enthymeme and aristotle

Instead of examining everything, rhetorical argument builds, whenever possible, on assumptions the audience already holds (170). It is less rigorously tested than dialectic.

Syllogism: A dialectical argument which uses logic and deductive reasoning to draw out or arrive at a conclusion based on two or more premises.


  • Major premise: All graduate students and faculty at Eastern Michigan University are brilliant.
  • Minor premise: Everyone in this room is either a graduate student or a faculty member at EMU.
  • Conclusion: Everyone in this room is brilliant.



  • a truncated/abbreviated syllogism; a syllogism with an implied premise
  • a tool for producing effect, not proof
  • with examples, “there is no other way” to “effect persuasion through proof” (182).



Donald Trump fumbled through Monday’s debate, so he must not be prepared to lead the nation.

  • Major [implicit] Premise: The POTUS must be prepared for speaking engagements, and

If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit. – Johnny Cochran

  • Major [implicit] premise: The glove was worn by the guilty party.
  • Minor premise: The glove does not fit OJ’s hand.
  • Conclusion: OJ is innocent.




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