THE RHETORIC

OF ARISTOTLE

 

Aristotle was a student of Plato in the golden Age of the Greek civilization.

They both lived four centuries before Christ.

 

Aristotle became a lecturer at Plato’s Academy. The Rhetoric is actually Aristotle’s reworked lecture notes for his public speaking course at the Academy. It is actually a series of notes on the study of audience psychology.

 

Athenian Greece was an exciting place and time to live.

 

CD-ROM ANCIENT GREECE

 

Among the arts and mercantile trade, Greece had travelling teachers called Sophists. (Pronounced sof-ists). They learned sophistry-subtly fallacious (pronounced fah-lay-cious) reasoning or argument. Fallacious means a false idea.

 

These teachers trained aspiring lawyers and politicians how to debate in the courts and councils of the time. There was no theoretical basis for what they taught, and many criticized their methods. Both Aristotle, and his mentor Plato, disagreed over the nature of public speaking.

 

 

Plato also scoffed at the Sophists oratorical tricks and crowd-pleasing devises. Aristotle also scoffed at the Sophists, and deplored the demagoguery (pronounced dem-ma-gog-ery) of speakers’ using their skill to move an audience while showing casual indifference to the truth. The word demagoguery means a politician who appeals to emotion and prejudice.

 

They both believed that success requires both wisdom and experience.

 

What Aristotle did was that he raised rhetoric to a science by systematically exploring the effects of the speaker, the speech and the audience. What we teach as rhetoric today is really the recasting of audience analysis provided by Aristotle 2300 years ago.

 

RHETORIC: MAKING PERSUASTION POSSIBLE:

 

Aristotle classified speech making into three categories. The categories themselves reveal just hoe much he was involved with affairs of the state.

1.     Forensic or courtroom speaking, which addresses judges who are trying to decide the facts of a person’s guilt or innocence.

 

VIDEO ‘THE JURY”

 

2.     Deliberative or political public speaking-which attempts to influence legislators or voters who decide public policy

 

VIDEO “JFK”

3.     Epideictic or ceremonial speaking-which attempts the seek praise or blame on another for the benefit of all spectators.

 

VIDEO “ K-19 THE WIDOWMAKER”

 

Aristotle started his courses with the teachings of Socrates, which is a question-answer style of public speaking.

 

Aristotle classified rhetoric as a branch of dialectic.

 

Dialectic is a search for the truth. Dialectic is one-on-one discussion. Dialectic answers general philosophic truths. Dialectic deals with certainty.

Rhetoric tries to demonstrate a truth that has already been found. Rhetoric is one person addressing many. Rhetoric addresses specific, practical truths. Rhetoric deals with probability.

 

DEFINITION OF RHETORIC: Rhetoric is the art of discovering ways to make truth seem more probable to an audience that isn’t completely convinced.

 

TEXT: ALEXANDRE THE GREAT

 

RHETORICAL PROOF:

 

According to Aristotle, the science of persuasion is based on three kinds of proof. ( A proof is evidence of a truth or fact).

 

  1. Logos or logical proof comes from the lines of an argument
  2. Ethos or ethical proof comes from the way the speaker’s character is revealed in a speech
  3. Pathos or emotional and passionate proof is the feeling the speech draws from the audience

 

The most modern day speech to effectively draw all three proofs together was the speech made by Martin Luther King in 1963.

 

VOICE-OVER: VIDEO “I Have a Dream”

 

At the end of August 1963, a quarter of a million people assembled at the Lincoln Memorial in a united march on Washington.

 

The rally capped a long and hot summer of sit-ins protesting racial discrimination.

 

VIDEO: MISSISSIPPI BURNING

 

Two months before the march. President John F. Kennedy submitted a Civil Rights Bill to Congress that would begin to rectify the racial injustices, but its passage was in serious doubt.

 

The organizers of the rally hopped the march would put pressure on Congress to outlaw segregation in the South. They also wanted to raise a national consciousness about the economic impoverishment of blacks in the United States.

 

Martin Luther king shared the platform with a dozen other civil rights leaders. Each was limited to a five-minute presentation.

 

Martin Luther King was already set apart from the other speakers through his actions and involvement with the successful Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, freedom rides, and solitary confinement in a Birmingham jail.

