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one, but by many forms of argument. The opinion is
. the conclusion at which we have arrived on any subject, and arguments show our reasons for arriving at that conclusion.
The following are some of the sources whence arguments
be derived :
In the majority of cases, our ideas are not simple but complex ; that is, they are made up of all the qualities belonging to some one thing. Now, in arguing by enumeration, all we have to do is to state these particulars, so that our view of the whole subject may be clearly understood. The following model will explain this form of reasoning:
Given proposition • It was a lovely night!' It was a lovely night! The sky was unclouded. The brilliant moon, riding aloft in the heavens, cast her silvery light o'er hill and valley, meadow and lake. Scarcely a breeze ruffled the surface of the water, and not a sound was heard save the distant plash of the boatman's oar, or the occasional rustling of the leaves of a neighbouring grove. A balmy air wafted an exquisite fragrance through the atmosphere, and all nature seemed to conspire to fill the soul with delight !
The above passage consists of a collection of those particulars or circumstances which combine in making up the idea of a lovely night.' Moon, hill, valley, meadow, lake, leaves, fragrant perfume, &c., are these particulars, and these, arranged in order, support the assertion.
The following propositions are intended as subjects for exercise in this form of argument. They are to be worked on the principle explained in the above model.
Propositions to be supported by Enumeration. 1. Spring is the most beautiful season of the year 2. He was a very amusing companion. 3. My cousin is a learned man. 4. His sister was very accomplished. 5. Mr. B. is a great traveller. 6. England is the most commercial country in the
world. 7. Italy has produced many great artists. 8. The Germans are a very musical people. 9. We spent a remarkably pleasant evening. 10. We passed a miserable night. 11. My friend has been seriously ill. 12. Julius Cæsar was a great commander. 13. It was a wretched day. 14. This king was of weak character. 15. “Paradise Lost' is a sublime
poem. 16. Louis XIV. was a despotic monarch. 17. She is of kind disposition.
18. William the Conqueror oppressed the Saxons. 19. Alfred was the greatest of the Saxon kings. 20. The drawing-room was elegantly furnished.
The next form of argument is by contrast. Suppose our object be to show that some quality or line of conduct is commendable, we may contrast it with its opposite, in order that its excellence may be thus made more evident. Snow will appear more brilliantly white when contrasted with any object of a dark colour; and
: virtue will be more evidently desirable when opposed to vice. Thus, to prove the excellence of a good education, we may show the difference between the refined and well-informed gentleman, and the rude illiterate boor, and this contrast will set the superiority of the one over the other in a stronger light. This form of reasoning is adopted in the following model:
Given proposition :
Society has numerous
advantages. Society has numerous advantages. Here we learn to practise many virtues, such as kindness, forbearance, benevolence, &c. Here also we have many opportunities of improving our minds by acquiring knowledge on various subjects, and considering the differences of opinion on questions discussed, &c. But the hermit or recluse can never enjoy these privileges. How can he practise any of the social virtues who refuses to enter that circle where alone they can be exercised ! or by what means can he improve his reasoning powers who has no one to reason with but himself, and hears no opinions differing from his own !
The following propositions are to be used as subjects for exercise in arguing by contrast, as in the above model:
Propositions to be proved by arguing on the principle of
1. Some form of government is indispensable to a
nation. 2. We must exercise both the body and the mind. 3. Affected people are always disagreeable. 4. We should be kind to one another. 5. Occasional recreation is necessary. 6. It is our duty to obey our superiors. 7. Knowledge ensures respect. 8. Indulgence in violent passions is degrading to the
mind. 9. We should endeavour to acquire a habit of atten
tion. 10. Nothing is more charming than simplicity. 11. A habit of observation is invaluable. 12. All our duties should be promptly performed. 13. Travelling assists in removing prejudices. 14. A taste for art should be cultivated. 15. No vice is more selfish than avarice. 16. A good temper is the main spring of happiness. 17. We should always speak the truth. 18. A government should be careful to reward merit. 19. Nothing is more odious than a proud spirit. 20. The amiable gain many friends.
A general assertion may be frequently supported by an explanation. This is done when the statement made is partly equivocal, or open to several meanings, and the object is to place it in a clearer light, and show in what signification the writer intends it to be taken. Here we argue from the genus to the species, and the explanation shows in what particular cases the general proposition
The following model will illustrate this mode of argument:
Given proposition ... Nature does nothing in vain.
Nature does nothing in vain. It is true that we have not yet been able to discover the designs of Providence in all the works of nature; but the researches and discoveries of philosophy justify us in concluding that the apparently most insignificant object has been created for some wise purpose. Thus, the very leaves that fall from the trees in autumn form a rich soil wherein to grow new plants; and it is well known that the
gases given off by the most fragrant flowers furnish the atmosphere with one of its essential ingredients.
Let the learner write paragraphs on the following propositions, supporting them, as in the above model, by explanation.
Propositions to be supported by Explanation, 1. A new study presents many difficulties. 2. I was much puzzled at this question.