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Writing The Rhetorical Device Aporia - Not Deciding Is Not Wishy Washy!

By Expert Author: Benjamin Brown

The Greeks called this Aporia.
Sometimes writers and speakers want to express their current view of an issue without a final commitment on their position. They express doubt about an idea or conclusion. This device is a useful way to present alternatives without making a commitment to either or any:
I am not sure whether to side with those who say increased immigration will hurt the native born, or with those who say that more workers will increase demand and employment.
I wonder about the value of dress codes, because I value both the students' growth in decision making, and also the need fordecorum and respectabilty in our students' dress.
This device is useful as a means to three ends:
It can help the writer to dismiss assertions that are irrelevant to the discussion without either conceding or denying the assertion.
It can put off a piece of discussion you do not have time to pursue,
It could begin treatment of the issue, and lead to a conclusion which resolves the doubt.
I do not know whether this measure will work all the miracles promised by its adherents, but it does seem to merit more thought.
I am not sure about the other reasons offered in favor of the new courthouse, but I am willing to be convinced.
Yes, I know you insist on saying that the valve can be opened. I do not know what to say about that. I could not open it.
You can use aporia to cast doubt in a modest way, as a kind of understatement:
I am not so sure I can accept Pete's reasons for wanting another new car.
I have not yet been fully convinced that driving is better than public transportation. For one thing, there is the issue of parking.
A skillful writer can use this device to express an ironic doubt about several closely judgable things:
Whether he was better at convincing the simple to invest in his projects, or at impressing young women, or in producing light, superficial best sellers, I can't decide.
Who enjoyed the summer afternoon most? Old Mr. Jones on his porch, or John and Grace holding hands and talking sweet talk under the oak tree, or Grace's mother watching them through her window? I don't know.
And you can display ignorance about something while still showing your attitude toward it or toward something else:
I am ignorant of what is better for you whole milk or 2% milk.
I have often wondered why my kids don't realize that those same sneakers are available for half the price under a different label.
Remember the Greeks called this Aporia.

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