2011 David Hirsch Speech at National Archives II (video).
2010 Virtual Book Signing (at Abraham Lincoln Book Shop). December 10 (Part 1) December 10 (Part 2) December 10 (Part 3) December 10 (Part 4)
"This is the first book to systematically analyze the structure and craft of Lincoln's speech-making." -Harvard University Professor John Stauffer ("…[O]ne of the most stunningly original works on Abraham Lincoln to appear in years…")
For the first time anywhere, we tell the story of Lincoln's mastery of persuasive logic, transferring the structure of Euclidean geometric proof to speech. Historians long speculated about what made Abraham Lincoln great. How did Lincoln create his iron logic, his compelling reason, his convincing oratory, and his memorable writing? Some point to Lincoln’s study of grammar, literature, and poetry. Others believe it was the deep national crisis that elevated Lincoln’s oratory. Most agree that he honed his persuasive technique in his work as an Illinois attorney. But previous studies hardly advance beyond the superficial.
Authors Hirsch and Van Haften persuasively argue, for the first time, that it was Lincoln’s in-depth study of geometry that gave our sixteenth president his verbal structure. Although Lincoln’s fascination with geometry is well documented, most historians concluded that Lincolns study of geometry was little more than mental calisthenics. In fact Lincoln embedded the ancient structure of geometric proof into the Gettysburg Address, the Cooper Union speech, the First and Second Inaugurals, his legal practice, and much of his substantive post-1853 communication.
Modern science can be traced back to Greek geometric method. But rhetoric, which morphed into speech and then into communications, barely advanced since Aristotle. Lincoln’s structure emancipates speech from Aristotle and unleashes limitless possibilities. For over 150 years, Lincoln's use of geometric method in rhetoric and writing was a secret hiding in plain sight. Virtually any literate person can organize speech according to Lincoln's iron logic.
Among other things, the book demonstrates the real importance of the Cooper Union speech (which helped make Lincoln president), offers a startling revelation about the Declaration of Independence that connects Lincoln to Thomas Jefferson more closely previously realized, and shows how the structure of the legal system played an even more important role in Lincoln’s greatness than previously realized.
Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason, opens new vistas for scholarly understanding and human advancement. Suddenly the so called soft sciences can benefit from the method of hard science. The scientific method is not just for science.
Purchase Structure of Reason books.
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