This is from my ENG555 Class. I don’t know if I understood the subject clearly or not, and since no one responded on the class discussion board, I figure I’d throw it out there. (Marlen, you DON’T have to reply, but are always welcome to.)
Aristotle introduced syllogisms into his arguments on persuasion and such. I know I’ve seen them before, but never fully understood them. So, take a look, let me know if I have it right…or not.
From my class:
First I must admit that I have always had difficulty understanding the ideas behind syllogisms. Finally, I think that I grasp them. So is this right, “Greek philosophers give me a headache. Aristotle is a Greek philosopher. Therefore, Aristotle gave me a headache.”
Now, having made that premise and statement, I examine it. Based on what we read in Book II, part 25, my syllogism must be based on one of the following: 1) Probability, 2) Example, 3) Infallible Signs or 4) Ordinary Signs. Let’s examine the strength of each one:
Probability – It is usually true that long reading will cause me a headache. Whether or not that is applicable to all doesn’t matter. It’s a fact that is USUALLY true. I do have the ability to read for a long period without a headache, so probability IS NOT the STRONGEST basis.
Example – To provide examples, I would have to produce WITNESSES of the fact that long readings cause me to have a headache. In this situation, counter-arguments could be made and the CREDIBILITY of my witnesses becomes an issue.
Infallible Signs – I could argue that if I sit down to read for a long period that I will INEVITABLY get a headache. Since the future cannot be proven, this is likely the weakest argument I could make concerning my statement.
Ordinary Signs – If I can find studies or show that my physical posture while reading causes the headache, I may argue that is a UNIVERSAL point, BUT if I blame it on my physical posture, then the headache has NOTHING TO DO with reading Greek philosophy.
A much stronger statement or syllogism for me and this situation could be: “When I read, I practice poor posture. Poor posture increases my chances of a headache. Because I read for a long time, I developed a headache.”
I believe I could apply all four of those basis to my argument. Most agree that poor posture PROBABLY has negative physical affects. Medical STUDIES could provide examples. My poor posture could be EXPECTED to produce a headache. UNIVERSALLY good posture is more conducive to health, otherwise the opposite could not be named POOR posture.
Someone, PLEASE post and let me know if I understand all that correctly.
In Book III, Aristotle addresses the three parts to an effective speech. I am sure by now that I shared that during my time in the Army I was an interrogator. No, I never participated or knew of any torture, so please don’t ask me about it. Every interrogation I performed, last number I noticed was around 350, was an exercise in those three points discussed in Section 1, Book III. It was so important to determine beforehand WHAT I KNEW about the detainee (audience). I had to be ready and prepared to refute any counter-arguments and that I chose my words well. HOW I SPOKE was amazingly crucial. Negotiation, interrogation, discourse, discussion, whatever you want to call it, the importance of TONE CONTROL cannot be overstated. That lesson on TONE also plays a big role when dealing with students or in any confrontation. When someone raises their voice volume, lower yours. It’s amazing!