• Fooloso4
    1.1k
    I have introduced a new principle though: a truly rhetorical question must lead to a single robust conclusion, and that must agree with the speaker's expectation.Serving Zion

    Why must a truly rhetorical question must lead to a single robust conclusion? Is this a rhetorical question? What is the apodictic connection between a truly rhetorical question and the questioner's expectation? It may be that the "single robust conclusion" one who is asked the question might reach is that the questioner is misguided, and it is likely that this will not agree with the questioner's expectation.

    But I still need to be sure that what I think is right, in fact is right. So far I do not see that there is a case where a rhetorical question is not, in truth, strictly a misuse of language for dramatic effect (iow, "slang").Serving Zion

    In Genesis 3 God asks Adam and Eve a series of questions: “Where are you?”, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”, “What is this you have done?” (3:9-13)

    Are these rhetorical questions, iow, "slang"? Was God misusing language? Was God ignorant of where they are and what they did? Note their responses do not lead to a single robust conclusion.

    I am a person who, when I discover that others are wrong, I seek out what is right and then I cling to it and I share that knowledge with others. So that is what I am here to do, with regards to a finding I have, that people seem to assume a rhetorical question is not allowed to be challenged.Serving Zion

    Seeking out what is right and knowing what is right are not the same. What you cling to may not be right even though such doubt may compel you to cling to it even more. Is it possible a well phrased rhetorical question will help loosen your grip? Or is that the thing you want most to guard against?
  • Serving Zion
    163
    Nice to meet you, thanks for your contributions!
    Why must a truly rhetorical question must lead to a single robust conclusion?Fooloso4
    Did you read the background to that observation? It shows that a rhetorical question is only effective if the answer to the question supports the speaker's point. In order for a rhetorical question to be effective, any valid answer given to the question must be consistent with the single conclusion that the speaker is drawing by putting the question in the given context. Therefore, it is robust.
    Is this a rhetorical question?Fooloso4
    It is too early for me to know. I think that my answer to it has a potential to challenge the "single robust conclusion" that you were expecting to find, that is "it doesn't" (which is yet possible, if you can lead me to see it).
    What is the apodictic connection between a truly rhetorical question and the questioner's expectation? It may be that the "single robust conclusion" one who is asked the question might reach is that the questioner is misguided, and it is likely that this will not agree with the questioner's expectation.Fooloso4
    Hmmm, it looks to me that you have answered the question. If a hearer doesn't agree that the speaker's conclusion is necessarily true for the question, then the speaker's point has become discredited. Therefore it fails to be a robust statement, and is a failure in communication so far as a speaker's objective is to effectively convey knowledge.

    In Genesis 3 God asks Adam and Eve a series of questions: “Where are you?”, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”, “What is this you have done?” (3:9-13)

    Are these rhetorical questions, iow, "slang"?
    Fooloso4
    Yes, they appear to be rhetorical questions. I have already conceded that rhetorical questions are not slang, and are in fact valid constructs of language (albeit, they do carry risk by inviting a reply, even if they might ultimately be found robust after investigation).
    Was God misusing language?Fooloso4
    Not at all. In fact, a rhetorical question is not a misuse of language at all, because even if the answer is given, it produces the intended statement:

    a well-presented rhetorical question can have more impact than a plain statementServing Zion

    I am looking for an argument though, that says I am wrong to say invalid rhetoric questions (whereby the conclusion is not necessarily true) are invalid language. (An example was given by Charlie Brown earlier).

    Was God ignorant of where they are and what they did?
    Fooloso4
    No, and the purpose appears to be bringing conviction to them for their ignorance of those things.
    Note their responses do not lead to a single robust conclusion.Fooloso4
    It is true to say that they might have given any number of answers, but it also is true to say that there was a single robust conclusion regardless of the answer they might give:

    "I do not want to be with you", "yes, there is someone else being to me who you ought to be", "I have done what you said to not do", "I have sinned against you". In that single robust conclusion is the judgement that vindicate the speaker in the hearer's view, and that perpetuates his authority to speak over the hearer, by mutual agreement.
    Seeking out what is right and knowing what is right are not the same. What you cling to may not be right even though such doubt may compel you to cling to it even more. Is it possible a well phrased rhetorical question will help loosen your grip? Or is that the thing you want most to guard against?Fooloso4
    I would advise to not take such a calculated approach, rather in humble service, allow the truth to manifest by purely honest discussion. James has observed that the "earthly, sensual, demonic wisdom is selfish and full of jealousy, but the wisdom that is from above is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, impartial, not hypocritical". But yeah, you can see an evolution of thought through this thread that demonstrates a tendency to cut loose the wrong when the right comes to light.

    Thanks for asking!
  • fresco
    567
    On 'the committee nature of self'

    "Man has no individual i. But there are, instead, hundreds and thousands of separate small "i"s, very often entirely unknown to one another, never coming into contact, or, on the contrary, hostile to each other, mutually exclusive and incompatible. Each minute, each moment, man is saying or thinking, "i". And each time his i is different. just now it was a thought, now it is a desire, now a sensation, now another thought, and so on, endlessly. Man is a plurality. Man's name is legion.”
    G.I.Gurdlieff.

