerson might have mentioned that the minute-men wore no uniforms, but their work-clothes. It speaks of action, "fired the shot," "sleeps," "sweeps," "creeps," "set," "raise," etc., and of reception, since the bridge is "swept away," and the "deed" is "redeemed." Finally, it speaks of timing, since the battle was "long ago," "sons" will come in the future to remember and die in their turn, and we raise the memorial "today."
Both Emerson and Chesterton were philosophical writers, and this is apparent in their habit of looking at the things they wrote about from many different points of view. The habit of thinking in terms of categories helps us to develop this orderly and thorough way of looking at the world, and it will make our writing and speaking rich and varied.
ART OF REASONING
SCIENCE IS MORE THAN FACTS
At the beginning of this chapter we said that a scientist has two problems: to find the facts, and to explain them -- or give their causes. We have seen how dialectics helps us to classify the facts and to arrive at certain definitions from these facts. It remains to see how a scientist arrives at an explanation of these facts, first by using demonstration to prove the connection between cause and effect.
This process of explanation has two stages:
- 1. The discovery of basic statements from which to reason, which are known to be true directly from the facts.
- 2. The process of drawing conclusions from these principles.
In Chapter II we have already studied the nature of a principle or basic statement. For example, in geometry you have learned that in this science you begin with definitions and with axioms and postulates (basic statements), and you then proceed to reason to theorems. Definitions, when put in the form of a statement, are themselves a kind of basic statement.
These basic statements can be of two kinds:
- 1. Principles which are immediately evident from the facts, or are known by human or divine faith.
- 2. Hypotheses, which are not known to be true, but which are assumed as true, in order to see what follows from them.
When we have principles, as in geometry, then we can be certain of the conclusion, and we have strict science. But when we have hypotheses we are still only in the realm of dialectics, since we are looking for certitude. A hypothesis is tested by seeing if the conclusions which follow from it agree with the known facts; this is called verification. But it remains only probable until it can be seen to be true from the facts themselves by intuition.
Thus geometry is built up on principles known to be true from experience. So are many truths in natural science, for example, our knowledge of the function of the human heart. Theology is based on principles known to be true from faith. But many areas of science are based only on hypotheses. For example, in recent science there have been several different definitions of the atom, all of which were hypotheses, and which were merely probable. For a long time the arrangement of the sun and planets was explained by a series of hypotheses. Today several hypotheses as to the nature of cancer are being used by researchers. Some day a true definition of cancer will be discovered, and then we will be able to explain the various effects that follow from it.
FINDING PRINCIPLES OR HYPOTHESES
A principle is known directly from experience, or taken on faith. When it is taken on faith our only problem is to be sure that the witness or authority is trustworthy and that we have understood what he says. If it is taken from experience we must know the facts,
have them clearly defined, and see that the subject and the predicate are necessarily connected. indeed, most principles are simply definitions put in the form of a statement. Thus the principle that if equals are added to equals the sums are equal is obviously true once we have defined "equal" and "added."
When we do not have a principle we must choose a hypothesis. To do this we also examine the facts and select some definition that might fit them. We then verify it by seeing if this principle is true, and whether all the facts necessarily follow, as well as other new facts.
Whether we have a principle or a hypothesis the way of arguing or reasoning from it will follow the same plan.
WHY WE MUST ARGUE
People who are always arguing can be very tiresome, but argument is necessary if we are ever to know very much. If we knew nothing but what we can see immediately from our own experience we would know very little. It is only by reasoning from experience that we come to know that God or atoms exist, since we can see neither God nor atom. Argument consists in asking "why?", trying to find the answer, and in stating this answer clearly and precisely.
Sometimes even without reasoning we can see that a new statement is true merely because of its relation to another. In Chapter II (pages 70-71) it was pointed out that there are four kinds of statements. If we know that one statement is true we can sometimes be sure at once that another one composed of the same terms is true or false. For example, if I know that it is true that "every girl is pretty," then I also know that:
1) It is false that some girl is not pretty (the contradictory of the original statement).
2) It is false that no girl is pretty (the contrary of the original statement).
3) It is true that some girl is pretty (the subaltern of the original statement).
On the other hand, if I know that it is false that "every girl is pretty," I also know that:
- 1. It is true that some girl is not pretty (the contradictory of this second statement).
- 2. It may be true or it may be false that no girl is pretty (the contrary), because of course some girls may be pretty and some not.
- 3. It may be true or it may be false that some girl is pretty (the subcontrary).
These relations can be conveniently shown by a diagram which is called the Square of Opposition
If this square is memorized it will save us from making two common errors in thought:
- 1. The error of thinking that because "some Irishmen have hot tempers" it must be true that "every Irishman has a hot temper"; or that because "some Germans are not hot-tempered," therefore "no German is hot tempered." This is the error called unwarranted generalization.
- 2. The error of thinking that if we prove that it is false that every Irishman is hot-tempered" that we have proved that no Irishman is hot-tempered"; or that if we have proved that it is false that "no German is intelligent" that we have proved that "every German is intelligent." This is the error of mistaking a contrary for a contradictory.
These relations help us to see how certain truths and falsehoods are related. But they are not reasoning in the strict sense, because they do not give us a new truth; rather they indicate a new statement of a truth already known, since each of these sets of statements is still composed only of the same two terms, with different quantities and qualities (see pages 69-70).
To arrive at a really new truth by reasoning we must make use of a third term. Thus when we say "the front teeth of a dog are sharp," we may know from experience, by looking at the teeth, that this is true. But we may also know it by reasoning: "The front teeth of a dog are sharp, because it eats meat." Here we have three terms: the subject (front teeth of a dog), a predicate (sharp), and a third term which is the cause that the predicate belongs to the subject (because it eats meat).
All reasoning consists in seeing the connection of a predicate with a subject by means of a third or middle term. We settle an argument between two sides by finding this middle term.
THE KINDS OF ARGUMENT
The third or middle term may be of two sorts: it may be a universal distributive term, or it may be a particular term (see page 70). It would be an unwarranted generalization, however, to link a subject with a predicate through a particular term, so that to reason through particulars we must have a list of them that is equivalent to a universal.
An argument in which the middle term is a universal is called a syllogism (from the Greek for "linking together of words or ideas"), and an argument in which the middle term is a list of particulars is called an induction (Latin for "leading to," because it leads from particulars to a universal).
The syllogism can be written in two ways:
- 1. In ordinary speech we say, "A is B, because of C; "the teeth of a dog are sharp because it eats meat." This way of writing a syllogism is very simple, but it is a complex sentence. If we turn it into simple sentences we get a second way of writing the syllogism, which is clearer and more accurate.
- 2. This second way is to state the syllogism in three simple sentences:C is B Teeth for meat-eating are sharp. And: A is C And: the teeth of a dog are for meat-eating. Therefore: A is B Therefore: the teeth of a dog are sharp.
In the syllogism written out in this way we have two truths called premises or principles, and a third, called the conclusion. To see how to form a syllogism correctly, one may begin by writing the conclusion. The predicate of this conclusion is called the major term (because the predicate is like the form in a statement, and form is greater than its matter; see pages 69-70). The major term combined with the middle term makes the major premise. The subject of the conclusion is called the minor term, and combined with the middle term it makes the minor premise. Ordinarily we write the major premise first, and the minor second, but this order is not really important.
You will notice that only the middle term occurs in both premises, but that it does not appear in the conclusion.
Since the two premises might be any one of the four kinds of statements contained in the square of opposition (see page 139), we might have a large number of different arrangements or forms (also called "modes") of the syllogism. Many of these, however, do not produce a genuine syllogism because in them the middle term is not universal or does not connect the major and the minor terms in a definite way. When tested (see page 572), only 14 arrangements are found to be useful. Even these can all be rearranged so as to give only four basic modes, and these are the ones most commonly used.
