One of the most neglected rhetorical treasures is inventio and particularly the notion of topoi. In my opinion, these powerful devices and concepts can make a valuable contribution to current pedagogy. In education and research, invention is considered as the art of creating and finding material for speeches. The concept of topos is often presented as a more or less general question helping us find relevant arguments. But inventio and the teaching of topos can have a far wider function and significance. By reducing inventio to a phase in the production of a speech, we risk ignoring the pedagogical potential of topoi as a repertoire of cognitive, epistemological and critical tools.
The purpose of this article is to outline two theoretical approaches for future research. One starting point is a topical theory of learning and the other is a topical epistemology. First, I believe that the notion of topos can contribute to our understanding of the learning process. Within the theory of topoi, an embryo to a theory of learning can be found, uniting a social-constructive understanding with a cognitive comprehension, bridging the alleged gap between imagination and rationality, and containing the essential requirements for deliberative pedagogy. Secondly, my view is that a topical perspective about learning has epistemological or rather “doxological” (Rosengren 2002) implications. Therefore, I would like to connect a topical concept of learning to a perspectivist view of knowledge. As an important benefit, this could help us cope with diversity and plurality.