Ancient Omnibus I

Syllabus and book list for Omnibus I 2015-2016 at Classical School of Wichita

Ancient Omnibus I is taught (typically) to seventh grade logic students at the Classical School of Wichita.

The class follows the Veritas Press Omnibus book, and the associated  veritas press reading list.

The class will meet five days per week, with an expectation of thirty to forty five minutes of homework per night.

Syllabus Omni I


Argument Map

When constructing a proof, and in particular a demonstration, it is useful to map the argument.

Creating a syllogism:  Begin with the conclusion.  If you have already established terminology to be used in your research paper or thesis, find the two terms you wish to relate (i.e. Democracy is Dangerous) and then find a term that relates to both of these.  In this case, perhaps “Going along with the Crowd” would be a term that would go along with both Democracy and Danger.

Example of mapping and creating a syllogism: Democracy Enthymeme




The founder of the ‘The Lyceum’ and tutor of Alexander the Great.   Aristotle differs with his teacher Plato concerning the reality and comprehensibility of the ‘Ideal’.   Radical idealism, the notion that the universal concepts of things are of greater force than the perception of the particular things themselves, is countered with a tempered view that the particulars are necessary to our knowledge of the ‘Ideal’.  It may even be said that the real ideas arise from the entelechy of things themselves. (see the four causes.)



  • Are there personal testimonies?
  • What maxims or ancient wisdom applies?
  • What is assumed or supposed?
  • By what powers will you reason?
  • On what type of authority does the argument depend?
  • What law or rule applies to ____?
  • How recent are these statistics?  How was the data gathered?
  • Should we trust majority opinion on ____?
  • Is this universally true, or are there counter-examples? (Elenchus)
  • Who is a witness? ________
    • What is the testimony of the witness?
    • What did he see (event or character) to cause him to give this testimony?
    • Why does the witness think that?
    • If more than one witness, questions would be answered for each witness

Three Laws of Reason

A deductive or geometric certainty, also known as a demonstration, can be considered certainly true or certainly false, and therefore authoritative.  In this regard, Formal Logic provides authority.  This is the study of the Formal Logic of deduction.

Mathematical Certainty –

Number abstracted from things, and the concepts of quantity provide certainties and systems of certainty.  The grammar of multiplication tables or factors are complimented by the logic and laws applying to real and imaginary numbers.  Mathematics is traditionally assigned to the Quadrivium.


The Axiom, or common knowledge is the strongest of the intuitive proofs from testimony.   Axioms and Proverbs provide the grammar of common authority.

The authority, or ethos of the testifier determines the force of persuasion in this type of proof.

Probability -“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Mark Twain — or — Benjamin Disraeli

Inductive probability is more authoritative when it is more probable, and correspondingly less authoritative when it is less probable.  Complete induction, and therefore certainty, is impossible.  This probability offered as an argument is called a proof.  The Formal Logic of Induction is studied in Statistics.  Francis Bacon originates the rigorous focus on this Logic with the Novum Organum ( a reference to Aristotle’s Organon – a staple of  Formal Logic)

Mill’s Five Canons of the General Methods of Science

These laws apply to the science of observation and experiment for the testing of hypothesis.


Authority of possibility is governed by physical laws, and the laws of human conscience and prudence are authoritative concerning human choice, or ethics.




  • How is X the same as something/someone else
    • What makes it different from what it is similar to? (see the predicables)
    • What does it not share with the rest of its genus?
    • What was it in the past?
    • What might it be in the future?
    • What is its opposite in kind?
    • What is it analogous to?
    • Similitude:  The current situation is like one that we’ve seen before, i.e., the search for resemblances.
  • How is an X different from something/someone else
  • To what degree?
    • How does it compare to its normal version?
    • How does it differ from things that resemble it?
    • How is it different from precedents and parallel versions?
    • What is its range of variation?
    • Is its opposite or contrary better or worse
    • Is X better worse than Y?  more/less
    • How can it be evaluated?
    • What is the standard of evaluation?

Grammar includes the metaphor and simile.  Judgements of quality relate to beauty, goodness and truth.  Art is imitation.

