The Enthymeme(s)

The Enthymeme(s) & the Rhetorical Tradition.

…in Against the sophists, after his brief description of choosing and combining ideai to its kairos, Isocrates adds that the able rhetor must ”embellish the whole speech with fitting enthymemes.1

This statement can be read in The Genuine Teachers of This Art: Rhetorical Education in Antiquity. But, what is an enthymeme? Considering Walkers presenting Isocrates as being the one who instituted this form of education, the enthymemes seem rather crucial to a rhetorical speech.This text will be focused around this rhetorical figure – the enthymeme, and, the difference between truth and credibility and is written with both pain and pleasure but most of all – how I was fooled into a trap looking like I had no other choice. It´s always painful to admit that you have been fooled. I was given an impossible choice by my supervisor while writing a thesis on rhetorics/education/wisdom:

A double bind is a situation where a person has a choice (typically between two options), but whichever way they choose, they lose out, often with the same result. Usually in the double bind there is no alternative, as the person is forced to choose and does not have the luxury of not choosing (this would be a third choice that could well be preferable).This situation may occur by chance, but in persuasion it is often carefully engineered by the persuader. Any alternative choices are either removed or hidden so only the double bind options appear valid. (171124)

The choice was a construction in the form of an enthymeme. I could choose the textual identity of ”I regret my sexuality” and purchase myself a position as a Phd-student, or, choose to write something that would not mean that I gave away an important part of my self (-es), I did the latter and was harrased out of the institution. This text you have in front of your eyes now…I stumble along, trying to write that ”third way”. Write myself (-es) out of this situation where I´m stuck, traumatized. I know I need to make this a less acute memory by making it a his-story. I have met people in Rhetorics that research the consequences of this ”hidden secret”, the enthymemes. But back to this ”thing” that happened to me ten years ago. So, I had this mentor once who some years after she tried to guide me in this very homophobic way via a very specific enthymeme, she later explained in a text why the enthymeme she had guided me towards rhetorical figure is so useful when you want to convince an audience:

From this point of view the topoi enthymematôn becomes a suggestion to discursive procedures thought to have a special potential to create coherence between the thesis of the speaker and the listeners structures of meaning.2

There are different enthymemes and I will exemplify a few, but I will analyse this particular enthymeme, and it´s special potential to create coherence between the thesis of the speaker (rhetorics is the solution to our educational problems), and the listeners structures of meaning as thoroughly (and meandering) as needed. This possibility to create coherence might sound trivial in the first place, to a rhetor though, it´s crucial, as – listening (or reading publics) seldom keep on listening (or reading), to someone who sound (or seem) incoherent. When a public listen they listen for logos – coherence. It takes a special situation, a special speaker, a special place, to put up with non-logos (That is, if you´re not a psychiatrist listening and interpreting somebody sitting in front of you, or lying down on a coach). The only way around this is using pathos – strong feelings.

The most common goal speakers have in front of an audience is to talk (or write) themselves into a position where they are able to suggest a solution to some kind of problem. You want to gather people around a problem and make them convinced that your suggestion might be a good solution, AND, trigger them to some kind of action in line with the solution you are proposing. To be able to create some coherence with the listeners structures of meaning (worldview), then seems like an (almost) unavoidable strategy.  

So to get you into this thing with enthymemes, a first glance. This example is taken out of Kieran Egans The educated mind, how cognitive rules shape our understanding(1998). The thesis I wrote was meant to show how Egan uses doxa (opinion) to sell the idea of saving education with classical rhetorics. Egan likes to present himself as an educationalist (I do not disagree). Here is the first half of my first (unconscious) encounter with the rhetorical figure enthymeme and it looks like this:

I have kept an old letter, published in Ann Landers column, from someone who signed sadly as – TOO SOON OLD, TO LATE SMART. The letter expresses frustration with schools in which our children ”are subjected to twelve years  of `education´ without knowing how to conduct themselves in real life situations” and suggests that schools introduce a course on the consequenses on shoplifting, that several days a week be devoted to the subject of the hazards on cigarette smoking, that there be instruction on the dangers of alcoholism, that sex education be a ”must” in every school, and that there be courses on ”life” in every school, with how-to instructions on settling arguments, expressing anger and hostility, handling competitive feelings involving brothers and sisters,  coping with alcoholic parents, and dealing with ”funny uncles” and passes made by homosexual peers. The writer acknowledges the importance of algebra and geometry in the curriculum but argues that the importance on how to handle ones life should take precedence. TOO SOON OLD – TOO LATE SMART expresses very clearly how the curriculum would be changed if the curriculum if socializing would be made more prominent in the schools mandate.3

The only comment I will give here is that I had been more than impressed and surprised by Egans book from page one. I could recognize a pedagogical practise where students had been given the strongest tools there is to judge themselves and others. Egan uses the perspectives of ethos/logos/pathos, in a way you rarely find in a contemporary book on education. The description of pedagogical development (maturation), and how it is coupled to language development (individual and societal) in Egans book is an hithertoo unseen masterpiece, with theory and practical examples intermingled, and I wanted very much to give this away. But, when I read this rather negative opinion on homosexuality, I had a strong reaction. My own sexual identity became threatened. These sentences, the first half of this enthymeme, is all I will give you for now. We will get back to the full construction of it later.

The enthymeme – a cognitive tool. Egans book starts as rhetorical tradition proscribes, by promising to present a solution to a problem:

Those of us who where around during the economic crisis of the late sixteenth century in Europe find som features of the current economical crisis oddly familiar. There is a major social puzzle, which touches and irritates nearly everyone, and lashings of blame fly in all directions. Today we are puzzled by the school´s difficulty in providing even the most rudimentary education to so many students, despite a decade or more of effort by expensive proffesionals. The costs of our educational crisis, in terms of social alienation, psychological rootlessness, and ignorance of the world and the possibilities of human experience within it, are incalculable and heartbreaking. *

Quiet strong beginning. And, I wanted to use Egans text to make people want to walk in his direction, but had to show some kind of critical thinking, have a method, a filter or something to make it into what we think of as science. To just write ”I like this book so much, it´s incredible!”, would not have done the trick when it comes to take the first shaky steps on a what I back then dreamed of as a possible academical ladder. I had to show some kind of smartness and ability when it comes to critical thinking. It took a year (or more), and a course named ”the rhetoric of negotiation) to find an analytical tool – doxa (”opinion”), and use it as a filter:

That doxa exists as a ground for negotiations contributes to its coherence. But this does not include just favorable consequences. Because doxa isn´t power neutral. As all transactions it grows out of a force measurement between diffferent interests and needs. In this contest a social, political or cultural elite might dominate. With a word from the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci (died as a political prisoner 1937) Doxa then becomes a product of hegemony (power empire). Then the forms become important to preserve and spread doxa/…/Doxa decides which topos that are important in a certain argument in a certain time. In that way doxaaffects how we argue in different questions, accordingly which of all reasons thinkable we use and which we neither use or count on meeting” (My translation from swedish). Hellspong Lennart, 2007, Förhandlingens retorik*, Lunds Studentlitteratur, p 158. (*The Rhetoric of negotiation).

My idea was to demonstrate how Egan use doxa in a balanced way, how he seek support in opinions for and against, to keep himself in a position where he both become trustworthy and are able to keep his message highly interesting with the help of the tension represented by and between different opinions, to negotiate with each particular readers own opinion, towards a position where rhetorics is presented the solution to several problems in contemporary education. I wrote a draft, it was read by a professor and got a very positive response (2005), including an offered a position as a Phd-student (a payed position in Sweden), as a result (I have kept the email). I was tutored (written instructions) into writing a thesis where I, in the end of the thesis would have stated in the form of an enthymeme that after studying rhetorics I had started to regret my (homo-) sexual identity.

Today, more than ten years later, I have no problems reading these sentences as an enthymeme belonging to the same family my supervisor categorized as ”able-to-create-coherence”, earlier. Back then, I did not know of the enthymemic structure, had no definition, neither a name on this rhetorical figure, as it wasn´t a part of the curriculum […]. I had been given no chance whatsoever to understand what I was tutored into. No ”cognitive tool” is offered in the classical rhetorical curriculum. The same circumstances, no seminars, nothing written about enthymemes, silenced when I tried to mention them on seminars on the master course in Rhetorics at Uppsala University. I went there to write a thesis based on this treatment. Even the headmaster took an active part in this ”operation silencing Anders” […] that over time have become quite large scale when it comes to the number of people involved. People representing rhetorical tradition in the Swedish academy (Uppsala University/Södertörns Högskola) have, until this day done everything [no limits], to stop me from telling this his-story. 

