Classical Backgrounds

  • Frans H. van Eemeren
  • Bart Garssen
  • Erik C. W. Krabbe
  • A. Francisca Snoeck Henkemans
  • Bart Verheij
  • Jean H. M. Wagemans
Living reference work entry


This chapter sketches the origin as well as the further development of the disciplines of dialectic, logic, and rhetoric in antiquity. For the beginnings of dialectic and logic, the chapter turns in Sect. 2.2 to Zeno’s reductio technique and Plato’s three forms of dialectic, for those of rhetoric to the Sophists and the educator Isocrates.

The chapter discusses Aristotle’s contributions to all three disciplines mentioned. In Sect. 2.3 Aristotle’s theory of dialectic is discussed. The fundamental features of the ancient discussion procedure are explained, the construction of argumentation by means of topoi (argument schemes), and tactical issues concerning debates. Sect. 2.4 is devoted to Aristotle’s fallacy theory. The theory of topics of Cicero and Boethius is discussed in Sect. 2.5. Sect. 2.6 explains Aristotle’s syllogistic – a precursor of predicate logic. Sect. 2.7 deals with Stoic logic – a precursor of propositional logic.

Aristotle’s systematic reflections on rhetoric as the art of finding the appropriate means of persuasion are the topic of attention in Sect. 2.8. Sect. 2.9 deals with the classical system of rhetoric, which developed after Aristotle’s time. The system is illustrated by going systematically through the consecutive tasks a speaker has to accomplish in preparation of the actual performance of a speech. In Sect. 2.10, finally, the ancient achievements are tied in with later developments and shown to relate to the various approaches to argumentation developed in present-day argumentation theory.


Deductive Argument Minor Premise Hypothetical Syllogism Sophistical Refutation Dialectical Debate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frans H. van Eemeren
    • 1
  • Bart Garssen
    • 1
  • Erik C. W. Krabbe
    • 2
  • A. Francisca Snoeck Henkemans
    • 1
  • Bart Verheij
    • 2
  • Jean H. M. Wagemans
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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