In the. Middle Ages these were given rather odd names (the reason for them is explained on page 572. They are:Barbara: Every C is B Celárent: No C is B Every A is C Every A is C Every A is B No A is B Darii: Every C is B Ferio: No C is B Some A is C Some A is C Some A is B Some A is not B
It is obvious that Darii and Ferio are only weaker forms of Barbara and Celárent respectively, so that only Barbara and Celárent are of fundamental importance.
The induction can be written in the same form as the syllogism, except that the middle term is a list of particulars. The premise which we used in our example of the syllogism above ("teeth for meat-eating are sharp") might be proved by an induction as follows:a, b, c, d, Teeth of cats, tigers, e, etc. are B lions,dogs, bears, etc. are sharp. And: C is a, b, c, And: teeth for d, e, etc. meat-eating are teeth of cats, tigers, lions,dogs, bears, etc. Therefore: C is B Therefore: teeth for meat-eating are sharp
Different Forms of Reasoning
These two basic forms of reasoning, the syllogism and induction, also have abbreviated forms and expanded forms. Thus when one or the other of the premises of a syllogism is obvious, we may omit mentioning it. Sometimes we may merely state the premises and let our audience dram, the conclusion. These abbreviated forms of the syllogism are called enthymemes. The induction can be abbreviated by mentioning a single typical case instead of giving the whole list, For example, in the above induction we might simply have said, "lions, etc. have sharp teeth." This is called an example.
The most important expanded form of the syllogism is called a hypothetical syllogism., because its premises are made up of complex sentences rather than simple ones. For example:
- If the teeth of a dog are for meat-eating, then they will be sharp.
- And: the teeth of a dog are for meat-eating.
- Therefore: they are sharp.
A study of this example will show that it can be simplified by rewriting it as a simple syllogism in the form given above (see page 141). An important type of hypothetical reasoning often used in mathematics is the reduction to absurdity. It takes the following form:
- I wish to prove that A is B.
- Now: if A is not B, then C is D.
- But: it is absurd to say that C is D.
- Therefore: it is true that A is B.
Examples of the Syllogism
The article of St. Thomas, Whether Piety Is a Special Virtue? is written in so clear a style that it can easily be turned into a series of syllogisms (see pages 173 ff.). The easiest way is to work backward from the conclusion to discover and formulate a syllogism, In his reply St. Thomas proves the following conclusion: Piety is a special virtue of justice. The subject of this conclusion will be the minor term and the subject of the minor premise. The predicate of this conclusion will be the major term and the predicate of the major premise. Consequently we can at once write the following skeleton of the syllogism:Every M is a special virtue of justice. And: all* piety is M. Therefore: all piety is a special virtue of justice.*You will recall that universal affirmative statements start with "Every" or "All" (the meaning is the same in English), while universal negative statements start with "No" or "Not any." Particular statements start with "Some." See page 70.
It only remains to find the middle term (M) which is the cause of the truth of the conclusion. It can be found by asking, "Because of what is all piety a special virtue?" We see that St. Thomas answers: "Because it renders a special debt." Thus we can fill in the whole syllogism:Every virtue that renders a special debt is a special virtue of justice. And: all piety is a virtue that render a special debt. Therefore: all piety is a special virtue of justice.
Another example can be found in Objection 2. The conclusion here is: No piety is distinguished from religion. If we write this out we get:No M is distinguished from the virtue of religion. And: all piety is M. Therefore: no piety is distinguished from the virtue of religion.
It will be noticed that the negative is placed in the major premise and the conclusion. Now if we look for the middle term, we will find that it is: "because piety renders worship to God," and we can write the following syllogism:No virtue which renders worship to God is distinguished from the virtue of religion. And: all piety is virtue which renders worship to God. Therefore: no piety is distinguished from the virtue of religion.
The first of our two complete syllogisms has premises which are both affirmative universal statements, which is the figure ("form" or "mode") called Barbara. The second complete syllogism has a negative universal major, and an affirmative universal minor, which is the figure called Celarent. By altering the minor to a particular statement (changing "all piety" to "some piety") we convert the two syllogisms into Darii and Ferio, respectively.
Example of Induction
This article does not contain an obvious example of induction, but it is easy to form an induction as follows. Write out some universal conclusion to be proved, then form a syllogism just as we have done before, but instead of a universal middle term find a list of particulars which are equivalent to a middle term. For example, let us suppose that we wish to prove by induction the major premises of the two syllogisms we have already given. The result will be as follows:The virtues of piety, religion, reverence, obedience, gratitude, honesty, liberality, etc. are all special virtues of justice. And: any virtue which renders a special debt is a virtue of piety, religion, reverence, obedience, gratitude, honesty, liberality, etc. Therefore: every virtue which renders a special debt is a special virtue of justice.This conclusion is the major of our first syllogism.Neither prayer, devotion, vows, sacrifice, etc. is distinguished from the virtue of religion. And: any virtue which renders worship to God is either prayer, devotion, vows, sacrifice, etc. Therefore: no virtue which renders worship to God is distinguished from the virtue of religion.And this conclusion is the major of our second syllogism.
Examples of Abbreviated Arguments
Our two syllogisms could be converted into enthymemes merely by abbreviating them. Thus:
- Enthymeme: All piety is a special virtue of justice, because all piety renders a special debt.
When the argument is stated this way we assume that the hearer understands the other premise, namely, that "every virtue that renders a special debt is a special virtue of justice." On the other hand we might say:
- Enthymeme: All piety is a special virtue of justice, because every virtue that renders a special debt is a special virtue of justice.
Similarly we can convert our inductions into examples simply by giving one clear case, instead of a list. Thus:
- Religion is a special virtue of justice and it renders a special debt; therefore every virtue which renders a special debt is a special virtue of justice.
- Devotion is not distinguished from the virtue of religion and it renders worship to God; therefore no virtue which renders worship to God is distinguished from the virtue of religion.
It should be clear from these passages that our inductions and examples are not certain arguments, but only probable, unless backed up by more evidence. To be certain, an induction must deal with matters which we know so well that we have certitude that our list of examples is either complete or a representative sample.
Example of a Hypothetical Syllogism
St. Thomas does not use a hypothetical syllogism in this particular article, but it is easy to state the objections given here as hypothetical and conditional syllogisms. For example, Objection 2 could be written:If piety is a special virtue, it must have a different function than other virtues. But: piety does not have a different function than the virtue of religion. Therefore: piety is not a special virtue.
The Argument of Poetry
At first sight it seems very odd to speak of an "argument" in a poem or novel, although we may have noticed that sometimes the summary of a play is called its "argument." The purpose of poetry does not seem to be to prove anything, nor to persuade anyone. Its true purpose is to recreate us by arousing our emotions and bringing them to rest in the pleasure of contemplating some beautiful truth about human life. It gives us this refreshment and joy, not by "arguing," but by representing (imitating) some individual human action; that is, it tells a story.
But a story does contain a real argument. In entering into the story of another person, we come to see much more than a mere series of particular events. We also become aware of something universal which is exemplified in this particular story. We begin to see the great truths of human life and of the order of the universe in which man lives, The philosopher, Aristotle, said that "poetry is more philosophical than history," because history presents us with particular facts, while the poet, novelist, or playwright presents a story in such a way that the universal truth shines through its details.
Furthermore we do not merely watch the unfolding of this story as outsiders. We enter into it sympathetically, sharing in the emotions of the actors. The rhetorician helps its to see the truth of his conclusion by giving us something of his own feelings. Under the spell of his persuasion we hate what he hates and love what he loves, The rhetorician is trying to get us to act with him. The purpose of the poet is different. He casts an enchantment over us, not in order to get us to do something, but to fascinate us with the beautiful vision which he sees. We seem to enter a different world than the practical world of every day. We are not persuaded to act ourselves, but rather to enter by contemplation into the lives and actions of others.
The rhetorician arouses our emotions and focuses them so that we resolve to act. He is successful if we get up and leave him and set to work carrying out what he has proposed, The poet first arouses our emotions, but then he brings them to a delightful calm in which we share his vision of life. We are refreshed to carry on our own work in the light of a deeper insight into life, but we do not feel that we have been urged to go forth; rather the poet invites us to return to contemplation as soon as we may.