My master thesis describing rhetorical tradition filtered through these events is backed by good, contemporary rhetorical theory; where this ”hide-the-enthymeme-curriculum is described as the backbone of classical rhetoric (or Rhetorical Tradition). Making classical rhetorics non-democratic, authoritarian and built on institutional, misogynistic bullying. And, the most important part. This rhetorical research field once started with trying to find an answer to a rather big question; how do we avoid something like a second Auschwitz (?), the extermination of jews, gipsys and homosexuals in the second world war. Part of this research makes the final solution stand out as 100 % logic and it has to do with language/identity and epistemic violence (We´ll have a look into this research later).

Besides this link to Auschwitz: enthymemes have been and are crucial in the political campaigns of Putin, Trump, Bolsonaro (and their likes, here in Sweden we have ”Sverigedemokraterna”, born directly out of Nazi seeds). In our contemporary world these before mentioned political leaders (demagogues),  amongst other things have shown themselves to be absolutely catastrophic when it comes to everything that looks like an proactive politics on climate change – the biggest threat to humanity ever experienced (my opinion). To throw some light on these political/rhetorical processes is the force that keeps me going, to see what they choose sacrifice, I see it as our contemporary Auschwitz (yes, it´s ok to think of me as rather extreme).

Of course I became ”irritated” on not being approved of when I refused to regret my sexual identity, devastated. Today, I regard this my story as something much bigger than myself. Problem: there are persons acting as watch dogs in the Swedish academy guarding our national intellectual borders , preventing this field of research from passing into our universities. They have shown themselves prepared to break Swedish law several times to stay in the position they have conquered.

Evil? My supervisor, no… I think Maria – to begin with was more like fascinated by the way she could guide and control my psychological development (we had a very alive, open communication, both irl and by email. The latter have been commented as ”rather unusual” by lawyers **), towards disciplining myself to ameliorate the ethos I could create in front of listening or reading publics. 

When I finally (2008?) decided to not let my-self (-es) be bought by rhetorical tradition, when I had decided to not accept to get payed to do research/teach, to not sacrifice my self (es) – Maria just became ”a little bit afraid”. Very human, not evil. She wanted what she thought was best for me (and rhetorical tradition). To begin with, she (and the rest of the institution), tried quite hard to make me change my mind (I will show emails that demonstrate how this was done). Today, they all seem afraid, and frightened people do very strange things…(I know (!), I have been totally frightened myself during this process from time to time, traumatized). The first time during the presentation of that I-don´t-regret-my-sexuality-version of this thesis in front of a staged, very hostile audience arranged by the professor who got me into this shit (!) from the start. He too was angry (disappointed) and afraid. Talking about feelings. Lets get back to that other half of this particular enthymeme in Egans book.

Enthymemic relief. If I had felt threatened by the first half of this enthymeme when I read Egans book. The: ”TOO SOON OLD – TOO LATE SMART-part was hanging as a dark cloud over my reading at the same time as I loved the rest of it. The amount of relief I felt when I came to the second half of this enthymeme, some two hundred pages later was great. The below became descisive to my valuation of the text:

…because the playfullness is tactically and rhetorically useful in breaking up metanarratives that work for some at the cost of others.4

I associated directly to the Christian metanarrative. Religion have been central to negative connotations associated with feelings of homosexuality and religion has to be a part of rhetorics, otherwise it become misleading, it´s the science of beliefs. With this second part of the enthymeme (though I couldn´t read it as an enthymeme back them), and the threat I had felt – did relax; with this relaxation I could approve of Egans recipe to save our educational systems without personal reservations. The tension I had felt works as part of an explanation to Isocrates recommendation to ”embellish the whole speech with fitting enthymemes”. A history with suspension (tension) have much greater possibility to be read or listened to than something boring (scientific literature have a tendency of being ”not-exciting”), and Egan did need to reach out to a bigger audience outside academia to accomplish a change (and he has, his book is now used in teacher education in Sweden and rhetorics is very `a la mode´). The importance Egan himself gives to this particular enthymeme can be established by the fact that he some pages later try to reinforce this relaxation:

Postmodern irony is particularly hospitable to those who wish to disrupt some metanarrative by which they have been victimized. Some feminists, for example, recognize that ”irony is a particularly appropriate strategy for feminism.”5 

And yet another time just a little bit later:

One can construct meanings, and so ”solidarity”, with others for purposes of living well and not causing pain. This is hardly a pointless use of intelligence, and it becomes less shocking as an aim for intellectual activity if we only recognize that this is the best we can hope for. Pointless, purposeless activity is, after all, how play used to be defined until its fundamental psychological and social importance became clear, and postmodernists happily adopt this sense of playfullness.6

Egan as rhetor knew exactly what he was doing composing this text. To be able to create tension in a story and make it more exciting means power, and Egan has worked on this whole story in a meticulous way. He needed to reach out, and I wanted that too with the thesis I was writing. I did find this structure more than just interesting and decided to show it in my thesis, I felt I had made a big, important discovery. But, as this structure is kept as a secret to make it possible to discipline students I had no name for it. To me, back then, this still represented ”two sides of doxa” though, I did not yet have a name for this structure that had introduced this tension to my reading. What I did know was that my teachers did refer with warmth to the 15th century philosopher/rhetor Giambattista Vico . So I started reading all I could find about Vico. Vico´s polemic texts was a result of a long struggle against the fact that Descartes at that time new scientific method, slowly was taking over pedagogics, changing curriculums in schools and universities all over Europe. He wrote a speech against it: ”On the study methods of our time”. In it you find Vicos number one argument against scientific method, that students would become more or less immoral with a curriculum based on scientific method:

Such an approach [Cartesian] is distinctly harmful, since training in common sense is essential to the education of adolescents, so that faculty should be developed as early as possible; else they break into odd or arrogant behavior when adulthood is reached. It is a positive fact that, just as knowledge arises in truth and error, so common sense arises from perceptions of similitude. Probabilities stands, so to speak, midway between truth and falsity.7

I am split when it comes to Vico, to name him the father of Creationism might be to harsh, but I will do this here as this ideology also can be associated with the contemporary rise of already mentioned demagogues in our times, and this is the real problem I´m adressing here (de-democratisation). At the same time, I am not the least split when it comes to giving Vico the honor of being the one who made me conscious of my own first enthymeme, the one we just have begun to study. That Egan names Vico´s book* as one of his big inspirations was/is interesting. That he in the same sentence mentions Allan Bloom (The closing of the American mind), might help us to make an early evaluation of the ideology purported in Egans book. Now, lets check out the description that made me re-cognize my first enthymeme instead:

So argument in the Scienza Nuova is not ”the disposition of a proof” but is ”that third term that one finds in order to unify the two arguments of a proposed problem…[and] more than this…is the art by which truth is apprehended, because it is the art of seeing under all the topical heads whatever there is in the matter at issue, which will enable us to distuingish well and have an adequate concept of it (R 178/162). These ”topical heads” become in the new science Vico´s axioms, which like the alphabete in a book, allow us to discern patterns which contribute to the comprehension of the whole.8

I directly associated to my reactions to the both halves of Egans TOO SOON OLD – TOO LATE SMART – break up metanarratives-enthymeme (threat – relaxation). Though it says nothing of enthymemes here this is stated two pages later in Vicos axioms, the geometry of the human world. But, before this Goetch describes the aim for this particular form of argumentation:

In this way the axioms become pisteis, means of persuasion, by which we come to understand the realities of our situation. The audience to be brought to a krisis is the reader of whom Vico speaks in the section on method.9

Some sentences later comes the part that identifies this description as being one of enthymemes:

