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What is Rhetoric?

Some Definitions
by

Diane Davis

on 15 January 2013

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Transcript of What is Rhetoric?

What is Rhetoric? Gorgias: Plato Aristotle: Contemporary Definitions: Greece 485 – c. 380 BC. "Persuasion by speech is like abduction by force." And: “The power of speech [logos] over the constitution of the soul can be compared with the effect of drugs on the bodily state. . .different words can induce grief, pleasure or fear; or again, by means of a harmful kind of persuasion, words can drug and bewitch the soul.” Greece/ 424–348 BC. Rhetoric is the knack (like cookery and cosmetics) of producing pleasure and gratification in the audience. It is "the art of winning the soul by discourse." Greece. 384 – 322 BC. Rhetoric is an antistrophe [counterpart] to dialectic. “Let rhetoric [be defined as] an ability [dynamis], in each [particular] case, to see the available means of persuasion.” Cicero: "Rome. 106-43 BC. Rhetoric is "speech designed to persuade." It is one great art comprised of five lesser arts: invention, organization, style, memory, and delivery
Quintilian Rome. 35 – 96 AD. "Rhetoric is the art of speaking well." Actually, he says it’s “the good man speaking well.” [But there are also women rhetors and rhetoricians. :)] The old guys Wayne Booth: "Rhetoric is the art of discovering warrantable beliefs and improving those beliefs in shared discourse" (Modern Dogma).

I. A. Richards: Rhetoric is the study of misunderstandings and their remedies.

Kenneth Burke: "Rhetoric is . . .the use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols." And: “The...basic function of rhetoric [is] the use of words by human agents to form attitudes or to induce actions in other human agents” (A Rhetoric of Motives 41).

Lloyd Bitzer: In short, rhetoric is a mode of altering reality, not by the direct application of energy to objects, but by the creation of discourse which changes reality through the mediation of thought and action.
What is Rhetorical Analysis? The study of any meaningful artifact (text, image, website, video game, hat—you name it) to determine how and/or why it is persuasive.

Analysis is less about whether you agree or disagree, like or dislike the artifact than it is about how and perhaps why it does what it does.

We analyze to understand, to become better able to judge and respond responsibly. This course Offers an introduction to the fundamental principles of rhetorical theory, criticism, and practice (the basic elements of any rhetorical perspective) and how to engage them. A traditional philosophical perspective involves analyzing or constructing “texts” (discursive, visual, or aural) according to their truth value. By contrast, a rhetorical perspective involves analyzing or constructing texts for their persuasive value. A rhetorical critic looks for the ways in which (or the principles through which) a text succeeds or not in moving an audience to do something or to believe something. Sappho, Plato's muse
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