Sorry it took me a few days– was working all weekend, but finally got something down. I had plenty of questions after the reading, but I’m honestly more curious to see what you have to say than to ramble on ad nauseum. The questions I have down here are mainly jumping-off points…if you thought of a relevant example or question when reading the readings that I haven’t asked or referenced here, by all means, please include. As for a general idea of how many to answer, I’d like to hear what you have to say on at least two authors if not all three, but I’ll let you pick and choose which questions you’d prefer to address. Hopefully by the end of the discussion, we’ll have hit on all of them at least once.
Questions on the Medieval and Renaissance Readings—
- In “On the Study Methods of Our Time,” Vico examines not only the study methods of his time but those of the Ancients in an attempt to find the best methods to work toward, whether those methods were inspired by the past or present. He suggests that “to avoid both defects, I think, young men should be taught the totality of the sciences and arts, and their intellectual powers should be developed to the full; thus they will become familiar with the art of argument, drawn from the ars topica” (Vico 19). How does this idea compare to the views expressed in the Ramus reading?
- “It frequently occurs, in fact, that orators in a law court have greater difficulty with a case which is based on truth, but does not seem so, than with a case that is false but plausible” (Vico 13). Do you agree with this statement? Can you think of any real life examples to discuss?
- The idea of teaching students rhetoric through many disciplines is reminiscent to me of the constant struggle to get writing into other disciplines, not just English. Do you think writing across disciplines is an effective method? Do you feel the same way about rhetoric across disciplines? Do you tend to side with Vico or Ramus? Why or why not?
- First off, Ramus is clearly, just by the title, arguing against Quintilian. What rhetorical strategies do you see at work in his argument? Is it effective, and does it convince you? Why or why not?
- When speaking of Quintilian’s assessment that a perfect orator must necessarily be a good man, Ramus uses the comparisons that “the grammarian is…not defined as skilled in speaking, writing, and singing” and “the geometrician is not defined as skilled in mea-surement and medicine” (4-5). Are these perfect syllogisms? Does virtue truly fall into the same category as singing or medicine?
- Ramus uses a constant flow of charged words, ones like “stupid” and “worthless.” How does that affect how you view his argument? Do you think that is part of his rhetorical strategy, and if so, is it an effective one?
- Bain puts plenty of emphasis in his chapter “The Paragraph” on the importance of word and sentence order. How important is order in an effective rhetorical argument? What connections do you see between Bain and the Ramus and Vico readings? Between Bain and what we’ve discussed in class so far?