Now the full force of this passage should be clear, Reader, author and the full ”speech situation”, or status, are being adressed in the Scienza Nuova in a complete rhetorical sense. Vico is giving us in his axiomatic method a new kind of rhetorical demonstration that employs the degnità as enthymeme for one of  ”the artistic ways of proceeding concerning the means of persuasion (Rh 1355a4). The body of persuasion is the text as a whole through which the degnità circulate, impelled by the ingenious of the readers, who meditate these cose tho themselves and reache toward the invention of an eloquent whole.10

So, I was very naive, or rather, I new nothing about enthymemes when I did comtemplate on how to write my thesis. And, knowing nothing about this structure I was defenseless and easy to guide towards this krisis. I will describe why closer, lets have a look at a text that works well to describe this state of mind – krisis. I used this quote in my thesis, ( ten years later I found the same quote in my supervisors doctoral thesis). The man speaking is Knud Illeris, a professor of pedagogics and the quote is taken from his Lärande (Learning):

Accomodation is a concept I borrow from Piagets learning theory: that circulates around the understanding of learning as a process of equilibrium, the individual the strives towards equilibrium the whole time in the interplay with the surroundings through constant adaption. Which means through a process where the individual adapts to his surroundings at the same time as the individual strives to adapt the surroundings to his own needs. This adaption is a constant interplay between the assimilative and accomodative processes, which tend to balance each other the whole time. Assimilation is about incorporating something in already existing structures. On the social plane there is this discussion if immigrants ought to be assimilated in the new society or not/…/ In a learning situation assimilation is about incorporating new influences in already existing structures of knowledge, ways of understanding, patterns of movement and action potentials. When someone accomodate the individual changes itself to be able to handle the environment – as when the eye accomodate the interpupillary to the light./…/Accomodation is generally seen as a much more demanding process compared to assimilation. It´s much easier to add something to an already existing schema than to undertake the complicated degradation, restructuring, and reconstruction as the accomodative learning implies. Above all it seems strenous to degrade or abandon an already acquired understanding or insight. We don´t abandon positions we have reached, maybe with painstaking effort, or at least got used to. To abandon the things we are used to demands subjectively persuasive reasons.11

I like all of these sentences, but lets use the three last ones, to get closer to where I was situated when I had to choose between a PHd-position and what turned out to be the machinery of expulsion: ”the complicated degradation, restructuring and reconstruction as the accomodative learning implies”. This, my supervisors ”I regret-my-sexuality-in-the-end-of-thesis-on-rhetorics-and-wisdom”-enthymeme wasn´t born totally out of the blue. The autumn 1999 I came back to Stockholm from Lisbon, Portugal, after a six months period of an examination/lab/thesis period in molecular biology.  I had been suggested a half-year visit in Lisbon during a course in immunology. Two months after I got home I tested positive for hiv. Long story short, after a year of sabbatical I changed direction and Rhetorics was the one course open that looked interesting. I was hooked on rhetorics from day one. Due to my hiv I had experienced a drinking problem, not drinking everyday, quite seldom actually but when I did I couldn´t stop and was afraid of ”hurting” somebody with my viruses. I entered AA. In the beginnging of this process (7 years) I fell in love with a person that from his perspective might have been attracted by me being ”happy and sober”. It took a while for him to figure out what he wanted with me and when he finally came to the conclusion that my whole situation was to scary I was hooked (complicated, I totally understood him and came to love him even more – talking about logics). These experiences and a fantastic supervisor in rhetorics led me to write my first thesis on trust, (learning, language and the process in AA). But, my viruses, AA and that (not-) love story is not the focus here, the thing is that my identity had become (”rather”) unstable by all these circumstances. I have later learned that each of these three ”things” separatly might be the cause of PTSD. Lets just say, I was rather good material for an accomodative process. And, I almost accepted this offer. The only thing I blame today is Rhetorical Tradition. If rhetorics would have had a normal curriculum you would never not-give-away the most central term of this knowledge-system. Try to imagine a biology that would leave out genetics, this would be considered fraud. And, it is exactly like this classical rhetorical didactics is organized (I´ll show material from our master course in rhetorics later, there is NO difference in this comparison!).

Now, lets get on to my supervisors method, how they worked my psyche. So, to begin with, the teachers (my supervisors) kept quiet about enthymemes (they must have seen that I was investigating this structure but didn´t say a word […] about there being a name for it. Topos, on the contrary was a frequent used concept. Very hard [impossible?], though to understand, as we students never where presented to them as a part of the enthymemes. It´s like if I would have been presented to the genetic code but never told that this code produces proteins when I studied molecular biology. This is not logic at all in a learning process and might sound almost insane but this is still the reality in the classical rhetorical curriculum. The reason is the disciplining potential arising from keeping this little treasure amongst the ”guardians” of rhetorical tradition. It really works like a kind of secret society. So, how did my supervisors work me? I´ll give her (my supervisor) the chance to describe it herself. These words is taken from her doctoral thesis she was writing while supervising me, Topos as meaning makers, the topical perspective on thinking and learning through argumentation 2012:

Sceletons of reasoning you can fill in. An interesting example of this is the Tetralogies of Antiphone (Diels & Krantz, 2001, 87), meant to work as pedagogical examples in education.They are constructed as sceletons the students can fill in by adding their own proofs and examples.12

A ”sceleton” might sound like an odd concept when you are discussing philosophy, and I don´t know if it helps to think of a text as a ”body”. The Sceleton I got was a list of topos (headlines) to fill in. I already had my thesis written, they just sharpened it by changing the disposition making the doubts around my sexual orientation/maturation I already had presented into the topos that decided the whole order of argumentation. I was given a structure leading from a, to b, to c towards this krisis. The sentence underneath describes what topos are meant to accomplish when used in argumentation:

A topos (T) is a binary relation which, alone or in combination with other relations and predicates, is used to construct “if—then” statements. 13

Example: If homosexuals that study rhetorics do state that they after those studies regret their sexuality, they have become wiser. Anders (me) write that I do regret my homosexuality, therefore, to study rhetorics will make students wiser. If you think this is a little bit to much of a in-your-face-description, imagine my reaction when I began to understand the situation, the choice between a Phd-position/salary/interesting work and ”something unknown” my supervisors had created…

Lets have a look at the actual sceleton I got from my supervisor. It´s a list of headlines, she called them topos, which back then meant absolutely nothing to me as I have already stated, but, it did sound quiet fancy and rhetorically sophisticated. I mean, she had talked and written quite a lot about topos and topical thinking, saying things like ”lets take on our topical helmets”… But, without being able to associate topos to enthymemes – this, up till then had meant almost nothing to me. At the time I might even have felt a bit honored, my supervisor using a concept I didn´t really understand, it made me feel important. Here underneath is the list of headlines supposed to bring the reader (and me!) from the known into the unknown towards a krisis:

Knowledge (and learning) is perspectivistic (doxic)

Knowledge (and learning) is depending on language.

We can only understand with the help of things we already understand.

We can only convince from that which is common (doxa and common sense)

We are reared towards Doxa

Doxa gives power

Doxa restricts us

We need to see doxa, and embrace it to ashieve change

Doxa is the ground both for agreement and disagreement (doxa gives support both for and against)

Doxa is abstract and floating

Doxa and topos

Doxa and metareflection

Doxa and the relation to the oral and the written

Doxa and the relation to science

Doxa need responsability

Doxa need trust

Doxa and fear 14

So, this body of text was supposed to take my target reader, preferably a teacher eager to find solutions to problems associated with knowledge accumulation and discipline, from known territory into the unknown – rhetorical didactics. To my help I had Egans text that is 100 % adjusted to Vico´s most important rhetorical insight:

It is [a] property of the human mind that whenever men can form no idea of distant and unknown things, they judge them by what is familiar and at hand.14

Like I had judged his text from what was familiar and at hand. Threatened yes, but relaxed after the second part of the enthymeme. Not knowing about enthymemes and howw they really work I had no possibility what so ever to judge it, enthymemes was unfamiliar to me. The thing to be ”familiar and at hand” my supervisors tutored me to offer my supposed reader was my conversion to a ”normal” sexuality (there just is no other way to understand this, no alternatives). I had shown my supervisors Egans balancing between two different doxas in an essay. My teachers/supervisors just changed the disposition ”a little bit” to create this enthymeme to make the probability for my reader to come to the ”right” conclusions (I will show how this works exactly on the unconsious level later).