    Gurdjieff goes on to say that at any time, one of the dominant "i"s acts as 'chairman' to regulate the unruly members. It may be that all verbalization, not just rhetorical questions, are being monitored and modified by the committee. The actual 'receiver' of the verbalization may have little to do with that imagined by 'the committee', and then there is also the reception committee to contend with !

    So much for any 'rules of communication' !
  • Serving Zion
    163
    Thanks for the clarification. A sad truth that is, (while it is). There is potential for unity though, if men are loving the truth enough. When truth is #1, we accept convictions and corrections joyfully, and we do not ridicule others when it comes to them. You will no doubt be familiar though with the rhetoric "narrow is the path leading to life, and few go that way".
  • Amity
    950
    I don't believe I was wrong to assume so. It was the obvious explanation for why you would object to the action of referencing rather than asking for an explanation.Serving Zion

    You only see what you want to see. I did look up the reference. I did ask for an explanation as to context.
    However, this you could not, or were unwilling to, provide. You are engaging in a dishonest manner.
    Here it is again:
    Referencing scripture as a response - how helpful is that ? Sounds somewhat preachy...
    ...So - are you saying you can't remember the point ?

    But while I could remember the details of the conversation yesterday, today it has slipped my mind. I just trust that if it becomes necessary to explain, those details will come back to me, because it is certainly in there but there seems to be something blocking it :)
    — Serving Zion

    While it is not necessary to explain, it might help to put your question in context.
    What were the differences between you in 'handling the scripture as intended
    ' ?
    Amity

    I do understand the internal pressures that impede us from going where others desire to lead us. I have years of experience in these matters. Even when I provide links, there are some people who, being prejudiced against the value of scripture, will simply not click it.Serving Zion

    Yes. I can believe that you have years of experience in desiring to lead people to see the value of scripture. And that they might resist for reasons of their own. Not necessarily because of 'internal pressures' whatever you think they are, and they are not always 'regrettable'. Perhaps only regrettable to you because you can't move them to your way of thinking, or looking at the world.

    So it equips me with experience to understand how such behaviours, regrettable though they may be, in fact can and do occur.Serving Zion

    I had/have no such block.

    Speculative reasoning. Let me know if you need more information to help with that.Serving Zion

    I am fine with that.

    You have a predisposition to oppose the use of scripture, because you think it is "preachy" and that appears to be a despicable practice in your opinion.Serving Zion

    Nope. Again, wrong assumptions leading you to a false judgement, or conclusion.
    I don't oppose the use of scripture at all. It depends on how it is being used. I suggested that the way you used it sounded somewhat preachy. Not despicable.

    preachy - adjective
    INFORMAL
    having or showing a tendency to give moral advice in a tedious or self-righteous way.
    "his patriotic pictures had a preachy tone"

    synonyms:moralistic, moralizing, sanctimonious, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, priggish, sententious, pietistic, didactic, dogmatic;
    — Oxford online dictionary

    It is easy to find Isaiah 1:18 or any scriptural reference. Not so easy to see the relevance here.
    — Amity
    Alright. Well, as I said, make of it what you will. I had remembered that scripture because it shows God invites reasoning and that is contrary to the spirit that produces views such as what I was addressing on Sunday, and that interprets questions as having rhetorical value without first answering the question. I thought you might rather benefit by that perspective.
    Serving Zion

    Thanks for the explanation of why you referenced the passage below. Its relevance to the question of 'rhetorical questions' is still not clear to me. But perhaps you had to have been there - when you were addressing the views held by others. Hopefully it is the case that your role is that of a careful teacher not a self-righteous, dogmatic preacher ?

    Isaiah 1:18 New International Version (NIV)

    18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
        says the Lord.
    “Though your sins are like scarlet,
        they shall be as white as snow;
    though they are red as crimson,
        they shall be like wool.
    NIV
  • Amity
    950
    ...Seeking out what is right and knowing what is right are not the same. What you cling to may not be right even though such doubt may compel you to cling to it even more. Is it possible a well phrased rhetorical question will help loosen your grip? Or is that the thing you want most to guard against?
    — Fooloso4

    I would advise to not take such a calculated approach, rather in humble service, allow the truth to manifest by purely honest discussion. James has observed that the "earthly, sensual, demonic wisdom is selfish and full of jealousy, but the wisdom that is from above is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, impartial, not hypocritical". But yeah, you can see an evolution of thought through this thread that demonstrates a tendency to cut loose the wrong when the right comes to light.
    Serving Zion

    Good points and questions raised by careful, experienced and informed philosopher @Fooloso4
    Pious response by dogmatic, dishonest-in-discussion preacher @Serving Zion

    Deja vu :smile:
  • Fooloso4
    1.1k
    Did you read the background to that observation?Serving Zion

    Yes, I did.

    It shows that a rhetorical question is only effective if the answer to the question supports the speaker's point.Serving Zion

    It shows that this is your contention. Nothing more.

    In order for a rhetorical question to be effective, any valid answer given to the question must be consistent with the single conclusion that the speaker is drawing by putting the question in the given context.Serving Zion

    The questioner may intend for it to lead to a particular conclusion but a questioner does not stand as the sole or final arbiter of what a valid answer to the question is. You may want to lead your interlocutor to a particular conclusion but it does not follow that a valid answer is the one that matches your own conclusion. Perhaps the given context is more problematic or complex than you think.

