THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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ARGUMENT, a word meaning “proof,” “evidence,” corresponding in English to the Latin word argumentum, from which it is derived; the originating Latin verb arguere, to make clear, from which comes the English “argue,” is from a root meaning bright, appearing in Greek ἀργής, white. From its primary sense are derived such applications of the word as a chain of reasoning, a fact or reason given to support a proposition, a discussion of the evidence or reasons for or against some theory or proposition and the like. More particularly “argument” means a synopsis of the contents of a book, the outline of a novel, play, &c. In logic it is used for the middle term in a syllogism, and for many species of fallacies, such as the argumentum ad hominem, ad baculum, &c. (see Fallacy). In mathematics the term has received special meanings; in mathematical tables 483 the “argument” is the quantity upon which the other quantities in the table are made to depend; in the theory of complex variables, e.g. such as a + ib where i = √−1, the “argument” (or “amplitude”) is the angle θ given by tan θ = b/a. In astronomy, the term is used in connexion with the Ptolemaic theory to denote the angular distance on the epicycle of a planet from the true apogee of the epicycle; and the “equation to the argument” is the angle subtended at the earth by the distance of a planet from the centre of the epicycle.
Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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