COMM 401Interpreting Strategic DiscourseWeek One Rhetoric & Text
Definitions of Rhetoric Classical Definitions “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 “art of speaking well”—Quintillian Modern Definitions “Rhetoric is the application of reason to imagination for the better moving of the will”—Francis Bacon “that art or talent by which discourse is adapted to its end. The four ends of discourse are to enlighten the understanding, please the imagination, move the passions, and influence the will”—George Campbell
Definitions of Rhetoric Contemporary definitions “The most characteristic concern of rhetoric [is] the manipulation of men's beliefs for political ends....the basic function of rhetoric [is] the use of words by human agents to form attitudes or to induce actions in other human agents”—Kenneth Burke “Rhetoric is the study of misunderstandings and their remedies.”—I.A. Richards
Defining Rhetoric As system As rules As argument As speech As discourse As power As manipulation As female As communication
Perspectives on Rhetoric Single Definition Perspective—reflective of the classical tradition of understanding rhetoric as a relative static activity/phenomenon. Rhetoric as the rationale of informative and suasory discourse; concerned with informed opinion based on probability rather than certain truths resulting from scientific demonstration. Systems perspective—systems of rhetoric that evolved over time and changed from historical context to historical context. A system is an organized, consistent, coherent way of thinking about something. Three systems of rhetoric: 1) classical system—more “grammatical”; 2) British/continental systems—more “psychological”; 3) Contemporary systems—more “sociological.”
Historical Evolution of Rhetoric Two historical transformations influence the historical development of rhetoric: Media—progression from orality to literacy Society—nature and type of society/government/social stratification and organization Urban vs. rural Authoritarian vs. democratic Class systems Religion and science
Orality vs. Literacy
The Origins of Rhetoric in Language Information about early stages of human language is drawn from: Animal communication Acquisition of language by children Reconstruction of earlier stages of existing languages Hypothesizing about the distant past 1770s—Rousseau Language evolved because humans had a need to express emotions 1870s—Darwin Believed language to be the imitation of animal sounds May have also involved musical sound production Largely a function of the passions – emotional expression
Explanations for Language Development God created the world through the Word God created speech/language – probably Hebrew God told Adam to name all living creatures The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. Genesis 2
Tower of Babel 1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." 5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." 8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11 Acts 2
Language and Song Ritual and song are likely to have been one of the contexts in which figures of speech developed. Out of this context emerged what we call oral and bardic societies. Homer lived in an oral society Rhetors were bards – storytellers Homeric orator learns by imitation and repetition Speech is extempore and comes from God
The Goddess Peitho “Persuasion (peitho/πειθώ) is Aphrodite’s daughter: it is she who beguiles our mortal hearts.”—Sappho The goddess of persuasion/seduction was Peitho—sister to Eros and daughter of Aphrodite. Highlights the mysterious power of rhetoric, the capacity to influence and change.
Rhētorikē in Ancient Greece Emerged from use (Homer) and from myth/theory (Peitho) The civic art of public speaking Similar concepts can be found in other ancient civilizations—Egypt and China Occurred in: Deliberative assemblies Law courts Other formal occasions
Isocratean Rhetoric Isocrates lived from 436-338 B. C. E. The originator of sophistic rhetoric in Greece. Made rhetoric the basis of the educational system in the Greek and Roman world. Training in rhetoric was to the mind what gymnastics was to the body. Emphasizes written rather than spoken discourse. Emphasizes epideictic rather than deliberative or judicial speech. Emphasizes style rather than argument. Emphasizes amplification and smoothness rather than forcefulness.
Aristotle Came from Stagira, on the borders of Macedon. In 367, Aristotle went to Athens to study at Plato’s Academy, and remained there for 20 years. Rhetoric is the counterpart of dialectic. Rhetoric deals with particular issues involving specific persons and actions. Dialectic deals with universal or general questions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_HFCYz4x6o&feature=related Rhetoric is “an ability, in each case, to see the available means of persuasion.” Different kinds of rhetorical texts—genres of rhetoric: Deliberative Forensic Epideictic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQCwhQ3vCPY
Dialectic vs. Rhetoric Dialectic is a faculty of discovering available argument to answer proposed questions – only acceptable form of philosophical reasoning for Plato. Rhetoric involves a preselected arbitrary conclusion. The orator selects those arguments which will prove or seem to prove the conclusion, regardless of their truth value. Gorgias places rhetoric as a corrective that corrects that which is flawed and has gone wrong – akin to cookery. It is a knack or form of flattery.
“Dialectic” & “Rhetoric”—Phaedrus Dialectic = discovery of truth. Rhetoric = persuasive exposition of truth. Handbooks lack attention to dialectic. Plato’s Phaedrusupholds the superiority of dialectic – likens rhetoric to writing as fixed and unable to defend itself.
Texts in (Con)text One dimension of rhetoric emergent from its difference from dialectic is the dependence of rhetoric on context and circumstance. Rhetoric is used to give meaning, to define and persuade others about, real circumstances and puzzling contingencies. Rhetoric exists in the “real world” and can only be understood as it operates in that context.
Understanding Context The Rhetorical situation Exigence—problem in the world that may be changed/solved by human modification or intervention. Audience—individuals subjected to rhetoric that may be agents of change Constraints—limits to change or action. Constructivist response Rhetoric not only provides an answer or resolution to an exigence, but may actually create or enhance the salience of exigencies. Audience may be seen in a broader way, accounting for reach beyond immediate change agents.
Text: The Gettysburg Address "Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
Text: The Gettysburg Address How is the Gettysburg Address an example of a rhetorical text? Which type of rhetoric is the GA? How do we encounter this text? Does it still function rhetorically today? Which classical theorist would best explain the GA—Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates? http://norvig.com/Gettysburg/sld001.htm