Invention (Coming up with stuff to say)
The Common Topics are organizational tools for developing an argument.
Definition – What is the thing? This can be split into genus and division. Genus is into what broad category (or forms) does the definition fall. Division are subcategories: type, kind, sort, group and class.
Comparison – What is the thing like and unlike? Similarity? Difference? and Degree (by how much does this thing deviate?)
Relationship – Cause and Effect: what has caused the thing to be the way it is and what would this thing cause? Antecedent and Consequence (if P implies Q, then P is called the antecedent and Q is called the consequent), Contraries (terms opposed), and Contradiction
Circumstance – [What was happening at the time this thing existed] or Possible / Impossible (example: There is nothing else to do about it) // Past fact, Fact, Future Fact – (A topic of invention in which one refers back to general events in the past or to what we can safely suppose will occur in the future based on the record of the past.)
Testimony – What other people say about this thing
- Definition: Definition in rhetoric refers to the clarification and explanation of a term, concept, or idea. It involves providing a clear and concise explanation of what something is, as well as its meaning and significance. Definition is often used in arguments to establish a common understanding of a topic and to provide a foundation for the argument.
- Comparison: Comparison in rhetoric refers to the process of comparing and contrasting two or more ideas, objects, or concepts. It involves highlighting similarities and differences, and is often used to illustrate a point or to make an argument. Comparison is a powerful rhetorical tool that can help the audience understand complex ideas and make connections between seemingly disparate concepts.
- Relationship: Relationship in rhetoric refers to the connection between two or more ideas, concepts, or objects. This connection can take many forms, such as cause and effect, analogy, or contrast. By establishing a relationship between ideas, speakers and writers can strengthen their arguments and help the audience understand complex concepts.
- Circumstance: Circumstance in rhetoric refers to the context and conditions surrounding an event or situation. This can include factors such as time, place, and events leading up to the event. By considering the circumstances surrounding an event, speakers and writers can provide a more complete and nuanced understanding of the topic.
- Testimony: Testimony in rhetoric refers to the use of personal anecdotes, expert opinions, and other forms of evidence to support an argument. Testimony is often used to provide credibility and support to an argument, and to demonstrate the personal experiences or expertise of the speaker or writer.
These five elements, along with others, are often used in combination with each other to create a persuasive argument. Whether speaking or writing, effective rhetoric involves the use of various techniques and strategies to influence the audience and to make a compelling argument.