Thursday, December 2, 2010

Response to Reading Eighteen

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 The Rhetorical Tradition, from Toulmin's essay. Interestingly, I have actually been assigned a Toulmin essay before. Though I have access to this particular piece, I cannot remember the details of the assignment. In examining it, it seemed to be a very basic research paper. I could not distinguish this essay from any of my others, though it was technically in a Toulmin-format. To me, this suggests that individuals do not, nor should they, focus on the finite details of composition. When the breakdown of ideas and organization becomes too excessive, it can be easy to lose sight of the entirety of the argument; acknowledge of the big picture cannot necessarily happen with conscious attempts to meet Toulmin requirements.

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.

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.

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