Form Follows Function

by Lincoln Smith

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    00:01 And that they will again really just come out and say what their main point is.

    00:06 So how do we figure it out? We want to look at how the text itself is structured.

    00:13 And this really now gets into some specifics for things we've been discussing that can actually help increase your score on the CARS section.

    00:22 First, we'll break down a few of those rhetorical tools we've referenced.

    00:26 Then we'll talk about word choice and strategic omission, which can serve the same purpose as the expression of a strong viewpoint.

    00:36 Last but not least for this section, we'll familiarize ourselves with a few common passage structures you can expect to see on the CARS section based on the type of passage you're given.

    00:46 And then from there, we can give you some tips for how to find these common passage structures on your own for other topics we're not able to discuss for time considered writing purposes.

    00:58 More so than simple rhetorical flourishes, an author will often lean on so called rhetorical devices.

    01:06 These are tried and true methods that past communicators have pioneered to strategically get a point across to an audience.

    01:17 The basic framework of logic the author wants to communicate has already been established in the author's mind.

    01:23 Let's call the general term rhetoric, clothing for that logic.

    01:27 Rhetorical devices then, might be the common styles of clothing, such as a t shirt, or a pair of pants that everyone uses, but with tremendous capacity for individualization.

    01:40 So let's break down a few common rhetorical devices that we can expect authors to use.

    01:47 Firstly, amplification.

    01:50 This is where an author might repeat him or herself to indicate a point is worth listening to.

    01:57 How about disruption? This is where an author will interrupt a train of thought in order to imply a point, rather than just stated directly.

    02:08 How about language of contrast? This is where an author will deliberately use opposing examples to grab a reader's attention.

    02:19 Okay, next, we can consider summative contradiction.

    02:24 This is where the conclusion of an author will hinge on the fact that it wasn't supposed to be true, but in fact, it is.

    02:32 Authors love to draw conclusions that readers weren't expecting.

    02:37 How about one that we've probably all heard of, and that is epilogue.

    02:41 This is a written element that diverges from the primary narrative to solidify some aspect of that narrative.

    02:48 CARS passages sometimes need their final paragraph to a bit unnaturally resolve tensions that may have been introduced by the passage itself.

    02:58 How about parallelism? This is where you might expect to see symmetry within a CARS passage.

    03:05 Most often those will show up between the first and last paragraph, or the final paragraph provides commentary on the ideas introduced in the first using an understanding of the context of the passage.

    03:18 Next examine, anticipation of counter-arguments.

    03:23 This is exactly what it sounds like.

    03:26 This is where an author predicts what the common counters to his or her points of view might be, and then proactively addresses those.

    03:34 So that even though he's not actively talking to his opponent, he's able to kind of quell resistance that might naturally emerge to his or her points of view.

    03:46 How about Synedoche? I would say this is the most important rhetorical device to master for the CARS section.

    03:54 This is where an author will use a short phrase to refer to a larger concept.

    03:59 We might use this in everyday life with phrases such as boots on the ground, referring to soldiers with boots on the ground.

    04:08 So you might see within a CARS passage, something like the wave of a hand, or the wink of an eye, and you need to understand what that is, what it signifies in the context of the passage, and then just expect that that might be a common thing to show up in a question.

    04:23 The last rhetorical device to consider is thesis.

    04:27 This is a clear statement of an author's argument or purpose.

    04:31 Usually in a CARS passage, the thesis needs to be inferred.

    04:36 Word choice alone can indicate an author's intentions.

    04:40 When you review your wrong answers for an explanation, you might find a seemingly obscure description of a person or thing was necessary to have noticed to answer a question correctly.

    04:52 An author describe an individual's actions as full guile.

    04:57 Does a person associate with charlatans? Were someone's action rueful? When students I work with don't understand why they got a CARS question wrong, it's usually because they failed to refer back to a descriptive word or phrase that an author used.

    05:16 Now, when listening to a piece of music, you don't need to be a vocal expert to appreciate deeper levels of harmony, tone and depth.

    05:26 Read everything on your CARS section as if it were written for a reason, just like a masterpiece of music for a defined purpose, to communicate an idea even with the most subtle of expressions or phrases.

    05:42 Now, the word perspicuity is one of the formal logical principles of language.

    05:49 And it states that we should state in our speech that which is necessary, and no more.

    05:56 According to the noted language theorist, H.P. Grice in his classic paper, Logic and Conversation, this is known as the principle in speech of quantity.

    06:07 But when an author states less than what is required, this break from formal logic is done so to make a point.

    06:14 If an author states that an individual is not intending to wake up at 2am, and that's the maranga, this probably indicates that that person is not mentally sound, if we were just to have assumed that that's something that they would normally do.

    06:28 To take an even simpler example from daily life.

    06:31 If someone walks up to you, and tells you that they are not going to harm or slash your tires, you're probably missing something.

    06:40 This omission of context alone speaks volumes as to the social situation which you have just found yourself.

    06:49 Last but not least, we can infer the structure of a CARS passage before even having completed it based on common patterns for how certain topics are treated in the broader academic community.

    07:02 A behavioral science passage might be cause and effect structured.

    07:06 A history passage might be chronological in nature, and the political science passage might be point and counterpoint structured.

    07:16 How a passage is structured is itself an expression of tried and true methods for communicating about a particular topic? To take the previous examples.

    07:27 Behavioral science passages might be cause and effect structured, that is to distinguish correlation away from causation.

    07:34 History oriented passages might be chronologically structured to neatly organized large volumes of data, and political science passages might be pointing counterpoint structured to mimic the dynamics of a courtroom trial.

    07:50 As such, the consistent treatment of particular topics by academic writers is an ongoing discussion about the topics themselves.

    07:58 Never fail to answer for what purpose of passage was written and how its structure fits that purpose.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Form Follows Function by Lincoln Smith is from the course CARS Theoretical Foundations.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Summative contradiction
    2. Language of contrast
    3. Amplification
    4. Disruption
    5. Distraction
    1. Parallelism
    2. Epilogue
    3. Anticipation of counterarguments
    4. Irony
    1. Synecdoche
    2. Thesis
    3. Figures of speech
    4. Mental imagery
    5. Counterargument

    Author of lecture Form Follows Function

     Lincoln Smith

    Lincoln Smith

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