Teaching Students About Enthymeme

An enthymeme is a rhetorical device that involves an argument or deduction that leaves out one of the premises or conclusions, which the audience is expected to supply for themselves. It is an effective way to persuade the audience and to make them participate actively in the arguments. It is important for students to understand the concept of enthymeme and explore its role in effective communication and logic.

The concept of enthymeme is often used in academic and professional writing. Therefore, it is necessary for students to learn and recognize it. They can easily learn about this rhetorical device by understanding the structure and examples of enthymeme.

Structure of an Enthymeme

An enthymeme includes three components:

1. A Major Premise – A statement that is accepted as true.

2. A Minor Premise – A statement that is related to the major premise.

3. A Conclusion – A statement that the speaker wants the audience to accept.

The speaker or writer creates an argument by linking the minor premise to the major premise, and then to the conclusion. However, in enthymeme, one of the premises is omitted, and the audience is expected to fill in that missing information.

Examples of Enthymeme

Here are a few examples of enthymeme:

1. “He is a criminal, so he should be punished.” Here, the major premise is that criminals should be punished, the minor premise is that the person is a criminal, and the conclusion is that he should be punished. The argument assumes that everyone agrees that criminals should be punished.

2. “She always gets good grades, so she must have studied hard.” Here, the major premise is that people who get good grades study hard, the minor premise is that she always gets good grades, and the conclusion is that she studied hard.

3. “No one who is sane wants war, and John wants war.” Here, the major premise is that sane people don’t want war, the minor premise is that John wants war, and the conclusion is that John is not sane. This example shows how an enthymeme can be used to imply or insinuate an idea without explicitly stating it.

Teaching the Role of Enthymeme

To teach the role of enthymeme, instructors can use real-life examples to illustrate the concept, and help students identify enthymemes in speeches, advertisements, and articles. It is also important to teach students about the potential biases and assumptions that are implicit in enthymemes, and develop their critical thinking skills to evaluate those arguments.

Additionally, students can learn how to construct effective enthymemes. They can practice identifying the major and minor premises of an argument, and determine which premise can be omitted to create a compelling argument.

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