    I think that my answer to it has a potential to challenge the "single robust conclusion" that you were expecting to find, that is "it doesn't" (which is yet possible, if you can lead me to see it).Serving Zion

    If your answer is a potential challenge to what you imagine my expectations to be then your answer could not, by your standards, be valid. As it turns out, however, your inability to answer was exactly the answer I expected my question to lead to, which, of course, is not the same as saying it is the answer I expected you are any other particular person to draw. One way in which rhetorical questions are asked is to point to the problem of answers to it.

    Hmmm, it looks to me that you have answered the question. If a hearer doesn't agree that the speaker's conclusion is necessarily true for the question, then the speaker's point has become discredited.Serving Zion

    The speaker could be wrong or the interlocutor could be wrong or both could be wrong. If the speaker asks the question it does not follow that the speaker thereby provides a conclusion.

    Therefore it fails to be a robust statement ...Serving Zion

    It simply fails to meet the questioner's expectation. The problem may be with the question rather than the answer.

    ... and is a failure in communication so far as a speaker's objective is to effectively convey knowledge.Serving Zion

    It may be that the failure is that the questioner does not know what she assumes she does. Socratic irony is instructive here in that his interlocutors often fail to recognize it. It is not a failure to communicate since others may recognize it, but a failure on the part of the interlocutor to understand not only his but our lack of knowledge of such things.

    I have already conceded that rhetorical questions are not slang ...Serving Zion

    Good.

    ... a rhetorical question is not a misuse of language at allServing Zion

    So, you concede this as well.

    I am looking for an argument though, that says I am wrong to say invalid rhetoric questions (whereby the conclusion is not necessarily true) are invalid language.Serving Zion

    You seem to have not thought any of this through since you keep changing position. Let's look at Adam's response to God's first question:

    God asks: “Where are you?” to which he responds “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

    Adam's answer is not a "conclusion". It does not even answer the question. What he says is nevertheless true.

    How a question is answered does not determine the validity of the question or the language of the question. In addition, how a question is answered may far outstrip the intent of the questioner. How the question has been answered may lead to more questions. It is not simply a matter of correct or valid conclusions based on the initial question. The questioner may not see the implications of her question.

    Your assumption seems to be that what is at issue is the determination of correct answers, but perhaps priority should be given to philosophy as the art of questioning, of examination, of inquiry, of investigation.

    No, and the purpose appears to be bringing conviction to them for their ignorance of those things.Serving Zion

    Well, God intended for them to remain ignorant. They hid because they knew that they had done something wrong. Would they have known this if they had eaten of some other tree if God had decided that tree instead would be the one forbidden? God's questions challenge them in a way that would not have been possible before they gained knowledge.

    ... it produces the intended statementServing Zion

    Did it? God had already made his statement and their responses are evasive and intended to shift the blame to the serpent, to Eve, and to God himself.

    I would advise to not take such a calculated approach, rather in humble service, allow the truth to manifest by purely honest discussion.Serving Zion

    Humble service to who are what? God? The truth? It may be that "purely honest discussion" has led you to your conclusions but the truth is it has led others to very different conclusions. What I offer as honest discussion you dismiss as "calculated". It seems to me that you do not have any interest in open-ended philosophical inquiry but rather in attempting to lead others to believe as you do, and calling what you believe "the truth".
  • Serving Zion
    163
    OK, thanks for that explanation. FWIW, the NIV doesn't have the keywords that I was relying on "let us reason together". So perhaps that is where the whole deviation is rooted, and I will take on board to use links in future (as I said). I can't see any value in responding further, it's a derailment and off-topic to the thread. You could PM me if you have a personal grievance, more than happy to work that out in an appropriate place.
  • Serving Zion
    163
    Humble service to who are what? God? The truth?Fooloso4
    No, humble service to me!
    What I offer as honest discussion you dismiss as "calculated".Fooloso4
    No you read me wrong. You asked if a carefully constructed rhetorical question might help, to which I advised you to not be so calculative but rather let the truth manifest it's own conviction.

    OK, so leave the rest of your post with me to consider, and I will report back to let you know how it sinks in.
  • Amity
    950
    OK, thanks for that explanationServing Zion

    You are welcome.

    FWIW, the NIV doesn't have the keywords that I was relying on "let us reason together". So perhaps that is where the whole deviation is rooted, and I will take on board to use links in future (as I said). I can't see any value in responding further, it's a derailment and off-topic to the thread. You could PM me if you have a personal grievance, more than happy to work that out in an appropriate place.Serving Zion

    If you click on the blue link I labelled as 'NIV' - see below. It takes you to the biblegateway website which has a dropdown menu. You can choose which version is relevant and has your keywords. Which version do you use ?

