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Introduction to Rhetoric
Transcript of Introduction to Rhetoric
the art of effective or persuasive speech or writing
the methods used to persuade an audience or to express ideas effectively
a writer's or speaker's (a rhetor's) use of language--the techniques, devices, strategies--to move an audience to adopt a belief, accept the soundness of a position, or to follow a course of action
According to Aristotle, there are three basic appeals used in persuasion. These are known as the Classical Appeals.
an appeal to the logical, rational nature of human beings
appealing to the audience's reason or logic
an argument that establishes a general observation and proceeds to a specific conclusion
a three-part logical proof:
1. major premise
All humans have a right to rebel against tyranny in order to be free.
The King has demonstrated actions of a tyrant in his treatment of his subjects.
2. minor premise
Therefore, the people have a right to rebel against their king in order to be free.
That was the argument our founding fathers presented in the Declaration of Independence.
Your cat knocked over the goldfish bowl and ate the goldfish!
an appeal to the emotional, feeling nature of human beings-- the audience's passions, loves, desires, senses, or fears.
love of country
love of self
love of family
an appeal to the audience's desire to trust the writer or speaker
the ability to inspire confidence in the speaker's credibility.
When the speaker presents ideas with clarity and appears intelligent, knowledgeable, honest, sincere, and confident, the speaker is credible (believable or trustworthy).
Extrinsic ethos: respect for the speaker's established authority, experience, expertise, position, or status.
When a doctor speaks about medicine or disease, we usually accept and believe
what he or she says, because we have respect for a doctor's education, training and professional experience.
Intrinsic Ethos: respect for the trustworthy manner of the speaker
If the same doctor can't pronounce medical words, seems unsure of his statements, or forgets what he just said, you would probably question his authority as an expert on medicine.
Aristotle said there are three qualities that inspire ethos. A rhetor establishes credibility by demonstrating
The speaker presents as a person of good moral character, trustworthy, and ethical in conduct.
The speaker is "fair-minded," acknowledging differing views, respecting the audience's intelligence and showing concern for the good of all
or appeals to "fairness" appeal to the audience's sense of what is right, fair, proper, or just. These appeals demonstrate the speaker's virtue (a good person) and goodwill (a fair-minded person, concerned for the good of all).
You find your goldfish bowl on the floor.
The goldfish is nowhere to be seen.
The cat is sleeping contentedly.
an argument which proceeds from several specific observations or facts to lead to a general conclusion
The speaker shows knowledge or experience with the subject, appears as an"expert"
Aristotle believed that effective persuasion consisted of a balance of ethos, pathos, and logos.
Consider the result when one appeal is used without the balance of the others.
Too much pathos?
Where are the facts or evidence for support?
Is the speaker reliable or credible?
Feeling emotionally manipulated?
Too much logos?
Too dull, dry, or factual?
Is the speaker truly knowledgeable or an expert on the subject?
Too much ethos?
What are the real facts?
Are all "experts" well-informed?
Should we believe the speaker just because of the speaker's title, position, or status?
the speaker's authority may be enhanced by use of
facts and expert opinions
examples or case studies
Other Rhetorical Strategies
Concession is the act of acknowledging the validity of a point or argument made by the opposing side.
Which of Aristotle's three qualities of ethos does the speaker demonstrate by making a concession?
Why would you do that?
Refutation is making a counter-argument.
The speaker presents the opposing side's view and shows how it is weak, faulty, or flawed.
A rhetorical question is one for which the answer is obvious--usually yes or no--presented for the purpose of creating an effect:
emphasizing a point
drawing a conclusion
"Can we as a nation afford to continue to spend our way into deeper and deeper debt for our children and grandchildren?"
The speaker's attitude toward the subject or audience
appeal to reason
appeal to authority
arrangement or order of words in sentences
A loose sentence presents the main point at the beginning of the sentence. It's direct and factual.
We left after listening to the speeches, seeing the awards, and admiring the applause.
After listening to the speeches, seeing the awards, and admiring the applause, we left.
A periodic sentence presents the main point at the end of the sentence. It creates "syntactic tension" or suspense and builds to a climax at the end.
Parallel syntax is the repetition of patterns of words, phrases, or clauses in a sentence or in several sentences. Notice the repetition of patterns in these two sentences from Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. Brutus is explaining his relationship and feelings for Caesar and for Rome.
As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his ambition.
Here is a clever rhetorical device using word order. Two key words are reversed in order, making an "X."
Ask not what your country can do for you.
Ask what you can do for your country.
It isn't the size of the dog in the fight.
It's the size of the fight in the dog.
To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.
Why is parallel syntax effective?