The Catharsis of Poetry
This special power of the poetic argument over the emotions is called by Aristotle catharsis or purification. In daily life only the wisest of men are able to look at the world calmly and contemplatively. Most of us are so "upset" with the problems of life, its desires, its fears, its anxieties, and its frustrations, that we cannot stand back and see the beauty and pattern of life. We are like soldiers in a parade who are so busy keeping step that they cannot see the beauty of the marching formation. The wise man after years of experience and discipline is able even in the midst of troubles to maintain this calmness and objectivity and to enjoy life as it is. His emotions are purified and harmonious, like perfect music, leaving his mind clear and penetrating. This calm philosophical vision is beyond most of us, and even the philosopher grows tired and out-of-sorts. Consequently the poet, artist, and musician are greatly needed in society, because they have the secret spell of giving to us for a few passing moments something of this wonderful calm and clarity of vision. They enchant the boy or girl who is ordinarily too restless to be still, they awaken the care-ridden adult to think of more beautiful things than business or household worries, they refresh even the wise man in his times of weariness with this world.
The poet purifies our emotions first of all by arousing them and setting them free from their fixation on our everyday worries. He does this by helping us to enter into the emotional experience of others, that is, of the characters in a story. Then he sets these emotions moving in a harmonious, patterned way as the story builds up in a unified powerful action. And finally, as the story reaches its close, he brings those emotions to rest in a sense of fulfillment and completion as we see the pattern of action coming to a perfect end.
As this pattern of action emerges and we begin to see the parts of the story fall into place, the universal truth which it contains begins to become very clear to us and gives meaning and order to all that has taken place. Thus as our emotions are brought to a satisfying rest, our minds are filled with a wide and universal vision of truth. It is like the climb up a mountain. At the moment that we are able to rest at the top after a long climb, we also look around and see the world spread out before us below in all its glory.
The Power of Poetry
We should not make the mistake, however, of thinking that the value of poetic argument consists only in the conclusion. Some people are fond of searching for the "moral" of a novel or play, and disregarding the story itself, as if it were a mere sugar-coating intended to make the moral "go down easy." This is just as wrong as to think that the force of a syllogism lies in its conclusion. Rather the force and power of the syllogism lie in its middle term, because it is the middle term which is like a light by which we see the truth of the conclusion. Similarly, in the poetic argument the story and its accompanying purification of emotion is the middle term by which we see the universal truth. In both cases, once the middle term is removed, the conclusion remains dark and unilluminated. We know that it is true, but we do not remember why it is true. Only while we are actually experiencing and enjoying a work of art do we see clearly into the truth which is contained in it.
Thus the play Macbeth contains the universal truth that "evil ambition works its own destruction." It is easy to put that truth into a single statement, but it is not so easy to realize that truth in our own minds. It is only as we watch the actual play unfold, and share the feelings of Macbeth in his apparent triumph and his terrible failure, that we really appreciate what that truth means.
Thus, from a logical point of view, a story is a typical case of some universal truth, which serves as a middle term through which that truth is known. It must therefore be an example or abbreviated induction (see page 143). It differs from an example used in arithmetic or science because it not only strikes our minds but also moves our feelings. It differs from an example used in rhetoric in that it is intended, not to prove that we must do something, but rather to give us a vision of life. This is why in rhetoric an example is ordinarily merely incidental, while in a poetic work it forms the whole argument.
The Iimitation of Poetry
Sometimes it is objected that if the purpose of a poetic argument were to show a universal truth, it would not be so concrete and detailed. The answer is that the more particular and concrete an example is, the more vivid it will be to our imaginations. This is necessary since nothing moves our emotions unless it can in some way be imagined. Hence characters in a story which are mere "types" seem dull and uninteresting. As Shakespeare says, a poet must "give to airy nothings" (abstract truths) "a local habitation and a name"; that is, he must make them vividly concrete. That is why the poetic argument is said to be an imitation or representation of life, since it presents the truth to us embodied in particular people and particular actions which live and move before us like life itself. On the other hand, such an imitation is not a mere photograph or historical record. It is an "imitation of nature," that is, of the inner and essential natures of things. The poetic writer does not merely copy or record outer appearances. He studies life so as to find truth and meaning in it, and to bring out this inner nature by the careful selection and manifestation of what is universal and important. In Macbeth, for example, we do not have a mere record of events. Shakespeare chooses every detail of his story to bring out the truth which it contains, to manifest the true nature of ambition.
In this way the story, or plot, is the very soul of a poem, novel, or play, that which gives unity to all its parts. For it is only in action that human beings become fully alive and manifest their inner nature or character. Through the action we know the characters themselves, their emotions, desires, and feelings. We also know their thoughts, or the reasons and motives which influence them to act or by which they disguise their real motives. So the objects represented in a story are first the plot or action (the principal object) and then the characters and their thoughts (secondary objects). These last two are secondary because thought is important to the story only as it results in action, and character is known to us and becomes fully itself only in action.
Characteristics of Good Poetic Argument
Since the plot is the soul of the poetic work it must be unified; otherwise it could not weld the parts of the work into a perfect whole. It is unified when it consists of only one principal action. There may be other interwoven subplots, but these must strengthen the main plot by emphasis or contrast, not confuse or hinder it. Nothing should be admitted to the story that does not contribute to this main plot, although in some types of writing (particularly the novel), we permit a looser sort of organization than we expect in an intensely moving play, short story, or lyric.
The plot also must be complete or it will leave us unsatisfied. To be complete it must have a beginning in which a new action arises from some situation. This new action should unfold in a series of connected events or episodes which form the middle of the story, and these should lead to a final rest or resolution (the end) in which all the forces set in motion at the beginning work themselves out. These requirements seem rather obvious, but many plays and stories are faulty because the writer is either too slow in getting his action started, or because be does not work out the middle in a series of connected but contrasted episodes, or because -- and this is the hardest task of all -- the writer cannot bring the forces set in motion to a real rest and conclusion.
Sometimes a plot is simple, and then its action moves in one straight line from beginning to end. More interesting is the complex plot in which the action first seems to move toward one goal and then suddenly reverses itself and moves toward a contrary goal. This reversal is also often called the climax of the play, while the resolution or ending is called the denouement. The magnitude, or length, of a story or poem (the number of episodes, etc.) must be sufficient for the forces set in motion to work themselves out, but should be no longer than necessary.
Any argument to have value must be true. In a plot the truth consists in the probability with which one episode leads to another. This probability comes from the universal truth which it embodies. Consequently we think a plot is very poor and improbable when it is resolved by some chance event (the rich uncle who dies and leaves our hero a fortune, etc.), because we know that true human happiness does not depend on chance but on the providence of God and the virtue of man. On the other hand, we think that a solution to a plot is very good when, in a surprising and unexpected way, the beginning leads to a result which is seen to be logical and in accordance with the laws of providence and of human life.
The characters who carry out this action must appear to be consistent and like real human beings, and they must be appropriate to the type of action they are to perform, otherwise they will make the plot itself seem improbable. It is in the characters that we see both the outward action and the inward action or emotion. It is our share in the emotions of the characters which helps us to enter into their experiences and to understand them more fully than if they were only known in an abstract way.
Poetry and the Emotions
It seems strange to many that so many great works of art have sad endings. A child or a very simple person often dislikes stories that end sadly, but as people become mature they also see a beauty and joy in a sad story or tragedy. Why is this? All emotion begins with love (that is, seeing that something is good or pleasant), or with hate (seeing that something is bad or painful). If we see that what we love can be possessed, we begin to move toward it and we experience the emotion of desire. If we actually possess it and enjoy it, we feel the emotion of joy. Sometimes, however, we find that there is an obstacle in our way, and this makes it difficult to obtain what we want. Then our desire becomes hope, or the conviction that by effort we can have what we want in spite of the difficulty. As we make an effort to overcome this difficulty, we experience courage, the spirit of effort and of battle, and then at last, if we conquer the difficulty and achieve our goal, we end in joy.
