The word doxa is modeled on an ancient Greek word, meaning “opinion, reputation, what is said of things or people”. The doxa corresponds to a set of socially predominant, fuzzy, sometimes contradictory, representations, considered in their current linguistic formulation. The word shares the deprecating meaning of cliché or commonplace; it may be given the meaning of “ideology” or “dogma”, particularly when it is called into question (Amossy 1991, Nicolas 2007). Its derived adjective is doxic (or doxical).
Aristotle defines the endoxa (sg. endoxon) as the common opinions of a community, used in dialectical and rhetorical reasoning:
Those opinions are ‘generally accepted’ which are accepted by everyone or by the majority or by the philosophers, i.e., by all, or by the majority, or by the most notable and illustrious of them. (Aristotle, Top., I, 1)
An endoxic idea is therefore an idea based on a form of social authority, ranging from the authority of common people as a group, to that of the wise (S. Dialectic), according to a gradation ranging from the purely quantitative to the qualitative, from the opinion of the human (the universal consensus) to the authority of the enlightened opinion.
Thus, endoxic is an antonym of paradoxic, paradoxical. Latin translates the adjective derived endoxos “endoxic” by probabilis, “probable”.
The endoxa is the target of philosophical criticism addressed to common sense and common opinion. This criticism extends to conclusions based on the endoxon – inferential topic system, used in dialectic and rhetoric. Yet, to say of a proposition that it is endoxic, is not pejorative:
It is well known that Aristotle confides, under conditions of scrutiny, in the collective representations and the natural vocation of mankind toward truth. (Brunschwig, Preface to Aristotle, Top., p. xxv)
Rhetoric and dialectic are based on endoxa: dialectical arguments test the endoxa, and rhetorical argument exploits them, pro and contra, in the context of a particular conflict.
In a judicial situation, the salient doxic elements, without being taken as true, may determine who bears the burden of proof, in other words, it determines who is at first sight, the object of suspicion, who is accused by the rumor, S. Common place.
Argument schemes relying on the authority of the doxa: