Talk:Rhetoric

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Modern rhetorical theory[edit]

There's plenty of room for improvement here talking about contemporary rhet-comp pedagogy debates, Elbow-Bartholomae being a key on. Jonahkasha (talk) 16:07, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

Typing RHETOR brings one here. PLEASE SOMEBODY put in a disambig. for Zacharias Rhetor  !! I tried but it always came out badly. Sussmanbern (talk) 15:00, 11 November 2014 (UTC)

Geek Rhetoric != Public Speech (= Oratory)[edit]

While in modern times most people think of Cicero's speeches etc. if they hear the term "rhetoric", that was completely different in ancient Athens. Even Plato still knew that oratory was public speech while rhetoric was the art of discussion (sic!), preferably in small groups. And no, rhetor (= someone trying to argue in a discussion) was not used as a synonym for orator (=speaker). Jhartmann 13:26, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Are you sure you're not confusing rhetoric with dialectic??? TimNelson 03:28, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
In a nutshell, rhetoric is simply a monologue in which a speaker does not expect listeners to respond. This is distinguished from dialectic (dialogue or conversation) in which listeners respond to the speaker. That is why when one speaker asks a question and does not expect an answer from another person, that speaker is said to be asking a rhetorical question.Lestrade (talk) 10:29, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Lestrade
That was a very clear nutshell. The current article doesn't have anything like that (not in the opening anyway) and wouldn't benefit from a clear modern definition being added. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 85.17.94.25 (talk) 09:04, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Rhetoric is the social creation of shared meaning. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Binerman (talkcontribs) 18:59, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

Talk Page[edit]

Debate and such. Who and what should (and shouldn't) be included in a general overview of the subject, etc. The preceding unsigned comment was added by 142.177.68.xxx (talk • contribs) 17 July 2001.

Can we add an Ernesto Grassi page or reference Rhetoric As Philosophy? What about including a link to hermeneutic authors such as Gadamer and Habermas? --Laetus007 22:38, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

The entire overview is vague and juvenile. "[Example word] has had so many meaning, no one meaning can do it justice." is the opening of a lame BBC documentary, not the overview of a millenia-old phrase in an encyclopedia. People don't look to encyclopedias only to find that it doesn't know any more than they do. Everything has multiple definitions. Defining a word as "definitionless" is about as useful as useful as a book on trees describing an oak tree as "having gone by so many names in so many languages, no one name can do it justice." I thought, looking at the rhetoric entry, I'd gather a pretty decent understanding of what it is. But apparently, based on the overview, no one has any fucking clue what it is. Otherwise, they would define it.

Q: "What is rhetoric?" A: "Generally, rhetoric is the ability to use language effectively." Q: "What about specifically?" A: "Specifically, it can apply to oration, prose and verse, and most often holds connotations of persuasiveness. A master of rhetoric is often someone with an artful skill of persuading an audience." Q: "Thanks, Wikipedia. I think I'll read more on what you have to say about the subject, including its history, origins, and many varied meanings over time." A: "No problem, dude. Always here to help."

i understand what you mean. but, of course, the problem is that a pat definition for a tradition that has been around since the 5thC BC risks some kind of brute reduction. any chance youve seen this passage from the philosophy page?:
"Branches of philosophy
To give an exhaustive list of the main branches of philosophy is difficult, because there have been different, equally acceptable divisions at different times, and the divisions are often relative to the concerns of a particular period. However, the following branches are usually accepted as the main ones."
this seems to me to be a reasonable (and true) description that could inform the approach here on the rhetoric page.
Stacyted (talk) 16:40, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
in case you dont believe me about the challenges of coming up with some pat definition, you might check out this amazing compendium of definitions of rhetoric, spanning 6thC BC to 2006: http://www.u.arizona.edu/~tkinney/pdf/handouts/definitions.pdf
in the introduction to that document, there is this line that calls attention to the problem: "For better or worse, rhetoric is an example of what philosopher W. B. Gallie calls an 'essentially contested concept.'"
myself, i like the last "definition" in the document the best: "What we won’t be doing in this introductory chapter is telling you flat out what rhetoric is in fifty words or less—other than to say it always has to do with the production/interpretation of symbolic acts and usually has to do with persuasion. Source: John D. Ramage, Rhetoric: A User’s Guide. New York: Pearson, 2006. 1."
Stacyted (talk) 17:07, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

Language[edit]

Why this strange reluctance about the word "language"? All rhetoric is linguistic in some way. Pictures are language too. Shouldn't we change "usually through language" to "through language". And "any symbolic system etc." to just either "any symbolic system" or just "any language"? I mean, all symbolic systems are a form of language, at least that's the consensus in my linguistics department. ;) Is this edit ok with everybody? 129.177.48.51 12:35, 10 May 2006 (UTC)Martin Larsen

A few things:
1. Wikipedia says Be bold. Normally, just make the change and provide your reasoning here (but not now that I'm arguing it :) ).
2. I think "language" is being used in the lay sense of "spoken/written language". I forget the proper linguistic term for what I want to say, but I think you see what I'm getting at. If you can think of a linguistic term that a) communicates the meaning I just explained, and b) is understandable to a lay person, then post the suggestion here.
TimNelson 03:37, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Public Speaking[edit]

I was under the impression that most of what is discussed in this article falls under Public speaking. Rhetoric is an archic term which usually has somewhat negative connotations now. Should the articles be merged? F. Lee Horn 14 January 2002

Rhetoric in its modern usage is a broader term which can cover written composition as well as the spoken word (indeed, 'spoken' is implied in ancient rhetoric). By the way, I'm a little concerned about the phrasing on public speaking about 'every speech has to be earned' or some such. I get paid to give speeches. I have to earn the right to be listened to, I suppose. It sounds too much like a self-help manual. --User:MichaelTinkler 14 January 2002

Ah! Perhaps I can persuade you to write one article to cover them both then! (smile) May I ask your occupation? F. Lee Horn 14 January 2002

