Epicrisis


Epicrisis (e-pi-cri’-sis): When a speaker quotes a certain passage and makes comment upon it.

Related figuresanamenesis–calling to memory past matters. More specifically, citing a past author from memory–and chreia (from the Greek chreiodes, “useful”) . . . “a brief reminiscence referring to some person in a pithy form for the purpose of edification.” It takes the form of an anecdote that reports either a saying, an edifying action, or both.

Pascal advises us: “Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false?”

He gives this advice as a reason to believe in God. However belief and faith encompass far more than religion. Faith and belief are operative in everyday life. From faith in our friends, to the belief that Oxyclean will do the job on our wine-stained shorts, we “gamble.”

Unlike one’s faith in God (which does not really seem to be much of a gamble anyway), faith’s gamble on friends and laundry products can, and do, lead to harm. Our friends betray us. Our pants are ruined.

Moreover, not knowing whether we will win or lose, we must gamble if we are to face the future and act. The prospects of having friends and clean pants are worth the risk.

On Wednesday in a speech addressing the world, acting as a sort of political trustee, President Obama will place a bet for the United States. Having faith in the wisdom of his wager, he will most likely bet on war.

What if we lose?

  • Post your own epicrisis on the “Comments” page!

Definitions courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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