Parallel syntax adds a poetic beauty to the sentence and emphasizes repeated words or ideas. It enhances the speaker's authority by demonstrating intelligence or wisdom.
...and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address
the use of humor, wit, or ridicule to expose human folly or vice
When a speaker's words move us to respond emotionally, the message can be very powerful.
arguments that sound logical but are actually the result of faulty reasoning
Begging the Question
a conclusion drawn from evidence that has not been proven or established.
Since the new program is not effective, it is a waste of taxpayer's money.
a comparison establishing a similarity between two ideas or things that are, in fact, quite different
Students are like nails. And like nails, they must be hit hard in the head in order for them to work.
attacking the person presenting the argument, rather than the merits of the argument
We can't support his proposal to improve mass transit. After all, he left his wife for a younger woman.
The leader of the committee was a freshman, and she wasn't very responsible. Freshman aren't prepared to lead a committee.
an argument based on the assumption that all people, situations, or events of a kind are the same
Either you will support our plan to improve our school, or you obviously don't care about our school.
presenting a situation as having only two choices, without considering other options or factors
Of course I
that entire paper. You claim that I copied the second paragraph, but I absolutely wrote out the whole thing!
presenting an argument with a word that has two different meanings
presenting other issues that are not related to the issue at hand
an attempt to divert the discussion to other issues
Why should we work to beautify our campus when there are problems with class sizes and underpaid support staff?
The senator proposes more funding for public colleges,
yet all of his children attend private colleges.
An argument that states that an opponent's view has no validity because the opponent does not follow his or her own advice
Appeal to Doubtful Authority
According to actor Brad Pitt, our economic policy has been a complete failure.
The reference to an "expert" who actually is not qualified to speak with authority on the issue
This year's senior class is not academically motivated because only 65% of the class made the Honor Roll last term.
The use of statistics or numbers as factual evidence when they distort, misrepresent, or inaccurately present the issue
Post hoc reasoning assumes that because two events occur close together in time, the first event caused the second.
Every time we elect a woman as President of the school board, we have a teacher shortage in our schools. If we want to avoid a teacher shortage, we need to elect a man as president of the school board.
a conclusion that does not logically follow from the previous statement or evidence
Thousands of people have purchased this product, so it must be effective.
It's what you know about the speaker OUTSIDE of what the speaker says.
It's the impression the audience forms by what the speaker says and how the speaker says it.
Once a practice begins, it will lead to more and more use of the practice, and ultimately to an undesirable extreme.
Two Wrongs Make a Right
Ends Justify the Means
"It's okay to take the money from the wallet I found. After all, my money was taken from my lost wallet."
An action is justified because the end result is the ultimate goal.
Active or Passive Voice
Active Voice is used when the subject of the verb is a performer of the action.
Smedley broke the window.
Passive voice is used when the subject of the verb is the result or the receiver of the action.
Passive voice is used when the subject is unknown or unimportant, or when the speaker wishes to avoid identifying the performer of the action.
The window was broken.
Mistakes were made.
appeal to emotions
the attitudes or feelings associated with a given word
A word's connotation can be positive, negative, or neutral, or have other associated meanings.
would you prefer to be described as or
Which word has the positive connotation and which has the negative connotation? Why? What different ideas do the words suggest?
a euphemism is a pleasant-sounding word or term used to avoid a harsh or blunt word or term
a sanitation engineer
a transparent wall maintenance officer
words that appeal strongly to our senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch
figurative language / figures of speech
joyous passionate sardonic
astonished facetious laudatory patriotic
condescending flattering maudlin pompous
Words used to describe tone
levels of diction
Overall the word choice may be described as
...depending on the speaker's audience, purpose, or occasion
Here is another kind of parallelism, called anaphora. It's the repetition of words at the beginning of sentences. What is the effect of Churchill's anaphora?
"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills."
a direct comparison of two things using the words "like" or "as"
an implied comparison of two things
the assigning of human qualities to a non-human thing
a deliberate exaggeration or overstatement
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion ;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
THE fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
Apparently with no surprise,
To any happy flower,
The frost beheads it at its play,
In accidental power.
The blond assassin passes on.
The sun proceeds unmoved,
To measure off another day,
For an approving God.
People moved slowly then. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
speaking to someone absent, dead, or not human as if it could listen or reply
Busy old fool, unruly sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
John Donne, The Sun Rising
a comparison showing the similarities between something familiar to something unfamiliar
an apparent contradiction that actually holds a truth
"Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the "falling domino" principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences."
In 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower drew an analogy to the spread of communism in Indochina to a row of dominoes. This analogy became known as the "Domino Theory."
