Making or analyzing arguments - according to Stanley Fish
When I get time (when would that be?) I enjoy reading Stanley Fish's "Think Again" column from the New York Times. Here's what he said recently in his "Why I Write These Columns" post from March 9:
Every once in a while I feel that it might be helpful to readers if I explained what it is I am trying to do in these columns. It is easier to state the negative: For the most part, it is not my purpose in this space to urge positions, or come down on one side or the other of a controversial question. Of course, I do those things occasionally and sometimes inadvertently, but more often than not I am analyzing arguments rather than making them; or, to be more precise, I am making arguments about arguments, especially ones I find incoherent or insufficiently examined.Says Fish, further down,
The difference between making arguments and analyzing them is not always recognized, and when it is missed, readers get outraged about things I never said.This is exactly the challenge for our students in the rhetorical analysis essay. They are sometimes busy arguing about the content - what was said - that they cannot see the method - how it was said.