College professor. Who else gets paid to talk even if the audience is not entirely willing? And no, 'rhetoric' is certainly one of the fields of which I know enough to know that I know nothing! --User:MichaelTinkler 15 January 2002

What do you think about my finishing the article on public speaking for now? Then, if you like, we can discuss how the two articles relate to each other. BTW...I had an undergraduate minor in the subject, so I know just enough to be dangerous! But I *was* a member of a championship debate team, so perhaps that's worth somthing? Your input would be greatly appreciated. F. Lee Horn 15 January 2002

Well, I see the point is moot now that someone has seen fit to totally remove the Public Speaking article. Any idea who did that?  :( F. Lee Horn 15 January 2002

It's still there! - you capitalized the 'Speaking', though, so the link won't work. Public speaking. --MichaelTinkler The preceding unsigned comment was added by 66.153.24.xxx (talk • contribs) 15 January 2002.

Re the question whether there should be two articles: there should definitely be an article titled "rhetoric" in any case. This is a very important topic for understanding a lot of Western culture.

There are other synonyms for "public speaking," however ("rhetoric" isn't one of them): speech, speechmaking, oratory, oration. --LMS, 2nd place, 1985, Oration, Alaska state high school debate & forensics tournament. (My debate partner won 1st place.)

I hope no one objects too strenuously to my reworking of the article on Rhetoric. I still don't think it's complete. My current concern was to provide some understanding of how rhetoric once was so important, but now is so trivial (in the popular view, that is). The quickest way to do so seemed to be via a brief description of Quintilian's "Institutes" followed by the scholastic reformations of Petrus Ramus. Steve Swope (M.A. 1982, Rhetoric & Communication, University of Pittsburgh) The preceding unsigned comment was added by 63.185.15.80 (talk • contribs) 18 April 2002.

"Public Speaking" is one of the five parts of Rhetoric, that is, it belongs to Delivery. DigitalMedievalist 06:08, 1 Mar 2004 (UTC) Lisa

You people sure do appeal to ethos by flashing your credentials. Just kidding. --Cyberman 21:28, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
In a nutshell, rhetoric is a monologue in which a speaker does not expect listeners to respond. This is distinguished from dialectic (dialogue or conversation) in which listeners respond to the speaker. That is why when one speaker asks a question and does not expect an answer from another person, that speaker is said to be asking a rhetorical question. (cf. Gorgias, 449B: "Socrates: Would you be willing then, Gorgias, to continue the discussion as we are now doing [Dialectic], by way of question and answer , and to put off to another occasion the kind of long continuous speech [Rhetoric] that Polus [a Sophist] began?")Lestrade (talk) 10:29, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Lestrade

Applied Social Psychology[edit]

Rhetoric is a fundamental tool in applied social psychology, among other domains, but at least all of the things professional psychologists do are based on their skills at interpersonal persuasion. Can't cut, push pills, or massage; can only talk. Even teaching is based on rhetoric, the "rhetors" were the first professional teachers, so it is a foundational concept in the social and behavioral sciences. At a practical level, the British social psychologist, Michael Billig, coined the term "witcraft" for the application of rhetoric to psychology. Paul Larson, Ph.D., Chicago School of Professional Psychology The preceding unsigned comment was added by 12.249.74.67 (talk • contribs) 14 March 2003.

Yeah. I started to notice that as I read about rhetoric. Seemed like the only way to intelligently persuade someone is by playing mind games, AKA psychological warfare via rhetoric. I pretty much equate it all to sophistry and like Plato's view. However, some people are arguing that people who don't take up a Sophist-like view are fantical skeptics. Reminds me of an old quote: *googles* Oh! How ironic! I never knew the quote came from Plato! "Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something." --Cyberman 21:25, 16 August 2006 (UTC) i have this as homework n i dont know what in the world this means
In a nutshell, rhetoric is a monologue in which a speaker does not expect listeners to respond. This is distinguished from dialectic (dialogue or conversation) in which listeners respond to the speaker.Lestrade (talk) 10:29, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Lestrade

Rhetoric and the Masses, Definitions[edit]

I wonder about your characterization of rhetoric as "apparently trivial" to the masses. I am completing a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition, and I work at a university where rhetoric has its own department -- separate from the English, communications, and marketing departments. While it's true that the general public thinks of rhetoric with negative connotations, I don't think academia has abandoned it, and considering the growth of programs in rhetoric and composition, I think it's becoming less trivial all the time. I'd be happy to chat more about this if you haven't had a chance to explore rhetoric's connections to composition theory yet. (Karen M. Kuralt, ABD, English/Rhetoric and Composition, Purdue University; Asst. Prof. of Rhetoric and Writing, University of Arkansas at Little Rock)

Also, you mentioned that you would like to explore definitions of rhetoric in this piece. Maybe the best place to start is with something along the lines of Aristotle or James Kinneavy. I sometimes tell my students that rhetoric is what is created when a rhetor (a speaker, writer, or other artist) uses skills and strategies (and we discuss some examples of "skills and strategies") to shape a message for a particular purpose, for a particular audience, for a particular occasion, in a particular context. I realize this is very broad, but it seems to be a good starting point for helping students realize where different interpretations of rhetoric arise, depending on how theorists approach the elements I've italicized. One of the most important debates that you might want to address is the question of whether rhetoric is an independent area of knowledge (is rhetoric epistemic) or whether it is merely a tool for expressing knowledge from other fields. (Karen M. Kuralt) The preceding unsigned comment was added by Requiem (talk • contribs) 4 July 2003.

