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Argumentation's Black Box

Date: 21 February 2007 Time: 4.00-5.30 pm

Igor Z. Zagar (Educational Research Institute & University of Primorska, Slovenia) will be giving the next Departmental lecture in our series Language, Mind and Society, entitled:


Wed 21st February4.00-5.30 pmCavendish Lecture Theatre

Refreshments from 3.30 pm.


AbstractArgumentation is supposed to be cognitive and discursive (and trivially so), but once we open our mouth things change radically. It is not only that we inject concepts into things (and above all, into their representations) which were not there before; our arguments can only be understood as arguments if we consider them from the point of conclusion (i.e. in blocks). In other words: argumentation may well be cognitive in its origin, but it is only when we inject it into discourse that we can recognize, understand and describe it as argumentation, analyze it into argument(s) and conclusion(s), and evaluate it.

The crucial concept in establishing the relation between argument(s) and conclusion(s) is the concept of topos/topoi. In this lecture, I will try to trace its history from the early beginnings in Sophists, to its firm conceptualization in Aristotle, to pragmatic adaptation in Quintillian and Cicero, and conclude by modern transformations in Toulmin and Ducrot as well as in contemporary discourse analysis.

BiographyIGOR Z. ZAGAR studied philosophy, sociology, and linguistics in Ljubljana, Paris, and Antwerp. He received his doctoral degree in Sociology of Culture from the University of Ljubljana. He is a Senior Research Fellow (and the Head of the Center for Discourse Studies) at the Educational Research Institute, and Professor in Rhetoric and Argumentation at the Faculty of the Humanities, University of Primorska (where he holds the position of the Head of the Department for Slovenian Studies).

His interests lie in pragmatics (speech act theory, discourse analysis), argumentation, and rhetoric. He is (co)author and editor of seven books, and over forty scholarly articles. Address: Educational Research Institute, Gerbiceva 62, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia. E-mail:


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Organising departments and research centres: Linguistics and English Language


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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