Principal: Enthymemes + Arguments Part 1 Week 1 ENG 1005: Writing about Social Justice What is an Enthymeme? An argument in which one premise is not explicitly stated. It’s a truncated syllogism. Examples: Premise #1: Aristotle is an animal. Conclusion: Aristotle is a cat. Well my name is Aristotle. The power of the enthymeme: Just as the syllogism is the basic unit of logic, enthymemes could be suggested as the basic unit for rhetoric. The power of enthymemes relies on the fact that the unsaid/implied portion (usually one of the premises) must be a “social truth” that the audience believes. Social truths do not necessarily have to be true in the clinical, sterilized sense. For example, “loyalty to the state is a virtue” is a social truth in China, but not so much in America. The power to persuade: Here is an enthymeme that has persuaded a good portion of the country to believe it is true: Premise: The traditional, nuclear family is good and all-American. Conclusion: Gay marriage should be banned. What’s unstated/implied? Unsaid premise: Homosexuality hurts and undermines the traditional nuclear family. Major Premise (implied): Homosexuality hurts and undermines the traditional nuclear family. Minor Premise: The traditional, nuclear family is good and all-American. Conclusion: Gay marriage should be banned. The perfect storm of rhetoric The problem is that most of the pro-gay marriage community would take issue with the social truth “the traditional nuclear family is good and allAmerican,” a belief they do not share and that has no factual grounding (why? Because it’s based on belief alone – on both sides, actually.) So, to “win” this argument, both sides would have to include evidence supporting the unstated premise: that homosexuality indeed does hurt the nuclear family. Without evidence, the syllogism/enthymeme along falls flat and just seems silly. Still, we can see how the enthymeme can tap into normally dormant and latent lines of communal, societal power. When done right, it’s quite literally the perfect mix of logos (syllogism), pathos (social truth), and ethos (when delivered by the right person). Aristotle’s ultimate rhetorical machine. Which of these is “true?” Premise #1: Obamacare stifles innovation. Conclusion: Therefore, we should stop Obamacare. --Or-Premise #1: Obamacare is government control. Conclusion: Therefore, we should stop Obamacare. --Or-Premise #1: Obamacare hurts American business. Conclusion: Therefore, we should stop Obamacare. Crackers, Commercials, and Enthymemes. So, what do enthymemes have to do with crackers? Commercials use enthymemes all the time to get us to buy things, and the unspoken premise pushed is often an incredibly dangerous and destructive one. For example, what unspoken premise does this specific snack company want to push on us in order for us to buy 100% whole grain wheat crackers that don’t taste like 100% whole grain wheat: Crackers, Commercials, and Enthymemes. Spoken premise: 100% whole grain wheat is good for you. Unspoken premise: 100% whole grain wheat tastes bad. Conclusion: 100% whole grain wheat crackers that don’t taste bad are best for you. What’s implied and stated? Spoken premise: Nikon’s cameras can take sexy pictures. Conclusion: Buy this camera and you can take sexy pictures. Unspoken premise: Sexy pictures make you awesome (if you’re a female) or taking sexy pictures makes you awesome (if you’re a male). Video Video Spoken premise: Isaiah Mustafa is epic (or hawt, pick your adjective). Conclusion: If you buy this body wash, you will be that much closer to being as epic as Isaiah Mustafa. Unspoken premise: Wow, you (or your man) is not even close to Isaiah Mustafa, huh? This is bad. So what? Advertising adds to the repository of images that subconsciously tell you that you are not happy A knowledge of what enthymemes are how to look for them can steel us against the massive blast advertising tries to fire over and over again and we learn to spot fallacies easier. As J Heinrich’s said, “Our culture has lost the ability to usefully disagree. Most Americans seem to avoid argument. But this has produced passive aggression and groupthink in the office, red and blue states, and families unable to discuss things as simple as what to watch on television. Rhetoric doesn’t turn kids into back-sassers; it makes them think about other points of view.” Assignment: Download the assignment sheet from the course website and complete. Revise your essay using Q10 from the assignment sheet as a guide in applying today and last week’s lessons to your argumentative essay. Turn in the second draft of your essay, incorporating this week’s work and your peer feedback. I will give you my feedback and then the final will be due the day we get back from spring break. This means these essays should be flawless because you will have had loads of time to work on them and go to the Writing Center if you have questions.