I think there is a fundamental flaw in the first part of the article stating that rhetoric is oral communication. I think that rhetoric can be applied to communication in general when using any and all means in each particular case to persuade. A picture can be a very persuasive, and body can language can as well, and in which case both can be considered rhetoric. comment by Amgood 16 January, 2007

People[edit]

I hope you don't mind me adding a few people to your list. Hopefully, I will find the time to start adding more information to some of them. Radical edward 1 December 2003

Figure of Speech[edit]

I have recently edited and expanded the Figure of speech page, as well as the individual pages of various figures. Would anyone object to removing the list (at least the items that are figures of speech) at the end of Rhetoric and having a pointer to Figure of speech? I think it will make Rhetoric a bit more compact, and eliminate the redundancy that currently exists. Dpaking 21 February 2005. The preceding unsigned comment was added by Dpaking (talk • contribs) 21 February 2005.

Wrong Weaver[edit]

I doubt that the Richard M. Weaver who wrote on rhetoric is the hand shaker linked to this page. That Weaver could not have gotten past the secret service to shake President Carters hand since he died in 1963. [David M. Ross] The preceding unsigned comment was added by 66.8.237.20 (talk • contribs) 24 January 2004.

Burke, Cassirer[edit]

Nice so far. Burke and Cassirer both mentioned too! The preceding unsigned comment was added by Wblakesx (talk • contribs) 21 September 2004.

Eastern Rhetoric[edit]

I find that this page is sadly lacking (as is the litterature about rhetoric in general) in a view on eastern rhetoric. I found this page very interesting: http://homepage.mac.com/tehart/asian_rhetoric_frame.html and it seems to me that Plato would be more fond of Buddhist rhetoric than Aristotle's :) I don't consider myself learned enough to edit the page as it is, so I guess this is a request that someone do. The preceding unsigned comment was added by 129.177.234.154 (talk • contribs) 18 November 2004.

edit: sorry, the link doesn't seem to work. Just go to http://homepage.mac.com/tehart/ and click your way from there... The preceding unsigned comment was added by 80.202.105.243 (talk • contribs) 13 January 2005.

In accordance with Wikipedia's Be bold, I added the corrected link to the main page. But someone still needs to expand that section on Wikipedia (possibly based on the article listed). TimNelson 03:57, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

If interested in Eastern rhetoric you may wish to see the notes on Chinese Rhetoric below Dreamlogic (talk) 05:49, 23 January 2012 (UTC)

History of Rhetoric[edit]

The article is somewhat heavily tilted toward the history of rhetoric. Most of this content should be moved to history of rhetoric, with a new article on rhetoric that is largely conceptual. The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mikedelsol (talk • contribs) 21 March 2005.

Rhetoric in of itself is strictly translated as the art of speech and writing. Writing, as everybody knows, deals with another form of voice -- an internal one. Therefore, to speak further on the topic, a look into what makes writing different from speaking needs to be adressed (which I would be happy to discuss in due course). I'm not one to write an article combining the two, though. I don't know all the history -- only the Roman and some of the Greek. I'm just one of the few Ciceronians left. -- Praetorbrutus praetorbrutus@yahoo.com The preceding unsigned comment was added by Praetorbrutus (talk • contribs) 29 October 2005.


For now, I think the historical approach is fine; a more extensive section dealing with the parts of rhetoric would still need to be linked to the history, for the simple reason that concepts of what is included/excluded within the field (rhetoric) have changed over time.

The more serious problem is that this is (1) incomplete and (2) heavily tilted towards the writer's interest in Macluhan, who, though he was briefly important (1962-72), was also highly over-praised. Under (1) what's needed is to carry the story through the 18th and early 19th centuries, and then into the development of literary criticism in the late nineteenth. There are numerous links to Lit. Crit. in both the history and practise of rhetoric, and these could be profitably explored, along with more detailed work on Burke in particular. Under (2), I would recommend cutting nearly all of this. I loved Macluhan when I was an undergraduate, but going back to "Understanding Media," recently, I was appalled at the leaps in logic, and the questionable assertions used to back up some of his claims, not to mention the paucity of documentation for some of his flashier ideas. It's a provocative work, but not a scholarly one, and doesn't deserve highlighting in an article supposed to offer a basic outline of the history of the field. (15 July 06) Theonemacduff 18:36, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree that the McLuhan stuff needs to be moved to the McLuhan page, and a link provided. I read McLuhan's stuff as a CompSci undergraduate (in Australia, that's unusual), but the only one of his books that I purchased after reading was the Gutenberg Galaxy. IIRC, he afterwards thought that in Understanding Media, he lost the battle with his publishers over writing style, so I'd hesitate to judge him on that one.
As for moving the history elsewhere, I think it's a good idea. I think that the way to write a non-historical article is to cover all areas, but have a link saying that there has been disagreement throughout history as to what should be included, and link to the History of hetoric page. TimNelson 04:01, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

The irony of course is that Rhetoric as a discipline has been wrestling with the notion of being purely historical. Ironically, the debate that is indelibly linked to this idea is neutrality in criticism, which rhetorical theory scholars would reject completely. jghitzert

I agree that the McLuhan stuff should be removed. More importantly, Ong (McLuhan's protege) should be supplemented by a more recent (and less biased) source. M8lton 20:46, 10 December 2006 (UTC).

This article is deficient in that its history makes no mention of the second sophistic, the second, third and fourth centuries or the rhetorical handbooks produced in that period or the Byzantine schools of rhetoric that came from them. It skips directly from Quintilian to Augustine. I realize this is an elementary introduction to the topic, but to be encyclopedic it should at least mention the second sophistic and its luminaries, as well as others just before and after. Dio Chrysostom, Aelius Aristides, and Libanius were all influential and important in their day and afterward. Rhetorical treatises in the names of Hermogenes, Menander, and Aristides were also produced in the third century. Some mention ought to be made of these--CRATYLUS22

McLuhan Dissertation - an ad?[edit]

While I am not well versed in McLuhan's writings, I wonder if the sentence about his upcoming work is necessary in this article. I recommend deleting it, or at least not mentioning it as though it were an advertisement. The point of the page is to discuss Rhetoric, not scholarly books on sale soon. -Laura The preceding unsigned comment was added by 134.173.160.162 (talk • contribs) 19:15, 15 February 2006.

