Indian/Persian Rhetoric: The Use of Examples

Use of Examples

“East is more mystical and less interested in systematic thinking”

Indian and Persian classical rhetoric dates back to 150BCE; a time period where the world sought knowledge through lived experiences and the stories of their early ancestors.  The concept of technology was non-existent, and question pertaining to science were left unanswered due to the scarcity of technical equipment, developments in human anatomy, and a solar system not yet defined. In a period with few answers, individuals sought to religion and the natural characteristic of the earth to facilitate their arguments and discussion. In “Rethinking Rhetoric from an Indian Perspective: Implications in the Nyaya Sutra”, Keith Lloyd indicates that the west excluded Indian texts because they dealt with the “promotion of quasi-religious, soteriological texts whose theme is the introspective methodology underlying what is called “the science of soul””.  However, The Nyaya Sutra brought forth a “more systematic” approach to debate. This system still carried the tradition of using objects to facilitate logic, but the debate could be broken down into a system: proposition, reason, example, RE- AFF and, Conclusion. The examples (objects) embody/signify the connection that holds the whole argument together. An example of this system can be found in The Nyâya Sutrâs of Gotama Book V, Chapters I-II:

 “Balancing the homogeneity.-A certain person, to prove the no eternalityof sound, argues as follows ;_Sound is non-eternal,because it is a product,like a pot.A certain other person offers the following futile opposition ;_Sound is eternal,because it is.incorporeal,like the! Sky”

The argument is facilitated with an example (drstanta) “a familiar instance which is known to possess (or be devoid of) the property to be established”. The ceremonial tradition of classical Indian civilization is a major influence in the use of examples to facilitate arguments. Objects such as a pot, smoke, the sky, all relate to the culture and religions of India. The “mystical” culture lends itself to allusion and description. Although the Indian/Persian method of argument differs from the method of argument used by Aristotle and Plato, the Greek rhetoricians also used examples to facilitate their arguments.  It appears in today’s society the concept of abrupt conclusions is necessary. Discourse does not lend itself the time to facilitate examples; discussion is factual and direct. Examples rarely allude to mythological gods or natural phenomenons. Has our society been so highly enriched with factual evidence that we have lost the sense of “wonder”?

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