The Use of Stasis Theory in Rhetoric

The article below provides a comprehensive overview of the stasis theory and how you might be able to use it in order to carry out your research, create documents, and also to work better in teams.

In conventional stasis rhetoric, stasis refers to the process of, initially, discovering the main issues in an argument, and secondly, identifying the stasis arguments that most effectively address those challenges.

Stasis is the foundation of invention. Hermagoras of Temnos, the Greek rhetorician, discovered and classified four key divisions of stasis. They are:

  1. Latin coniectura, “conjuring” relating to the fact presented, regardless of whether something had occurred at a specific time by a specific person or not.
  2. Definitiva,whether or not an action that was admitted falls under the legal umbrella of an actual crime.
  3. Generalis or qualitas, the issue surrounding the quality of the action, along with the motivation and justification, if one exists.
  4. Translatio,objection to the legal process.

Given that the stasis theory, at least based on its Greek roots, focused largely on crime, punishment and the pursuit of justice – how does it relate to the writing process?

Continue reading to learn more.

What is stasis theory?

When speaking in terms of writing, the stasis theory is a 4-question, prewriting (or invention) process that aims to facilitate the development of knowledge that can be used for research, writing or team work. The stasis theory aids writers in carrying out critical analysis of the topics they are exploring or investigating.

Similar to the way the stages of the stasis theory applied to the legal field on ancient Greek, it encourages writers to investigate and determine:

  • Conjecture or the facts at hand
  • Definition or the true nature of the issue at hand
  • Quality or the seriousness of matter
  • Policy or the plan or call to action

These four foundational stasis categories can be further broken down into a number of different questions and subcategories to further assist writers, researches and those working as part of a group to compile information, build knowledge, enhance communication and come to valid conclusions. If the team cannot come to a mutual conclusion, stasis theory will also help them to better determine where they are not seeing eye to eye.

Later on, we will discuss stasis and some possible questions that you can use to help you conduct research, write out your findings and work towards solving complex challenges and problems.

A simple stasis theory definition

To define stasis or stasis meaning, simply references the rhetorical procedure used to discover the true issue (or its point) in an argument or debate.

Stasis questions must be answered in proper order since the outcome of each depends on the answer of the previous one.

When following the stasis theory, academic writers must investigate and attempt to determine:

  • Facts
  • Definition
  • Quality
  • Policy

While it is crucial to follow this order exactly, the categories can be broken down into subcategories to ease the strain. Below you will see an example of how stasis categories can be divided into specific questions to increase efficiency in team work and also make the research and writing process go smoother.


  • Did something occur
  • Why did it happen
  • IS it possible to change the occurrence


  • What is the root or nature of this problem
  • What kind of issue or problem is it
  • What are the various elements of the problem and how are they relatable


  • Is this a positive or a negative thing
  • What is the severity of the issue
  • Are there any consequence, what are they
  • What will happen if the problem is not rectified


  • Should corrective action be taken
  • Who should take part in the problem-solving phase
  • What should be done or what needs to happen

Stasis theory and asking the right questions

Stasis questions serve the purpose of discovering the true reason for the argument or debate, as well as establishing the burden of proof, and helping writers determine how they should write or what direction to take their own argument. Stasis is, for all intents and purposes, a method of problem solving as well as a method of interpreting and composing debates in an essay.


  • Ask questions relating to the specific fact or issue at hand (past, present, future). Always question cause or effect.
  • Did it actually happen? Will it happen in the future? Why?


  • Ask questions about the definition. Question similarity and differences.
  • What is it? What is it called? What category is it in?


  • Ask questions relating to the quality, merit or value of the fact, item, etc.
  • How is it judged? Is it high quality?


  • Ask questions about the solution, its benefits, etc.
  • What is the most appropriate solution? What actions should be taken?

As a writer, you should always endeavor to clearly identify the question you are presented with and categorize it somehow. Whether this means it becomes a question of fact, a question of definition, a question of quality, or a question of solution or policy. Your objective is to determine the stasis. What determines the stasis is not always the original claim or argument, but the response that is most widely accepted. Stasis is progressive and has many uses. It not only helps readers to find the root of any issue, but it also helps writers to compose fact based and concise responses to any present question.