Dirimens Copulatio


Dirimens Copulatio (di’-ri-mens ko-pu-la’-ti-o): A figure by which one balances one statement with a contrary, qualifying statement (sometimes conveyed by “not only … but also” clauses). A sort of arguing both sides of an issue.

Protagoras (c. 485-410 BC) asserted that “to every logos (speech or argument) another logos is opposed,” a theme continued in the Dissoi Logoi of his time, later codified as the notion of arguments in utrumque partes (on both sides). Aristotle asserted that thinking in opposites is necessary both to arrive at the true state of a matter (opposition as an epistemological heuristic) and to anticipate counterarguments. This latter, practical purpose for investigating opposing arguments has been central to rhetoric ever since sophists like Antiphon (c. 480-410 BC) provided model speeches (his Tetralogies) showing how one might argue for either the prosecution or for the defense on any given issue. As such, [this] names not so much a figure of speech as a general approach to rhetoric, or an overall argumentative strategy. However, it could be manifest within a speech on a local level as well, especially for the purposes of exhibiting fairness (establishing ethos [audience perception of speaker credibility]).

This pragmatic embrace of opposing arguments permeates rhetorical invention, arrangement, and rhetorical pedagogy

I want a muffin for breakfast. Not only that, I want it toasted in the toaster-oven and buttered to perfection. Not only is it your turn to cook this week, but it is time for us to figure out how to make muffins. But you disagree? Come on, no time for that: get out the flour, the cranberries, the butter, the mixing bowl, the sugar, and most important, a spatula.

  • Post your own dirimens copulatio on the “Comments” page!

Definition and commentary courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

A paper edition of The Daily Trope, entitled The Book of Tropes, is available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99 USD. It contains over 200 schemes and tropes with their definitions and examples of each. All of the schemes and tropes are indexed, so it’s easy to find the one you’re looking for. Not only that, the examples of schemes and tropes may prompt you to try to create your own examples and use them as springboards for creating longer narratives.

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