    I don't think we are off topic if you are using this as contextual basis or reference for explaining your issue. However, you could be right in that there might be no further value in discussing this.
    There is no personal grievance and I won't PM you. It's more interesting here :smile:

    Isaiah 1:18 New International Version (NIV)

    18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
        says the Lord.
    “Though your sins are like scarlet,
        they shall be as white as snow;
    though they are red as crimson,
        they shall be like wool.
    NIV

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+1%3A18&version=NIV
  • Serving Zion
    163
    I would have chosen TLV (that's the one I read), or KJV or NASB. Still, this whole Isaiah 1:18 is quite off-topic though. The scripture was not given as being relevant to rhetorical questions, but with regard to the background of why I have brought this discussion forth.

    You had questioned whether I did say to the lady in passing, that "every question deserves an answer" or whether I had meant to make a point by saying it. I explained that both, I had said it in passing and that I was making a point by saying it, that when a person does what she did, she is not really doing the required reasoning to be persuasive toward me. It is typical of biblical people to be that way, who have a custom of idolizing scripture but not really understanding it's true value. It is too common, so as I typed the word "reasoning", I remembered Isaiah 1:18 and I thought it would be nice to show you that God does appreciate an opportunity to work through things.

    I am sorry that it grated you, I don't know how many rude bible thumpers have assaulted you with scripture in the past, but I know my own portion, how hurtful it can be. I hope this has explained my intention properly and that you might look back on what I have said as a friendly person to see that I have meant no harm.
  • Serving Zion
    163
    Amity, look what I have found! .. I owe you some answers!
    What did you think of the content regarding 'the rhetorical question' ? Did it lead to an improved understanding?Amity
    At first, it didn't seem to have anything particularly new for me, so I wasn't really compelled to comment on it. But as you can see, I did refer to the Charlie Brown example a few times, and that evolved into an understanding that some rhetorical questions in fact are not valid (because the speaker's expected conclusion contains an element of fallacy). So it is good that I can report to you now, that you may be encouraged to know that you have brought forth one of the most valuable facts I have at the present time.

    My contention has been rooted in the misuse of rhetorical questions, and when I began the thread, I didn't know that a rhetorical question needs to be incontrovertibly supportive of the speaker's loaded presupposition. Charlie Brown's rhetorical question clearly has a flaw in that sense, that in fact, Lucy might well be entitled and capable of saying what is right and wrong.

    So I liked that, because I know Lucy's character and in my cartoon imagination I saw how a 3 year old girl, Lucy, might say that with such innocence that confounds Charlie Brown!

    As for the rest of your post, I also wish to apologise double for having not thanked you for your contribution sooner. I can see that you really are a thoughtful, kind person, you did good work to gather the pieces that you brought to me, and you are motivated by a genuine love in doing so (Matthew 7:12). So it truly is regrettable that I failed to grasp that sooner, and that I didn't see the warning signs of this very thing in your words, and that we subsequently were severed and grappling for reconciliation.

    I might have spoken differently to avoid such conflict if I had been a bit wiser, so I am grateful that you are who you are, and that despite finding that you are sometimes not appreciated fairly, still you have not held back from bringing your firstfruits.
  • Coben
    1.1k
    The risk of a poorly formed (ie: fake) rhetorical question, is that the hearer who does not arrive at the same conclusion as the speaker, is compelled (and entitled) to interject and detract from the speaker's statement (and, subsequent authority to speak).
    — Serving Zion
    I still don't understand the threat of rhetorical questions. I see you citing the NT above. The Bible uses metaphorical language, which also can lead to confusion. And Jesus even uses rhetorical questions:

    In Mark 8:17-18, Jesus asked his followers: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?"

    As Jesus joined questions together without giving pause for an answer, his listeners were rendered thoughtfully speechless.

    This technique can be used effectively in discussion groups to powerfully reinforce a point.
    Someone could have jumped in and interrupted, thinking Jesus wanted an answer to these questions.

    I still don't see what the risk is. It is assumed, it seems to me, in this thread, that since someone might misunderstand a rhetorical question and take it as a real one, we should never use rhetorical questions. But the same thing could be said for analogies - which are also in the Bible - and metaphors which could lead to confusions and people interrupting to challenge what they are taking as literal. Language use always risks some confusion. But we seem to have decided that rhetorical tools and tropes give us more options and we want that. Not all of us, but most of us. Those who don't like rhetorical questions can of course refrain from using them and get upset when they feel mislead by them. But unless they rarely communicate, they are themselves also risking miscommunication on many occasions, when they communicate.

    I think we can deal with these moments of confusion, when a rhetorical question is not being used well or an audience member mis-classifies it as a direct question. The confusion will be worked out. The only problem would come in if people were not forgiving about these small moments of confusion, which are the inevitable product of language use.

    Which one of you, when his son asks for a fish, will give him a stone?”
    He's not expecting any of them to say 'I would'. I think that's a good idea.

    If salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?
  • Serving Zion
    163
    Thank you Coben. Those examples are something new for me. In reading them, I don't know whether it is possible to make the point that He makes by them, without the use of questions, or rather, that by forming them as questions, He invites the hearer to respond and to which their response would be shameful. So they were silent, because they could not produce an answer that would justify them (to gain the lead in the conversation).