Dwight D. Eisenhower
reference to a literary or historical person or event
An "Achilles' Heel" is a person's fatal weakness. In the Trojan War, Achilles was mortally wounded by an arrow in his heel, his one area of vulnerability.
Satire may also include the use of irony, sarcasm, exaggeration, caricature, or parody (imitation).
Mark Twain was a great American satirist.
is not only a punctuation mark. It's a figure of speech, similar to personification. Here's how...
the use of a word that imitates a natural sound
What are the names of the three Kellogg's Rice Krispies characters?
a trite, common, or tired expression made meaningless by thoughtless overuse
feeling out of place?
I have a feeling that things will get better soon.
Still can't decide?
Answer: Snap, Crackle, and Pop
the use of two opposite or contradictory words side by side, a verbal paradox
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
This is the end of the presentation.
Did the window perform the action?
Who made the mistakes?
President John F. Kennedy
Post hoc ergo propter hoc
is Latin for "after this, therefore because of this."
the act of changing or adjusting our communication style, tone, or diction to adapt to a particular audience, purpose, setting, or occasion
to the Ancient Greeks, the speaker's ability to adapt to changing circumstances, to seize the opportune moment, the right time and place for action
It's knowing the right words for the right time.
Winston S. Churchill
5. qualities that inspire credibility
6. logical fallacies
7. inductive reasoning
8. deductive reasoning
A. appeal to emotions
B. the art of effective or persuasive speech or writing
C. three-step deductive proof
D. appeal to logic or reason
E. arguments that sound logical but are actually the result of faulty reasoning
F. appeal to authority
G. intelligence, virtue, goodwill
H. an argument that moves from a general observation to a specific conclusion
I. an argument which proceeds from several specific observations or facts to lead to a general conclusion
1. rhetoric- B
2. logos- D
3. pathos- A
4. ethos- F
5. qualities that inspire credibility-G
6. logical fallacies - E
7. inductive reasoning - I
8. deductive reasoning - H
9. syllogism - C
Review Activities are next.
Rhetorical Strategies Review
A. a question to which the answer is obvious, presented for persuasive effect
B. a counter-argument presenting the opposing side's view and showing how it is weak, faulty, or flawed.
C. the use of humor or ridicule to show human folly or vice
D. Acknowledging the validity of a point made by the opposing side
E. establishing a similarity between two dissimilar things
1. refutation - B
2. concession - D
3. rhetorical question - A
4. satire - C
5. analogy - E
A. words that appeal to the senses
B. a tired, worn-out expression
C. a word that imitates a natural sound
D. a pleasant-sounding word used in place of a harsh-sounding word
E. a writer's choice of words for their effect
F. the attitudes or meanings associated with a word
G. speaker's attitude toward his/her subject or audience
1. diction - E
2. connotation - F
3. cliche - B
4. euphemism - D
5. imagery - A
6. onomatopoeia - C
7. tone - G
Figures of Speech Review
A. deliberate exaggeration or overstatement
B. a speech to an object or non-living thing
C. a comparison using "like" or "as"
D. a contradiction that actually reveals a truth
E. an implied comparison
G. reference to a literary or historical person or event
H. giving human qualities to non-human things
1. simile - C
2. metaphor - E
3. personification - H
4. hyperbole - A
5. apostrophe - B
6. allusion - G
7. paradox - D
1. loose sentence
2. periodic sentence
3. active voice
4. passive voice
5. parallel syntax
A. subject is the result or receiver of the action
B. repetition of patterns of words within a sentence or in several sentences
C. the main clause appears at the beginning of the sentence
D. subject is the performer of the action
E. the main clause appears at the end of the sentence
1. loose sentence - C
2. periodic sentence - E
3. active voice - D
4. passive voice - A
5. parallel syntax - B
the use of words that are less strong than what would normally be expected for the circumstances
Seeing a masked man with a gun enter a bank tends to make the customers and employees a little nervous.
Antithesis is the use of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases or clauses.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
To err is human, to forgive, divine.
Our Founding Fathers also used Inductive Reasoning in the Declaration of Independence. They listed specfic observations (facts) about the King of England, all of which lead to the general conclusion that the King is a tyrant.
The history of the present King of Great Britain is history of
repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object
the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states.
To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused to assent to his laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
A prince, whose character is thus marked
by every act which may define a tyrant, is
unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
This conclusion supports the second (minor) premise of the
deductive argument presented earlier.
The document continues to list the King's abuses. Each statement
of evidence begins with "He has..."
The conclusion of the argument reads
Do you remember the minor premise?
There's no money in poetry,
but then there's no poetry in money, either.