I moved the sentence to a footnote. Hu 13:32, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

how does this work?[edit]

how does this system work?

Specify. There is as yet insufficient data in your question for a meaningful answer.--Piewalker 15:19, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

The term rhetoric in modern usage[edit]

Maybe I missed it but the article appears to lack any discussion of how the term rhetoric is used in modern speech, especially with regard to political speech. When speaking of a politicians rhetoric one usually is describing his language as elaborate, pretentious, insincere, or intellectually vacuous. Thus it serves as a pejorative term. I think this should be mentioned in the article but I'm not sure where best to put it. --Cab88 14:32, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: That is not the only meaning that rhetoric has in "modern" times -- all times are modern until they're not -- as you can see from any post*modern college catalogue. And many words are used as pejoratives whose primary meanings are simply descriptive. For instance, the way that post-modernists used the term modern as a pejorative. Jon Awbrey 14:40, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

The word has always had its baggage as a pejorative. Including alternative meanings is a job for wiktionary.jghitzert

POV Check[edit]

Beland has added the POV Check box because he apparently believes that the "Analysis of contemporary rhetoric" is not NPOV. I'd be interested in Beland's reasoning here; it seems to me that the article in question is itself NPOV, merely doing an analysis in the classical style. If no-one can provide any reasoning in 5 days, I'll talk it over with Beland and see if we can't get this removed. TimNelson 03:27, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Things that need doing[edit]

  1. Expand the Eastern Rhetoric section
  2. Move the McLuhan stuff to the McLuhan page, and link there from here
  3. Expand the contemporary Rhetoric section. Discuss linguistic turn and the theories that are related. Especially a discussion of persona as described by Black, McGee and Wander. A discussion of Burke and post-modern rhetoric could be necessary as well. Maybe even a discussion of Gorgias and its implications on contemporary rhetorical theory.

I agree with these three recommendations. The discussion concerning McLuhan is highly misleading and belongs somewhere else. A more reasonable history of modern rhetoric might look more like this: 1. Wichelns and the neo-Aristotelian tradition; 2. Burke (especially identification); 3. Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca; 4. Edwin Black and the break w/neo-Aristotelianism; 5. the 1960's and social movements; 6. postmodern trends and influences (Raymie McKerrow, Foucault, Derrida, etc.); 7. recent prominent developments ("the rhetoric of ..."; McGee and ideographs; Marxist influences (Althusser, Cloud, etc.), prophetic rhetoric (Darsey), etc. Rahgsu 19:21, 27 January 2007 (UTC) Is it just me, or is the article too long? Covers too many diverse aspects of rhetoric without summarizing and/or proper distinction by structure.I think major themes need to be summarized and shunted off to their own articles to facilitate readability and comprehensibility, and also to try and comply with wikipedia's 32KB guidline. Right now the article is excessively academic and uninspired in its structure, more a haphazard list of facts than a fabricated article; information is too dense and featureless.

Well, I've just read it, and if this needs a "clean-up", then so do 99% of the articles on WP. It's one of the best here, and congrats to the people who did it. Btw, it would be an idea to sign and date your comments, especially when they concern topical matters such as "What needs to be done". As it stands, I can't quickly see if these are from yesterday or 2 years ago. Myles325a (talk) 03:54, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

Plato vs. Socrates and Socrates' actions[edit]

The following was added under "Plato" by 71.202.38.77: "The above is the propogation of a bad--oversimplified--reading. Socrates is not simply Plato's mouthpiece! He's a character! In reading the dialogues, and especially Phaedrus, Symposium, Republic, pay attention not only to what Socrates says, but also to what he does."

I agree with this statement, and I think this more complex reading of Plato should be worked in to this portion of the article. This could also use a citation (i.e. some works that complicate the traditional reading of Plato as antirhetorical or arhetorical).I'm going to put something on this person's talk page asking them to rewrite the section. If they don't do it, I will.

In a nutshell, rhetoric is simply a monologue in which a speaker does not expect listeners to respond. This is distinguished from dialectic (dialogue or conversation) in which listeners respond to the speaker.Lestrade (talk) 10:29, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Lestrade

Rhetorical triple/t[edit]

Add rhetorical triple/ts? Calineed 22:12, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

"oral language"[edit]

While I would agree that at certain times (Ancient Greece, for instance) rhetoric has been defined as "oral persuasion," I really have to question the word "oral" in the first line of this article. Entire subsets of rhetorical study are based on textual persuasion. Contemporary rhetorical scholarship deals with both oral and written language. Currently, the first sentence reads:

"Rhetoric (from Greek ῥήτωρ, rhêtôr, orator, teacher) is the art or technique of persuasion through the use of oral language."

A few edits back, I removed the word "oral" from this sentence. Tito4000 reintroduced the word "oral" with this reasoning:

"I've reintroduced "oral" in the definition as it's important to stress that rhetoric belongs in the realm of oral expression.

This hardly seems like a good reason, right? The argument here is that oral should be included because it's "important to stress that rhetoric belongs in the realm of oral expression." This seems like a circular argument to me. I'm arguing that rhetoric is the use of language to persuade - a newspaper editorial, an academic book, a television show, a picture...all of these can be included under rhetoric. Does anyone have thoughts on this?

Jamesjbrownjr 03:44, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

In a nutshell, rhetoric is a monologue in which a speaker does not expect listeners to respond. This is distinguished from dialectic (dialogue or conversation) in which listeners respond to the speaker.Lestrade (talk) 10:29, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Lestrade

Rhetoric (especially at UC Berkeley[edit]

UC Berkeley is one of the first Universities to dedicate an entire department to the study of rhetoric (go to the site: rhetoric.berkeley.edu). I am very fortunate to be enrolled in it (third year), and I have to say that there is a huge discrepancy between classical rhetoric and contemporary rhetoric (which although emerges in the mid 20th century, really has its place following post-structuralist/anti-foundationalist thinkers like Foucault and Derrida. It also does have its non-continental folk, like J. L. Austin and Stanley Cavell. I REALLY REALLY want someone to help revise the portion on modern/contemporary rhetoric. There is a lot of work to be done there.