    Conversely, if He had made the statement "You discuss that you have no bread because you are doubting God" or "You still don't see it and you don't understand", "Your hearts are hardened", "You have eyes, but you don't see, and you have ears but you don't hear", "you do not remember" .. all these statements are plainly stating their failures, which is hard criticism, and offers no constructive value. So there is an element of grace in the use of rhetorical questions this time. By asking why, it takes the focus off their failure and puts it toward the cause of their failure, which facilitates an understanding of how they might be more successful. That could have been achieved by teaching with direct statements, but in so doing there is a risk of offending or frightening them, and losing their admiration. That's interesting!

    So anyway, to be clear, I'm not against rhetorical questions and I might have inadvertently planted that idea by having said that rhetorical questions are breaking a fundamental principle of language - that is, to use a question as a statement rather than a question. But as it turns out, that a rhetorical question is only effective when the answer to it is acknowledged as being supportive of the point of the statement, so in that way, a hearer is in fact being asked to answer the question even if the only value of the question is not for the speaker's benefit of receiving the answer - but that the speaker receives the confidence of the hearer who has acknowledged that the speaker has subjected his point to the hearer's scrutiny and has been approved by it.

    So then, rhetorical questions do have an element of risk because they do invite a hearer to respond, even if it be a silent acknowledgement.

    In this post, I identified three main risks of a rhetorical question, and the risks only exist if the speaker's presupposition is fallacious (IOW, if what they are suggesting is necessarily true, is in fact, not necessarily true).

    • the hearer might correct the speaker by answering so as to show the speaker's fallacy
    • the hearer might choose to not correct the speaker, but begin to regard the speaker as a person who is wrong
    • the hearer might not perceive that the speaker is wrong, and thus follow the speaker into a fallacious way of thinking

    There is another risk to rhetorical questions, that exists even when it is robust: that they might produce a disruption to the conversation if the hearer mistakenly believes that they would benefit by rebutting.

    For an example, the disciples might have answered "we discuss that we have no bread because there is no bread. Simple as that", and as you can see, that they would have quickly found that to be an embarrassing answer in light of the facts that Jesus could produce that they ought rather to have every good reason to trust. So they dared not say it.

    But these days are a bit different, for a number of reasons, and as I explained in this post regarding an example from James, sometimes we might wrestle with what the speaker is saying (because we do not see that the speaker is present to defend his position, and it empowers us to become the defendant and the judge). I think that is why there is so much of the problems I find amongst book-idolising people, it is essentially an intellectual dishonesty that prevents them from wrestling with the speaker for fear that they would lose their salvation by choosing to wrestle Him - and of course, that is to believe in quite a different character than the one who says "come now, let us reason together".

    So that's some new, interesting stuff for me. I hope this has helped to explain too, the things I have said.
  • Coben
    1.1k
    A few more examples:
    Isaiah 44:19 where he says:

    "Shall I bow down to a block of wood?"


    In Romans 6:1, Paul asks:

    "Shall we sin to our heart's content and see how far we can exploit the grace of God?"

    In Genesis 39:9 the question Joseph asked Potiphar’s wife is rhetorical, intended to express the horror of sinning against God. Joseph says, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” This is not a question asking for information. Joseph is speaking to Potiphar’s wife, who is tempting him to commit adultery with her. He is saying, “I most certainly will not do such a great wickedness and sin against God!”

    Mark 3:23 says, “How can Satan cast out Satan?” This is the rhetorical question which means “Satan certainly does not cast his own demons out!”


    Matthew 7:3 reads, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” This is using a rhetorical question to say, “You should judge your own greater faults before you judge your brother’s minor faults.”

    Some rhetorical questions are used to indicate a command or exhortation. For example, Mark 14:6 says, “Why trouble ye her?” This is a way of saying, “Stop troubling her!” Romans 14:10 says, “Why dost thou set at nought thy brother?” This is a way of using a rhetorical question to say, “You should not set at nought your brother!”

    Sometimes rhetorical questions are used to indicate the start of a new subject or to introduce some new aspect about the same subject. For example, Matthew 11;16 says, “But whereunto shall I liken this generation?” This is a way of saying, “I will tell you what this generation is like” (and then going on to say what it is like). Another example is Matthew 12:48 where Jesus says, “Who is my mother? And who are my brethren?” These rhetorical questions mean, “I will tell you who my mother is and who my brethren are.” (Then he tells them who they are). John 13:12 reads, “Know ye what I have done to you?” This is a rhetorical question meaning, “I will tell you the meaning of what I have done to you.” In Mark 13:2 Jesus says, “Seest thou these great buildings?” Jesus is using a rhetorical question to say, “I will tell you something about the great buildings you are seeing.” In Matthew 11:7 Jesus says, “What went ye out into the wilderness to see?” (This was spoken about John the Baptist.) This rhetorical question means, “I will tell you about this person you went into the wilderness to see.”

    Rhetorical questions are often used to prohibit an action. We read in I Corinthians 6:16, “What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body?” In this verse, the rhetorical question is used to condemn an action and prohibit it from taking place. Paul says in I Corinthians 3:5, “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed?” Paul is using a rhetorical question to belittle and prohibit the factious attitude of putting one servant of God above another. In Matthew 3:14 we read, “But John forbade him saying, “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?” John is using a rhetorical question to show a polite disapproval but not an absolute refusal to do what the Lord wanted him to do. Mark 4:41 says, “And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Here the rhetorical question is possibly used to show surprise and astonishment, but it could also be a real question.

