Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason
David Hirsch, Dan Van Haften
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For more than 150 years, historians have speculated about what made Abraham Lincoln great. How did Lincoln create his iron logic, his compelling reason, his convincing oratory, and his memorable writing? Some point to Lincoln's study of grammar, literature, and poetry. Others believe it was the deep national crisis that elevated Lincoln's oratory. Most agree though that he honed his persuasive technique in his work as an Illinois attorney.
Authors Hirsch and Van Haften persuasively argue, for the first time, that it was Lincoln's in-depth study of geometry that gave our sixteenth president his verbal structure. Although Lincoln's fascination with geometry is well documented, most historians have concluded that his study of the subject was little more than mental calisthenics. In fact, conclude the authors, Lincoln embedded the ancient structure of geometric proof into the Gettysburg Address, the Cooper Union speech, the First and Second Inaugurals, his legal practice, and much of his substantive post-1853 communication.
Modern science can be traced back to Greek geometric method, but rhetoric, which morphed into speech and then into communications, has barely advanced since Aristotle. Lincoln's structure emancipates speech from Aristotle and unleashes limitless possibilities. Indeed, his use of geometric method in rhetoric and writing has long been a secret hiding in plain sight. Virtually any literate person can become an Abraham Lincoln by structuring speech with iron logic, as aptly demonstrated by this remarkable new study.
Among other things, the authors artfully demonstrate the real importance of the Cooper Union speech (which helped make Lincoln president), offer a startling revelation about the Declaration of Independence that connects Lincoln to Thomas Jefferson more closely than anyone previously realized, and show how the structure of the legal system played an even more important role in Lincoln's greatness than heretofore realized.
With the publication of Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason, Lincoln immediately takes on a new importance that will open an entirely new avenue of scholarly study.
About the Authors: David Hirsch is an attorney in Des Moines, Iowa. He has a BS from Michigan State University and a JD, with distinction, from the University of Iowa College of Law. He clerked for an Iowa Supreme Court Justice from 1973-1974. Hirsch co-authored the technology column for the American Bar Association Journal for over a decade. The idea for this book came from a column he co-authored for the ABA Journal in 2007.
Dan Van Haften lives in Batavia, Illinois. He has BS, with high honor, and MS degrees in mathematics from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. He began his career with ATandT Bell Laboratories in 1970, and retired from Alcatel-Lucent in 2007. His work involved software development and system testing on telecommunication systems.
act before me.” I drop the quotations merely to remark that all there ever was, in the way of precedent up to the Dred Scott decision, on the points therein decided, had been against that decision. But hear Gen. Jackson further— “If the opinion of the Supreme court covered the whole ground of this act, it ought not to control the co-ordinate authorities of this Government. The Congress, the executive and the court, must each for itself be guided by its own opinion of the Constitution. Each
the purchase of 6,487 volumes from Jefferson for $23,950. The acquisition of Jefferson’s library increased the breadth of the Library of Congress.79 Three books among the volumes transferred by Jefferson were Euclid’s Elements, The Philosophical and Mathematical Commentaries of Proclus on the First Book of Euclid’s Elements80 and Isaac Newton’s Principia.81 While in Congress, Lincoln was a regular visitor to the Library.82 Newspapers constituted a different sort of reading, but were also useful
cost of land, simply because the same product would be got from half, or from less than half the quantity of land. This proposition is self-evident, and can be made no plainer by repetitions or illustrations. The cost of land is a great item, even in new countries; and constantly grows greater and greater, in comparison with other items, as the country grows older. It also would spare a large proportion of the making and maintaining of inclosures—the same, whether these inclosures should be
Territories are scarcely mentioned. Invasions and insurrections are the rage now. Will it satisfy them, if, in the future, we have nothing to do with invasions and insurrections? We know it will not. We so know, because we know we never had anything to do with invasions and insurrections; and yet this total abstaining does not exempt us from the charge and the denunciation. The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must, somehow, convince
yet for dissolution, there only remains some imaginable compromise. I do not believe any compromise, embracing the maintenance of the Union, is now possible. All I learn, leads to a directly opposite belief. Element 4. Construction–“The construction adds what is lacking in the given for finding what is sought.” The strength of the rebellion, is its military—its army. That army dominates all the country, and all the people, within its range. Any offer of terms made by any man or men within