What is rhetoric


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Strategic Communication presentation by Chritine Seifert.

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What is rhetoric

  1. 1. Rhetoric: DefinitionsUsing rhetoric as a strategic tool
  2. 2. Some Common EarlyDefinitions “He who would be a skillful rhetor has no need of truth” (Socrates, in Plato‟s The Phaedrus, 360 B.C.E.) “Persuasion is Aphrodite‟s daughter: it is she who beguiles our mortal hearts” (Sappho, 5th Century) “…that power instrument of error and deceit” (John Locke, 1690) 10/31/2012 2
  3. 3. More Recent Definitions “Rhetoric is the art of deception, isn‟t it?” (Stephen Spender, 1950s) “…merely speech with designs on the reader” (Deirdre McClosky, 1986) “false, showy, artificial, or declamatory expression” (Merriam-Webster, 2007)
  4. 4. Note how we use the word “Impoverished students deserve solutions, not rhetoric.”-- Letter to the Chicago Tribune “All that other stuff is rhetoric and bull. I don‟t think about it.”-- Athletic coach “President Bush‟s speech was long on rhetoric and short on substance.”-- New York Times Editorial 10/31/2012 4
  5. 5. Rhetoric is amoral—it can‟t beeither moral or immoral “It is the entire range of our use of „signs‟ for communicating, effectively or sloppily, ethically or immorally” (Wayne Booth, The Rhetoric of Rhetoric). Only people who use rhetoric can be moral or immoral.
  6. 6. Wayne Booth wanted to distinguishbetween “bad” rhetoric and “good”rhetoric Rhetoric—“The whole range of arts not only of persuasion but also of producing and reducing misunderstanding.” ◦ Listening-Rhetoric (LR)— “The whole range of communicative arts for reducing misunderstanding by paying full attention to opposing views.” ◦ Rhetrickery– “The whole range of shoddy, dishonest communicative arts producing misunderstanding—along with the other harmful results. The arts of making the worse seem the better cause.” 10/31/2012 6
  7. 7. Some scholars and thinkers have thoughtabout rhetoric primarily in terms of persuasion  “The art of winning the soul by discourse” (Plato).  “…the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion” (Aristotle).  “…speech designed to persuade” (Cicero).  “…the use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation” (Kenneth Burke).  “…rhetorical communication is explicitly pragmatic. Its goal is to influence human choices on specific matters that require immediate attention” (Gerald Hauser).
  8. 8. Some define rhetoric in terms of humaninteraction “Rhetoric is the art, practice, and study of human communication” (Andrea Lunsford). “… the art of removing misunderstanding” (I.A. Richards). “Rhetoric is the mode of altering reality, not by the direct application of energy to objects, but the creation of discourse which changes reality through the mediation of thought and action” (Lloyd Bitzer). “…the entire range of resources that human beings share for producing effects on one another” (Wayne Booth). 10/31/2012 8
  9. 9. Others define rhetoric as a tool for activism Rhetoric is “…ultimately a practical study offering people great control over their symbolic activity” to accomplish goals (Charles Bazerman). “It is not communication for communication‟s sake. Rhetoric is communication that attempts to coordinate social action…” (Gerard Hauser). “Rhetoric is a primarily verbal, situationally contingent, epistemic art that is both philosophical and practical and gives rise to potentially active texts” (William Covino and Daivid Joliffe).
  10. 10. The rhetoric of racism demonstrates differenttypes of rhetoric Watch Part 2 of Mrs. Elliot‟s landmark experiment Note how she and the kids use rhetoric as tools for ◦ Persuasion ◦ Human interaction ◦ social activism 10/31/2012 10
  11. 11. Quick Quiz! How might different definitions change how we think about rhetoric? How do you use rhetoric as a tool in your professional life? ◦ What aspects of rhetoric are you not using that you could be using? What is your definition of rhetoric now? Seifert 10/31/2012 11