    Luke 11:12 reads, “Or if he shall ask as egg, will he offer him a scorpion?”

    Luke 16:11 says, “If therefore ye have not been faithful…who will commit to your trust the true riches?” This rhetorical question means, “If you have not been faithful, no one will commit the true riches to your trust!”

    I got these primarily from two sources....

    https://blog.logos.com/2016/10/quickly-find-every-rhetorical-question-bible/
    https://michaeljeshurun.wordpress.com/tag/rhetorical-questions-in-the-bible/
    this second one is especially good since it categorises the different uses of rhetorical questions. IOW it catologues the benefits. And there are many benefits to this rhetorical device. So, one can then weigh the benefits against possible problems. It seems to me the writers of the Bible have implicitly come down on the side saying that the benefits outweigh the problems.
  • Serving Zion
    163
    OK, foolso4, I perceive that our conversation cannot be constructive as long as you are viewing me the way that you do. You have thought wrongly of me, and that has caused you to treat me wrongly, so that you are not giving me the fair regard that I deserve.

    In evidence of this, I can show you
    What I offer as honest discussion you dismiss as "calculated".Fooloso4

    .. which is based upon my having advised that you not take such a calculated approach as you were intending to do, as an effort to try and change me. I said that you should just let truth manifest through your humble service [to me].

    How did you come to view me as having criticised your honest discussion when that is not what I did?

    You seem to have not thought any of this through since you keep changing position.Fooloso4

    .. and this shows that you are personally hating me when you shouldn't be. I am here to learn, as I said in the OP. Which means, intrinsically, that I am expecting to find reasons to change my position!

    In your last paragraph of this post, you suggest that in order to "find and know" the truth, I should be ready to let go of some of the beliefs I cling to, and now that you have found evidence that I am doing just that, you have turned it into a negative thing by saying that I "keep changing my position".

    So, as far as I can see, you are fixated on addressing me in a negative light, only looking for opportunities to complain against me, and that is incapable of producing constructive conversation.

    For your comments on the fall in the Genesis account, I do not wish to discuss that theology in this thread, but I have given some facts in this post that I think you should consider. My theological views of the fall do not support some of the points you have raised here.
  • Serving Zion
    163
    Wonderful resources! Thank you :)

    Yes, rhetorical questions really invoke thought. I think the best knowledge is discovered that way, as you can see the comparative shallowness of a plain statement compared to a richness of a wealth of possible statements coming in a moment, in response to a question.

    This is one of my favourites:

    In Romans 8:31 it says, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” We can supply the answer: “No one!”

    Where people would make the mistake of thinking "No one can be against us, if God is for us", well, doesn't Jesus directly contradict that by saying "if the world hates you, remember that it hated me first"? Of course He does, so that is actually a really good example (though being a different one), that goes to show what gave rise to my objection. It is people who misuse rhetorical questions in that way, that create confusion and anti-knowledge, and (@Amity, look:) that is exactly the same type of lack of creativity and error that I was objecting to on Sunday. But it stayed with me. Inside of me, there was some battle going on, trying to reconcile this discrepancy. Of course, the more proper answer is "If God is for us, then anyone who is against us must also be against God" - similarly stated by Jesus "anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me, it is not me that they receive, but the one who sent me" .. or "when they persecute you and drive you out of their synagogues, even when they put you to death thinking they are doing a service to God, they do these things to you because they have not known me, nor do they know the one who sent me".
  • Amity
    950
    I got these primarily from two sources....

    https://blog.logos.com/2016/10/quickly-find-every-rhetorical-question-bible/
    https://michaeljeshurun.wordpress.com/tag/rhetorical-questions-in-the-bible/
    this second one is especially good since it categorises the different uses of rhetorical questions. IOW it catologues the benefits. And there are many benefits to this rhetorical device. So, one can then weigh the benefits against possible problems. It seems to me the writers of the Bible have implicitly come down on the side saying that the benefits outweigh the problems.
    Coben

    Excellent find.

    From the second resource - it shows how to adjust the rhetorical questions to enable an engagement 'in the way intended'.
    The author of the article is Charles V. Turner. The aim seems to be to that of a missionary. Bringing the Word of God to other cultures.

    Because other cultures are different from biblical culture, they may use rhetorical questions in ways that are different from the ways used in New Testament. We will need to know what the function of a question is in a particular verse, and we will need to know how this meaning can be translated into the ethnic language. If a question in the Bible is consistently misunderstood in an ethnic language where the people use rhetorical questions only to ridicule or emphasize the negative aspects of an action, some adjustments may be necessary.

    There are at least three possible ways to adjust rhetorical questions to make them understand in the way intended.
    [ my bolds ]

    1.Change the question into a statement.
    2.Change negative questions to positive ones.
    3. Supply an answer to the question.

    Examples of the third way:

    In Romans 8:31 it says, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” We can supply the answer: “No one!”

    In 2 Corinthians 6:15 it says, “And what concord hath Christ with Belial?” We can supply the answer: “None at all!”

    In Mark 8:37 it says, “Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Because this verse is often taken to mean that a man can give something in exchange for his soul, an answer to the question may be given, “He can’t give anything in exchange for his soul!”