On the other band, if we see something hateful and see it approaching, we feel aversion, or a desire to get away. If it actually meets us, then we feel sorrow. Perhaps, however, as the hateful object approaches us and our aversion grows, we see the possibility of escaping, and of achieving the opposite good, although at the price of an effort. Then we experience hope, courage, and, if we succeed, joy. But if we see that the difficulty may be too great either to escape the evil we dislike or gain the good we desire, then we begin to feel fear or anxiety; and if it becomes clear that the difficulty is certainly too great, then despair overcomes us. As the evil finally seizes us we may still struggle for a while , thinking that escape or revenge is still possible, and then we feel anger. But if no escape is possible, then sorrow begins. Thus all emotion begins with love or hate, turns to hope or fear if difficulty appears, and ends in joy or sorrow.
Because of this interplay of our emotions, a story with a joyful ending is pleasant both because it brings our emotions to rest in the vision of truth, and because joy itself is pleasant. Sorrowful endings bring our emotions to rest, but sorrow is not pleasant to the normal person. How, then, can a sorrowful ending be pleasant? The pleasure is not in the sorrow, which is a painful thing, but in the rest in truth which we have achieved through sorrowful experience. As we see the death of a hero whom we loved, we feel sorrow, but our mind is also filled with delight that he has proved his nobility of character even at the price of death. This higher joy is worth the sorrow. Even when we see a great man punished for crime, we feel a joy in seeing that the law of justice in the universe has been preserved, and that this noble man has come to acknowledge and recognize his fault and repent.
This is why a tragedy is sometimes a greater work of art and a more real refreshment of our soul than is a comedy with a happy ending. The happy ending may give us a superficial joy, but the joy at the end of a tragedy is deeper and more complete, since it points to eternal things and not merely to something temporary. A fairy tale ends with "they lived happily ever after," but we are not so sure that they really did. The story of our Lord's death on the cross, however, is really much more emotionally satisfying for our souls, for in it we see that he has gained an everlasting victory over sin and death. Thus the catharsis or purification of the emotions in a tragedy is very deep and great, and it leads to a wonderful peace and insight into the real meaning of human life, which is sorrowful here in order that it may be joyful hereafter.
The Poetic Argument of the "Concord Hymn"
1. The plot of the poem. The "Concord Hymn" is a type of short poem called a lyric. In such poetry the plot is not as obvious as in a narrative work like an epic poem or a novel. Nonetheless there is a plot. What happens in the "Concord Hymn"? The action can be summarized as follows: "As we come to erect a monument on this almost forgotten battlefield, we begin to realize how much we owe to those who died here and bow little gratitude we have shown, and we feel moved to pray that future generations will better honor and preserve their heritage of freedom." This is a little story, which has a beginning, a middle, and an end:Beginning: We come to this battlefield to (1st stanza) erect a monument. Middle: a. We begin to realize that we had (2nd stanza) almost forgotten what they did and have showed little appreciation. b. Our act of raising a monument (3rd stanza) seems inadequate. End: But we pray that God, who never forgets, (4th stanza) will maintain this memory and this heritage in future generations.
Consequently we have the story, not of some external action, but rather of the internal thought and feeling of Emerson and the group for whom he speaks. It will be noticed that what is expressed is not merely thought, but also the arousal and quieting of the emotions called the catharsis of feeling, which is the characteristic of all poetic argument. The first stanza indicates a feeling of wonder or desire to understand and then awe, a kind of fear which we feel when suddenly confronted with something great and unknown. Emerson suddenly begins to realize what a great historic spot this is which he has so often passed without even thinking of it. This awe deepens in the second stanza into a sense of sorrow and of shame, mixed with a certain indignation or anger, at the thought of the ingratitude and forgetfulness with which the dead have been treated. Then in the third stanza the emotion begins to resolve itself as he turns to the monument with the determination and courage to make up for the past by placing the monument, and yet with a feeling that this is not enough. Finally, in the last stanza the emotion turns to one of solemn reverence and of hope, even of joy, to think that God, who is eternal and unforgetting, will never let the memory or the example of the heroic dead die, however men may forget.
Accompanying the thought, therefore, is a movement of emotion:
This last emotion brings the poem to a close, since all emotion ends either in sorrow and resignation, or in joy and delight. This emotion reinforces and blends with the thought, so that our sense of surprise in the first stanza helps us to realize the greatness of the battle, and our feeling of prayer and hope in the last stanza brings us face to face with the realization that the true honor due to patriotism comes from God who rewards all things justly.
2. The argument of the poem. How is this an argument? Emerson has told the story of one group of men who, on a particular occasion, began to realize how much patriotism deserves to be honored and how frequently it is forgotten. Furthermore he tells us this story in such a concrete way that we ourselves experience his feelings and his realization of truth. Consequently we have before us an example, or abbreviated induction, by which we arrive at a general truth, namely, that "Patriotism is very honorable," or that "Patriotism is a great virtue."
This truth in its abstract statement does not enter our mind as we read the poem. Rather while simply listening to the story and entering into its emotion we come step by step to see this truth without formulating it in any other words than those of the poem itself.
If Emerson had added another stanza like the following:This is the lesson we relate, A lesson that is learned by few: That patriotism is a virtue great Which men forget to honor as is due.
the argument of the poem would have been destroyed, because the truth would no longer be presented to us as embodied in a story or example, and the emotion would be jarred and destroyed. This is the reason why many people dislike literary writing and especially poetry. They look for the writer to say "plainly and in so many words" what he means. They do not understand that the meaning of such an argument has to be conveyed and enjoyed in the story itself and not outside of it, and that yet there is a meaning, a universal truth, which we realize very deeply as we come to the end of the story. Indeed, Emerson's poem probably makes us appreciate patriotism much more than a piece of rhetoric Would do, because its quiet reflective tone makes us aware of the reality of patriotism without my effort to persuade us or to moralize.
3. The role of the characters in poetic argument. The story is the chief thing in this poem as in every poem, since it gives the whole shape, unity, and meaning to the work. The story would not be possible, however, unless it happened to some character or characters. Who are the characters here? Obviously the chief character is not a single individual, but rather the whole group, the people of America who have come to raise the monument, the "we" of the poem.
Does the poet characterize these people in any way? Not directly. But indirectly he shows us that they are simple, sincere, and frank, that they have the nobility to be ashamed of having forgotten and the humility to admit their weakness, that they are busy people looking to the future and hence likely to forget, and finally that they are a reverent and courageous people with confidence in God. One of the reasons this poem is so beautiful is that the movement of emotions which it contains shows us the soul of the American people as we like to believe it is: simple, reverent, humble, courageous.
The other characters are the dead, both the heroic Americans and their foe, and the Americans of the future. Nothing much is said about any of these except the dead heroes, and they are shown us in a simple vivid picture at the great moment of the battle when they fired the first shot. This is enough, however, to make us think of them as simple (because farmers) but mighty and courageous men (they fired the shot heard round the world). It is better that they be characterized only in this simple fashion, since it makes them a better symbol.
4. The thought of the poem. The thought of the poem is the connection of ideas expressed by the chief character. It has an interest all of its own. First of all, in the opening stanza we see a connection established between a very small event (the first shot) and a tremendous consequence (heard round the world). Why was this action a world-wide event? Not merely because it began a war, but because the American Revolution was taken as a model by peoples all over the world whom it encouraged to overthrow governments that denied human rights.
In the second stanza there is the interest of the ironic contrast between the men opposed in battle who now rest side by side, and the philosophical thought that Time runs on, bearing everything away. In the third stanza our thoughts go into the future. What will become of America tomorrow? In the last stanza we have the deepest thought of all. Behind Time and Nature is a God. It was his providence that made this little battle so important in its consequence. It is his will that men should be free. He inspired the Minutemen to fight; he will not fail to help our country in the time to come, if we turn to him. We might wonder why Emerson calls God the "Spirit." Is it not a rather impersonal way to speak of God? Is it, perhaps, because Emerson is thinking of God more as a force than as a person?