The headlines in the form of topos (if/then-statements), are constructed to lead the reader from the known, (knowledge and teaching), towards the unknown rhetorical didactics, and help them to come to right conclusion concerning the latter with an enthymeme making my story coherent in the end. My supervisor finished her doctoral thesis on this teaching technique some years later. She did not (of course) include anything negative like conversion therapy, or how she treated me, that would have been bad rhetorics. She do describe the thesis she tutored me towards though:

If we want to argue in a persuasive way there is two working modes to use and preferably combine according to Aristoteles. One is the paradigm and the other the enthymeme (1356b). A paradigm is when we either use something that has happened, an example or a fact, or some type of pattern as a parable or a fable to state that something ought to be done in a certain way (1393a). It´s the examples that produce persuasion, so, if we are out of enthymemic topos, we might do with examples, but the best is if we can work with enthymemes, and then let the examples illustrate.16 (my highlightning)

My ”conversion” was meant to be the example. The best Maria has ever written on enthymemes though, the article (the second quote is taken from this paper) in this text, never took part in her doctoral thesis, it´s hidden away. And, to my knowledge it has never taken part in any of her texts later. And, they definetly didn´t take any part of the litterature presented to me at the master course of rhetorics at Uppsala University, on the contrary. I´ll show how enthymemes are downplayed and hidden away later. This might seem like a rather odd way of doing science to us, and indeed it is. The way we see it normally is as a search for objective truth. This is how Egan presents this new curriculum and the paradigm shift involved in his: The Educated mind, how cognitive tools shape our understanding:

Truth is reconceived as a commendatory reference to beliefs that are widely and easily shared, not as corresponding with reality. 17

What is presented above is a total scientific paradigm shift. We are able to see this paradigm shift not just in science, it has been described many times before and it is political reality nowadays, ”fake news” and the shifts in power associated whit them is just a part of it. And, this shift seem to be necessary. I observe some quiet nasty (my opinion) features in Kieran Egans message, but, without his book I couldn´t write anything at all, I owe him my intellectual development really. This is what he writes about our search for truth, and the contemporary status of ”truth” today:

The story so far has concerned the development of language. Early attempts to express the nature of the world disclosed by human senses were oral, using vocabularies of at most a thousand words. Literacy entailed a further development of language and increased vocabulary. The english grapholect now has available more than a million and a half (Ong 1977). Literacy promised more precision, complexity, security and rationality in capturing experience and the world in words. In communities supportive of theoretical thinking, further linguistic developments promised a more systematic, comprehensive and true account of reality. But the decay of belief that theoretic systems, expressed in however refined a language is supposed to represent rality accurately has created problems about how language is supposed to represent reality at all. And if language doesn´t represent reality, what does it do? And if properly representing reality in language was what was meant by truth, then what is truth? Well, these are questions that have been asked before. In the twentieth century, Western intellectual history has grappled with the recognition that language could not do what had previously been expected of it. Quiet suddenly, and very widely in the late nineteenth century our most intricate tool for grasping reality and truth began to seem inadequate for the job, and, worse, it began to seem like a self-generating labyrinthine prison that offered no way out to reality. Egan Kieran, 1998, p 138.

So, where are we (where am I, to be correct)? We have Egan selling the idea of rhetorics as a solution to save our educational systems. Part of this solution is the promise, thought of classical rhetorics as a non-systematic theory, no crystallized knowledge, where rhetoric is supposed to be open to every challenge humanity might meet. Well, this keeping the enthymemes enigmatic is a system, sorry. And, it´s based on exclusion. And, this is the connection to Auschwitz…

The American rhetors/professors/writers/teachers, Victor J Vitanza, Cynthia Haynes and Diane Davies and all the contributors to Writing histories of Rhetoric gave me a chance to finally understand ”what happened?” They do connect rhetorics to powershifts in authoritarian directions. Underneath is a description of rhetorics you never meet in the classical rhetorical didactics of today:

The synonymy of rhetoric and magic… /…/ The possibility that eros is the force that connects magic and rhetoric. Consider Coulianos definition of magic as a definition of rhetoric as well: Magic as a means of control over the individual and the masses based on a deep knowledge of personal and collective erotic impulses. This is the definition of rhetoric that is implicit, for instance, in Plato´s Phaedrus, when Socrates is unable to dissociate his appeal to Phaedrus´s soul and mind from sex appeal. What happens when we think of tropes as spells, or when we rename processes such as ”revision” as, for instance, ”exorcism?” (my highlightning). Covino a William, 2013 [1994], (red Vitanza), ”Alchemizing the History of Rhetoric,” Writing histories of Rhetorics, p 54.

But, enthymemes are not evil in themselves, a girl I admire beyond words also use them to gather support to accomplish action, I don´t know if she is aware of it though?

Outside the Swedish Parliament.
Sailing a message: ”unite behind the science” accross the Atlantic ocean (actio).

Enthymemes are abundant everwhere, not the least in the way we think (today), oral cultures do not think in this way (I promise to write more about this later, link). But back to the problem I´m adressing, authoritarian political shifts in power, keep this thing with eros in mind while I present an example of Putin using an enthymeme just before the winter olympics 2014. This is taken from the online magazine MIC.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, when asked about attitudes toward gays in light of the upcoming Olympics said: ”One can feel calm and at ease. Just leave kids alone, please.”

He then went on to clarify Russia´s anti-gay laws. ”We have no ban on the non-traditional forms of sexual intercourse among people. We have the ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia. I want to stress this: propaganda among minors. These are two absolutely different things: a ban on certain relations or the propaganda of such relations.”

And this is the great problems with enthymemes. I will try to explain by using another quote from a researcher of enthymemes:

The missing premise must be a common notion widely shared by the audience, or else the enthymeme will not make sense. Lanigan, critical of Bitzer, insists that the missing assumptions are suggested to, not asked of, the audience. Aune E. David, 2003, The use and Abuse of the Entymeme in New Testament Scholarship, Cambridge, University Press, p 304.

Again, where are we? We have researchers in rethorics that suggest that eros connects rhetorics and magic, ”Magic as a means of control over the individual and the masses based on a deep knowledge of personal and collective erotic impulses.”. And we have Mr Putin suggesting that gays and pedophiles are the like, defending his actions, making these false accusations even worse. And the public in this is case is, the russian people (a means of control over the individual and the masses). Now, it´s time to finish this first part on enthymemes. I will finish it off with an enthymeme created by myself. I just (23-09-19) discovered that Kieran Egans book, The Educated mind, how cognitive tools shape our understanding, (project) was financed by the Exxon Foundation. It´s written in the first pages.

To be continued, this is a work-in-progress 😉

1 Walker Jeffrey, 2011, The Genuine Teachers of This Art: Rhetorical Education in Antiquity, The University of South Carolina Press, p 151

2 Wolrath-Söderberg, Maria, 2010, Enthymeme, slutledningsformer eller meningsskapande processer? (Enthymemes, forms of conclusion or meaning making processes?) Retorikförlaget.

3 Egan Kieran, 1997, The Educated mind, how cognitive tools shape our understanding. The University of Chicago Press. p 12. E-book:

* Egan, 1997, p 1

** Beslut Högskoleverket anmälan mot Södertörns Högskola.

4 Egan, 1997, p 152.

5 Egan, 1997, p 154.

6  Egan, 1997, p 154.

7  Vico Giambattista, 1965, On the study methods of our time (De nostri temporis studiorum ratione), Elio Gianturco, Indianapolis, The library of liberal arts. P 13

*** Egan, 1997, p 232.

8 Goetch, James Robert Jr, 1995, Vicos axioms, the geometry of the human world. New Haven:Yale University Press, p 126

9  Goetch, 1995, 127.

10 Goetch, 1995, p 128

11  Illeris Knud, 2007, Lärande (Learning), Lund, Studentlitteratur, p 55 (Authors translation from Swedish).

12 Wolrath – Söderberg, 2012, Topos som meningsskapare, retorikens topiska perspektiv på tänkande och lärande genom argumentation, Retorikförlaget, p 55 (”Topos as creator of meaning, the topical perspective on thinking and learning through argumentation”).

