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How ought one best understand an 'apophasis'? Is it the act of mentioning something by not mentioning it, or mentioning it by explicitly saying you won't mention it? Or does it encompass both meanings?

I'm aware that in rhetoric one can, by way of apophasis, employ a sneaky ad hominem. So, for example, a person could say of his opponent:

"I won't even begin to address my opponent's gambling problem".

They've effectively addressed their opponent's gambling problem by means of saying they won't address it.

However does this word enable one to address something by not addressing it?

Let's say in a politician's ten minute media campaign they address many things, but leave out climate change. Could this be considered an apophasis on their part, effectively addressing climate change (or their disregard for it) by not addressing it?

I'm very interested in this... any thoughts are appreciated.

Thanks.

  • Which definitions have you considered? The ones I looked at make it pretty clear that one must deny that the subject will be mentioned. – Jim Jun 14 '15 at 23:55
  • I'm aware that the most basic definition seems clear in saying that one must deny that the subject will be mentioned. However I'm wondering how elastic this definition is... and whether it can accommodate my other proposal 'mentioning something without mentioning it", or if it is only mentioning it by means of saying it will not be mentioned. This might be splitting hairs though.... – John Samps Jun 15 '15 at 2:37
  • "However I'm wondering how elastic this definition is" it is not in the slightest elastic. zero, none. forget your idea of extending some new meaning. "my other proposal..." it has utterly no connection to "mentioning without mentioning" ("hinting" at something). your thought is completely wrong, set it aside! apophasis is simply when you say the words, basically: "I won't talk about X.". if you're using extremely obscure, really basically silly! term, no need to add further complication! – Fattie Jun 15 '15 at 3:59
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    "Let's say in a politician's ten minute media campaign they address many things, but leave out climate change. Could this be considered an apophasis on their part" no, it has nothing to do with it, no connection to apophasis. that would be some other, ingenious, rhetorical device. – Fattie Jun 15 '15 at 4:00
  • But @JoeBlow tell me how you really feel? I won't even address your lack of regard for capitalization .... – John Samps Jun 16 '15 at 3:23
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"I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience," Ronald Reagan to Walter Mondale, 1984.

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