5. Evaluation of the poem. If we consider whether the poet has used plot, character, and thought well, we will notice that he has kept the character in the background and revealed it mainly through plot. This is effective, since character exists to serve plot, not the other way around. The character is thus appropriate to the plot, and it is also lifelike, since the succession of emotions and the consistency of one emotion with another is maintained. It is very natural that from wonder and awe at the sense of the historic spot, we should then begin to feel the other emotions mentioned in their proper order. Hence the plot is probable, because from the first event and emotion the others follow step by step to a complete catharsis. The thought in this poem is also subordinated to the succession of emotions which are the main events of the story, and yet it is interesting because it is awake to the significance of events. It perceives their irony, and at last arrives at a deep understanding of them.
The Purpose of Rhetoric
A rhetorician is trying to persuade his audience to do something or to avoid doing something. Hence he is usually arguing about whether something is possible or impossible, whether something is likely to happen or not to happen, or whether something is important or trivial. No one will try to do what is impossible, nor to take into consideration what is not likely to happen, nor to concern himself about something which seems trivial.
The poetic writer makes every work into a single example or story. The rhetorician might also do this (see our Lord's beautiful sermon on the prodigal son), but ordinarily he only uses examples as an incidental device, and then they are usually historical examples,
because a thing is more convincing in a practical way if it actually happened. The chief argument of the rhetorician is not the example or shortened induction, but the enthymeme or shortened syllogism.
The Work of the Rhetorician
In the enthymeme the rhetorician leaves one premise implicit. This premise must be some opinion which he knows the whole audience will accept without argument. He then bends his effort to setting the other premise before them in the most favorable light possible. If they will accept this second premise, then they will readily accept the conclusion. Indeed, occasionally the rhetorician lets them draw this conclusion for themselves, as, for example, Mark Anthony does in his funeral oration in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. This is why the enthymeme is so suitable for rhetoric, because it builds on a premise already accepted and has only to establish one point in order to produce the desired conclusion.
The rhetorician has two especially difficult problems:
- 1. To establish his own character with his audience as honest, well-intentioned, and intelligent. If they like him and trust him, then they will be very quick to accept his advice as to what is to be done. But if they dislike or distrust him, it will be almost impossible to convince them. Indeed, the more he says the more they will be inclined to do the opposite.
- 2. To find the premise that the audience will accept without discussion and which can be left implicit, and to find a way to put the other premise of his enthymeme in such a way that it will appeal to his audience.
Both of these require the rhetorician to understand the likes and dislikes of the people to whom he has to speak. He must understand the emotions just as the poet does, but be must also know how to arouse them or quiet them in people of a certain type.
For this reason he must ask himself, before addressing a particular group, whether they are united by their virtue (for example, an audience of priests, sisters, doctors, lawyers, or experts of some sort), or by their riches (an audience of businessmen), or their poverty (a crowd in the street). He must also consider their nationality, religion, and education, and whether they are young, middle-aged, or old.
In order to sway all these classes of people, the rhetorician concerns himself with arousing love and hate, anger and benevolence, fear, shame, kindness, pity, or envy. He does not do so, however, in order to make men act from blind emotion like animals. To do that would be vicious and sinful. The rhetorician appeals to men's emotions to lead them to truth and to a more reasonable way of acting. He studies selfish and evil emotions, not in order to produce them, but in order to prevent them from interfering with right action.
If the rhetorician is to move men to do what is right, he must not merely advertise any product he is hired to sell, promote any program adopted by his political party, or defend any criminal who hires him as a lawyer. He must know ethics, or the art of good human living, so that he understands what is truly virtuous and honorable, and be must have a thoughtful acquaintance with politics and practical affairs.
Example of Rhetorical Argument
1. Character of the speaker. If we examine the "Gettysburg Address" for its argument, we notice first of all that Lincoln is well aware of the attitudes of his audience, and takes care to establish his true character to them, since the character of the speaker is the first argument in rhetoric. Lincoln knows that the audience doubts that be is anything more than a cheap politician, and they rather expect him to make an awkward and tasteless speech defending himself and his administration of the war. They will contrast him unfavorably with the polished orator, Edward Everett, who has just spoken so well and at great length.
Consequently, Lincoln first of all aims at giving the impression of great dignity and sincerity. He shows himself a man who is a statesman far above all mere partisanship, and who has no desire whatsoever merely to make an impression. He is simple, solemn, deeply moved. And he looks toward the future with the realization of great responsibility.
2. The argument of the address. Next we notice the actual argument. The main conclusion is: "We should continue the war for democracy." Why? The cause for this conclusion is: "Because this is the best way to honor the dead." If we state this as a syllogism we get:Patriots are to be honored by completing their work, that is, by winning the war for democracy. And: these dead are patriots. Therefore: these dead are to be honored by completing their work, that is, by winning this war for democracy.
This syllogism is only stated by Lincoln in abbreviated form as an enthymeme. The minor premise is omitted, because everybody agreed that the dead were patriots to be greatly honored. To dwell on that point would have been useless. It might even have raised disturbing questions; some of his audience might have begun to ask themselves: "Were these men fools to enlist in the army for a war started by politicians like Mr. Lincoln?" Lincoln did not risk stirring up these prejudices, but took full advantage of the united conviction of the crowd that the dead ought to be honored. He dwelt only on the idea that no honor for these men could be sufficient, except the completion of the war in which they had died.
This idea, however, was not immediately acceptable to his audience, because (as Lincoln well understood) many of them did not appreciate the greatness of the cause for which these men had died, or what they had fought to accomplish. Therefore Lincoln made this the main burden of his speech.
He put his appeal in two parts:
- 1. He pointed out that mere ceremony and speech-making was no adequate honor for the dead. This he established very quickly and briefly in the middle section of his speech, sentences five to seven.
- 2. He pointed out the greatness of the cause for which these men died. This occupied most of the speech, both its beginning and its end.
This second part is one of amplification, as it is called -- namely, to show that something is great and important. Lincoln began in the first sentence of his speech by recalling a previous example of a great historical event, the founding of our country. He was implying that just as the founding of our country had consequences for the whole world, so would the Civil War. The founding of our country was a birth, the Civil War would result in rebirth. In this way he clothed the Civil War dead with the acknowledged greatness of the founders of the Republic. Lincoln emphasized this comparison in sentences two and four of his speech. Then in sentences five and seven he introduced the other part of his argument, the inadequacy of mere words to honor the dead. This was a problem of depreciation, the reverse of amplification. In sentences eight and nine he returned to the main point. Sentence eight is really the climax of the speech since it states the conclusion. Sentence nine drives this home by bringing forward two arguments:
- 1. It would be tragic for so great a sacrifice to be vain.
- 2. This sacrifice was for the great ideal of democratic freedom.
Lincoln saves this last argument for the end, and he clinches it by the saying that ". . . (true freedom is) government of the people, by the people, and for the people." This is a kind of maxim, or pithy saying, which is an effective rhetorical device because it sticks in the memory of the hearers. It can be written thus:To seek true freedom is to seek government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And: our duty is to seek true freedom. Therefore: our duty is to seek government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
DIALECTICAL AND SCIENTIFIC ARGUMENTS
The Problem to Be Solved
In dialectical and scientific arguments the problem of emotion is left entirely out of consideration. In these arguments the only problem is that of objective facts and of finding explanations of facts. It is presupposed that the audience for such arguments is honest and fair-minded and ready to listen to the evidence "without prejudice. If this is not the case, then it is necessary first to clear away their prejudices by the use of rhetoric.
In objective, scientific research we begin with a problem or question. It can be one of four questions:
1. Does S exist?
2. What kind of a thing is S?
3. Does S have the property P?
4. Why does S have the property P? (the cause)
If we are not curious about each of these questions we will not want to learn anything. Science must begin with wonder. If we are curious, then we will ask these four questions in the order above. For example, Madame Curie, who discovered radium, posed the following problems (see page 552 ff.).
