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02 Elements

“I do not seek applause, nor to amuse the people, I want to convince them.” —Abraham Lincoln

Advance Praise for The Tyranny of Public Discourse:

"I knew for sure the six elements of a proposition really worked when I started receiving student writing assignments. Not every student was at the same sophistication level, but each had significantly improved persuasive writing skills. Writing a six element proposition takes away the 'I feel' and focuses on the 'I know.'"
       —Jon Parrott, High School U.S. History Teacher, Urbandale, Iowa

In an 1860 autobiography, Abraham Lincoln referred to himself in the second person:

"What he has in the way of education, he has picked up. After he was twentythree, and had separated from his father, he studied English grammar, imperfectly of course, but so as to speak and write as well as he now does. He studied and nearly mastered the [first] Six-books of Euclid, since he was a member of Congress. He regrets his want of education, and does what he can to supply the want."1

1Abraham Lincoln, “Autobiography Written for John L. Scripps, June, 1860,” The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Basler, Roy P., ed., (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 4:62.

2017 David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften AUTHOR'S VOICE® The Ultimate Guide to the Gettysburg Address

2016 Dan Van Haften seven minute interview on Public Radio.

2010 Virtual Book Signing™ at the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop (video).

The Elements of a Proposition,
A Story of Logically Persuasive

How to Logically Structure and Credibly Demonstrate

Euclid used the six elements of a proposition to prove geometric propositions (see citation to Proclus at bottom of page). As far as is known, Euclid did not explicitly describe the persuasive structure he used for his proofs. But Proclus did. Proclus defined the elements and demarcated Euclid's Proposition One.

After studying Euclid, Abraham Lincoln used the same structure in speeches and writings. Lincoln too did not directly explain the structure he used from 1854 on. The Lincoln documents that demarcate are the best evidence.

Thomas Jefferson studied Euclid, and he too used the same persuasive structure. Jefferson gave strong hints, but did not directly reveal the structure he used. The Jefferson documents that demarcate are the best evidence.

Properly used, the six elements of a proposition embed persuasion within a careful factual foundation that precisely winds around logic that becomes iron. Honesty and credibility appear evident.

Once the six elements are internalized, writer's block tends to disappear. Naturally beautiful, persuasive communication results.

Color is added to the Proclus preserved element definitions by Hirsch and Van Haften:

Earth tone is factual foundation. Green is logical direction. Red is argument.

1. Enunciation: “The enunciation states what is given and what is being sought from it.”

2. Exposition: “The exposition takes separately what is given and prepares it in advance for use in the investigation.”

3. Specification: “The specification takes separately the thing that is sought and makes clear precisely what it is.”

4. Construction: “The construction adds what is lacking in the given for finding what is sought.”

5. Proof: “The proof draws the proposed inference by reasoning scientifically from the propositions that have been admitted.”

6. Conclusion: “The conclusion reverts to the enunciation, confirming what has been proved.”

Proclus, A Commentary on the First Book of Euclid’s Elements, Translated, with Introduction and Notes, by Glenn R. Morrow [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970], 159.

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