invention inventio heuresis
The five canons: invention  |  arrangement  |  style  |  memory  |  delivery

Invention concerns finding something to say (its name derives from the Latin invenire, "to find."). Certain common categories of thought became conventional to use in order to brainstorm for material. These common places (places = topoi in Greek) are called the "topics of invention." They include, for example, cause and effect, comparison, and various relationships.

Invention is tied to the rhetorical appeal of logos, being oriented to what an author would say rather than how this might be said. Invention describes the argumentative, persusive core of rhetoric. Aristotle, in fact, defines rhetoric primarily as invention, "discovering the best available means of persuasion." An important procedure that formed part of this finding process was stasis.

Sample Rhetorical Analysis: INVENTION
In describing the state of humanity, Blaise Pascal aphoristically states
We desire truth, and find within ourselves only uncertainty. We seek happiness, and find only misery and death. We cannot but desire truth and happiness, and are incapable of certainty or happiness.
In these nicely parallel claims, Pascal follows a similar pattern of development based on the identification of an antecedent and its inevitable consequence. [antecedent/consequence is a common topic of invention]. We must ask ourselves, Are these the necessary antecdents to the stated consequences? Does his concision betray a larger complexity? Aren't these consequences the causes themselves for pursuing what he refers to as antecedents?

Related Figures

See Also

Sources: Cic. De Inv. passim

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Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
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