    However, this sounds prescriptive and evangelically dogmatic.
    How people engage with this should be up to the individual and their beliefs.
    The difference being in critical and creative faculties. Not to mention philosophical outlook. I think the third way has potential to debate any responses. But that would be another topic.
  • Coben
    1.1k
    However, this sounds prescriptive and evangelically dogmatic.Amity
    Well, I was looking for a way to present rhetorical questions to Zion in ways he might be more open to, given his quoting from the NT.
  • Amity
    950
    I think that is why there is so much of the problems I find amongst book-idolising people, it is essentially an intellectual dishonesty that prevents them from wrestling with the speaker for fear that they would lose their salvation by choosing to wrestle Him - and of course, that is to believe in quite a different character than the one who says "come now, let us reason together".Serving Zion

    Which group of people do have in mind when you talk of 'book-idolising' ?
    What do you mean by 'intellectual dishonesty'. Please give an example.
    Why would you believe that there is a fear of loss of salvation ?
    Why would you think that they might believe in any kind of God character, even if He is interpreted as being rational and capable of being reasoned with ?
  • Amity
    950
    Well, I was looking for a way to present rhetorical questions to Zion in ways he might be more open to and knowledgeable about, given his quoting from the NT.Coben

    Yes, I know and appreciate this. You are right. He is open to this kind of resource, as am I.
    However, it still requires a careful and critical eye, don't you think ?
  • Coben
    1.1k
    Any type of language use can be misused. I'd need to see a reason to eliminate any particular type of usage. There is no reason a person cannot challenge a rhetorical question or a metaphor or even statements. Statements or assertions can certainly be misused. They can be false or nonsensical. We could try to eliminate rhetoric in general, consider it all manipulative. So, just exchange data, somehow. But I don't think we can eliminate rhetoric from language. And dead metaphors, which our languages are saturated with simply cannot be eliminated.

    I think the best thing to do is when teaching about arguments and language use to tell people that rhetorical questions may be misleading. They carry the implication of 'this is obvious' but it may not be. Language is riddled with implicit assertions, including rhetorical questions. Just as metaphors imply that there is something useful to be gained by consider X the same as Y in some way, but it may not be true.

    Let the buyer (listener) beware!
  • Coben
    1.1k
    Oh, jeez, yeah.
  • Shamshir
    856
    I have believed that every question deserves an answer. So how can I be right if rhetorical questions demand no answer?Serving Zion
    Perhaps 2 Esdras 4 may help answer your question.

    For what is often interpreted as a question without need for an answer, is but a question of fitting.
    It is a certain question, with a certain form, that allots for a certain answer that fits.
    But all rhetoric falls prey to "I don't know", as it's not necessary to know and thus to fit.
  • Amity
    950
    Never mind the apparent difficulty with 'rhetorical questions'. Let's look at evangelical questions and attempts to persuade. Why not ? It's what it all boils down to.

    The second way that the question-asking approach works is, this tactic veritably helps you get to connect with folks on a more personal level. You will get to know them better and see what makes them “tick” – whether or not they had previously been a total stranger to you. And since they will force themselves to see why they believe the way they do, they will simultaneously get to know themselves better in the process! If you sprinkle in your own responses that you find in common with them (“you’ve come across hypocrites in the church, too? I know exactly how you feel! Here’s what happened to me…”), * *
    you can actually start to build a relationship with them. And relationships can start to tear down those defensive walls people erect, making them more open to what you have to say about the Gospel.


    What questions should you ask? They needn’t be anything overly complicated. Just keep the discussion going with a line of questions in a gentle, loving, and non-threatening manner. *
    You could ask:

    “What do you mean by that? Could you explain that to me a little better?”
    “Why do you think that way?”
    “How did you come to that conclusion?”
    “Where did you get that information?”
    “What’s the best case you could make for that?”

    From here, you could get a bit more specific based on what your new friend brings up in the conversation, always putting them in the place where they’re forced to introspectively example themselves.
    Scott Roberts

    [ my bolds - to highlight use of evangelical tactics used in the discussion ]

    Tactics to connect. As used by Serving Zion, the evangelical. The tone changed when he viewed me as a potential 'new friend'. Compare:

    PREVIOUSLY:
    Rich words! .. I certainly did not intend to do that. I chose to respond only to what was necessary.
    What did you think of the content regarding 'the rhetorical question' ?
    — Amity
    It has already been covered in prior material on this thread.
    Did it lead to an improved understanding?
    — Amity
    Do you understand why you are asking this question? *
    Serving Zion

    [ my bolds - evangelical tactics ]

    NOW:

    I am sorry that it grated you, I don't know how many rude bible thumpers have assaulted you with scripture in the past,
    but I know my own portion, how hurtful it can be. **
    I hope this has explained my intention properly and that you might look back on what I have said as a friendly person to see that I have meant no harm
    .
    Serving Zion

    As for the rest of your post, I also wish to apologise double for having not thanked you for your contribution sooner. I can see that you really are a thoughtful, kind person, you did good work to gather the pieces that you brought to me, and you are motivated by a genuine love in doing so (Matthew 7:12). So it truly is regrettable that I failed to grasp that sooner, and that I didn't see the warning signs of this very thing in your words, and that we subsequently were severed and grappling for reconciliation.

