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THE ENTHYMEME in Contemporary Advertising - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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THE ENTHYMEME in Contemporary Advertising. an ARH Production. Produced, Written & Directed by Alec R. Hosterman. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… (oops, wrong introduction - sorry about that). Once upon a time… (dang it, I did it again - just a second). In the beginning…

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The enthymeme in contemporary advertising l.jpg


in Contemporary Advertising

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ARH Production

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  • A long time ago,

  • in a galaxy far, far away…

  • (oops, wrong introduction - sorry about that)

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  • In the beginning…

  • (okay, this should work)

  • Welcome. I’m Aristotle. I’ll be your host as we explore the world of the Enthymeme. I have a bit of experience in this arena, with rhetoric and science in particular.

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  • Instead, I’d like to talk about Alec or Barbara mentioning them:Enthymemes.

  • Enthymemes are rhetorical syllogisms (we’ll talk about these soon), but honestly, I’m rather vague with a concrete definition.

  • However, Ann Gill provides a good one for us: “arguments in syllogistic form that use implied premises held by the audience.” Thanks Ann!

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  • Enthymemes are also called “truncated syllogisms” since they’re shortened. One or more premise is “held in the mind.”

  • I explain them like this: “the conclusion should not be drawn from far back, nor is it necessary to include everything…the latter tiresome because of stating what is obvious.”

  • Here are a few examples…

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  • “But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.” – Mark Antony from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

  • - missing link: honourable men are ambitious

  • “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” - attorney Johnny Cochran in the O.J. Simpson trial

  • - missing link: If the glove doesn’t fit the defendant, you must acquit him

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  • To understand Enthymemes, let’s first examine the honourable man.” – Mark Antony from Shakespeare’s Syllogism.

  • (“Armed with her Sword of Syllogism, Bow of Questions, and Sonorous Voice which broadcasts her well-formed premises to all who may be in hearing range, Logic leaves the conundrums of Parmenides behind…She follows her trusty dogs, Truth and Falsehood, as they give chase to the Problem at hand, and thus avoids getting lost in the tangled Woods of Opinion.” - from B. Becker’s History of Science website)

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  • I claim that a Syllogism honourable man.” – Mark Antony from Shakespeare’s “is wholly from propositions.” Again, Ann provides a good synopsis for our talk: “the conclusion is derived directly from information already present in the premises.”

  • (hopefully she won’t ask for royalties)

  • I use a relatively famous historical figure to illustrate how they work.

  • (used with permission from the Socratic Talent Agency)

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  • Here’s the basic layout of a Syllogism honourable man.” – Mark Antony from Shakespeare’s

  • First, there’s a Major Premise:

  • e.g., “All men are mortal.”

  • Next, there’s a Minor Premise:

  • e.g., “Socrates is a man.”

  • Finally, a logical Conclusion (from premises):

  • e.g., “Socrates is mortal.”

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  • What we just saw is called a honourable man.” – Mark Antony from Shakespeare’s Categorical Syllogism because we logically deduced a conclusion based on a comparison of characteristics (or categories): Men and Socrates.

  • Other types of Syllogisms include:

  • a. Hypothetical

  • b. Disjunctive

  • c. Conditional

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  • Let’s try another Syllogism, shall we? honourable man.” – Mark Antony from Shakespeare’s

  • Major Premise: Bad children get spankings.

  • Minor Premise: You’ve been bad.

  • Conclusion: You’re going to get a spanking.

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  • To make this an Enthymeme, one of the premises is eliminated (“held in the mind”). In this case, children know what will happen to them if they’re bad.

  • Bad children get spankings.

  • You’ve been bad.

  • You’re going to get a spanking.

  • And now, the final product: “You’ve been bad, so you’re going to get a spanking.”

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  • Demonstrative Enthymemes complex. combine compatible propositions in order to prove something.

  • This type of enthymeme makes assumptions and draws conclusions. The conclusions, then, “demonstrate” the logic.

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  • Refutative Enthymemes complex. join incompatible (opposite) propositions in order to disprove something or show a contradiction.

  • This structure positions two opposing arguments side-by-side so audiences can see the apparent incompatibilities.

  • The refutative enthymeme draws conclusions not from what is assumed, but what is shown.

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  • Enthymemes are based on 4 kinds of Fact: complex.

  • 1.Probabilities

    what is, or supposed to be, usually true

  • 2. Examples

  • induction provides similar cases, state proposition, and argue deductively to a particular inference

  • 3. Infallible Signs

  • argue from inevitable and invariable

  • 4. Ordinary Signs

  • argue from some or particular universal proposition, true or false

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  • Enthymemes work because the rhetor and audience share something in common. Usually this is knowledge. This knowledge can be found in:

  • universal principles (Newtonian physics)

  • common values (illegal acts)

  • niche specific (html coding), or

  • common sense (“fire is hot, don’t touch”)

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  • Enthymemes are communal entities, created by the society in which they are spoken, written, or shown.

  • Like language, they work only when the community knows and understands what is left unstated (“held in the mind”).

  • In this same vein, Enthymemes can fail if the receivers do not make the connection.

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  • The more you work with Enthymemes, the more they become obvious and clear.

  • And addictive.

  • And annoying.