13 Dyck Ed, 2002, Topos and entymem, Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Spring 2002), pp. 105-117, Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric, p 109.

14  Appendices: Anders Morbergs D-uppsats 020510, letter with instructions from my supervisor.

15 Goetch, James Robert Jr, 1995, Vicos axioms, the geometry of the human world. New Haven:Yale University Press. p 20.

16 Wolrath-Söderberg, Maria, 2017, Aristoteles retoriska toposlära, en verktygslåda för fronesis, p 74.

17 Egan, 1997, 1

18 Covino A William, 2013 [1994], (red Vitanza), ”Alchemizing the History of Rhetoric,” Writing histories of Rhetorics, p 54.

Topos: The Alphabet

Lets go back to the enthymemic structure and Egans message, while keeping Isocrates ”embellish the whole speech with fitting enthymemes” in mind. I´m picking another enthymeme from Egans book, this one, less devious, in fact, pedagogically enlightning in the most impressive way. Imagine that you are creating a message and you want to explain the possibilities offered by rhetorics as a bridge between oral and written culture , and have Vico´s thoughts of ”topical heads” in mind:

So argument in the Scienza Nuova is not ”the disposition of a proof” but is ”that third term that one finds in order to unify the two arguments of a proposed problem…[and] more than this…is the art by which truth is apprehended, because it is the art of seeing under all the topical heads whatever there is in the matter at issue, which will enable us to distuingish well  and have an adequate concept of it (R 178/162). These ”topical heads” become in the new science Vico´s axioms, which like the alphabete in a book, allow us to discern patterns which contribute to the comprehension of the whole. (Goetch, James Robert Jr, 1995, Vicos axioms, the geometry of the human world. New Haven:Yale University Press, p 126)

Now, you are trying to write a book that is presenting something that is uncommon to the reader, and you want to convince the reader that rhetorics could be the solution to several important issues concerning education. You have when you come to this particular enthymeme in your book already pushed hard on the circumstance that most children, when they arrive to school exist in an oral culture (of course). You want to write something powerful where the reader can fill in a lot of things you already have given them earlier in your story on pedagogical development. This is Kieran Egan giving an example of a story on written language possible to present in the classroom:


I can´t think of any better way to present the possibilities offered using rhetorics as a bridge between hearing and seeing language. The argument above is a means to make the reader draw this conclusions of the possibilities on rhetoric on her own.

But, Kieran Egans mission is to spread the gospel in a book, this is due to the reach of written language. Me myself I would have liked to have read this much earlier in life. It would have made my writing easier. Conclusion: enthymemes could revolutionize education (it´s already happening, but how?), it´s not reserved for propaganda (even if you see it everyday in commercials).

To be continued…

Anmälan av examination av masteruppsats i Retorik på Uppsala Universitet, enligt paragraf 16, avseende jäv

Anders Morberg § 16 Förvaltningslagen, jäv.
Sveavägen 128


jag ska erkänna att jag inte ens vet säkert ”vem” jag borde ”anmäla”? Jag tillhör utan tvivel kategorin rättshaverister (det vill säga jag har begärt hjälp av Förvaltningsdomstolen tidigare (och också fått det, jag blev tilldömd rätten till ett samtal med dåvarande rektor på Södertörns Högskola), men inte begärt rättvisa avseende masteruppsats denna anmälan avser. Uppsala Universitet har dock gjort allt i sin makt för att förhindra att jag lägger fram mitt arbete.

Det hela började med att jag skrev en magisteruppsats i retorik om skoldebatten. Senare har jag begripit att jag hade blivit erbjuden en doktorandtjänst i retorik (forska/undervisa) i utbyte mot att jag uppgav att jag ångrade min sexualitet i en magisteruppsats i retorik som kommenterade skoldebatten, utpressning (jag vet, detta låter synnerligen absurt!). Södertörns Högskolas agenda: att sälja in retorik som didaktisk metod i grundskolan.

Några år senare stötte jag på en forskare, Victor J Vitanza, på nätet. Han är professor emeritus i retorik både i USA och Europa (två stolar). Han (och andra forskare i ett internationellt nätverk som befinner sig på den absoluta framkanten i den språkfilosofiska retorikforskningen), förklararar det synnerligen absurda ovan – som något som finns inherent i retorisk tradition, samtliga undervisar i retorik idag, inte bara i USA utan även i Europa, de är populära föreläsare.

Jag beslutade mig för att skriva en masteruppsats i retorik utifrån mina upplevelser på Södertörns Högskola med Vitanzas Negation, Subjectivity and The History of Rhetorical Tradition (1997)som teoretisk utgångspunkt.

Jag har kopierat in den lagtext ur förvalningslagen avseende jäv jag åberopar här från Regeringskansliets hemsida (i slutet av denna anmälan) för att kunna visa exakt hur min handledare Jon Viklund, prefekt Patric Mehrens och viktigast av alla min examinator Otto Fischer, alla tre är att betrakta som synnerligen jäviga vid handläggningen av min masteruppsats i Retorik: ”Esoterisk retorik som härskarteknik”. Bilagor:

De är jäviga i sin funktion som sammanställare av och medförfattare till den antologi som fungerade som grundläggande kurslitteratur på masterkursen i retorik (HT 2015). Min handledare Jon Viklund har dessutom gjort vad han kunnat för att inte direkt underlätta mitt arbete. Helt avgörande för den här processen har ändå examinator Otto Fischers beslut att förhindra mig från att överhuvudtaget lägga fram uppsatsen för opposition (?) Inför andra studenter varit. (Bilaga 4).

Kurslitteraturen jag nämner är döpt till ”Retorisk kritik, teori och metod vid retorisk analys”, 2014, Otto Fischer, Patric Mehrens & Jon Viklund. I masteruppsatsen visar jag på bokens bedrägliga upplägg. Att Mehrens hade fullständig kunskap om vad jag skrev går att läsa sig till från sidan 21 i min masteruppsats. Från sidan 79 i uppsatsen, under rubriken Retorisk Tradition och Darwin går det att läsa sig till hur Mehrens i kurslitteraturen skriver på ett sätt som är avsett att ifrågasätta biologivetenskapen, och att detta går att betraktas som något som styrts av något som utan tvivel går att tolka som religiös övertygelse, och inte har med vare sig vetenskaplig objektivitet eller filosofisk vidsynthet att göra. Något som går att se som motivet bakom handläggningen av min masteruppsats.

Helt avgörande för underkännandet (som jag redan tidigare påpekat), har ändå examinator Otto Fischers beslut att inte ens låta mig lägga fram masteruppsatsen inför andra studenter för öppen kritik varit. Fischer motiverar sitt beslut med orden: 

Det grundläggande problemet med uppsatsen är att den avgörande erfarenhet som den tar sin utgångspunkt i (handledningen vid den tidigare högskolan) egentligen undandrar sig läsarens bedömning. Huruvida det faktiskt gått till på det sätt som förf. anger är mycket svårt att bedö- ma utifrån de belägg som anförs (dispositionsskissen, mailväxling, vissa formuleringar i den tidigare handledarens senare vetenskapliga produktion).”

Vid sidan av att visa fram den grundläggande forskning min f d handledare Maria Wolrath-Söderberg bedrev avseende just enthymemer så visar jag även hur Wolrath-Söderbergs doktorsavhandling innehåller text som tydligt visar på en tendens att vilja ifrågasätta biologin och framförallt Darwin (evolutionen). Något som är knutet till viss religiös tradition och ingenting annat, någonting Fischer kommenterar i sitt ”betygsutlåtande” (bilaga 3) med orden:

”(ett exempel är kritiken mot Wolrath-Söderberg för oriktig förståelse av molekylärbiologiska elementa på s. 84 f.) är svårt att förstå som annat än digressioner.” 

Att kalla en text som näppeligen går att betrakta som något annat än härrörande ur kreationistisk tradition som ”oriktig förståelse av molekylärbiologiska elementa” är avsett att förvilla och ingenting annat, argumentet är direkt löjeväckande.