Honestly, because of the nature of language and rhetoric, I wouldn't be surprised if this took a HUGE effort to categorize. I personally think that there should be a brief synopsis on classical and contemporary rhetoric, and then be split up into two separate articles. I really think the section on contemporary rhetoric can be gigantic and overwhelming on its own; and as it remains now, it is fractured and incomplete.


i wonder, though, if austin, derrida, & foucault self-identified as a rhetoricians, or if they were commonly associated with "rhetoric" as it existed when they were alive and working. they (and a host of others like, say, nietzsche) have certainly been drafted by rhetoric people in universities for good/interesting reasons (e.g. because of their arguments sound a lot like the early sophists, like protagoras, gorgias, etc.) and for bad reasons (e.g. because they associate rhetoric--which is seen as a lowly service curriculum by most people in universities--with theories that were very fashionable in the humanities in the 1980s in a vain effort to make rhetoric respectable to other people in the humanities who are still impressed by these fashions). the irony is that the good reasons, the ones about the harmony between the arguments of the poststructuralists and the sophists, are built on a transhistorical continuity that the poststructrualists, mentioned in the bad reasons, would systematically reject. if people like austin, derrida, foucault are mentioned in this article as "rhetoricians", i think it would be ambitious, if not plainly wrong. any mention of them should emphasize that they are "popular among rhetoricians" or "have been assoicated with rhetoric for x,y, & z reasons." to call them rhetoricians or to put them at the center of rhetoric is anachronistic. Stacyted (talk) 17:31, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Nietzsche's earliest published lectures were on classical rhetorical theory, so it's almost a little backwards to say he was "drafted by rhetoric"; in a way he was "drafted" by philosophy. Foucault writes about classical rhetoric in his lectures on hermeneutics and on parrhesia, though what he says about it is dismissive. (Nevertheless, these comments have been the focus of analysis by self-identified rhetorical scholars since well before these lectures were widely known). I think you're incorrect that "poststructuralists" would "systematically reject" the arguments about the harmony between the arguments of poststructuralists and sophists, but I agree with your point that it would be wrong to describe many of these figures as rhetoricians is not acceptable for Wikipedia. It would be acceptable to quote other scholars calling them rhetoricians but I'm not sure that is happening either. Nevertheless, there is little question that these figures are in the mainstream of contemporary rhetorical theory these days. csloat (talk) 17:54, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
agreed that lots of rhetorical theorists are excited about derrida, foucault, and austin for a number of reasons. but so are cultural theorists, anthropologists, womens studies scholars, historians, literary studies scholars, philosophers, art historians, etc. i dont see that rhetoric has any special claim here. any claim that rhetoricians make on them could be legitimately contested by folks in these other areas. i think its fair to say that these theorists have had wide and significant influence on the humanities and social sciences and, by extension, on rhetorical studies. but its also fair to say that many rhetoricians have found their work valuable and consonant with the "rhetorical tradition".
nietzsche was a philologist. and then a philosopher, of a kind. a lot of rhetoricians have seen his "truth and lies in a nonmoral sense," for instance, as highly consonant with sophistic thinking about language and discourse.
those who call these people "rhetoricians" are a little like those who called georgia o'keefe a "feminist" because her flower paintings looked to them like bold statements of women's power and pride.
Stacyted (talk) 00:12, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Confusing[edit]

I read the entire first two paragraphs with a good idea of what rhetoric is in my head, and I now have no idea what it is. I think the Socratic details could have waited until later paragraphs. Rhetoric (from Greek ῥήτωρ, rhêtôr, orator, teacher) is generally understood to be the art or technique of persuasion through the use of spoken and written language; however, this definition of rhetoric has expanded greatly since rhetoric emerged as a field of study in universities. In this sense, there is a divide between classical rhetoric (with the aforementioned definition) and contemporary practices of rhetoric.

"Historically, Classical Rhetoric has its inception in a school of Pre-Socratic philosophers known as Sophists. It is later taught as one of the three original liberal arts or trivium (the other members are dialectic and grammar) in Western culture. In ancient and medieval times, grammar concerned itself with correct, accurate, pleasing, and effective language use through the study and criticism of literary models, dialectic concerned itself with the testing and invention of new knowledge through a process of question and answer, and rhetoric concerned itself with persuasion in public and political settings such as assemblies and courts of law."

Yes but what is RHETORIC?

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by 63.229.221.191 (talk) 02:00, 8 May 2007 (UTC).
In a nutshell, rhetoric is simply a monologue in which a speaker does not expect listeners to respond. This is distinguished from dialectic (dialogue or conversation) in which listeners respond to the speaker.Lestrade (talk) 10:29, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Lestrade

To somewhat follow up on this, in the second paragraph in the intro, the second sentence reads, While classical rhetoric trained speakers to be effective persuaders in public forums and institutions like courtrooms and assemblies, contemporary rhetoric investigates human discourse writ large. (emphasis mine). What is this supposed to mean, "writ large"? Is it just a typo? I can't figure out from the context of the paragraph nor the section on modern rhetoric further down. Zach99998 (talk) 00:34, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

"Writ large" is a figure of speech that contains a minimum of communicative value. The Sophists used such devices when trying to make an impression. The tradition survives today in academia.Lestrade (talk) 00:34, 2 June 2010 (UTC)Lestrade

Rhetoric and Meaning[edit]

"Every aspect of human life and thought that depends on the articulation and communication of meaning can be said to involve elements of the rhetorical." (3rd paragraph under Rhetoric)

I feel that to define modern rhetorical theory as those "aritculation(s) and communication(s)" that have meaning is far too simplistic. A debate that many rhetoricians enjoy today actually concerns the relevance of attaching meaning to ANY textual utterance(whether it be written text, film, oral, musical, pictorial, or conceptual).

