Home > Uncategorized > A Discussion of Rhetoric – Blog Post #1

A Discussion of Rhetoric – Blog Post #1

After reading “What is Rhetoric?” and “Antidosis: An Apology for the Art of Rhetoric,” it is clear to me that there is great lack of understanding surrounding rhetoric and both what it is and is not. There are two assertions that I would like to make about these misconceptions and explain why they are false. First, rhetoric is not the art of persuasion or flattery.  Second, rhetoric is not the demonstration of mere opinion.

To begin, rhetoric maintains some of its misconceived roots as the art of flattery from the time of Plato. He believed that rhetoric was “an art that can make the best seem the worst and the worst the best” according to Thomas M. River’s “Antidosis: An Apology for the Art of Rhetoric.” However, this is far from what rhetoric really is. Rhetoric is more of a mode inquiry through which our communities come to agree on our beliefs and values. Facts themselves are worthless when they are not put in context. When we create knowledge, we put facts into context. It takes an educated listener to distinguish flattery from actual truths.

Many people, especially those who despise lawyers and propagandists, have the false belief that rhetoric is merely one’s opinion.  This, too, is false because it does not take into account the fact that facts cannot speak for themselves.  Yes, rhetoric contains some opinion, but then again all terms, especially value terms, are opinions that we have been persuaded to believe are facts.  What makes rhetoric more than opinion is that we attach some value to these facts. We use language to teach the value of certain facts, when put into their proper context, and in this way we persuade people to see things as ‘normal, natural, good, bad, smart, dumb, etc.’

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  1. khamil13
    September 5, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    I could not agree more with your understanding of rhetoric. I think it is a tricky concept to grasp, but by understanding what rhetoric is not, I think that we gain a clearer picture of rhetoric. I also think it is difficult to understand rhetoric because of the several, varying definitions on the subject. However, I think you summed it up perfectly when you said, “Rhetoric is more of a mode of inquiry through which our communities come to agree on our beliefs and values.”

    We create a meaning and an understanding of facts through rhetoric. Those facts alone are not universal truths. We don’t use rhetoric to merely persuade others of these so-called universal facts, but we use it to create and arrive at a shared meaning, thought or idea. As you said, by putting these facts or concepts into context we also create meaning for our ideas. People should be active listeners and understand that rhetoric is not simply manipulation, but it is a unique way to persuasively communicate ideas or concepts that are arrived at through the shared inquiry of rhetoric.

  2. September 6, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    I definitely agree with your interpretation of rhetoric. It is often misunderstood and both the articles we read make this clear. I liked the way you addressed the misconceptions right off the bat and then gave a detailed explanation of why each misconception was incorrect. Your blog post was easy to understand and helped to clear up questions about the misunderstandings surrounding rhetoric.

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