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ARGUMENTATION, viewed as an art, is the formal and skilful arrangement of ideas for the purpose of producing conviction; viewed as a science, it treats of the different varieties of reasoning and of the different modes of conducting an argument. Hence the art of argumentation lies in the field of rhetoric, the science of argumentation in the field of logic.
The basis of an argument is in the use of one or more statements in proof of some other statement.
The principal requirements are, that those statements shall be both correct and clear.
The normal development in argumentation is, therefore, the following: the thinker chooses a subject, states two propositions, deduces a third, and there results the naked outline of his argument. Then, by resorting to the arts of poetic, prose, or poetic-prose, speech, he clothes that skeleton in an appropriate dress.
Since all men argue, and delight in arguing, especially in that definite kind of argumentation which can be reduced to three judgments, expressed or implied, it follows that the man who aspires to be a public teacher or speaker should be acquainted with the science, and should certainly master the arts of argumentation.
It is evident from the nature of argumentation that it must rest upon reliable subject-matter. For instance, that belonging to the following classes: 1. Primary mental judgments. The mental acts included are those of conscience, consciousness, instinct, intuition, memory, perception, and common sense, unless common sense is regarded as an harmonious blending of these and all other mental activities. It is found that no conquest, or even progress, can be made in reasoning when any of these primary judgments are opposed or ignored. Could there be a process of reasoning proving that men are machines, still, when the conclusion of the argument was reached, the one who had listened would reply, "I know better." Dogmatisms and arguments are alike regarded as forceless and worthless when running counter to these facts of mind. It is evident, therefore, that the reasoner should acquaint himself thoroughly with the ordinary thinking of humanity.
For examples of argumentation based upon primary judgments, see Gen. iv. 7: John viii. 1-11; ix. 20, 25: 1 Cor. viii. 4: 1 John ii. 29: 3 John 12.
Facts. "Facts given in evidence are premises from which a conclusion is to be drawn.'
"A matter of fact is: a, Everything capable of being perceived by the senses; b, Every mental condition of which any person is conscious."
Stephen's Digest of the Law of Evidence.
They are classified thus:
(1.) Truths resting upon first principles. These harmonize with the mental constitution of humanity, and consequently with all primary mental judgments. They include the axioms of mathematics, as, "Two straight lines cannot contain a space;" "A part cannot equal the whole," &c.; also the fundamental principles of physical science, as "A body cannot be in two places at the same time; "It is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be at the same time," &c. ; likewise, the data of psychological science, as, "Thought implies the existence of a thinking being to whom the thought belongs;" "Quality implies a substantive existence in which it inheres;" "Whatever is perceived by the several senses exists, and substantially as perceived;" "Whatever is recalled by the memory did exist as remembered; and "Consciousness makes a true and reliable report of our experience."
(2.) Truths of general experience. Whatever agrees with the invariable experience or observation of humanity belongs to this class, and affords a firm basis for reasoning. Their weight is in proportion to their universality, number, and mutual