Uppsatsens syfte är att beskriva hur retoriken som den undervisas på svenska universitet och högskolor hoppar över dess viktigaste retoriska figur, enthymemet, och att detta görs i disciplinärt syfte, något jag även styrker (i masteruppsatsen) med nedanstående citat:

”Alternately impoverished and enriched in rhetorical history, the enthymeme might be seen as an index of the way the disciplinary rhetoric functions in the social field (Seas 4). From the Scholastic period to roughly the mid-1950s, the enthymeme was viewed as a stylistic trope or an incomplete syllogism based on a misguided reading of Aristotle’s rhetoric (Ong, ”Ramus” 187). The ubiquitous enthymeme regarding Socrates’ mortality, the simple elimination of logical premises from a syllogism, is the product of a medieval bias toward logic that mistakes probable reasoning for certainty (Ong, ”Ramus” 99). Or rather, it is one manifestation of a systemic logic that screens out the contextual experience of individuals and collectives who are moved to assent by the conscious or subconscious implications.”

Min masteruppsats har inte behandlats på ett vetenskapligt sätt, den har bedömts enligt diskrimerande kriterer av examinator Otto Fischer, handletts på ett vilseledande sätt av Jon Viklund, samt handhafts på ett bedrägligt sätt av prefekt Patric Mehrens (han vägrade helt enkelt att ta upp ärendet för diskussion, bandinspelning av samtal). Dessa tre är samtliga medförfattare till kurslitteraturen på masterkursen i retorik (2015 – 2017) och är således att betrakta som jäviga. 

Då jag visar att kurslitteraturen är vilseledande kan detta inte anses annat än synnerligen besvärande för ovanstående personer (jäv). Både rektor på Uppsala Universitet, Eva Åkesson, och Sara Lilja Visén (tillser den ”vetenskapliga kvaliteten” inom Humaniora (UU), har sedan underlåtit att vidtaga de rättsliga åtgärder en jävsituation kräver enligt svensk förvaltningslag.

Nedan följer lagtexten kopierad från hämtad från Justitiedepartementet.


16 §   Den som för en myndighets räkning tar del i handläggningen på ett sätt som kan påverka myndighetens beslut i ärendet är jävig om
   1. han eller hon eller någon närstående är part i ärendet eller annars kan antas bli påverkad av beslutet i en inte oväsentlig utsträckning,
   2. han eller hon eller någon närstående är eller har varit ställföreträdare eller ombud för en part i ärendet eller för någon annan som kan antas bli påverkad av beslutet i en inte oväsentlig utsträckning,
   3. han eller hon har medverkat i den slutliga handläggningen av ett ärende hos en annan myndighet och till följd av detta redan har tagit ställning till frågor som myndigheten ska pröva i egenskap av överordnad instans, eller
   4. det finns någon annan särskild omständighet som gör att hans eller hennes opartiskhet i ärendet kan ifrågasättas.

Om det är uppenbart att frågan om opartiskhet saknar betydelse, ska myndigheten bortse från jäv.

17 §   Den som är jävig får inte ta del i handläggningen av ärendet och inte heller närvara när ärendet avgörs. Han eller hon får dock utföra sådana uppgifter som inte någon annan kan utföra utan att handläggningen försenas avsevärt.

18 §   Den som känner till en omständighet som kan antas göra honom eller henne jävig ska omedelbart anmäla detta till myndigheten.

En myndighet ska pröva en jävsfråga så snart som möjligt.

Den som jävet gäller får ta del i prövningen av jävsfrågan endast om det krävs för att myndigheten ska vara beslutsför och någon ersättare inte kan kallas in utan att prövningen försenas avsevärt.

Bästa Hälsningar

Anders Morberg

Retorikvetenskapen som frälsare eller trojansk häst under pågående klimatomställningar

Maria Wolrath- Söderberg, forskare och lektor i retorik på Södertörns Högskola har äran att delta i omröstningen till årets Mappie 2019. Mappie står för ”Mature Affluent Pioneering People”. Översatt till svenska blir det Mogna Attraktiva Pionjärer. Priset delas ut av Amelia Adamos M-magazine. Wolrath – Söderberg har nominerats bland annat för sitt nya projekt som undersöker hur vi svenskar rättfärdigar våra handlingar i klimatfrågor inför oss själva. På Södertörns hemsida går det att läsa  att Wolrath-Söderberg redan kommit en bit på vägen:

Dålig uppfattning om proportioner

I en förstudie har det framkommit att vi använder olika strategier för att motivera inför oss själva att vi agerar mot vårt bättre vetande. Ett sådant exempel är idén om att vi har ett individuellt klimatkonto. Den som tar cykeln till jobbet, är vegetarian och sopsorterar använder det som skäl för att motivera en semesterresa med flyg till Asien. Men man måsta sopsortera i många år för att komma upp i en kort inrikesresa, och vi svenskar överskrider i allmänhet redan vår ”budget” för klimatutsläpp utan att göra en enda resa.1

I sin forskning använder Wolrath – Söderberg Aristoteles teori om topos som hjälper oss att urskilja argumentationsstrukturer och legitimeringsstrategier, exempelvis sådana legitimeringsstrategier som gör det möjligt för människor att leva mot sitt bättre vetande:

För att veta hur man bäst når människor måste man veta hur de resonerar och kommunicera så att man uppmärksammar och möter deras legitimeringsstrategier. 1

– Det hjälper inte med mer information om man inte förmedlar rätt saker, säger Maria Wolrath-Söderberg. Det här låter ju helt suveränt i mina ögon. Men, för att få en överblick behöver vi titta på Aristoteles teori om topos, och kanske framförallt studera hur denna teori förmedlas på svenska  universitet och högskolor (jag har studerat detta på plats). Till att börja med konstaterar jag för tydlighetens skull att Aristoteles teori om topos har ett mål och det är att tillverka den retoriska figuren enthymeme; och att denna retoriska figur bland annat syftar till det vi kallar retorisk slutledning och utgör själva kärnan av retorisk tradition.2

Ett exempel på hur teorin om topos (topik, singular), kan användas

Ordet topos i sig har sitt ursprung i grekiskan och betyder platser. I retorikens tankevärld platser att söka efter argument. Ett exempel på vad man kan hitta på en sådan plats går att finna i Donald Trumps Make America Great Again. Där just ”great” har funnits med hjälp av topiken storlek. Det viktiga för Trump här är att våra hjärnor, inte bara amerikanska, till nära nog hundra procent kommer att bedöma [great], som något som är bättre. ”Great”, utgjorde den föreställning om USA som nation som Trumps talskrivare hoppades skulle styra värderingen av Trumps budskap i väljarens undermedvetna.  Trumps kampanjmakare bara hjälpte logiken lite på traven. Det här med att publikens hjärnor utifrån begreppet ”stor” kommer att värdera hela budskapet var något som Aristoteles skrev ned redan för 2500 år sedan i den skrift som idag kallas Aristoteles Retoriken. I den nyöversatta svenska utgåvan går det att läsa sig till att Aristoteles mest namnkunnige elev, Alexander den store, ska ha blivit lite sur över att Aristoteles hade skrivit ned de här retoriska knepen i en bok och konstaterat att ”nu har du ju avslöjat hela hemligheten!” Varpå Aristoteles i sin tur ska ha försäkrat Alexander att det inte räckte med teorin:

Beträffande de Akrobatiska böckerna, vilkas utgivning du klagar över och vilka du helst såg undangömda, som hemligheter, ska du veta att de varken har publicerats eller icke publicerats; de är nämligen begripliga bara för dem som lyssnat till mig. (Övers. B.Cavallin). 3

Det vore helt felaktigt att påstå att Trumps Make America Great Again avgjorde det amerikanska presidentvalet, enthymemet hade en viss betydelse för att skapa en känsla av gemenskap mellan Trumpväljare, en vi-gemenskap Trump använde som fundament allt eftersom presidentvalskampanjen fortskred. 

Vad är ett enthymeme för något?

Ur ett psykologiskt perspektiv fungerar Greta Thunbergs skolstrejk precis som ett enthymeme som det definierats i svensk retorikvetenskaplig kurslitteratur (2014):

…ett argument baserat på sannolika premisser med en eller flera premisser outtalade.4

Bilden av Greta med skylten med texten Skolstrejk för klimatet har spritts över hela världen på rekordtid. Att det här har hänt beror på dels på att Greta träffat precis rätt, dels på att hon inte skriver oss på näsan, utan vi får själva fylla i det som saknas för att budskapet ska bli meningsfyllt.