1. Is there a new element in these materials which behave so unusually?
2. Once she had discovered that there was a new element, she wanted to know "what is it?" -- how could it be defined so as to show that it is different from any element ever known before?
3. Then she wanted to know: "What are its properties?"
4. Finally she wanted to know: "Why does it have these properties?"
It took her many years of research to find the answer even to the first question.
In some sciences the first two questions are very easy to answer. In mathematics a teacher can show us in a few seconds that there is such a thing as a triangle and a circle merely by drawing them on the blackboard, and she can then quickly show how they must be defined so as to distinguish a triangle from a square, or a circle from an ellipse. These definitions are first principles, or immediately known truths. Once we understand them the rest of mathematics is very clear and certain.
In most sciences, however, the first two questions are hard to answer. We cannot find definitions or basic principles in these sciences without long research like that of Madame Curie. The dialectical argument is the one which we must use in this research, since it only requires probable principles. The strict scientific argument or demonstration (for example, those in mathematics) cannot be used until we have certain principles and have already answered the first two of our questions.
The dialectician proceeds to establish a real definition in the way we have already described in Chapter II. He begins with nominal definitions, which are the opinions that are commonly held. These may be common opinions, or they may be the opinions of experts. Then he makes a classification by comparing what is the same and what is different, and arranging his terms according to the predicables of genus, difference, species, property, and contingent (as we have already shown), until he finally locates the correct definition. Madame Curie kept trying to separate, from the mixture in the laboratory, the various chemicals which already fitted into a known classification, until she had isolated a new element and fitted it into a place in the classification that was previously blank.
Refutation of False Theories
The dialectician prepares the way for science in another fashion, namely, by refuting false opinions or theories. Until these have been eliminated, the true principles will be hard to separate from the false. Ultimately a theory may be shown to be false by the discovery of some new fact, but dialectics will often eliminate a theory on the grounds that it is inconsistent, or that it disagrees with facts already known but whose significance has been missed.
In refuting these false views the dialectician uses the method called distinguishing an argument. It is based on the fact that many arguments which seem to be true are really the result of equivocal terms (see page 49). Since a syllogism will be invalid if it contains more than three terms, we can destroy an opponent's argument by showing that he has used a term in two senses in his syllogism, thus using four instead of three terms.
For an example, let us suppose that we wish to refute the following theory:Every animal that swims is a fish. And: whales are animals that swim. Therefore: whales are fish.
We may proceed in one of two ways:
1. By distinguishing the middle term. In this case we use the following method: I concede the major premise in the sense that "every cold-blooded animal that swims is a fish," but I deny it if it means that "every animal, even a warm-blooded one, that swims is a fish." As to the minor premise, I distinguish it in the contrary sense, and deny that "whales are cold-blooded animals that swim," while conceding that "whales are warm-blooded animals that swim." Thus there is no middle term found in both premises taken in the sense in which they are true, so that no conclusion follows.
Written out this would appear as follows, and would be called a contradistinction:I distinguish the major (middle term): Every cold-blooded animal that swims is a fish, I concede. Every warm-blooded animal that swims is a fish, I deny. And I contradistinguish the minor (middle term again): Whales are cold-blooded animals, I deny. Whales are warm-blooded animals, I concede. Hence: no conclusion follows.
2. By distinguishing either the major or minor term. In this case we use the following method: I concede the major premise in the sense that "every animal that swims is a 'fish' as this word is popularly used," but I deny it in the sense that "every animal is a 'fish' in the technical sense." The minor I concede. The conclusion I distinguish in the same way as the major, conceding that "whales are 'fish' in the popular sense," but denying that "whales are 'fish' in the technical sense." If the minor term is the one distinguished, then the major premise will be conceded, and the conclusion will be distinguished.
The following are examples of these two types of distinction:
Distinction of the major term:I distinguish the major (major term): Every animal that swims is a "fish" in the popular sense, I concede. Every animal that swims is a fish in the technical sense, I deny. And I concede the minor: Whales are animals that swim. And I distinguish the conclusion in the same way (major term again): Whales are "fish" in the popular sense, I concede. Whales are fish in the technical sense, I deny.
In our example the term "whales" is difficult to distinguish. But it is sometimes used in a strict sense of the mammal called a whale, and sometimes in a broad sense of any large thing that swims, that is, in the sense of a sea-monster. Using such a distinction we would get the following in which we also have an example of the third way in which a premise may be treated, since when we can neither affirm nor deny its truth, we may pass over it, and deny that the conclusion has been proved.
Distinction of the minor term:I concede the major: Every animal that swims is a fish. But I distinguish the minor (minor term): Some "whales" taken in the sense of any sea-monster are animals that swim, I concede. Some whales taken in the strict sense are animals that swim, I pass over. And I distinguish the conclusion in the same sense (minor term again): Some "whales" taken in the sense of any sea-monster are fish, I concede. Some whales taken in the strict sense are fish, I deny to have been proved.
In this last case we would not deny the second sense of the minor (since it is true but not relevant) but would say, "That some whales taken in the strict sense are animals that swim," I do not deny, but I pass over as irrelevant to the argument. In distinguishing, we should attempt to distinguish the middle term if possible, since this destroys the whole conclusion. If we cannot distinguish it, then we should first try the major and then the minor term.
This art of distinguishing makes it possible to refute an opponent and yet to agree with him as much as possible. It will also permit us to escape the ordinary fallacies in reasoning by which the opponent appears to prove something without really doing so.
The Order of Discussion
In a dialectical discussion or investigation it is important to proceed in an orderly fashion:
- 1. Make sure you understand what the opponent is saying, and state the two sides fairly, so that he will agree with your statement of his case.
- 2. Try to agree on every point that you can, or to put aside small disagreements that are irrelevant.
- 3. Try to reduce the issue to one single question, and then seek to establish how this question can be settled in objective way.
- 4. Present the objective evidence or authority for your position.
The use of dialectic should eventually clear the way for us to establish some statements which are certainly true, that is, which are necessary and cannot be otherwise. These can be the principles or premises of a genuine proof or demonstration and are known directly from experience, not as dialectical conclusions. Dialectics has only led the way to discover these principles; it has not proved them, since dialectical proofs never yield certain conclusions.
Genuine Proof, or Demonstration
A strict demonstration has the cause of the conclusion as its middle term and is called an a priori demonstration, that is, one that goes from principles (causes) to effects. The following is an example:Automobiles with 12 cylinders compared with those with only 8 are able to run faster. And: automobile A compared to automobile B has 12 cylinders compared to 8. Therefore: automobile A compared to automobile B is able to run faster.
Here the middle term is "12 cylinders compared to 8" and is the proper cause of automobile A running faster than B. Sometimes, however, the middle term is not the proper cause, but a common or remote cause. For example:Automobiles with more powerful engines are able to run faster. And: automobile A compared to automobile B is able to run faster. Therefore: automobile A compared to automobile B is the one with the more powerful engine.
The middle term here is a true cause, but only a remote one. It is true that A runs faster because it has a more powerful engine, but our mind is not satisfied by this answer. We still want to know "Why is its engine more powerful?" Only when we know the proper cause are we fully satisfied.
Sometimes the middle term is not a cause at all, but an effect. For example, in the following demonstration:The car that won the race is faster. And: car A compared to car B is the winner of the race. Therefore: car A compared to car B is faster.
This argument proves the fact that A is faster than B, but it does not tell us why.
Thus three types of demonstration are possible:
- 1. Perfect demonstration. This is through a middle term which states the proper cause. Technically this is called a demonstration which is a priori and propter quid. These are Latin for "from the cause" and "because of what."
- 2. Imperfect demonstration:
- a. Through a remote cause. This is technically called a priori (through a cause), but quia (Latin for "that"), because it proves that a fact is true, but does not show exactly why.
- b. Through an effect. This is technically called a posteriori (Latin for "from the effect"). It is also only quia, because it proves that a fact is true, but does not show exactly why.