Logic of comparison deals with the concrete and poesy, compared to the analytic mode of reason that subtracts from essence.   “my love is like a red red rose” “God is Love”.  Poetic reasoning is more compact and comprehensive than analytic.

Rhetoric of comparison is a formational discipline.  The ethical consideration determines what is best regarding choice.  The aesthetic consideration determines what is best regarding desirability.  Classical Christian Education is emphatically committed to the ‘best’.



Aliquis definiverit vinciet – the act of apprehension whereby a term is commonly understood

The first of the 5 Common Topics –   Aliquis definit vincit.

Associated with the first act of reason, or simple apprehension.   A perception proceeds to form a thought, which in turn is abstracted into an idea, and finally denoted by a term.  Terms are the subjects of definition — De-finitio – a ‘bounded’ idea.

  • Who or What is X?
  • What kind of thing is X?
    • Formal or logical cause  (Comprehension, Connotation)
    • Genus and Species
  • What is X not?
  • What are the parts of X?
  • To What group does X belong?
  • What examples of the thing exist?  (Extension, Denotation)
  • Etymological definitions, the history of the word

Grammar includes vocabulary and the practical and theoretical sciences.

Material Logic sets forth the art of definition, division, categories, predication and causes.



What would be considered a fallacy in a dialectical argument becomes a tactic

Fallacies arise whenever an argument, meaning a cogent line of terms, propositions and conclusions, is somehow diverted into an unprofitable stream.   In one point of view, this is unfortunate and profitless.  To the pursuer of the dialectic, for example, the failure to develop the discussion in a revealing way that surfaces truth is a good reason to abandon a discussion.  Those who insist on this sort of distortion are practitioners of contention, believing there is no truth to be found in the first place, or disputation, enjoying the control of a discussion more than its profitable results.  In ancient times, these were designated ‘sophists’.

In another point of view, an argument may be more intended toward persuasion than discovery.   This is the chief characteristic and purpose of rhetoric.  When engaged in rhetoric, the idea of competing goods arises.  In this setting, the rhetor is attempting to move the auditor toward one of several goods.   What would be considered a fallacy in a dialectical argument becomes a tactic, a means to steer the stream of meaning toward a pre-conceived goal.   In rhetoric, it is quite possible to conceal a logical weakness (fallacy of form), an ethical breach (fallacy of distraction), or a lapse of intuition (a material fallacy).  This does not make a purposeful inclusion of this sort of device ethical, but these tactics are effective.

There are so many fallacies, it is tempting to think of Aristotle’s target of ethical behavior: There are infinite paths to failure, but only one to success.  In itself, this idea may be a material fallacy, owing to the meaning of the word success, where there is only one correct choice available to ‘success’.   However, it may be true that all fallacies of argumentation may be of three genera.

Fallacies of Form

  • post hoc ergo propter hoc
  • petitio principii
  • enthymeme (covering a weak premise by mere implication)
  • ad ignorantium  (all propositions must be about something, not nothing)

Fallacies of Distraction – properties include ‘non sequitur’, ‘ignoratio elenchi’

  • ad hominem
  • ad baculum
  • ad verecundiam
  • ad misericordiam
  • ad ignominiam
  • ad populum
  • ipse dixit (fallacy of authority)
  • Fallacies of Procedure (as per Peter Kreeft in Socratic Logic)
    • refuting the argument but not the conclusion
    • refuting the conclusion but not the argument
    • Ignoring the argument
    • Answering another argument (rather than the one given)
    • Shifting the burden of Proof
  • Straw Man
  • Hyperbole

Material Fallacies – properties include, like the fallacies of distraction, ‘non sequitur’ – but in this case due to a failure of intuition, the first act of human reason.

  • amphiboly
  • complex question (could be considered formal fallacy)
  • equivocation
  • emphasis
  • Metaphysical Fallacies
    • Reductionism (typically substituting the material cause for the formal)
    • Fallacy of the Accident (confused with Essence)
    • Confusing quantity with quality
    • Misplaced Concreteness



Formal Logic

An application of the laws of reason that is evaluated by its validity, or logical necessity.

Formal Logic has two branches:  Inductive and Deductive.

Deductive Logic has two branches: Categorical and Hypothetical (or Propositional)