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Blog #1 — What is Rhetoric?

What is rhetoric? This seems to be the infinite question. People have debated this question for centuries and no one has come up with a definite answer. There are many interpretations of what rhetoric exactly is. From the readings, “What is Rhetoric?” and “Antidosis: An Apology for the Art of Rhetoric,” it is clear that although this debate may be old, it is still a question pertinent today.

Currently rhetoric tends to have a negative connotation. It is associated with lawyers and politicians manipulating and deceiving their audiences into thinking a certain way. Individuals like Pound see rhetoric as “the art of dressing up some unimportant matter so as to fool the audience for the time being” (Vitanza, 2). Definitions like this make it easy for individuals to have a complete mistrust of rhetoric.

Although rhetoric is often viewed as negative, some see it in a positive light. W. Booth believes rhetoric “creates meaning” (Vitanza, 1). In these sense, rhetoric allows individuals to communicate their beliefs and values with others. Additionally, the sophists, who opposed Plato and his interpretation of rhetoric, believed that “rhetoric is the only method we have to come to shared beliefs” (Rivers, 2). By sharing these beliefs and values, people are able to develop a common understanding of the world.

Rhetoric is essential part of communicating. As Dr. Rivers explained in class, rhetoric should be seen as manure rather than bullshit. It is what allows for communication and understanding to grow and flourish.

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