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A Brief History of Rhetoric

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Karl Kalinkewicz

on 10 February 2015

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Transcript of A Brief History of Rhetoric

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli
"Rhetoric is the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion."
- Aristotle

A Brief History of Rhetoric
Early Beginnings
Rhetoric dates back to Mesapotamia,
Assyria, and the other "Fertile Crescent"

Oral tradition important for the
preservation of history and culture
Ancient Egpyt highly regarded the
ability to speak in public...

thought public speaking was equal parts speaking and silent contemplation
Ancient Greece
Homer's epics demonstrate the
respect for the accomplished orator
The Sophists
Sophists taught
"virtue" or "excellence"...
for a price
Rhetoric was important because of the importance of civic discourse
Corax and Tisias
Structure of the speech
“Just as different drugs draw forth different humors from the body – some putting a stop to disease, others to life – so too with words: some cause pain, others joy, some strike fear, some stir the audience to boldness, some benumb and bewitch the soul with evil persuasion”
Rhetoric is the king of all sciences:
it can persuade a man to take any action
There are two sides to every argument
"Man is the measure of all things"
Applying rhetoric to everyday situations
"Kairos" or "Fitness for the Occasion"
Established liberal arts school in Athens
Orator needs more than rhetorical gifts
Socrates Plato Aristotle
Socrates and Plato were outspoken against the sophists, claiming they empowered the ignorant to appear more knowledgeable than an expert
Sophists were responsible for Socrates death
Rhetoric in Ancient Rome
Augustine and Christian Rhetoric
Rhetoric After the Middle Ages
Why can't "the power of eloquence, which is so efficacious in pleading either for the erroneous cause or the right" be used for righteousness?
Split Rhetoric in Two
Invention &
Style, Delivery &
Dialectics Rhetoric
Rhetoric in the modern age
Confucius prized eloquent speaking and strong moral values to accompany it
Why was rhetoric so important to the Ancient Greeks?
Probability, not absolute truth, is the goal of the rhetorician
Public Speaking can be more noble when it is informed by philosophy and leads people gradually to knowledge
At the heart of rhetoric is an understanding of people, of what they know and what they are capable of knowing, and how to move them successfully from the one state to the other
3 types of speaking
Forensic (Judicial)
Deliberative (Political)
Epideictic (Ceremonial)
3 rhetorical proofs
8 aspects that the speaker needs to be familiar with in order to be successful
Rhetoric is made up of the "5 Great Arts"
An orator is a "good man skilled in speaking"
Francis Bacon
Thomas Hobbes
John Locke
How do we communicate?
1. Speakers must understand the nature of persuasion, including all techniques, processes, or proofs that might advance it
2. Speakers must understand their own cultures, including the myths, legends, faith, or prejudices that can affect specific controversies
3. Speakers must understand the general needs and susceptibilities that persuasion can satisfy
4. Speakers must understand the immediate pressures, fears, dreams, and hopes that motivate particular audiences who must decided specific cases
5. Speakers must know the extent to which they enjoy the trust, respect, and liking of their listeners
6. Speakers must know all the details of cases, and all of the possible strategies that might be used for and against different positions on them
7. Speakers must understand their own strengths and weaknesses as communicators, recognizing which techniques, proofs, arguments, or appeals are suitable in light of these appeals or limitations
8. Speakers must understand the strengths and limitations of the communication media of their time.
Full transcript