Daily Archives: May 8, 2020

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.

It’s true, in some regards–very small regards–very, very small–I have let you down. But also, I have accomplished really great things, not only for you, but for the United State of America. For example, we have kept the pandemic death toll in the US under 5,000,000. That’s nearly 3,000,000 less than anybody–doctors, scientists, Melania, Hannity–might have predicted! At the same time we are Number 1! I like being number 1, even if it’s dead people.

While I may be making these numbers up as I speak, they might be true. Who knows? Unless you’re on your death bed right now, you are going to believe me because you want to believe me and vote for me in the fall.

As you plan for the future, please consider cremation. It will help deal with the clutter and smell at the morgues, and also, with the loaded panel trucks parked nearby.

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

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