Critical Thinking, Requirement 5
Take an Indo-European topic essay of minimum of five pages in length and analyze it for soundness, validity, fallacies, rhetorical devices and overall quality of composition. (minimum 600 words)
Ceisiwr Serith's article, "Sacrifice, the Indo-Europeans, and ADF," (found at
http://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/sacrifice-ie-adf.html), is primarily designed to inform us about what sacrifice is, why we do it, what some options are for transferring methods of sacrifice from the ancient world into the modern one, and, in a roundabout way, give us the reasons that ADF does not need, want, or practice animal sacrifice. For such a short essay, it meets these objectives quite well.
The overall composition of the essay is quite good. While grammatically fairly simple (his use of simple sentences rather than complex ones can sometimes become redundant), it helps to prevent the reader from becoming lost in the complex ideas he is presenting. His terms are well defined, and are incorporated well into his discussion of the topic, even though certain of these terms are almost certainly new to his readers (the word ghosti- comes to mind in particular).
The ghosti-relationship is central the Serith's points, and so it is here that we will focus our first look at his premises. In the fourth paragraph, he lays out the premise that the ghosti-relationship is built on the term
ghosti-, which is the root of both the words "guest" and "host." He infers from this that the ghosti-relationship is one that requires one to be both guest and host. The inference is not only generally
acceptable by the rules of logic (in this case, no fallacy exists that might imply that the linguistic assumption that if we have a term that is related to another through etymology that these terms are also related through that root-word.
We then move onto the premise that the ghosti-relationship is part of the very nature of the universe. Here, Serith is following another line of reasoning that states that if we have these terms can be extrapolated into ways of looking at the world that are functionally cultural and will display themselves in the ways that humans interact with the world. Again, this is a generally accepted linguistic-cultural analysis of how language and humans interact.
An underlying premise that is not necessarily explicitly stated (but seems to be thoroughly implied) is that the term
ghosti- points to a particular Indo-European idea of the relationship between guest and host, and that this idea permeates Indo-European cultures through its linguistic use. It is this underlying premise which is tied into the the premise about the ghosti-relationship being a part of the Indo-European view of nature that leads to the conclusion that it is this ghosti-relationship, the back and forth exchange of gifts, that the Cosmos is maintained by in Indo-European ritual.
The primary inference of this paper is that one knows and accepts the idea of Indo-European linguistic-cultural groups. For Serith's audience, this is fine: he is writing for ADF, which generally agrees on this term and uses it frequently. There are no surprises in Serith's paper regarding the nature of Indo-Europeans, and so his inference seems intact.
Serith then begins to discuss the relationship between the Cosmos and Chaos. Primarily founded on works by Mircae Eliade and his students, he discusses the role of Chaos and the idea of sacrifice in the Indo-European world. In this, I find very few issues with his statements (though I admit to wishing for a bit more source citation for some ideas).
Toward the end of the essay, Serith moves back to what ADF does. Again, we find the underlying inference that this paper's audience will be familiar with ADF and the general Indo-Europeaness of ADF. He seeks classical precedent for the replacement of bread as the main sacrifice and finds it, and concludes that ADF can do the same with its sacrifices by restating the precedent set by the classical cultures.
On the balance, the essay is very sound, not lending itself to much criticism. The essay not only fits his audience, but reasonably assumes the level of inference that his audience should be aware of. Throughout, his premises are based on previous premises, and his conclusions are well-supported by the premises he uses. It is a very good essay.
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