  • (at least to those who hear you mumble “okay, that’s the minor premise and there’s the conclusion, so the major premise must be…”)

  • Wow. We’ve covered a lot thus far.

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  • Let’s do a quick review: obvious and clear.

  • 1. I’m dead.

  • (nothing new there)

  • 2. Syllogisms contain a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion, the most common type being categorical.

  • 3. Enthymemes are “truncated syllogisms” since one premise is “held in the mind” of the audience.

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  • And… obvious and clear.

  • 4. There are two types of Enthymemes: demonstrative and refutative.

  • 5. Enthymemes are based on four types of facts: probabilities, examples, infallible signs, and ordinary signs.

  • 6. Enthymemes function in communities of rhetors that share similar knowledge.

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  • Having fun yet? obvious and clear.

  • I am.

  • (can’t you tell from my smile??)

  • In my time, Enthymemes were mainly used in the rhetoric (spoken word) of the day. Since this is the 21st century, I thought it might be fun to see if we could identify Enthymemes in that curious thing you call advertising. Let’s begin with some propaganda posters from WW I and WW II.

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  • Premise: obvious and clear. “Lend them [the soldiers] a hand.”

  • Premise: “Buy war bonds.”

  • Conclusion (unstated): You can do your part and help fight in the war by buying war bonds.

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  • Premise (unstated): obvious and clear. Non-unified armies fail.

  • Premise: Together we [the branches of armed forces] win.

  • Conclusion: We stand together (represented visually).

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  • Premise (unstated): obvious and clear. Wasting fuel supports the enemy.

  • Premise: “When you ride ALONE you ride with Hitler [which wastes fuel that could be used by American troops battling Hitler].

  • Conclusion: Joining a Car-Sharing Club conserves fuel and supports the American troops.

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  • Premise: obvious and clear. If Germany wins the war, religious freedom will disappear.

  • Premise: War Bonds help in the war effort.

  • Conclusion (unstated): Buying war bonds saves religious freedom.

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  • Are you beginning to see how the interpretation of visual and verbal symbols is crucial to seeing the logic of the advertisement?

  • Interpretation is key. Likewise, one may interpret the premises slightly differently and still end up with the same overall conclusion. That’s the power of symbols!

  • Let’s now look at some current ads…

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  • Premise: visual and verbal symbols is crucial to seeing the logic of the advertisement? Cubist paintings are classic.

  • Premise: This Cubist image utilizes Reeboks.

  • Conclusion (unstated): Reeboks are classic shoes.

  • (or wearing them makes you feel like a classy individual, or that you have class, depending upon interpretation)

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  • Premise: visual and verbal symbols is crucial to seeing the logic of the advertisement? In a crisis, sometimes people “have to take matters into your [their] own hands.”

  • Premise: Those in a crisis “grab new body-heat activated Degree Gel.”

  • Conclusion (unstated): Degree Gel keeps you calm in moments of crisis.

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  • Premise (unstated): visual and verbal symbols is crucial to seeing the logic of the advertisement? America needs new leadership.

  • Premise: “Help is on the way.”

  • Conclusion: John Kerry will be that help [in the form of new leadership].

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  • Because television commercials are not print discourse, our conception will be slightly more interpretive:

  • Premise: Jake B. was a victim of identity theft.

  • Premise: Citibank protects their card holders from identity theft with Citi Identity Theft Solutions.

  • Conclusion (unstated): Using Citibank credit cards and you won’t be a victim of identity theft, like Jake B.

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  • So we’ve come to the end of our video. What have you learned?

  • Do you now see how enthymemes are used in venues other than traditional speech, argumentation and logic?

  • Do you now understand how they function?

  • Are you now able to see enthymemes in the most common of places?

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  • If you walk away from this video and remember only one thing, this should be it:


  • Knowing how enthymemes work in advertising allows viewers to better understand the role persuasion plays in politics, advertising, history, speech acts, visual communication, and other common discourse arenas.

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  • The End. something now (that’s what we philosophers do).

  • Cast (In Order of Appearance)

  • Aristotle appeared as himself

  • Ann Gill appeared as herself

  • Socrates appeared as himself

  • Print Advertisements

  • Degree Gel

  • Sen. John Kerry

  • Reebok

  • Commercials

  • Citibank

  • BMW

  • Penguin Trainer

  • Alec R. Hosterman

  • All Other Images Donated by

  • Our friends on

  • Equipment Provided by

  • Apple Computers

  • Microsoft Corporation

  • And now the…

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  • References something now (that’s what we philosophers do).

  • Aristotle. (1991). On rhetoric: A theory of civic discourse (G. A. Kennedy, Trans.). New York: Oxford University.

  • Gill, A. (1994). Rhetoric and human understanding. Prospect Heights: Waveland.

  • The producer / director / writer would like to thank his wife Heather, his mother-in-law Sharron, and Microsoft for their help in catching typos, as well as Dr. Rice for his suggestions and technological expertise.

  • No animals or Greek statues were harmed in the making of this movie.

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  • Epilogue something now (that’s what we philosophers do).

  • Due to the success of his treatises and university, Aristotle hasn’t been seen since filming ended in mid July. He released this statement through his agent: “I must think.” No word on the topic.

  • Socrates still drank the hemlock.

  • Advertising is still around.

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