The Making of Arguments eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 344 pages of information about The Making of Arguments.

If time serves, instructors will do well to give a grounding in logic.  I have inserted a brief discussion of the subject with the hope that it will furnish a basis for a short study; it can be reenforced by a few weeks on such a manual as Jevons’s “Primer of Logic,” or Bode’s “Outline of Logic” if there is time.  Whatever be one’s view of the positive value of deductive logic, there can be no doubt that every student should have some knowledge of the canons of inductive logic, and that a study of propositions and syllogisms is a mighty sharpener of the discrimination for the real meaning of words and sentences.

The short chapter on debating I have added for the use of classes where a moderate amount of training in this most useful of exercises is practicable.  Debating may be looked at in two ways, either as training in alertness and effectiveness in discussion, or as a form of intercollegiate or interscholastic sport.  On the latter aspect a recognized authority has said:  “Formal debate is a kind of game.  In the time limit, the order of speakers, the alternation of sides, the give and take of rebuttal, the fixed rules of conduct, the ethics of the contest, the qualifications for success, and the final awarding of victory, debate has much in common with tennis";[79] and he develops the likeness through a page of rather fine print.  From this point of view debating has keenly interested a small body of students; in some colleges it has been recognized by hatbands or other emblems of distinction for the successful “teams”; and it has developed an elaborate apparatus of rules and of “coaches.”  With the game in this full bloom I have not space to deal in this small book; for such elaborate work of analysis and preparation one must go to special manuals which deal with it at length.  I have confined myself to an application of the general principles of the subject to the spoken argument, and to a few suggestions for preparing for and carrying on the not very formal discussions which the average man gets into in the ordinary run of life.

Even where there is not time for systematic practice in debating, much may be done by extemporaneous five-minute speeches.  There is unquestionably an active movement among the best teachers of English for more stress on oral composition; they recognize that the power to stand quietly and at one’s ease on one’s feet and explain one’s views clearly and cogently will help any man in his life work.

In some cases there may be local or academic subjects under discussion at the time the class is working on argument on which they can prepare themselves to speak.  It may be possible to interest graduates of the school and college, so that they will give help in getting material, and perhaps in judging and criticizing.  Occasionally, perhaps, a man who has the actual settlement of a local question or a share in the settlement may be willing to hear the discussion.  Any aid of this sort that will bring the debate within the bounds of reality will add zest to it.

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The Making of Arguments from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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