Pathos and Logos Claims

A worksheet I hand out early in my Comp/Rhet classes to help students think about the kinds of pathos/logos claims they can make…

An unexpected upside? It gives them a way of articulating what OTHER writers are doing too. It works as a diagnostic tool as much as a creative one…

Continue reading “Pathos and Logos Claims”

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Pathos and Logos Claims

Argument and The Fall

I come to Stanley Fish’s Winning Arguments having just heard him on a seminary podcast (here) where he was insightful about the Christian condition but non-committal as to his own faith. I wondered if this new book would tip Fish’s theological hand. No such luck.

But there was this meditation-worthy passage from the chapter Living in the World of Argument:

We live in a world where God and Truth have receded, at least as active, perspicuous presences, and the form they take at any moment will be the result of a proposition successfully urged, or an argument: believe me, this is what God is like and what he wants, or, believe me, this is the truth of the matter. Rhetorically created authorities are all we have; absolute authority exists only in a heaven we may hope someday to see, but until that day we must make do with the epistemological resources available to us in our fallen condition; we must make do with argument. For all intents and purposes, and as far as we know or can know, we live in a world of argument. (13)

Five statements:

  1. This is an argument. According to Fish’s own rules, he has to back this up?
  2. When did this recession happen? From what he indicatesĀ in the phrase “our fallen condition” it is part of post-Garden-of-Eden life.
  3. This is in keeping with the apologetics of Cornelius Van Til: there is no neutral knowledge. All facts must be interpreted. Everything’s an argument.
  4. Just because all authorities are rhetorical doesn’t let us off the hook. Paul tells the Romans that men are without excuse for not believing God.
  5. This is a hook for ENGL 111, my freshman composition course.
Argument and The Fall