Typecasting: On the Arts and Science of Human Inequality by Ewen deals with stereotypes which exist or rather rule in the human society. The book also highlights the development of human societies from medieval times up to modernity. Chapter 3 under the title “Didot’s Invention” reveals the essence of the phenomenon of stereotypes.
First, Ewen considers the history of the word itself: Didot’s invention is, in fact, stereotypes which were used in printing. Then the author dwells upon the introduction of the word into the cultural and social life and points out that Lippman was the first to use the word in that context. Ewen deals with Lippman’s approach to stereotypes’ understanding.
The author then notes that cinematography has become a powerful plant of creating stereotypes. The author finally states that stereotypes should be regarded as a result of the society development. It is necessary to point out that the essay under consideration is logic and concise. The author follows the major principles and rules of logical thinking and writing.
The essay’s logical composition
Proper logical composition of the essay can be traced throughout the entire paper. The essay has quite a strong start. It opens up with a general statement: “Stereotypes make sense of the big, complex, often transient world that confronts us” (Ewen 51). Thus, the author introduces the reader to the main point of the essay and stipulates his position which is, in fact, quite undisputable. The author stipulates the fact which is generally accepted. Ewen resorts to general statement which make his very first claim sound since “what is being attributed to the class represented by the subject is (a) true and (b) in fact applies to the entire class” (McInerny 42).
Causes and effects
According to McInerny effects and phenomena are of primary concern for humans (32). Thus, first people are “confronted with a phenomenon” and then start “seeking an explanation for it” (McInerny 32). The chapter opens up with a statement that modern life is full of stereotypes which rule humans’ minds. The rest of the paper is an explanation of the statement. The author explains what events led to such situation. This makes the reading easy to follow for the reader since the paper meets human’s brain requirements, so to speak.
Digging out primary cause
It is necessary to add that the author does not only provide his reasoning supporting it with some facts. The author digs to the core cause which explains the effect. McInerny points out that “causes often arrange themselves in a series” (33). The essay under consideration provides this range. First, Ewen provides background information that the development of printing was crucial for the development of stereotypes (52).
Secondly, the author points out that media is a potent tool for the formation and spread of stereotypes. Finally, the essay provides the major reason for the development of stereotypes which is the peculiarity of human brain: “To traverse the world men must have maps of the world” (qtd. in Ewen 52).
In other words the author explains that stereotypes are those necessary maps which guide people. Admittedly, media is only the secondary reason for the development and spread of stereotypes since human brain activity is the primary cause.
Interestingly, before providing causes the author defines the word “stereotype” and dwell upon the history of the word. The author states that it is a certain image used in printing, and this makes the reader understand the primary meaning of the word better. McInerny claims that defining terms is the “most effective way to avoid vagueness or ambiguity” (37).
“Didot’s Invention” is a great example of that claim since from the very beginning the reader grasps the essence of the phenomenon considered. It is important to add that the essay provides two definitions: the meaning of the word accepted nowadays, and the meaning of the word at times when it was first introduced. No ambiguity is possible due to this trick.
The use of arguments
Apart from the absence of ambiguity and the favorable structure, the essay is also characterized by the proper argumentation since it contains only “categorical statements” (McInerny 41). As McInerny has put it the “categorical statement tells us that something definitely is the case” (41). Thus, the essay contains certain facts, dates and names. For instance, Ewen names the person who coined the term, Fermin Didot (51). In fact, every paragraph of the essay contains certain piece of relevant data which makes the author’s arguments credible.
It is also important to note that the author’s reasoning is formed by the appropriate argumentation which consists of a premise and conclusion. McInerny points out that both parts of argumentation (premise and conclusion) should be strong enough to create a proper argument (70). It is possible to analyze one of the arguments provided by Ewen:
The invention of stereotype technology multiplied the variety of printed materials that could be produced, hastened the mass production of print and the growth of a mass readership. More than ever before, unprecedented numbers of people could now consume the same ideas and information simultaneously. (52)
The premise in this case is the development of mass printing which led to people’s access to information, which is the conclusion. Thus, since the premise is credible enough, and is, in fact, true, the reader accepts that the conclusion is also true.
Besides, the same passage can illustrate the author’s precision to the appropriate presentation of premises and conclusions. Thus, the premise should be regarded as a particular statement since there is an identification of quantity: “the variety of printed materials”. The author does not use universal statement like “all printed materials” or simply “printed material” which would denote “all”.
As far as the conclusion is concerned, particular statement is used as well: “unprecedented numbers of people”. It is not said “all people”. McInerny points out that such precision is extremely important in terms of the argument validity (77). Thus, the author’s arguments are valid due to his attention not only to the content of his arguments and statements, but even to the quantity in these statements.
It is also necessary to add that the entire essay incorporates the same pattern: one premise, one conclusion. The passage provided can be regarded as a good example of the pattern. McInerny states that the use of one premise gives the “argument sharper focus and therefore greater impact” (88). This claim is true when analyzing the essay under consideration since it provides arguments which are precise and valid. Thus, the reader can easily follow the author’s argumentation and can understand the major point of the writing.
Critique of the essay “Didot’s Invention”
The essay under consideration is characterized by good structure, appropriate reasoning and good cohesion. These features make the essay easy to follow and therefore interesting to read. The author managed to convey the major idea of the essay, i.e. stereotypes emerged in the Middle Ages and since then they have ruled people’s minds.
As far as the essays’ structure is concerned, it is necessary to point out that the author uses quite easy but very effective structure. First, Ewen introduces his topic, providing the word’s definition and stating that stereotypes play an important role in the society.
Secondly, he provides some interesting background information about the word which grasps readers’ attention and enables them to understand better the topic. Finally, the author provides his reasoning explaining point after point, and readers easily follow the text draw the same conclusions as author does.
Apart from the easy structure readers benefit from precise reasoning provided by the author. Each statement is valid and supported by the necessary arguments. Basically, the author does not overload the essay with superfluous arguments, which make it easier to grasp the main idea, but at the same time to be sure in its relevance.
Finally, the author’s arguments are provided in the appropriate order and the paper is coherent. Each paragraph is linked to the previous one which enables the reader to follow the author. There are the necessary ties among the arguments, therefore the reader is not lost in the author’s reasoning.
On balance, the essay contains facts and arguments which support the author’s statement about the role of stereotypes in the contemporary world.