Att enthymemer kan fungera så väl beror på att vi människor tycker det är kul att förstå, vi gillar att lösa gåtor, det ger oss en kick att försöka fylla i det som saknas. Vi kan till och med känna oss smickrade av den som sänder budskapet, de har ju tilltalat oss på ett sätt som antyder att vi är smarta.

Greta tar upp en av grunderna i det västerländska samhällskontraktet till omförhandling

Enthymemet Skolstrejk för klimatet behöver fyllas imed sina outtalade premisser för att få mening. Fram till Greta´s skolstrejk har det outtalade löftet till barn och unga kunnat uttryckas som något i stil med: ”om du disciplinerar dig och lär dig tillräckligt av vissa kunskaper och färdigheter så kommer du förr eller senare belönas av samhället”. Under hela moderniteten har den här outtalade överenskommelsen kunnat motivera skolbarn till att lära in mängder av sådant vi vuxna väljer att  betrakta som kunskap. Allt från multiplikationstabellen, över atomers uppbyggnad till att kunna skriva ett referat eller att som nu på senare år, imagesäven kunna tala inför en lyssnande publik. Det outtalade i Gretas enthymeme kan uttryckas på ett ungefär som att: ”Ni vuxna bryr ju er ändå inte om kunskaperna ni tycker att vi ska lära oss, så varför ska jag lyssna på er?!” Topiken som ligger under är nödvändig, eller möjligen nyttig. Det vill säga: vuxna människors negligerande av de kunskaper vi förväntar oss att hon ska lära in fungerar som ett ifrågasättande,  är de kunskaper och färdigheter skolan förmedlar verkligen nödvändiga och nyttiga ur en femtonårig skolflickas perspektiv?

Retorikvetenskapen som trojansk häst

Om den här som det vid ett första påseende kan tyckas rätt triviala retoriska figuren enthymeme kan bidra till att avgöra amerikanska presidentval, eller starta omförhandlingar av samhällskontrakt inte bara här i Sverige; då bör kännedom om enthymemens funktion och vara av stor betydelse i en tid där inte minst högerpopulistiska maktövertaganden hotar omintetgöra effektiva globala klimatåtgärder. Så varför känner inte fler till enthymemen?

Retorisk didaktik som härskarteknik – döljande av information

Jag upptäckte enthymemen av en slump när jag skrev en magisteruppsats om skoldebatten som analyserar hur Kieran Egan säljer in Retorisk Tradition som lösning på skolans kris i sin The educated mind, how cognitive tools shape our understanding (1997). Då boken används på svenska lärarutbildningar får undersökningen betraktas som mycket angelägen (uppsatsen underkändes). När jag sedan försökte beskriva denna process i en masteruppsats i retorik på Uppsala Universitet så fann jag att kunskapen om enthymemen döljs på ett systematiskt sätt även på Uppsala Universitet. Retoriklärare, från lektorer och upp till professorer hoppar över dem i sin undervisning på retorikinstitutioner överallt i Sverige. Ett förfaringssätt som inte bara ger ett visst mått av makt åt retoriklärarare utan även bidrar till en av mig konstaterad, osund likriktning inom den forskning som bedrivs inom svensk så kallad retorikvetenskap.

Enthymemen är ”notoriskt svårdefinierbara”5

Denna beslöjande beskrivning är den enda som står att finna i boken Retorisk kritik, teori och metod för retorisk analys författad så sent som 2014, är vid sidan av den definition som  presenterades  tidigare (argument med uteslutna premisser) den enda som står att finna i boken. Avsnittet som handlar om topos är noga särskild från dessa korta ej uttömmande och icke exemplifierade beskrivningar av enthymemen. En antologi som sammanställts av ledningen på9789186093242_200x_retorisk-kritik_haftadUppsala Universitets retorikinstitution. En av dessa, prefekt Patrik Mehrens, konstaterar faktiskt på annan plats att retorisk slutledning består av just enthymemer6. Något seminarium eller någon annan litteratur för att förklara enthymemer, eller försök att belysa deras politiska betydelse gjordes inte under hela masterkursen. De andra två, Jon Viklund och Otto Fischer, var min handledare respektive examinator. Den senare negligerade fullständigt att jag kunde visa fullgoda litteraturvetenskapliga bevis på kreationism (evolutionen finns inte, gud har skapat jorden), i Wolrath-Söderbergs doktorsavhandling.7                                  

Amerikansk retorikvetenskap beskriver dessa fenomen 

De besynnerligheter som omger enthymemen inom retorisk didaktik, både utreds och beskrivs av den amerikanske retorikprofessorn Victor J Vitanza i hans Negation, Subjectivity, and the History of Rhetorical Tradition (1987)8. contentI antologin Writing histories of rhetoric (1994)9 utreder ett antal forskare med internationellt renommé hur detta går till ur ett antal olika perspektiv. Vad inte bara Vitanza utan även andra forskare visar är hur enthymemen används för att disciplinera studenter10 genom den västerländsk historia, något som Vitanza även härleder till Förintelsen. På den sista delkursen jag tog under masterkursen i retorik, Politisk retorik, som gavs i Visby 2017 inför och under Almedalsveckorna (även här ansträngde man sig för att hoppa enthymemen), kunde jag ta del av följande kliché i kurslitteraturen:

Visst kan retoriken vara ett vapen för den som vill bli tyrann, men utan retoriken kommer vi alla att sakna förmågan att genomskåda tyranners propaganda.11

Att jag kallar ovanstående för kliché beror ju på att den retoriska didaktik jag och andra svenska studenter erfarit helt utelämnar enthymemen. Hur ska studenter kunna uppöva någon förmåga i att ”genomskåda tyranners propaganda”, när det viktigaste för att förstå propagandan, kunskapen om enthymemer, hoppas över, eller för att tala klarspråk, medvetet döljs med syfte att behålla den inneboende disciplinerande förmågan hos den klassiska retoriska didaktiken. En kollega till Vitanza, Cynthia Haynes, också hon professor i retorik publicerade 2016 The Homesick Phone Book, Adressing Rhetorics in the age of Perpetual Conflict, content-1där hon bland annat visar på kopplingar mellan Anders Behring Breivik och retorisk tradition. Telefonboken i titeln är från Berlin 1942 och hon visar på ett både plågsamt och forskningsmässigt utsökt sätt hur judiska familjer successivt ersätts av nazister på adress efter adress. Svensk retorikvetenskap som den ser ut idag producerar ingen forskning som förmår vaccinera demokratin mot populistiska maktövertaganden; även om det naturligtvis är mycket positivt om den som Wolrath-Söderberg kan bidra till att självklarheter som långa flygresor och privatbilism blir mindre självklara. Det finns som jag ser det en mycket stor förbättringspotential rörande hur den retoriska didaktiken och retorikvetenskapen utformas framöver. Som den ser ut idag går det till och med att ifrågasätta om den bör kallas vetenskap utan dessa förändringar. Försök föreställa dig en molekylärbiologi eller en läkarutbildning som hoppar över genetiken? Exakt så undervisas retorik idag på svenska universitet och högskolor […]


Aristoteles: ” ”Den enda som hör till saken, det vill säga till den retoriska konsten är pistis, vars kropp eller kärna är den syllogism-liknande slutledning Aristoteles kallar enthymeme: ”Som det nu är, har författare till läroböcker om tal arbetat med en liten del av ämnet. Det är endast övertalningsmedlen som hör till konsten, resten är bisaker. De säger ingenting om entymem, vilka ju är övertalningens själva kropp”. Aristoteles, 2012, Aristoteles Retoriken, översättning, inledning och noter Johanna Akujärvi. Retorikförlaget. Sid 23.

Vico: ”Förstånd, eller ingenium, som kan beskrivas som förmågan att tänka i enthymemer, är instrumentell när det gäller att tillägna sig en inre såväl som en yttre förbindelse med verkligheten”. Goetch, 1995, Vicos axioms, the geometry of the human world. New Haven: Yale University Press.sid 51.

