Enthymeme , in syllogistic , or traditional, logic , name of a syllogistic argument that is incompletely stated. Any one of the propositions may be omitted—even the conclusion; but in general it is the one that comes most naturally to the mind. Often in rhetorical language the deliberate omission of one of the propositions has a dramatic effect. Info Print Cite.
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An enthymeme pronounced EN-thuh-meem is a kind of syllogism , or logical deduction, in which one of the premises is unstated. A syllogism is a logical deduction from two premises. The classic example goes like this:. To turn this into an enthymeme, just remove one of the premises 1 or 2. In practice, nearly all arguments depend on one or more enthymemes — after all, we have to assume that the audience already knows that all men are mortal, so it would be a waste of time to state it explicitly if you were trying to persuade them of this syllogism.
Most moral or ethical arguments contain an essential, but easily overlooked enthymeme: they argue for the wrongness of an action based on facts about that action, but they often leave out any statement about the wrongness of the facts , meaning the syllogism is logically incomplete. Most moral arguments similarly leave out an important moral premise, assuming that the audience will already be on board with it.
Thus, such an argument would leave out premise 2, and would become an enthymeme composed only of premise 1 and the conclusion:. Enthymeme is also a common feature of political rhetoric. The hidden premise, of course, is that anyone who reduces government regulation is an anarchist or, to put it another way, that such reduction is tantamount to anarchy. In order to make a persuasive argument, you have to assume certain things about your reader.
You have to assume, at the most fundamental level, that they speak your language and understand certain basic facts about the world. Without such assumptions, we could hardly communicate, let alone persuade one another of anything! Moreover, if we constantly had to pause to specify each and every one of those assumptions, then even the must rudimentary arguments would be painfully long and repetitive.
So enthymeme is more or less inevitable, and it helps make arguments more efficient and readable. However, there is a downside to this efficiency: because enthymeme hides the premises of an argument, false or unpersuasive premises may slip by unnoticed. The problem occurs when the writer fails to notice his or her own hidden premises, but the reader picks up on them!
One part of his argument is to show that Caesar refused to accept the crown, and therefore he was obviously not ambitious. The hidden premise is: an ambitious person would have accepted the crown, and indeed would have eagerly leapt at the opportunity. The actor Will Rogers said this about a political candidate that he was supposedly endorsing for public office.
The hidden premise here is that if Rogers had met the candidate, it would be harder to speak positively about him. The humor, of course, is that Rogers knows this, and still supports the candidate all the same. In any valid syllogism, both premises must be true.
If one of them is false, then the syllogism as a whole fails. For example:. However, many people would be inclined to doubt premise 2, and thus they would not find the argument convincing. In this case, the premise is obviously questionable, but in many real-world contexts this is much harder to see.
However, the author has failed to account for some confounding variables : for example, it could have been a lack of medical science, not poor hygiene, that caused the plagues.
List of Terms Action. Ad Hominem. Alter Ego. APA Citation. Comic Relief. Deus ex machina. Double Entendre. Dramatic irony. Extended Metaphor. Fairy Tale. Figures of Speech. Literary Device. Pathetic Fallacy. Plot Twist. Point of View. Red Herring. Rhetorical Device. Rhetorical Question.
Science Fiction. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. Turning Point. Urban Legend. Literary Terms.
Examples of Syllogism
Enthymeme is a rhetorical device like syllogism , and is known as truncated or rhetoric syllogism. Its purpose is to influence the audience , and allow them to make inferences. Enthymeme is like syllogism, and yet different. The difference is that a syllogism is a deductive logic that contains three parts, and in which both premises have valid conclusion such as:. Whereas in enthymeme, writers keep one premise implied, which means both premises do not have valid conclusions. It is an incomplete argument such as:. He would not take the crown.
Originally theorized by Aristotle , there are four types of enthymeme, at least two of which are described in Aristotle's work. Aristotle referred to the enthymeme as "the body of proof", "the strongest of rhetorical proofs He considered it to be one of two kinds of proof, the other of which was the paradeigma. Maxims, Aristotle thought, were a derivative of enthymemes.