 

King was one of the last to speak. He called for a non-violent solution without hatred. He also implored white people to get involved in the quest for equality and freedom, as part of a dream fulfilled rather than a nightmare continued.

 

Millions watched the speech on national TV. King shifted the burden of proof on those who opposed racial equality and how he made the status quo of racial segregation an ugly option for the moral listener.

 

ETHCIAL PROOF: PERCEIVED SOURCE CREDIBILITY

 

Aristotle focused on two forms of logical proof-the enthymeme and the example.

 

He regarded the enthymeme as the strongest proof.

 

Definition of enthymeme: An incomplete version of a formal deductive syllogism. A syllogism(pronounced sil-o-gism) is a deductive argument consisting of two premises and a conclusion. The enthymeme is more artistic than stilted and intuitively unites the speaker and the audience.

 

Major or general premise: All people are created equal.

Minor or specific premise: I am a person.

Conclusion: I am equal to other people.

 

Major or general premise: God will reward non-violence.

Minor or specific premise: We are pursuing our dream non-violently.

Conclusion: God will grant us our dream.

 

ASSIGNMENT: MAKE UP AN ENTHYMEME

 

Deductive: The logical model in which specific expectations of hypotheses are developed on the basis of general principals.

 

Chart Babbie p. 43

 

Inductive: The logical model in which general principals are developed from specific observations.

 

EXAMPLE: DISSERTATION

 

ETHICAL PROOF: PERCEIVED SOURCE CREDIBILITY:

 

  1. Perceived intelligence-the quality of intelligence has more to do with practical wisdom and shared values. Audiences judge intelligence by the overlap between their beliefs and the speaker’s ideas.
  2. Virtuous character has to do with the speaker’s image as a good and honest person.
  3. Goodwill is the positive judgement of the speaker’s intention toward the audience. Sometimes this goodwill can enter into a sort of dynamism ( pronounced die-nam-ism) or a physical force of energy. An example is that after a very effective speech or performance, there is a feeling of being high, but also of being very weary and tire. A good speech can be very physical. (example Phil Donahue Show)

 

MAGAZINE: OPRAH  Vol. 3 Number 9 p. 213

 

EMOTIONAL PROOF: STRIKING A RESPONSIVE CORD AND THE FIVE CANNONS OF RHETORIC:

1.     Arrangement: According to Aristotle there are two parts to a speech. It is necessary first to state the subject, and then to demonstrate it. The introduction should capture attention, establish your credibility, and make clear the purpose of the speech.

EXAMPLE: FIRST MINUTE OF INTROUDCTION TO COMS 201

2.     Style: The use of metaphor.

EXAMPLE: The Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a large ocean of material prosperity.

3.     Memory: Not to memorize the speech but to draw on a collection of ideas and phrases stored in the mind.

EXAMPLE: SELF-DISCLOSURE

Anger (vs. mildness). Aristotle’s discussion of anger was an early version of Freud’s frustration-aggression hypothesis. People feel angry when they are thwarted to fulfill a need.

Love or friendship (vs. hatred). Consistent with present day research on attraction, a speaker should point out common goals, experience, attitudes and desires.

EXAMPLE: WHY I TEACH

Shame (vs. shamelessness). We feel embarrassed or guilty when a speaker recites our failings in front of family or friends.

Indignation (vs. pity). We have a built-in sense of fairness.

Admiration (vs. envy). People admire moral virtue, power, wealth and beauty. By demonstrating that a person has acquired life’s goods through hard work rather than by mere luck, admiration will increase.

EXAMPLE: MY HOW TO FIND A JOB SPEECH IN COMS 201

4.     Invention: to generate effective enthymemes and examples

5.     Delivery: Audiences reject delivery that seems planned or staged. Naturalness is persuasiveness, artifice is just the reverse. Any form of presentation that calls attention to it takes away from the speaker’s proofs.

EXAMPLE: USING A HAND HELD MICROPHONE IN COMS 201?

       

 

SOURCES:

 

Babbie, Earl. (1989). The Practice of Social Research. “The Creation of

Social Science Theory.” p. 43. Fifth Edition. Wadsworth Inc. Belmont,  California.

 

Oprah, Winfrey. (2002)). The Oprah Magazine: Big Dream. “Oprah Talks to

her Talk-Show Mentor Phil Donahue”. September. Volume 3, Number 9. p. 213.