The goal of the scientist is to achieve the first kind of demonstration, which completely satisfies our minds. In mathematics we can have such demonstrations in every theorem because mathematics deals with simple abstract quantities. But in other sciences it is hard to have such perfect demonstrations. For example, the proof that God exists is an a posteriori proof. We know that God exists because he has created the world, but that is not why he exists.
The Order of Science
Every science is organized so as to begin with the most general truths and then to proceed to study the more special truths. In geometry, for example, we study about the triangle in general before we study about equilateral, isosceles, and scalene triangles, and in zoology we study about animals, then vertebrates and invertebrates, and then each kind of vertebrate. This is for two reasons;
- 1. Because it is easier to be certain about what is general than about what is particular, just as it is easier to see that an approaching thing is an animal before we are sure it is a cow or a horse.
- 2. Because it saves repetition to treat of things in this order, since what is general is included in everything special. In this way everything in a science can be traced back to some general principles which are the first and most certain things in the science. For example, axioms and postulates and definitions are the principles of geometry, and the rules of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are first in arithmetic, and the Creed is first in Christian doctrine (see pages 77 ff.). These principles must be immediately evident statements or known by reliable witnesses, or they too would have to be proved and would not be the beginning of a science.
There are as many different sciences and arts as there are different sets of such first principles. Thus algebra (or arithmetic) is one science, while geometry is another, and Christian doctrine another, because each has a different set of postulates.
Example of Dialectical Argument
In A Defense of Patriotism, Chesterton assumes one opinion as accepted by all, and he disputes another.
- 1. He assumes that every one is agreed that patriotism is a good thing.
- 2. He wishes to raise a question about the unthinking ideas held by so many of his countrymen of what patriotism is.
ARGUMENTS IN GENERAL: - - - - - - - - - GRAPHIC
SCIENTIFIC ARGUMENTS: - - - - - - - - - GRAPHIC
His problem, therefore, is to try to establish a true definition of patriotism by examining different definitions.
He begins by stating two definitions:
1. Patriotism is a lust for territory.
2. Patriotism is a love of country.
He asks the question: "Are these two definitions identical, as many people seem to think?" He answers by listing the different properties of "lust" and "love":
- 1) Lust is low, automatic, rapacious, blind, sated.
- 2) Love is chivalrous, purifying, pitiful, vigilant, intellectual, primal.
Thus he argues that since the properties of lust and love are different, their essential nature or definition must be different.
He next brings forward a third definition similar to the first:
3. Patriotism is to be for your country right or wrong. He then disproves this by, a similar method, showing that:
- 1) Love is very sensitive of the honor and virtue of the thing it loves.
- 2) Patriotism that cares nothing for honor therefore is obviously not love, but only lust.
He clinches this further by some more properties:
- 3) Love is serious, and loves truth even when it is frank criticism.
- 4) This false patriotism is frivolous, and refuses to face criticism of any sort.
This completes the first stage of his argument, which has established that patriotism is love and not lust. He then asks whether it would be right to say:
4. Patriotism is a love for more territory.
This he proceeds to disprove by showing that this kind of 'love" is concerned only with trivial things. He does this by listing the signs of such patriotism:
- 1) Patriotism as a love for territory is shown by pride over trade, physical force, victory in petty battles far away, in colonies, in boastful speeches, and in "fists and boots."
- 2) Real patriotism ought to be a pride in central, intellectual things of "the head and heart," in ideals like those of Pericles and Athens.
In the final and third stage of his argument he asks the probable cause of the faulty reasoning which has led to this false view, and states a hypothesis which may, account for the mistake so many have made. It can be formulated in a syllogism thus:The great qualities of England are its success in commerce, prize fighting, eating up provinces, and pulling down princes, i.e., in imperial power. And: what a patriotic man takes pride in are the great qualities of his country. Therefore: what a patriotic Englishman takes pride in is England's success in imperial power.The error, Chesterton says, is the major premise. It ought to read:The great qualities of England are its literature, science, philosophy, and political eloquence.
Then a different conclusion would follow, namely:
5. Patriotism is a love of country for its spiritual qualities.
This completes the main course of Chesterton's argument; he has discovered a correct definition of patriotism. The genus is "love," and the difference is "of one's country as having great spiritual qualities." The final part of the essay is an inquiry as to the cause why Englishmen do not know the great qualities of their country. Chesterton suggests that it is "our unique neglect in education of our national literature." And what is the cause of this? The emphasis in English schools on Latin and Greek only. This last argument is a hypothesis. It can be stated in a syllogism as follows:Whatever causes the neglect of the study of national literature is a chief cause of decline of true patriotism. And: the study of the Greek and Latin classics in English schools is a cause of the neglect of the study of English national literature. Therefore: the exclusive study of Greek and Latin in English schools is a chief cause of decline of true patriotism.
This argument is only a probable one because Chesterton has not shown that the minor premise is really true. It is not obvious that the study of Greek and Latin necessarily involves the neglect of the study of English. Thus his argument has led to two conclusions, both of them still dialectical:
- 1. The definition of patriotism is a love of one's country for its spiritual qualities,
- 2. The cause of the decline of true patriotism in England is classical education.
The definition is still only dialectical because it is not clear that it has given us the ultimate difference. May there not be several types of love of country for its spiritual qualities, of which patriotism is only one? The other conclusion is also open to doubt since it rests on a premise which is merely probable.
As a piece of dialectic this article might be criticized on the grounds that Chesterton does not sufficiently bring out the possible arguments for the false definitions, but builds up one side with rhetorical devices, instead of giving the other side its fair and objective chance. We must remember, however, that these essays were intended to provoke thought, not to settle a question. Hence Chesterton defends the less popular side, knowing that his readers have heard the other side many times from other sources.
Example of Scientific Argument
Whether Piety Is a Special Virtue? is a strictly scientific piece of argumentation in which St. Thomas proves his own answer to the question, and carefully distinguishes the objections of his opponents. Each of these objections is itself a dialectical syllogism, that is, one which does not argue to a certain, but only a probable, conclusion.
St. Thomas' argument in his reply to the question can be stated formally as follows:Major: Any virtue which has a special relation to its object is a special virtue. Minor: And: piety is a virtue which has a special relation to its object. Therefore: piety is a special virtue. Major: This is the definition of what is meant by a special virtue. Definitions are immediately evident statements and do not require proof. Minor: Proof: A type of justice which renders a special debt is a virtue which has a special relation to its object. And: piety is a type of justice which renders a special debt (i.e., to parents and country as principles of our being and governance). Therefore: piety is a virtue which has a special relation to its object. 2nd major: This is the definition of justice, whose object is to render a debt. 2nd minor: This is the definition of piety.
Thus in this proof the premises go back to definitions. If these definitions are real and essential, then the proof is strictly demonstrative. St. Thomas has already established these definitions in previous articles (see pages 130 f.).
Furthermore, it is a demonstration through the proper cause (i.e., it is a priori and propter quid), since the middle term, "a virtue which has a special relation to its object," states the formal cause that makes a virtue special, and this is exactly and properly the cause, requiring no other explanation. To see this better we might ask our self: "Why is John the brother of James?" The answer would be: "Because they are related as sons of the same parents." Thus the relation is the very definition or formal cause of being a brother. Similarly, the very reason piety is a special virtue is because it has a special relation to its object.
The second syllogism also gives us the proper reason or cause why piety has a special relation to its object; it is because its object is to render a special kind of debt.
