Pretty cool word, eh? Say it a few times: ratiocination, ratiocination, ratio…
Ok, it’s pronounced \rat-ee-oh-suh-NAY-shun\. [Thanks Merriam-Webster.] 10-year-old (and 20-year-old) me used to pronounce it as rash-ee-oh-si-nay-shun.
My first boyfriend, Edgar Allan Poe, wrote a few mystery stories back in the 1840s, featuring his knighted-in-a-former-social-life detective character, C. Auguste Dupin. Dupin solved his cases by means of ratiocination, which is Poe’s invented term word for pragmatic investigation. Drawing conclusions from syllogism, which we all remember from junior high English, science, and those dreaded math classes:
If A = B, and B = C, then A = C.
Dupin, Ratiocination—the main ingredients in the three Poe mystery stories listed below, the first modern detective stories gifted to the literary world, creating a whole new genre.
- The Murders in the Rue Morgue
- The Mystery of Marie Rogêt (which I’ve admittedly not read)
- The Purloined Letter
Back to our featured word, ratiocination—reasoning, figuring out what happened by using gut instinct and intelligent deduction. There is no room for hysteria or mob mentality; only probabilities, equations, factoring what is hidden within what is seen.
If you want to see ratiocination in action, watch the television show Hannibal. FBI Special Agent Will Graham is incredible at visualizing the layers of a scene.