Stasis in rhetoric is a tool to help decide what is at stake in an argument and can also serve as a tool for invention. The word “stasis,” from the Greek, meaning “standstill” or “conflict,” in rhetorical terms indicates the point in an argument that must be resolved in order for a discussion to come to a conclusion.
There are four types of stasis:
- Questions of fact and conjecture
- Did/does something happen?
- What is its origin?
- Is there an act to be considered?
- What produced it?
- What changes can be made?
- Questions of definition:
- What is its nature?
- How can the issue be defined?
- To what larger class of things or events does it belong?
- Questions of quality:
- What is its quality or nature?
- How serious is it?
- Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
- Is it honorable or dishonorable?
- Questions of policy and procedure:
- Deliberative: What action(s) should be taken?
- Deliberative: What should we do?
- Deliberative: How will the proposed changes make things better? Worse? How? In what ways? For whom?
- Forensic: Should some state of affairs be regulated (or not) by a formalized procedure?
- Forensic: Which procedures can be implemented? Which cannot?
- Forensic: What are the merits of competing proposals? What are their defects?
There are many advantages to considering stasis in your reading and in your work:
- Allows you to clarify your thinking about a point or an issue in dispute
- Allows you to consider assumptions and values that other readers, writers, and community members might hold
- Establishes areas where more research and effort needs to be focused
- Distinguishes points that are crucial to an effective argument or advocacy
- Guides you toward composing an effective arrangement for your argument or advocacy
See also Stasis Theory, Purdue OWL.