Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Response to Reading Five

While I am a Professional Writing and Rhetoric major, I was still startled by the finite details that go into a logical proof as described in Ancient Rhetoric for Contemporary Students chapter five. Though professors have regurgitated ethos, pathos, and logos more than I can count, we only seem to cover the basic principles of these. It is easy to understand rhetoric in terms of ethical (author credibility), pathetic (emotion), and logical (reasonable) approaches. They are simple! I have been taught that convincing arguments are always based on these, no question. Therefore, it was interesting to extensively explore the rhetorical proof of logos with the purpose of better understanding its complexities and development. This was fascinating and new to me.

As a writer, I think that I take advantage of my ability to compose sound and persuasive arguments. In many ways, the technique of using rhetorical proofs is just second nature. I know what sounds appealing, reasonable, and persuasive without blinking. Never do I consciously think about the premise of my argument, syllogismos, epagoges, or particulars. Why would I?! In fact, writing might be more of a chore if this was the case. Nevertheless, it was an engaging study for me. Improvement always comes with greater knowledge; perhaps more awareness in the technicalities of writing a logical proof will be reflected in my composition process. Self-awareness is key to progress, I believe. One can only get better by having a thorough knowledge of their task.

Of particular interest to me while reading Ancient Rhetoric for Contemporary Students was this idea of a "premise." Yes, I understand that every declarative statement must have some kind of assumption first. However, I found major premises to be something more like scientific hypotheses. In order to make a conclusion, one must have a major premise, followed by a minor premise. From there, a synthesis of facts is conducted and only then can the author declare a "truth." It reminded me of the scientific formula: problem, hypothesis, experiment, results. Just as with science, an original proposition has to be made before the final conclusion. The step-by-step method of one seems comparable to the other.

(I don't know if my analysis is translating very well, but I am not entirely sure how to better convey this analogy. My mind just found a similarity between the two. Maybe blame it on the biology class I am currently enrolled in...?)

In my own writing experience, I have never had such a linear progression of ideas as exists with premises. Not that this does not happen with frequency by pure subconscious, but it is such a detailed and deconstructive thought process that I was taken aback. If I were to try to consciously breakdown my ideas and arguments in such a manner, I might go crazy. Nobody actually thinks this way. The human mind has the ability to overlap, synthesize, and conclude without the thinker even doing the thinking. For the most part, we connect the dots of our arguments effortlessly.

This was a terribly frustrating concept for me. Even though I am a sometimes obnoxiously analytical and methodical person, I still found this deconstruction of ideas to be insanely finite and detailed. On some occasions, like with very complex research papers, premises might make more sense. But for everyday writing purposes, it might be somewhat excessive.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with your opinion regarding linear thought processes. In my opinion, most people do not write out their ideas in this kind of format. I believe it is an automatic process that our brains go through. I know I certainly do not sit around and write out each of my ideas in this manner. Maybe I go through this process unconsciously. I also found this deconstruction to be extremely specific and when looking at this format it is kind of confusing. Thinking about my writing in this context just makes it seem a tad overkill.