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 Logoiof 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.]
I was floating in a tube down a river in Texas, near where there’s a pig that dives into a spring-fed lake. Aquarena Springs is where Ralph the pig makes his dive to the great delight to those who come view him, some from 100s of miles away. Some say Ralph is very smart, even saving his earnings in a pension fund. Some say that the pension idea is insane—they yell “He’s a pig for Chrissake!” There’s a fact that could easily resolve the dispute: Ralph’s bank and pension account statements.
Ralph’s master is very strict about money. He adamantly refuses to make any kind of financial disclosure whatsoever. Many people are comfortable with not knowing how much Ralph makes. They say “It’s none of our business.” Other people say, “I am paying this pig. We are told that his salary has a significant impact on our community—not to mention the park that is built around him.” Other people ask, “What gives you the right to dig into the pig’s personal business?” Then, as the conversation developed, it came up that maybe Ralph’s master had something to hide. After all, he was Ralph’s spokesperson. It was curious that we never hear directly from Ralph, it’s always through his master. Then, a pig farmer from Dime Box chimed in: “Y’all are missin’ an important fact: Pigs can’t talk. Mostly, they make a snofflin’ sound that has come to be known as ‘oink oink’.”
Now we were really suspicious of Ralph’s master. All along he was fooling us into believing he was passing along what Ralph had said. Having been duped, the crowd became very agitated and began calling out Ralph’s master. Some of the older people in the crowd wanted to “shoot him in the gizzard” or “hold a necktie party” in the mall parking lot on the outskirts of town.
Things were getting out of hand when Ralph’s master stepped out of the shadows. He had Ralph on a leash, and a .9 mm Beretta in the other hand. He looked drunk. “How’d you like me to make Ralph into ham, bacon, and pork chops you bastards?” He pointed the gun a Ralph. Buck Jones jumped out of the crowd and tackled him. The gun went off when he hit the ground, and he shot himself in the thumb. He dropped the gun and got up, bleeding and still holding Ralph’s leash. But Ralph pulled himself free and took off running toward the bridge over the river. He was going to dive!! Clearly he would die on the rocks below.
Ralph’s master ran to the bridge yelling “No, no, no!” Ralph backed away. His master knelt down. He was talking to Ralph and Ralph was nodding his head in agreement. The crowd stood there awestruck with their mouths hanging open, silent. They were witnessing a miracle. Not only could he dive, but he could actually talk too.
Ralph’s master told the crowd: I have reached a agreement with Ralph regarding the disclosure of his finances: After deductions, last year Ralph made $5,000, all put in his retirement fund. Ralph started shaking his head “No” and jumping up and down, and angrily oinking. His master cracked: “Ok, he made $500,000 last year and I took it all, and I don’t give a shit. With that, the crowd surged forward and the pig farmer from Dime Box asked Ralph if he wanted to eat his master. Ralph vigorously nodded “Yes.”
Definition and commentary courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text by Gogias, Editor of Daily Trope.
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