The objections and St. Thomas' method of distinguishing each can be formulated as follows:
OBJECTION 1Major: Any work which shows reverence and worship to someone is a work of charity. Minor: And: piety is a work which shows reverence and worship to someone. Therefore: piety is a work of charity. AnswerI distinguish the major (middle term): This work as a sign, is a work of charity, I concede. This work as a specific object is a work of charity, I deny. And I contradistinguish the minor (middle term again): Piety is a virtue which has this work as a sign, I deny. Piety is a virtue which has this work as a specific object, I concede. Hence: no conclusion follows. OBJECTION 2Major: To show worship to God is a work of religion. Minor: And: piety is to show worship to God. Therefore: piety is a work of religion (i.e., not a special virtue). AnswerI concede the major. I distinguish the minor (subject): Piety in the wide sense is to show worship to God, I concede. Piety in the strict sense is to show worship to God, I deny. And I distinguish the conclusion in the same way: Piety in the wide sense is a work of religion, I concede. Piety in the strict sense is a work of religion (i.e., not a special virtue), I deny. OBJECTION 3Major: To show reverence and care for the fatherland is a work of legal justice, which is a general and not a special virtue. Minor: And: piety is to show reverence and care for the fatherland. Therefore: piety is a work of legal justice, which is a general and not a special virtue. AnswerI distinguish the major (middle term): To show reverence and care for the fatherland as a common good is a work of legal justice, I concede. To show reverence and care for the fatherland as the source of our being is a work of legal justice, I deny. And I contradistinguish the minor (middle term again): Piety is to show reverence and care for the fatherland as a common good, I deny. Piety is to show reverence and care for the fatherland as a source of our being, I concede. Hence: no conclusion follows.
(to be memorized)
- 1. An argument is the product of the third act of the mind by which one truth is known through its dependence on other truths already known.
- 1) The premises or antecedent of an argument are these previously known truths, expressed in statements.
- 2) The conclusion or consequent of an argument is the truth which is known through its dependence on the antecedent, and which is expressed in a statement.
- 2. The major term of an argument is the predicate of its conclusion; the minor term is the subject of this conclusion.
- 1) The major premise is that which contains the major term; the minor that which contains the minor term.
- 2) The middle term of an argument is that to which the major and minor term are compared in the antecedent, and through which these terms are shown to be related.
- 3. The syllogism is an argument in which the middle term is a distributive universal concept.
- 1) An enthymeme is an abbreviated syllogism in which one premise, or the conclusion, is not made explicit.
- 2) The induction is an argument in which the middle term is a list of particulars.
- 3) The example is an abbreviated induction in which the middle term is a single typical case.
- 4. A perfect demonstration (propter quid) is a syllogism whose middle term is the proper cause of the conclusion.
- 1) An imperfect demonstration (quia) a priori is one whose middle term is a remote cause.
- 2) An imperfect demonstration (quia) a posteriori is one whose middle term is not a cause, but an effect.
- 3) A dialectical argument is one in which the premises are only probable, and whose purpose is to prepare the way for demonstration.
- 4) A rhetorical argument is one whose purpose is to persuade to right action.
- 5) A poetic argument is an imitation of human action whose purpose is to dispose the audience for contemplation by the purgation of the emotions.
TEACHING AND STUDY SUGGESTIONS
- Unit 1: Definitions of Technical Terms
- A. Review:
A brief review of Chapter I (page 39 ff.) on the poetic and rhetorical use of terms. Test students on ability to apply these to the analysis of stories and poems.
- B. Analysis:
So far as possible, analyze the textbooks used in all, courses during freshman and sophomore years. Make lists of the most important terms used in each of these courses (different committees can work on different books). Try to arrange these terms in some kind of classification. Define each by four causes, and by genus and species.
- C. Use of books:
Use of encyclopaedia to find more information on the four or five most important terms from each of these courses. Use of library to find books dealing with these terms.
- D. Reading:
Reading of essays in which author writes about technical subjects clearly and accurately, but with literary color.
- E. Composition:
Write an essay on the main terms in one of these courses, trying to be clear, and also interesting.
- F. Grammar:
Review grammar to correct defects found in compositions. E.W., Grade Eleven, Chapters I-IV and exercises, or E.G.C., Parts 1 and 2, can be used for this purpose. They treat of the simple sentences, and problems relating to subjects, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns, and their use and agreement.
- Unit II: The Forms of Reasoning
- A. The form of syllogism and induction:
The form of the syllogism (Barbara, Celarent, Darii, Ferio) and of the induction should be mastered (pages 141-146).
- B. Reading:
Study several essays or speeches and reduce to syllogisms and inductions, taking care always to begin with conclusion, then discover middle term. Select passages from textbooks currently being used by students and reduce short passages to syllogisms.
- C. Composition:
After making an outline of a short composition, form a syllogism or induction to prove each topic sentence. Then rewrite composition in smooth prose style. Each syllogism or induction should form the matter of a paragraph.
- D. Grammar:
Review compound and complex sentences, devices for subordination, and the formation of smooth running sentences (see E.W., Grade Eleven, Chapters V-X, or E.G.C., Parts 3 and 4). Show how such sentences are used to show argumentation, or the dependence of one statement upon another.
- Unit III: Using Poetic and Rhetorical Arguments
- A. Reading:
Read Macbeth (or some other long play or novel).
- 1. Try to discover the plot or action of the play and state it in a single sentence. Does it have a beginning, middle, and end? What are they? How does each act and each scene contribute to the movement of the plot? Are any unnecessary? Are there subplots? What is their relation to the main plot? What is the series of emotions aroused by each stage of the plot? Are they brought to a complete resolution or catharsis? What is the universal truth embodied in the story and seen as the play moves to its close? Is the plot probable?
- 2. Who are the characters? Why is each one necessary to the plot? Does the plot arise from within the characters, or from their situation? Are the characters consistent? Appropriate and lifelike? How does the writer reveal the characters to us?
- 3. Which speeches of the characters have special interest for their thought? Are the principles of rhetoric obeyed in the construction of these speeches? How do they contribute to or detract from the plot?
- 4. Study the style and diction of selected passages to see how these bring out the emotion, character, and thought effectively.
- B. Writing:
Write a short-story or one-act play, trying to make use of the principles of plot which you have studied to make the story effective. What emotional effect are you trying to produce? What truth of life are you trying to exemplify?
- C. Reading:
Read a speech or essay which is rhetorical in purpose, for example, one of the war speeches of Roosevelt or Churchill, or a sermon of Bishop Sheen or Monsignor Knox.
- 1. State in a sentence the action or attitude which each speaker wishes to produce.
- 2. How does the speaker present his character to the audience? What sort of an audience is he addressing? What are their emotions or prejudices? Which attitude does he wish to arouse toward himself? What aspect of his character does he show to produce this attitude?
- 3. What enthymemes does he use? Write them as syllogisms. Why are these chosen for the audience in mind? Why does be leave particular premises implicit? What is the most important argument? Does the speaker anticipate objections of the audience?
- 4. Study some current editorials or persuasive articles in newspapers and magazines in the same way.
- D. Speaking:
Give a short persuasive talk on one of the topics studied in the reading, and have the class criticize it on basis of rhetorical principles.
- E. Grammar:
Attention to punctuation and good organization of composition (see E. W., Grade Eleven, Chapters XI-XV, or E.G.C., Parts 5 and 8).
- Unit IV: Using Dialectical and Scientific Arguments
- A. Reading:
Read current articles on a controversial topic (race relations, disarmament, divorce, etc.). Reduce arguments to syllogisms.
- B. Speaking:
Hold a formal debate on the topic, with speeches written beforehand, but delivered without reading. In constructing debate, use dialectical method (page 161ff.), taking care to arrive at definitions of terms, and to criticize opponent's definition of terms. Solve his objections by the use of distinctions.
The teacher may use this as an occasion to develop the topic of fallacies in reasoning. (See John Oesterle, Logic, pp. 191204, with exercises.)
A forum on a similar topic may also be held.
- C. Reading:
Read an authoritative solution to the above problem presented by a moral theologian, contained in a Christian doctrine textbook or in a more scholarly source. Write out the syllogism of proof. How does the author establish his premises? Are they from authority, or reason, or both? Which are the immediately evident premises? Most of these are definitions. How did the author get these definitions?
Is the conclusion certain? Does it settle all the objections raised in the debate?
- D. Writing:
Write a short composition stating the scientific proof of some other conclusion taken from a social science or natural history course, using arguments given in textbook or collateral reading.