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Avicenna's Enthymeme: A Pointer

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In reaction to earlier scholarship on the role of Aristotelian political theory among medieval Arabic-writing intellectuals, this paper argues that another approach of those intellectuals might more profitably be followed: that of the role of rhetorical speech. That political speech is investigated in Aristotle's Rhetoric makes it a suitable candidate for such a pursuit. However, what the present investigation concludes is that even this aspect of political theory by way of the Rhetoric also was not perceived to warrant investigation among medieval Arabic-writing intellectuals. In a review of all constituents of Greek political theory as it is now understood, this paper finds that there was one aspect of rhetorical speech that captivated the attention of these writers: the use of the enthymeme in speech patterns. Drawing on the writings of Avicenna, the author concludes that, instead of the application of the enthymemic construction of political rhetoric, Avicenna perceived yet another arena for its applicability: the training of philosophy students.

Affiliations: 1: University of Illinois

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