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HUMANITIES 83 Humanities Eugene E. Ryan. Aristotle's Theory of Rhetorical Argumentation Collection Noesis, Laboratoire de recherches sur la pensee antique d/Ottawa. Bellarmin 1984. '92. $15.00 paper The aim of this book is to show that Aristotle's Rhetoric contains a . coherent, consistent, and interesting theory of rhetorical argumentation consonant with much of the rest of what Aristotle maintains about . argumentation. Ryan elaborates and defends this claim with admirable clarity. The introductorychapter setsout with eleganceand economy the debate on the consistency of Aristotle's discussion of rhetorical argumentation. The introductionalso emphasizes the uniqueness of Ryan's interpretation ofAristotle's theory of rhetorical argumentation. Central to Ryan's view is the distinction he draws between Category I and Category II arguments. The enthymeme, a Category I argument, and the paradigm argument, a Category II argument, are discussed in detail in chapters 2 and 3. These chapters are the core of the book. Ryan argues in chapter 2 that the enthymeme of the Rhetoric is not the enthymeme of modern lOgiC. Itshould be evaluated not as valid or invalid but rather as convincing or unconvincing. Category I arguments, the subject of the present chapter, include the scientific syllogism which is deductive and the enthymeme which is not deductive. The essential feature of these arguments is that their success in securing agreement or providing a proof depends either on the form of the argument or the pattern of argument utilized. This sounds like a requirement that Category I arguments be formally valid. It is, but only for the scientific syllogism. According to Ryan, the enthymeme does not have a logical form, but rather an incomplete series of argument patterns called 'Topoi.' The enthymeme is eithera restatement or an analogue of one of the Topoi. Ryan's interpretation of the enthymeme passes all the exegetical tests and demonstrates the need of a non-deductive criterion for evaluating it. This is followed by a careful analysis of the various attempts to construe the enthymeme as valid. Ryan suppliesgood grounds forrejecting all of them. Part of his analysis of validity as an unsuitable criterion for evaluating enthymemes is a semantic account of validity using truth tables. This is helpful in ruling out validity with respect to enthymemes and supports Ryan's contention that enthymemes are not syllOgisms with a suppressed premise and should be evaluated as convincing or unconvincing rather than as valid or invalid. This chapter has two appendices: Appendix A The Topic of Genuine Enthymemes, and Appendix B - The Topic of Sham Enthymemes. They both provide impressive textual support for Ryan's interpretation of rhetorical enthymeme. Chapter 3 is concerned with Category II arguments; in particular, rhetorical induction or the paradigm argument. It shares with other Category II arguments the fact that it begins with data on individuals or groups and that it is possible to formulate a general principle that governs the data. It is distinct from other Category II arguments in that no general principle is stated; the conclusion is always particular. The paradigm argument is discussed in the context of two puzzles. The first puzzle, how a general principle figures at all in the paradigm argument, Ryan solves with the help of a chapter from the Prior Analytics. Puzzle Two deals with Aristotle's apparently two distinct readings of paradigm argument. Rather than read Aristotle as claiming that paradigm argument be reducible to one among many sources of enthymemes, Ryan defends an interpretation which assigns the enthymeme and paradigm argument equivalent roles. They are the two basic types of argument in rhetorical argumentation. By the end of chapter 3, Ryan has marshalled impressive support for his position. A merit of the brief chapter 4 is that Ryan manages to present a clear account of refutation without too much detail. Nothing Aristotle says about refutation places Ryan's interpretation in jeopardy. As Ryan points out, if the enthymeme had a suppressed premise, this assumption would surface in the refutation. Chapter 5establishes that the three elements of language most relevant to rhetorical argumentation (metaphor, the use of ethical language, and periodic style) clarify and support his theory of argumentation. The final chapter demonstrates that Aristotle's principal aim in the Rhetoric...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 83-84
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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