|Invention concerns finding something to say (its name derives from the Latin invenire, “to find”). Certain common categories of thought became conventional to use in order to brainstorm for material. These common places (places = topoi in Greek) are called the “topics of invention.” They include, for example, cause and effect, comparison, and various relationships.
Invention is tied to the rhetorical appeal of logos, being oriented to what an author would say rather than how this might be said. Invention describes the argumentative, persuasive core of rhetoric. Aristotle, in fact, defines rhetoric primarily as invention, “discovering the best available means of persuasion.” An important procedure that formed part of this finding process was stasis.
Sample Rhetorical Analysis: INVENTION
In describing the state of humanity, Blaise Pascal aphoristically states
In these nicely parallel claims, Pascal follows a similar pattern of development based on the identification of an antecedent and its inevitable consequence. [antecedent/consequence is a common topic of invention]. We must ask ourselves, Are these the necessary antecdents to the stated consequences? Does his concision betray a larger complexity? Aren’t these consequences the causes themselves for pursuing what he refers to as antecedents?
Sources: Cic. De Inv. passim
|The Five Canons of Rhetoric:|
The information on this page comes from: Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University. EIL is grateful for his excellent “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu), which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Image added by EIL staff.