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. [In a sense, ‘two-wayed thinking’ constitutes a way of life—it is tolerant of differences and may interpret their resolution as contingent and provisional, as always open to renegotiation, and never as the final word. Truth, at best, offers cold comfort in social settings and often establishes itself as incontestable, by definition, as immune from untrumque partes, which may be considered an act of heresy and may be punishable by death.]

Somebody said, “If there’s a fork in the road, take it.” Funny, but not helpful in making a decision. Rather, when we reach a fork in the road, like we have today, we must choose one way or the other. Otherwise, we sit here here parked on life’s road shoulder, idling, going nowhere. The fork’s two tines may take us to different destinations, but in this case they take us to the same destination: building a new warehouse complex in Puerto Rico.

We’ve settled on Puerto Rico, we’ve settled on the warehouse project, but now we must decide whether to hire locals, or bring in our own laborers to work construction.

Ok, what do you have to say?

Definition and commentary courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text by Gogias, Editor of Daily Trope.

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