Isokrates: ”…in Against the sophists, after his (Isocrates, förf. kommentar) brief description of choosing and combining ideai to its kairos, Isocrates adds that the able rhetor must ”embellish the whole speech with fitting enthymemes”. Walker Jeffrey, 2011, The Genuine Teachers of This Art: Rhetorical Education in Antiquity, The University of South Carolina Press, sid 151.

Heidegger: ”The locus of truth was wrestled out of obscurity and situated for philosophy in dialectic/reason and for rhetorics in logos/enthymeme, the settlement of truth in a location or a place, brought closure to the question of Being and, in turn, produced the foundation on which to build the now self-evident principles of Tradition for each discipline. Broadly described in a Heideggerian understanding of representation. The principle of Traditional historiograhy is as follows: ”That which the anscient philosophers found continually disturbing as something [a] obscure and hidden has taken on [b] clarity-and-self-evidence [c] charged with an error of method. The principle, then, for rhetorical historiography is this: first in the age of obscurity, the practise of rhetoric was transformed into theory. During this time, only what could be turned into theory or what could be conceptualized out of the practice got into the world picture. Following that in the age of clarity only theory represents rhetoric because practise is what characterizes obscurity. ” Sutton Jane, 2013 [1994] ”Structuring the narrative for The Rhetorical Canon”, Writing Histories of Rhetoric (red Vitanza Victor), 2013, Southern Illinois University, sid 167.

Ahujärvi Johanna, 2012, Inledning, Aristoteles Retoriken, Retorikförlaget, sid 15.

Sigrell Anders, 2014, ”Retorisk stilanalys: ironi, presuppositioner och metonymier”, (red Fischer, Mehrens, Viklund,) Kritik, Teori och metod i retorisk analys, Daidalos, sid 127.

Sigrell Anders, 2014, ”Retorisk stilanalys: ironi, presuppositioner och metonymier”, (red Fischer, Mehrens, Viklund,) Kritik, Teori och metod i retorisk analys, Daidalos, sid 127.

”Den retoriska deduktionen består av ofullständiga syllogismer (s. k. entymem).” Mehrens Patrik, 2004, Logosargumentation, en översikt, sid 3.

”Språket för med sig en föreställningspotential som är nödvändig för att det ska vara möjligt att se eller skapa relationer där det finns ett avstånd. Och det innebär en förståelse som torde vara otillgänglig för det symbollösa djuret. Låt oss ta några moderna exempel på hur vår förståelse organiseras av metaforer eller andra diskursiva strukturer. Michael Halloran och Anette Norris Bradford har exempelvis visat hur eninformationsöverföringsmetafor (som hämtades från den framväxande informationsteknologins diskurs) har strukturerat den vetenskapliga såväl som den populärvetenskapliga diskursen om DNAs genetiska funktion. Man har talat om en genetisk kod som överför information, som transskriberas till andra substanser i cellen och som läses och översätts i en specifik organisms egenskaper. DNA har beskrivitssom livets alfabet. Halloran och Norris Bradford visar till och med hur föreställningen om tyst DNA som innehåller meningslöst material har styrt forskares hypotesproduktion och experiment.” Wolrath- Söderberg Maria, 2012 Topos som meningsskapare: retorikens topiska perspektiv på tänkande och lärande genom argumentation. Retorikförlaget. Sid 138. I ovanstående citat ifrågasätts i själva verket evolutionen. Jag ser det som talande att ovanstående kunnat slinka med i en doktorsavhandling som blivit godkänd. En doktorsavhandling som för övrigt beskriver hur topos och enthymeme kan användas för att disciplinera högskole- och universitetsstudenter.

9 Vitanza Victor, 2013, [1994], Writing histories of rhetoric, Southern Illinois University.

10 ”Alternately impoverished and enriched in rhetorical history, the enthymeme might be seen as an index of the way the disciplinary rhetoric functions in the social field (Seas 4). From the Scholastic period to roughly the mid-1950s, the enthymeme was viewed as a stylistic trope or an incomplete syllogism based on a misguided reading of Aristotle’s rhetoric (Ong, ”Ramus” 187). The ubiquitous enthymeme regarding Socrates’ mortality, the simple elimination of logical premises from a syllogism, is the product of a medieval bias toward logic that mistakes probable reasoning for certainty (Ong, ”Ramus” 99). Or rather, it is one manifestation of a systemic logic that screens out the contextual experience of individuals and collectives who are moved to assent by the conscious or subconscious implications.” Prenosil D. Joshua, 2017, The Embodied Enthymeme: A Hybrid Theory of Protest, JAC, 01/2012, Volym 32, Nummer 1/2, Sid 281.

11 Lindqvist Grinde, 2008, Klassisk retorik för vår tid, Studentlitteratur, sid 144.

Första blogginlägget

Erbjudande om doktorandtjänst i retorik i utbyte mot att jag skulle uttrycka ånger  av min homosexualitet i magisteruppsats om skoldebatten (Handledning som en form av utpressning,  på engelska uttryckt som ”conversion therapy”).

Uppsatsen jag handleddes mot av Maria Wolrath-Söderberg, lektor retorik och Lennart Hellspong, professor emeritus retorik (2005), baserades på Kieran Egans The Educated mind, how cognitive tools shape our understanding. Jag tolkar idéen som styrde handledningen som att jag genom att ångra min homosexualitet […] skulle ha bekräftat Wolrath – Söderbergs tes att studier i retorik leder till klokare studenter. Det här riskerar att förefalla både osannolikt och absurt, jag vet…”conversion therapy” på en svensk högskola på 2000-talet…? Vad blir jag då? Något slags svensk fjoll-Solzjenitzyn?

Handledningsprocessen i sig blev möjlig enbart tack vare den gradvisa identitetsupplösning jag erfor som ett resultat av det positiva hivbesked jag hade erhållit två år tidigare.

Den verkliga cirkusen började sedan 2015 när jag försökte beskriva ovanstående handledning i en masteruppsats i retorik: Enthymemet, den utan jämförelse viktigaste retoriska figuren i kampen om problemformuleringsprivilegium hamnar utanför den läroplan som erbjuds svenska retorikstudenter, varför? Anders Morberg Master 2018, 180508(2018): + Bilagor Master, Blogg pdf på Uppsala Universitets litteraturvetenskapliga institution. Uppsatsen baseras på Victor J Vitanzas: Negation, Subjectivity and The History of Rhetoric Tradition (1997), Writing histories of Rhetoric (1994, antologi, red Vitanza) och Sexual Violence in Western Thought and Writing: Chaste Rape (2003).

Att min handledare på Södertörn, Wolrath – Söderberg samtidigt som jag skrev min magisteruppsats höll på att beskriva just den här formen av handledning i sin doktorsavhandling (2012) kom så småningom mycket väl till pass när jag väl fann beskrivningen. ”Allt” så att säga finns där uttryckt med min handledares egna ord. Färdigt att avkodas och användas som bevis på att det jag beskriver verkligen har inträffat.

I Wolrath – Söderbergs doktorsavhandling går det även att läsa sig till att hon är något av en kreationist, det vill säga, hon argumenterar från ett perspektiv som helt eller delvis förnekar evolutionen som vetenskapligt faktum. Något min examinator, Otto Fischer inte (?!) tycker har någon betydelse för eventuell tolkning av den här handledningsprocessen, samtidigt som han uttrycker svårigheter rörande möjligheten att avgöra om de händelser jag beskriver verkligen har hänt, eller inte har hänt […]

Vid sidan av att visa på enligt rådande lagstiftning lätt märklig handledning, så sätter masteruppsatsen fingret på den enskilt viktigaste retoriska mekanismen för auktoritära maktövertaganden (vid sidan av öppet fysiskt våld) – den retoriska figuren enthymeme. Arbetet knyts till internationell forskning avseende retorisk tradition via Victor J Vitanzas: Negation, Subjectivity and The History of Rhetoric Tradition (1997), och Sexual Violence in Western Thought and Writing: Chaste Rape (2003). Arbetet får på så sätt en stark feministisk, antiauktoritär prägel.

Målet med den här bloggen är att få till en vetenskaplig prövning av min masteruppsats. Det vill säga en opposition inför publik där mitt arbete kan ventileras och kritiseras vetenskapligt i stället för som nu, med rektor Eva Åkessons godkännande tystas ned som ickehändelse.