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The Elements of a Proposition


2011 David Hirsch Speech at National Archives II (video).

2010 Virtual Book Signing™ at the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop (video).
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The Elements of a Proposition,
A Story of Logically Persuasive
 Structure

How to Logically Structure and Credibly Demonstrate

The six elements are simple to express:[1] They were nearly lost in the dust bin of history. Euclid used the six elements of a proposition to prove geometric propositions (though, as far as is known, Euclid did not explicitly described the technique). It his also how Lincoln, starting in 1854, tried cases and gave speeches. He too did not directly explain how his speeches mean. Lincoln's words did the speaking—with ancient structure just beneath the surface. Thomas Jefferson also studied Euclid. Geometric logic is rock solid beauty, iron logic. It exudes honesty and fosters credibility. Once internalized, it eliminates writer's block and facilitates quicker, naturally beautiful, composition 

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

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

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

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

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

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


[1] 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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