Term of Art: Aporia

Aporia: An aporia is a puzzling condition or situation. The rhetorical application of aporia is to pretend to an inability or confess to an actual inability to resolve a problem or answer a question. One might say of a political figure whom one was attacking, ‘I don’t know what he lost first, his ability to tell the truth from a lie or his ability to behave morally.’ The device is often used when the question is being begged. A homely version of it is the often-heard comment “How can people be so stupid” uttered when something the speaker disapproves of has just happened.”

Excerpted from: Trail, George Y. Rhetorical Terms and Concepts: A Contemporary Glossary. New York: Harcourt Brace, 2000.

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