Rhetoric and Pedagogy: Its History, Philosophy, and Practice: Essays in Honor of James J. Murphy

By Winifred Bryan Horner; Michael Leff | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Aristotle's Enthymeme
and the Imperfect Syllogism

Lawrence D. Green
University of Southern California

In the past decade several scholars have pointed out a range of meanings for the term enthymeme and so provided a cautionary tale for those who would speak naively about Aristotle's enthymeme.1 It would be nice to think that no one will ever again make the mistake of thinking that Aristotle's enthymeme is a rigidly deductive form of inferential reasoning. But this error has been corrected before, and the correction has been ignored before.2 As early as the Renaissance, for example, the grand Greek Thesaurus from the Estienne press listed numerous meanings for the term ε + ̓νθύμημα, understood as an animi conceptus, sensum

____________________
1
See Thomas M. Conley, "The Enthymeme in Perspective", Quarterly Journal of Speech 70 ( 1984): 168-187; Jürgen Sprute, Die Enthymemtheorie der aristotelischen Rhetoric ( Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1982); and, earlier, Wayne N. Thompson, Aristotle's Deduction and Induction: Introductory Analysis and Synthesis ( Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1975), 72-77. For recent discussions of some of the issues addressed in this chapter see Carol Poster, "A Historicist Recontextualization of the Enthymeme", Rhetoric Society Quarterly 22 ( 1992): 1-24, and Myles F. Burnyeat , "Enthymeme: Aristotle on the Logic of Persuasion", Aristotle's "Rhetoric": Philosophical Essays, ed. David J. Furley and Alexander Nehamas ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 3-55, which appeared too late to use in the preparation of this chapter.
2
See, for example, Animadversiones variorum criticae et exegeticae in Aristotelis de rhetorica libros tres ( Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1820) 37: "Non haec est enthymematis, quasi mutili syllogismi, nota propria, ut media propositio, qua argumentum assumitur, fere desit: quanquam enthymema vulgo ita definiunt." But the authors then go on to declare "Enthymema igitur est syllogismus non accurate expressus, sed accommodate ad dictionem oratoriam" (38).

-19-

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