Further, I have a real problem with the entirety of the McLuhan section under the History of Modern Rhetoric heading--he simply is not that seminal to the course of Modern Rhetorical Theory--however popular he may be. This section should be completely re-written to include more rhetoricians and theorists--many of whom pop up in the notes without much discourse as to their influence on the subject within the main text.

Finally (for now), the article is far too long and tries to cover too much for the guidelines and standards as I understand them here. I am considering editing the article into at least three stand alone atricles: A broad introduction from which one can access the History, Development and Current Rhetorical Concerns, or something to that effect...I mean, really, 7,000 words? No one wants to slog through all of that to get to some salient and necessary point.

Please accept my apology if I come across too crabby--I sometimes do when I am being bold!

Poetess 22:09, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

This article does not tell me what rhetoric is[edit]

I do not consider myself qualified to edit this article - I looked it up because I wanted to know what 'Rhetoric' actually meant, but I am afraid that I didn't find the entry very helpful. At risk of labouring the point I reproduce the first para. below:

Rhetoric (from Greek ῥήτωρ, rhêtôr, orator, teacher) the definition of rhetoric has expanded greatly since rhetoric emerged as a field of study in universities. In this sense, there is a divide between classical rhetoric (with the aforementioned definition) and contemporary practices of rhetoric which include the analysis of written and visual texts.

OK, but, what is Rhetoric, Really?

what is the 'aforementioned definition'?

Is it teaching? Oration? persuasion?

Is a good powerpoint presentation Rhetoric? A Church sermon? A political speech?

What about, say, the Gettysburg address? Was it Rhetoric when the address was delivered, and, if so, is the transcript of the address also Rhetoric?

How does it differ from other forms of written or verbal communication?

what is a 'Rhetorical question' ?

An opening paragraph which gave a concise definition ( if possible) followed by a few sentences which clearly addressed the questions above (or similar) would really help.

Thanks!

Jforrest1 22:30, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

In a nutshell, rhetoric is simply a monologue in which a speaker does not expect listeners to respond. This is distinguished from dialectic (dialogue or conversation) in which listeners respond to the speaker. Therefore, a rhetorical question is a question that is not answered. A rhetorical question is dialectic (question and answer) that is employed as rhetoric (no answer expected). Lestrade (talk) 10:29, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Lestrade
a simpler definition of rhetoric is "the art of persuasion" —Preceding unsigned comment added by 72.64.102.86 (talk) 03:26, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

Not true. Both rhetoric and dialectic are attempts to persuade. In Gorgias, 493 C, Socrates admits to Callicles that he is using his dialectic "to prove to you, in order to persuade you, if I can, to change your mind and, instead of a life of intemperate craving which can never be satisfied, to choose a temperate life which is content with whatever comes to hand and asks no more." Persuasion is not the essence of rhetoric. (In The Greek Sophists, page 119, editor John Dillon wrote about Hippias' use of dialectic for persuasion: "There is also extant by him [ Hippias ] a Trojan Dialogue [dialectic], which is not an oration [rhetoric] — Nestor in Troy, after it has been captured, expounds to Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, what course he ought to pursue in order to win a good reputation.") The essence of rhetoric is that it is one person speaking to an audience that doesn't respond by answering. This is in contrast to dialectic, which is a conversation between two or more people who respond to each other.Lestrade (talk) 16:36, 23 May 2010 (UTC)Lestrade


the dictionary will not solve this problem

the problem is that rhetoric has been every one of the things that you list, jforrest, and that the quest to determine what rhetoric "actually" is is going to be disappointing and frustrating. one way to explain what rhetoric is is to say that trying to determine what rhetoric "actually" is is a very non-rhetorical way of approaching the problem.

these days, of course most people think of rhetoric as "empty words" or "lies." occasionally people have some experience with rhetoric in school, where they learn that it is a curriculum for learning how to write and speak effectively. but as with any course of study that has existed since the beginning of western civilization, (5th century BC, Athens), it is bound to have gone through some changes over the millenia. here are some good sources on the history of rhetoric, if youre interested:

Conley, T. M. (1994). Rhetoric in the European tradition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kennedy, G. A. (1994). A new history of classical rhetoric. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Murphy, J. J. (1983). A Synoptic history of classical rhetoric. Davis, Calif.: Hermagoras Press.

Ong, W. J. (2004). Ramus, method, and the decay of dialogue : from the art of discourse to the art of reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Stacyted (talk) 16:46, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Like everything else, words decay, deteriorate, degenerate. The article claims that "Rhetoric is the art of using language to communicate effectively." The essence of rhetoric is thus supposed to be merely communicative language. However, the word is now ambiguous because it has more than one meaning. The original meaning was oratory, as can be seen in its Greek root. Oratory = rhetoric. (Walter Hamilton, in a footnote, page 22, to his translation of Gorgias for Penguin Classics, wrote: "The word rhetor…has the double sense of 'orator' and 'teacher of oratory'." He thereby equates rhetor with orator.) People have subsequently used the word to designate other concepts, though. Like so many other words, it now has a meaning that is different from its original sense. It now means deceptive speech, the very opposite of communicative language. The article should emphasize this corruption.Lestrade (talk) 14:41, 30 May 2010 (UTC)Lestrade

Sophists and Rhetoric[edit]

Isn't sophistry nearly the opposite of rhetoric? One definition of sophism is "a deliberately invalid argument displaying ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving someone" So how could the sophists have invented rhetoric, as the article says? —Preceding unsigned comment added by JoshNarins (talkcontribs) 15:42, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

