Category Archives: epicrisis

Epicrisis

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

Related figures: anamenesis–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.

Joseph Campbell tells us: “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

If we take his advice to heart we can finally get rid of life coaches, high school guidance counsellors, tarot card readers, haruspices and everybody else who tries to make the unknowable future knowable by virtue of having a plan!

Ironically though, Campbell’s advice is sort of future-directed, and lays out a plan: a plan not to have a plan. Accordingly, it seems that as far as we’re able to consider the future, we are stuck with planning–even if it’s not to have a plan.

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

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?

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

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.

The political philosopher Eric Vogelin tells us that “the role of human existence must be played in uncertainty of its meaning as an adventure in decision along the edge of freedom and necessity.”

Uncertainty motivates decision. Decision entails risk.  Risk is the estimated consequence of action, and action is the herald of sorrow and joy, regret and satisfaction, and all the other dialectically-poised and unknowable outcomes of human being–of being always, all the time, a prisoner of choice on an island of freedom.

Yet, the island may be as large as the future is unknowable. So, as we set off on our next adventure in decision, somehow we must transform our uncertainty as to where we will end up into the belief that we’re going in the right direction.

Our hope is history’s backward-looking map and rhetoric is the star that sets our course.

We are Janus’ children born into the present.  Looking back and seeing forward, we are able to move ahead.

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

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

Epicrisis

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

Related figures: anamenesis–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.

At Gettysburg, it was Abraham Lincoln’s earnest hope that “this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  This hope is alive today–especially as we wind our way, as a nation, toward the upcoming presidential elections. As candidates vie for our attention and for our votes, we should ask at the close of every one of their speeches: “What would Abraham Lincoln say about their resolve–their desire–to listen to the people’s voice?” For every election is underwritten by our deep faith in the people’s voice–in the collective good will and dignity of the people, and the desire of the people, as far as they are people, for liberty and justice and peace and prosperity–the soul of the Republic and the substance of our humanity.

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

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