The Common or Different Features of topos in Aristotle’s Topics and Rhetoric Shogo Takahashi
The purpose of this paper is to examine the common or different features of topos in Aristotle’s Topics and Rhetoric, and I attempt to investigate whether topos in Rhetoric is more generally applicable to reasoning than topos in Topics.
topos is the logical rule or schema required to make reasoning, either in Topics or Rhetoric. In Topics, Aristotle classifies topos in relation to four predicables (i. e. definition, property, genus, accident). On the other hand, in Rhetoric, Aristotle divides the elements of rhetorical reasoning into ‘common’ and ‘proper’, and he calls topos ‘common’. Further, in Rhetoric II23, the ‘common’ topoi are listed and explained.
Indeed, in Topics, it is possible to think about another classification than the classification related to the four predicables. Aristotle calls some kinds of topos ‘the most opportune topos’. For example, topos of ‘contraries’, topos of ‘inflection’ of words, as well as topos of ‘more and less’ are emphasized. The classification related to ‘the most opportune topos’ is larger and more general classification than that related to the four predicables.
‘The most opportune topos’ overlaps with part of topos in Rhetoric. Therefore, Aristotle regards ‘common’ topos in Rhetoric as ‘the most opportune topos’ in Topics.
But, as far as we examine both writings in more detail, it does not seem to be able to associate the common topos with ‘the most opportune topos’. Because there appears to be differences between the two. the topos of ‘contraries’ in Topics is treated as a subclass of the topos of ‘opposites’, but it seems to be treated independently and is one of the common topoi in Rhetoric.
Rubinelli seems to think that the topoi of ‘privation and possession’ and ‘relation’ which are included in the topos of ‘opposites’ in Topics are treated as topos of ‘correlated’ in Rhetoric. But in Rhetoric, Aristotle does not consider the remaining topos of ‘opposites’ to be the topos of ‘correlated’, except for the topos of ‘contraries’. Because the topos of ‘correlated’ has the different logical schema than the topoi of ‘privation and possession’ and ‘relation’.Therefore, we cannot insist that the classification of topos in Rhetoric is more general in terms of application of topos than the classification of topos related to the four predicables in Topics.