Domestic Encyclopædia (1802)/Argument
ARGUMENT, when applied to logic, signifies an inference drawn from premises, the truth of which is either indisputable, or highly probable. In matters of literature, it denotes the abridgement, or heads, of a book, history, chapter, &c. Considered in the former sense, in which it solely relates to reason, and to the investigation of truth, it is, in its principles, of a simple and homogeneous nature; and requires no particular explanation. For, pleasure being the chief end of poetry, and persuasion that of eloquence, the real constitution of things is often perverted, or disguised, and compelled to adapt itself to the imagination and the passions; but truth, being the ultimate object of argument, stands in need of no dazzling colours, or the figurative language of rhetoric.
It is not, however, unusual (both in private life and in the senate) to draw from an argument, a conclusion very different from what it really implies. Cunning and bold disputants frequently avail themselves of ambiguous expressions, which easily engender a confusion or ideas; and thus the fallacy of their incongruous reasoning but too often escapes detection, as it remains involved in sophistical perplexity.—For a farther consideration of this interesting subject, we refer our readers to the article of Logic, where it will be more applicable than under the present.