From my (undergraduate) studies on rhetoric, I understand that the sophists were rhetors. They just had different ideas on the purposes of rhetoric. The discussion here under "Rhetoric and the Masses, Definition" makes an excellent point that rhetoric is not just about one thing. It's about the rhetor, the means of persuasion, the message, the audience, etc. I don't think that the defintion of sophism you mentioned is accurate, at least from my understanding of sophists and rhetoric. The way I understand classical rhetoric is that there was (among other things) a divide between those who believed in transcendent truth, and those who did not - you know, is there an absoulte truth and can it be known. The sophlsts, from what I gather, were attacked by people like Plato for not believing in THE 'truth' because if there's no absolute truth, there's no morality either, and these ideas were (are) considered dangerous to society - and to epistemologies which needed transcendent truth. What sophists seemed to be getting at, from my understanding, was the use of rhetoric as a form of self-defense. If you know the means of persuasion, you're less likely to be unduly influenced. I'm just an undergrad though, so my knowledge on this is very limited, and I certainly don't have the 'ethos' to back this up. Also, this definition of sohpism seems to me to define rhetoric as a means to persuade using only valid arguments and for the purpose of enlightening, which does not seem to be the case, especially with how the word 'rhetoric' seems to be used today. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 129.2.175.70 (talk) 20:46, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Sophists were said to use rhetoric because they gave relatively long speeches. This was in contrast to Socrates, who employed dialectic. Rhetoric is one person giving a speech to an audience that doesn't answer. Dialectic is two or more persons speaking with and answering each other. Lestrade (talk) 16:24, 23 May 2010 (UTC)Lestrade

The relationship between the Sophists and rhetoric is the key to understanding the meaning of rhetoric. The Sophists were orators who gave long speeches. Socrates, on the other hand, used dialectic, which is short alternations of questions and answers. The contrast between long monologues (rhetoric) and short dialogues (dialectic) brings out the meaning of rhetoric. In one case, Socrates purposely mocked the Sophists by abandoning his usual dialectical method and giving a long, involved rhetorical oration. This was in the dialogue Protagoras, 342 B - 347 A.Lestrade (talk) 17:32, 28 May 2010 (UTC)Lestrade

Hi, in fact sophism is an argument in rhetoric, thus sophistry belongs to rhetoric art. I am the main contributo on french article (very good article) and i cited sophistry as a part of rhetoric for two reasons : first codified rhetoric was born after sophistry was swept out from it (thanks to Socrate). Second, sophism represents a non-sense among all the arguments used by rhetors. Sorry for my english, Prosopee (talk) 06:04, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

Socrates always tries to force the Sophists into abandoning their long speeches. He tries to engage them in question–and–answer conversations. In Gorgias, 448 D, Socrates says of the Sophist Polus: "…Polus has devoted himself much more to what is called oratory [rhetoric] than to the art of conversation [dialectic]." Sophists professed to be experts in the teaching of rhetoric, that is, monologic, oratorical public speaking. This is in contrast to Socrates' preference for dialogistic, conversational dialectic.Lestrade (talk) 00:23, 4 June 2010 (UTC)Lestrade

ad Herennium[edit]

On whose authority does wikipedia attribute Rhetorica ad Herennium to Cicero ? Who, finally, was the real author? We have no evidence to determine that, and so must assign the work to an auctor incertus--Anne97432 (talk) 11:07, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

The author is known as "Pseudo Cicero," because the text was long (and erroneously) believed to be Cicero's. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Antistrophos (talkcontribs) 04:26, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Style changes[edit]

I've cleaned up the article somewhat. This is a fine example - it looks like - of a very good article emerging purely spontaneously, with the help of lots of people. It's great to see, and those who have contributed so far, very well done. Wikidea 16:50, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Chinese Rhetoric[edit]

I have removed the section on Chinese rhetoric because in its current state it contributes little to the article and contains specific information on Mao Zedong that would be better incorporated into a detailed section (rather that the seven lines we have now).

As I'm sure that this action will cause controversy so I have started a new talk section Dreamlogic (talk) 08:13, 8 December 2010 (UTC)


The removed section is reproduced below:

In Chinese civilization, rhetoric has been primarily written, not oral, due to regional differences in language, and the centrality of the written Classical Chinese language to the empire; accordingly, calligraphy and studies of classical Chinese literature have received more attention than oral delivery.

In imperial China, bureaucrats would be sent to different regions, where they would be able to communicate in writing but relatively less in speech, and in the 20th century the speeches of Mao Zedong were frequently incomprehensible to most Chinese listeners due to his heavy regional accent, with his rhetoric being better known through his writings and calligraphy, and particularly his Quotations from Chairman Mao (Little Red Book).


May I suggest some starting points if anyone wishes to tackle this (complex topic) in English:

Research in Rhetoric in China (1996) by Mary M. Garrett, the full text is available from Educational Resources Information Center

Rhetoric in ancient China, fifth to third century, B.C.E.: a comparison with classical Greek rhetoric by Lu, Lucy Xing, introduction on Google books books.google.com

There is an old but interesting academic thread here The Chinese Rhetoric Thread

The work of Christoph Harbsmeier might also be useful

Also available is the paper: A Perspective of Chinese Rhetorical Strategy by Guan, Yan, full text available All Academic - Having read this (as a purely personal opinion) it seems that the author focuses on criticism of Western academic writing on Chinese rhetoric, there is very little detail on the Chinese academic perspective or on what is meant by rhetoric in a Chinese context, so it may not be a useful source for the section

Good Luck

I will research and write a Chinese rhetoric section if I have time, but it should be done with someone whose Chinese is far better than mine. Dreamlogic (talk) 08:19, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

Degree courses "General Rhetoric"[edit]

A notable fact is, that you can attend degree courses in rhetoric. The University of Tübingen (Germany) is the only German university and probably the only university in the world which offers degree courses in "General Rhetoric" (in German: Allgemeine Rhetorik). You can graduate with a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts or even a Dr. phil (PhD) in General Rhetoric. --91.46.37.225 (talk) 23:05, 25 December 2010 (UTC)

Is Aristotle responsible for the "five cannons of rhetoric"[edit]

The article states that:

" In Aristotle's systematization of rhetoric, one important aspect of rhetoric to study and theorize was the three persuasive audience appeals: logos, pathos, and ethos, as well as the five canons of rhetoric: invention or discovery, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery."