    I might have spoken differently to avoid such conflict if I had been a bit wiser, so I am grateful that you are who you are, and that despite finding that you are sometimes not appreciated fairly, still you have not held back from bringing your firstfruits.
    Serving Zion

    [my bolds - evangelical tactics ]

    Compare negative and hostile attitude towards @Fooloso4 who he sees as an enemy, unlikely to be converted.

    In evidence of this, I can show you
    What I offer as honest discussion you dismiss as "calculated".
    — Fooloso4

    .. which is based upon my having advised that you not take such a calculated approach as you were intending to do, as an effort to try and change me. I said that you should just let truth manifest through your humble service [to me].
    Serving Zion

    The arrogance in this suggestion to @Fooloso4 is astounding.
    'Humble service' to @Serving Zion ?
    I think not.
  • Ignance
    7
    Your post seems like a rhetorical declarative sentence: you asked no question, but you're expecting an answer.

    Sorry to disappoint you with that observation, but no answer.
    Relativist

    this made me crack a smile lol

    you lot on this site are something else
  • Serving Zion
    163
    Which group of people do have in mind when you talk of 'book-idolising' ?Amity
    By nature they tend to believe what their book says and then try to rationalise it, instead of examining whether they understand it well, and then whether it seems true and insightful. They tend to be irrational in such prejudice, and equally ignorant in dismissing the books of other book people if they think their identity is not aligned. You can find people of that character in all religions and the same character in non-religious people too. I say it is idolatry because they do not follow the truth. It is prejudice, predisposed ignorance.

    Majorly it was a type of Christian person, a bible-idolizing person, that is pictured as I speak this way, because that is where my experience is most reliable. But to speak generally is more correct and fair, so I named it generally.
    What do you mean by 'intellectual dishonesty'. Please give an example.Amity
    I say it is intellectual dishonesty, because in order to believe what we read without wrestling it, when the belief is wrong, one needs to suppress the spirit of truth that internally is pleading for us to question the belief. For example, it happens a lot, when a Christian is new they might ask a question that no one in their church can answer. So they just don't understand. Then, somebody might suggest that it is better to believe it than to doubt the Word of God. So they would concede because they don't want the church to think that they don't believe the Word of God. It's a type of emotional blackmail, but there's other examples too. When someone believes that homosexuality is sin because the bible says so, but they don't understand why, that's what they are doing. Prejudiced beliefs. Parrots. It is intellectually dishonest because in their greed to believe, they need to suppress that question within that says "why?". Then, in order to justify their belief when that question comes from outside them, they need to generate an answer.
    Why would you believe that there is a fear of loss of salvation ?Amity
    Book people believe that the book is the authoritative declaration of God, and that salvation depends upon obedience to what God says. So it naturally seems like betrayal and forfeiture of that salvation if they begin arguing with what they suppose God has said in the book.

    Why would you think that they might believe in any kind of God character, even if He is interpreted as being rational and capable of being reasoned with ?Amity
    It goes with the territory, that the type of book idolizing person I described necessarily believes that the book is the authoritative teaching of God.
  • Serving Zion
    163
    It's what it all boils down to.Amity
    Well, it is simply my vocabulary :) :up:

    The tone changed when he viewed me as a potential 'new friend'Amity
    Tone changed, that's for sure! (Much as yours did to me after my response to your first post).

    Still, beware because I see an indication that you might have bought an idea that is a false-cause fallacy.

    My tone changed to you, why? Something certainly happened that allowed me to see you as more friendly, that's for sure. When I challenged you to look back over what I had said, it challenged me to do the same. Then I saw where we had gone wrong.

    But nevermind that, people are constantly changing. Beware of thinking of me as a devious type described in that article. Surely he is teaching devices for capturing converts. As for me, I merely have an axe to grind, and I thought you might share some common feelings. I certainly was speaking of a genuine affection at that time, because of who I had seen you to be.

    Stay vigilant! (The destroyer would equally be pleased to devour you or I through one another) - so, "let each one speak truth with his neighbour, for we are members of one another").
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    So I reckon that rhetorical questions are an invalid language construct, because it's effectiveness relies upon the breaking of a fundamental code of language: that questions are a request for a response.Serving Zion

    Autists like me spend their lives amazed at the communications complications that NTs (NeuroTypicals) indulge in. Questions that aren't questions, as you observe. Then there's the lying. NT communication is often stuffed with lies and deception. Even "How are you?" isn't what it seems. It's some sort of formulaic thing that seems to mean simply "hello". If I say how I am when you ask me, I become the weirdo you don't talk to in the future.

    Someone might ask "where have you been?", and mean "I've been waiting for you for hours; account for why you've kept me waiting!" But we're the weird ones; we're disabled. :chin: Yeah, I can see how that makes sense. [Yes, I just wrote the opposite of what I meant. Helpful, eh? :wink: ]

    And all that's without mentioning implied meanings, stuff you can apparently understand if you 'read between the lines'. Never say what you mean seems to be the motto, perhaps in case anyone challenges what you say, and you leave yourself a line of retreat if they do? :chin:
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