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[ΛΟΓΟΣ] De Sermone

PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:06 am
by Gaius Florius Lupus
Salvete, amici!

Rational thinking should be accompanied by rational language, because most thought processes are based on language. And therefore language has a significant influence on our way of thinking. If we use emotionally charged language we cannot expect our thoughts to remain unbiased.
It is therefore recommended to maintain a certain discipline in the use of language and adhere to some basic rules, when we express our thoughts.

An ambiguous middle term is a common formal fallacy of syllogistic logic. The existence of ambiguous words is a major weakness of natural language. The meaning of ambiguous words should therefore be clarified when their use cannot be avoided.

Vocabulary should only be used in a consistent meaning, which needs to be exactly defined and distinguished from alternative meanings, if it is ambiguous in natural language. The same word should always be used for the same thing.

Redundant words do not contribute additional information and are therefore inefficient in communication.

Logical use of language should always be fully compositional i.e. literal. Metaphors, irony or sarcasm are not universally understood and don’t make any useful contributions to the subject.

Cursing and swearing have no rational purpose, increase emotional agitation and demonstrate a lack of emotional control.

The use of emotionally charged terms (pathos) or terms with ethical implications (ethos) is improper for a logical argument. It demonstrates a lack of emotional detachment from the topic.

Speaking too fast makes it more difficult to be understood correctly and reduces the available time to think about what we want to say.

Providing more information than necessary dilutes the essential part of our speech and provides others with unnecessary information that could even be used to our disadvantage.

Only the topic in question should be addressed with any sequence of statements. No new issues should be introduced, which distract from the actual topic.

Vagueness should be avoided. Every statement should be as precise as possible, but not more precise than necessary.

Appropriate vocabulary should be used to describe a subject.

Using respectful expressions in communication with others avoids unnecessary conflicts, especially with irrational persons. Being slightly more polite than actually required is recommendable in order to avoid unintended insults due to misjudgment or ignorance of social conventions.

Double Negation Problem
Natural language is often imprecise regarding the meaning of double negations. They could either be an affirmation or a way to emphasize the negation. To prevent misunderstandings double negations and ambiguous yes/no answers to negative questions should be avoided. In Latin this problem does not arise, because there is no yes or no in Latin.
In the English language there used to be a distinction how to answer to an affirmative and to a negative question.
An affirmative question (e.g. "Is it raining?") was answered with either yea (affirmation) or nay (negation). A negative question (e.g. "Is it not raining?") was answered with either yes (meaning "It is raining.") or no (meaning "It is not raining."). Unfortunately in contemporary English this distinction has disappeared. Today we use only yes or no to affirmative as well as negative question. In our example "Is it not raining?" the answer "No" can be interpreted as both, a negation of the negative question meaning that it is raining or an affirmation of the negative question meaning that It is not raining.
Since "yea" and "nay" are not in use anymore, a simple "yes" or "no" is insufficient in the English language. An auxiliary verb or its negation must be added to clarify the meaning of "yes" and "no".
"Is it not raining?" - "Yes, it is." or "No, it isn't."
This is exactly as Latin handles the problem. In Latin the verb is repeated with the only difference that "yes" and "no" are omitted to begin with.

During informal conversations with persons who are not used to the discipline of rational speech, strict adherence to these rules might be irritating to some of them and therefore not be recommendable in order to avoid alienation. In such a case the application of the rules should be eased, but subjects of importance should not be discussed during such a casual conversation.
In general however adherence to these rules will help to improve equanimity in order to discuss a problem without emotional bias.

Non Sequitur in Rhetoric

The use of non sequitur is common in rhetoric in order to sway the opinion of an audience, which is not trained in logic and unable to identify these arguments as such. They are irrelevant, which means there is no connection between the premises and the conclusion. They are often used when a claim cannot be supported by logical reasoning or when they are deemed more effective on the audience. In either case they are inappropriate in rational speech.

  • Appeal to Emotion (pathos) – Making an argument due to the manipulation of emotions, rather than the use of valid reasoning. This can be by appeal to fear, flattery, pity, ridicule or spite and indirectly by the use of emotionally loaded terms.
  • Argument from Ethics (ethos) – An argument that implies tacit ethical beliefs.
  • Argumentum ad Antiquitam (appeal to tradition) – A conclusion supported solely because it has long been held to be true.
  • Argumentum ad Hominem – The evasion of the actual topic by directing the attack at the proponent of the opposing position or questioning his motive.
  • Argumentum ad Novitam (appeal to novelty) – Claiming a proposal to be superior or better solely because it is new or modern.
  • Argumentum ad Populum (appeal to majority belief) – Claiming a proposition to be true solely because many people believe it to be so.
  • Argumentum ad Verecundiam (appeal to authority) – Deeming an assertion true because of the authority of the person or the written source (book authority) asserting it.
  • Ignoratio Elenchi (irrelevant conclusion, red herring) – Introduction of an argument that may in itself be valid, but does not address the issue in question.
  • Ipse Dixit - Arbitrary dogmatic statement for which no proof is provided.
  • Thought-Terminating Cliché – A commonly used phrase used to quell cognitive dissonance ending the debate with a cliché, not an argument.

These are fallacies made on purpose. The speaker is usually aware that it is an invalid argument, but he uses it anyway to sway the opinion of the audience. It is very helpful to know these fallacies and to be able to identify them, when confronted with them, so that one is not tricked by these fallacious arguments.

C.Florius Lupus