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36. The Disappointments of Life.
Chapter V.-Argumentative Themes.
126. Argumentative Composition—which Whately and others regard as the proper sphere of Rhetoric—has for its end the production of belief, whether it be in those who have no fixed opinions on the subject in question, or in those who hold an opposite opinion.
127. The Argumentative Theme should consist of the following parts : I. The Introduction of the subject. II. The Proposition, or statement of the question. III. The Proof, or arguments in support of it. IV. The Refutation of objections. V. The Exhortation, or appeal to the feelings. VI. The Recapitulation and conclusion.
128. Before explaining the nature of each of these parts separately, two things must be premised :1. All reasoning must proceed upon truths admitted equally
by writer and readers. 2. A thorough, unprejudiced, and impartial investigation of
the subject under consideration must precede all writing upon it. We here suggest only the kind of arguments that may be employed, and the plan to be followed in arranging them. The arguments themselves will arise in the course of the investigation of the question. This done, the writer, having noted the most striking points in his case, may proceed to lay out his theme under such heads as the above, which we now come to explain
in detail. 129. The Introduction of the subject should not be too long, and should not anticipate the arguments to be afterwards used. It may be either :
1. Narrative, explaining the course of events which led to the
raising of the question to be discussed; or 2. Reflective, shewing (a.) that the subject is important,
curious, or otherwise interesting; or (b) that it has been neglected, misunderstood, or misrepresented hitherto.
*** Some high authorities in Rhetoric have recommended that, though the introduction stands first in the theme, it should be written last ; that is, after the mind has become thoroughly imbued with the subject, and
has satisfied itself as to the goodness of its case. 130. The Proposition, or statement of the case, should leave no doubt as to the question to be discussed, or the particular point to be proved. This need not be a stiff or formal announcement, like the enunciation of a proposition in Euclid, though it is necessary that it should have that definite shape in the writer's mind. Care must be taken to limit the field of discussion to the special point at issue, and to avoid vagueness or generality in referring thereto. In doing this, however, it must be remembered that a term is not a proposition, and that in treating of a term we are usually apt to be more vague and general than in discussing a proposition. For example, when treating of such a subject as "happiness," we may adopt any one of a number of different lines of thought, and be as discursive as we please ; but in discussing such points as “ wherein happiness consists,” or “ whence our notions of it arise," we have definite questions proposed to which we must return specific answers.
131. The Proof, or statement and enforcement of the arguments in support of the proposition, forms the main part of an argumentative theme, and therefore requires the greatest attention. Several points here call for consideration, of which the chief are these :-1. The different kinds of arguments; 2. Their comparative force and value ; and 3. The order in which they should be introduced. Of these separately.
132. Arguments have been divided by Whately into two general classes, viz. :I. Such as would account for the fact or principle maintained,
were its truth admitted. II. Such as would not account for the fact or principle. The
former he calls the à priori argument; the latter comprises two classes, (a.) signs (including testimony), (b.) examples (including experience, analogy, &c.); e. g., when we infer that A murdered B, from the fact that he hated him and had an interest in his death, we use an argument of Class I., because, supposing A's guilt admitted, these circumstances would be sufficient to account for his having done the deed. When we infer that A murdered B, from the fact that A's clothes are bloodstained, we use an argument of Class II., for supposing A's guilt proved, the bloody clothes would not account for his having done the deed, though they would be
accounted for thereby. 133. Though this classification is scientifically accurate, and appropriate in an advanced treatise on Rhetoric, a more popular division of arguments will better serve the purpose of the present work. They may be classified as follows :1. Argument from Probability : States a cause to prove the probability of an effect.
Alleges hatred and interest to prove the probability of
murder. Plausibility is a weaker form of this argument. 2. Argument from Necessity (1.) States an effect to prove its necessary cause.
States the appearance of ice to prove that the temperature
is below the freezing point. (2.) States a fact to prove a necessary condition of it.
E.g., Alleges that I died on Saturday to prove that he
was alive on Friday. 3. Argument from Testimony Also states a fact to prove a condition. E.g., States A's
testimony to a fact, to prove the truth of the fact. Had the fact not occurred, A could not have testified to it.
The truth is a condition of the testimony. 4. Argument from Possibility : States an effect to prove a possible cause. E.g., Alleges
blood-stained clothes to prove murder. 5. Argument from Example :
Applies an individual case to the whole class, or to another
E.g., individual case. When the argument stops short at the general conclusion, or whole class, it is called Induction. E.g., Astronomy was denounced as hostile to religion. Induction; Every science is likely to be denounced as inimical to religion. Example ; Geology is likely to be
so denounced. 6. Argument from Analogy : Adduces one instance of a relation to prove the probability
of another instance of that relation. The case is the
Analogy, Whatever is true of one of these relations, may be expected to be true of the corresponding relation.*
bird : egg
= seed :
Assign each of the following Arguments to its proper class, and precisely explain its nature :
1. From the burning of Mexico in September 1812, we infer that it existed in August 1812.
From the presence of a mortal wound in a dead body, we infer violent death.
3. From misfortune and unhappiness we infer suicide.
* The above classification may be shewn to be co-extensive with the classifications both of Aristotle and of Whately.
1, corresponds with Aristotle's first class, sinórd, proofs of probability. 2, 3, 4, correspond with his second class, onusia, signs or symptoms. 5, 6, correspond with his third class, Tugaðsíquatu, examples.
Whately's Class I. again corresponds with Aristotle's first, and his Class II. with Aristotle's second and third.
6. From the queen's being on the throne, we conclude that she is a Protestant.
7. From strychnine poisoning a dog, we infer, first, that it will poison all animals; secondly, that it will poison man.
8. From the revival of nature in spring, we infer the probability of the continuance of life beyond the grave.
9. From the universality of moral distinctions, we infer the divine origin of conscience.
10. From the ruins of a hut on a desert island, we infer the presence at some time of man.
11. Since young children omit the particles of speech, and Anglo. Saxon poetry does the same, we infer that their poetry belonged to the infancy of the nation.
12. From the possession of stolen property we infer theft. 13. From malice we infer incendiarism.
14. Since the abuse of supreme power led to a revolution in England, we infer (1.) that the abuse of supreme power is likely always to lead to a revolution, and (2.) that it is likely to lead to a revolution in Austria.
15. From the appearance of infinite design in the world, we infer an omnipotent Designer.
16. Since the adaptation of means to ends proves a designer in a watch, we argue that the adaptation of means to ends proves a designer in the world.
17. From finding A's clothes on the brink of a river, we infer that he has drowned himself.
18. From the benevolence of God in this world, we infer that he will be benevolent in the next.
19. From the gradual acceleration of motion by the gradual removal of resistance, we conclude that, if there were no resistance, motion would be perpetual; hence the law of vis inertiæ.
20. Since virtue leads to happiness, we argue that vice will lead to misery.
134. The value of the different arguments varies somewhat according to the different purposes for which they are used. They may be employed, as was stated above (§ 126), either to instruct those who have no fixed opinion on the subject, or to convert those of a con ary opinion. As a rule, the argument from probability will be found to give most satisfaction to an unbiassed mind. For effecting a change of opinion,