This suggests that one of Aristotle systematic innovations was the discovery of the five canons of rhetoric "invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery". But isn't this a later Roman innovation? Aristotle does not explicitly discuss these 5 cannons. It is controversial to claim that these already existed in Aristotle.

True or not I think this should be removed, insofar as it is controversial.

  • Aristotle explicitly discusses 4 of the 5. After defining the art, he proceeds to discuss (a) Invention of proofs; (b) delivery; (c) style; (d) arrangement. The canon of memory is something I associate with the Romans, in particular with the Ad Herennium. Calling them the five canons ... that's Roman. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Antistrophos (talkcontribs) 04:37, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Is Aristotle responsible for the "five cannons of rhetoric"[edit]

The article states that:

" In Aristotle's systematization of rhetoric, one important aspect of rhetoric to study and theorize was the three persuasive audience appeals: logos, pathos, and ethos, as well as the five canons of rhetoric: invention or discovery, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery."

This suggests that one of Aristotle systematic innovations was the discovery of the five canons of rhetoric "invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery". But isn't this a later Roman innovation? Aristotle does not explicitly discuss these 5 cannons. It is controversial to claim that these already existed in Aristotle.

True or not I think this should be removed, insofar as it is controversial.

5 canons

i dont think they should be attributed to any single writer. maybe we should say that they were codified in roman rhetoric.

Need for coherence and cleanup: irony[edit]

This page continues to feature this warning:

"To comply with Wikipedia's guidelines, the introduction of this article may need to be rewritten. Please discuss this issue on the talk page and read the layout guide to make sure the section will be inclusive of all essential details. (May 2011)"

Isn't this sad and ironic, given the subject matter of the page, the art of effective communication? It would be nice if the wiki page for "Rhetoric" demonstrated some mastery of it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Stacyted (talkcontribs) 16:29, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

ἐρῶ[edit]

This word is the Future form of εἴρω, which clearly became obsolete and was replaced by the Present forms φημί or λέγω. The Aorist form is εἶπον. It is intriguing how so many different words had to be brought together to form a complete paradigm of the verb that indicates the most fundamental of human activities. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pamour (talkcontribs) 13:10, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

Adding the 20th Century reference[edit]

Please find below the references which auguments my edits to this page for the "Rhetoric in the 20th Century". I think ZMM is a very thoughtful work discussing on Rhetoric and a book with sufficient knowledge, references, analysis and research into rhetoric, this is why we would want to bring it explicitly under the 20th century works on Rhetoric.

Book: Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance Author: Robert M. Pirsig Link: [1] Pages 76,78,81-89,95,103,105,117,162-176

Author: Catherine Rowett, University of East Anglia, School of Philosophy, [2] Book: Absolute goodness, rhetoric and rationality: a discussion of Robert Pirsig's novel Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance and Plato's Phaedrus. [3]

Author: Dr. Richard Cherwitz (Ph.D., University of Iowa, 1978) [4] Book: Rhetoric and philosophy [5] Rajesh Manickadas (talk) 05:25, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

Isocrates vs Socrates?[edit]

I thought they are 2 different people. The page seemed to have mixed up the two. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 60.242.171.10 (talk) 11:32, 19 September 2012 (UTC)

That was vandalism from back in 17 July 2012. Thanks for pointing it out. olderwiser 11:46, 19 September 2012 (UTC)

Epistemology[edit]

The piece is biased in favour of one of the ideas it describes, that rhetoric is central to knowledge. The other idea, that rhetoric is different from knowledge, is described as a "stereotype" based on old assumptions on truth. Moreover, it claims that the tradition in which rhetoric is different from knowledge changed over the 20th century by the alleged influence of pragmatism and social constructionism.

That's not true, for although rhetoric and knowledge are closely related they are still adversarial because of their different points of interest, intentions etc.. The quoted writers dismiss notions of truth, and promote the importance of consensus or agreement, as if that would somehow legitimise rhetoric as central to knowledge.

I suggest we replace the piece with a version that doesn't presuppose social constructionism, pragmatism or dismissals of truth. Hence I'll begin to clarify some features and relations between rhetoric and knowledge (please feel free to contribute):

  1. Rhetoric intends to influence beliefs or behaviour by the available means, (beauty, truth, lies, authority, trends, flattery, or whatever works).
  2. Knowledge intends to establish true beliefs by means of justification (discovered evidence, good reason, true description).
  3. For a rhetorician knowledge is a means, for a scientist it is an end.
  4. For a scientist rhetoric is a means, for a rhetorician it is an end.
  5. Rhetorical reason is to discover the relevant issue at hand, or the available means, prior acting or forming an argument. Its domain is the particular case, not the general question.
  6. A knowledge-oriented use of rhetoric is to identify and select particular cases in order to find the truth of a general question.
  7. A rhetorical use of knowledge is to bring forth favourable truths and suppress unfavourable truths in order to persuade.
  8. In ideology rhetoric and knowledge might be adversarial: e.g. what an ideology says by rhetoric might be refuted by what knowledge says by discovered evidence.
  9. In education rhetoric and knowledge can be closely related: e.g. when rhetoric is used for influencing students to find knowledge.
  10. In education the difference between rhetoric and knowledge is reflected in a difference between tuition and research: i.e. researchers establish knowledge while teachers mediate it.
  11. ....

Rhetoric and knowledge[edit]

Ok, I renamed the previous section 'Epistemology' to 'Rhetoric and knowledge' and replaced its text with a concise version based on argument rather than sweeping history or quotes by social constructionists etc. Perhaps part of the previous text could still be useful? Its quoted writers didn't seem sufficiently well-known. I resolved to replace the text rather than attempt to clarify it. Please feel free to improve it.

--Kopare (talk) 17:58, 10 April 2014 (UTC)