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HUM2304 – Rhetoric, Sophistry and the Truth pdf

Credits: 3 (3/0/0)
Description: Meets MnTC Goal Areas 2 and 6. Since ancient Greece there have been debates about the distinction between "sophistry" and "philosophy". This debate has traditionally been defined by the ideas that sophistry is aligned with rhetoric and that rhetoric is broadly defined as the "art of persuasion" on the one hand. On the other is the philosophical tradition which aligns itself with logic and its attempts to seek out the truth, broadly defined by either a correspondence or coherence theory of truth. At its most heated, the debate seems to come down to the difference between persuading someone (by whatever means) to adopt a position versus a rigorous analysis of evidence, using logical techniques to produce the most plausible solution (even if it's not the solution we had hoped). In contemporary academia, one might argue that the division between rhetoric and a strictly logical approach has grown wider since the two disciplines are housed in separate departments. One generally finds courses in rhetoric in English departments, but courses in logic are usually found in philosophy departments, so our approach will be interdisciplinary.
Prerequisites: (None)
Corequisites: (None)
  1. Explore the historical and cultural context of the debate between sophistry and philosophy.
  2. Compare and critique the works of both sophistical and philosophical movements.
  3. Construct informed and relevant arguments regarding the appropriate uses of rhetoric and logical methodologies.
  4. Generate and formulate positions regarding themes covered in the texts and in class.
  5. Examine both the rhetorical and philosophical concepts and problems from multiple perspectives.
  6. Analyze and articulate the logical connections between the premises and the conclusions in both the persuasive and argumentative methods.
  7. Assess the theoretical and practical implications that follow from the debate over how we can affirm or deny the truth of a claim.
  8. Identify the philosophical, rhetorical and sophistical presuppositions made by movements and participants.
  9. Identify and evaluate any value assumptions hidden by rhetorical strategies and determine their appropriateness.
MnTC goal areas:
  • (2) Critical Thinking
  • (6) The Humanities and Fine Arts

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