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Volume 25 - Page 182 of 190 Index | Zoom | |
This figure is balanced by Anabasis or "gradual ascent", which comes under the
Figure of Addition, to be considered later.
Syllogismus, or "omission of the conclusion", is a departure from the regular form of
logical argument, partly for the sake of emphasis, and partly because it is often
unnecessary, in conversation or writing, to follow to a logical conclusion. This leaves
room for the imagination which fills up the gap far more vividly than a great deal of
"But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, nor on the sabbath day" (Matt. 24: 20).
These words leave the reader to "draw his own conclusions". No Jew, resident in
Palestine, knowing the condition of the roads, the fanaticism of the inhabitants, the effect
of the weather on travel, needed a word to be added; his imagination would supply all
the rest, and be a sufficient urge for him to make this prayer his own.
A similar figure to Syllogismus, which omits the conclusion of an argument, is
Enthymeme, or the "omission of the premise". This is an everyday figure of speech, in
spite of its learned appearance. We rarely present a complete argument, and the two
Greek words that give us the name of this figure suggest that something is "held in the
mind" but unspoken.
The omission of part of an argument may occur in three ways:--
FIRST ORDER.--The major premise understood:
John is a coward; for John is a liar.
SECOND ORDER.--The minor premise understood:
John is a coward; for all liars are cowards.
THIRD ORDER.--The conclusion understood:
All liars are cowards, and John is a liar.
This third order has already been presented under the heading Syllogismus.
Such everyday expressions as "Draw your own conclusion" and "It goes without
saying" show how usual it is for our reasoning to run in the form of the Enthymeme, and
not the complete and formal Syllogism. Compare any formal presentation of the
argument with the agitation, fear, and concern of Pilate's wife, and her mode of reasoning
when she said: "Have thou nothing to do with that just man" (Matt. 27: 19). The first
would be quenched, and her appeal fall flat, if it were presented with major and minor
premise, followed by "Therefore" and the conclusion.
The reader will find the Enthymeme used very effectively when the suggestion of the
writer is ironical, and if he cares to read the speech that Mark Anthony made over the
dead body of Cæsar, he will find several interesting examples.