My Rhetoric on Rhetortic

My text ask us the following questions: “What other meanings for rhetoric have you heard or read?  What does the term mean to you?  Are there some things or events that you would identify as definitely rhetorical and others that you would say are definitely not rhetorical?”

When I think of the word rhetoric, I tend to first think of the phrase: rhetorical question.  Rhetoric is how communication is interpreted, while rhetorical refers to something that is not supposed to be answered.  Plato and Aristotle put it best.

Rhetoric is “the art of winning the soul by discourse.” Plato

Rhetoric is “the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion.” Aristotle

For me, rhetoric is a means of how people relate to one another through shared beliefs and ideas.  The language and tone used to send a universal message must follow within the intended audience’s sensibility.

Others have defined the word as

“Rhetoric is the art of speaking well” or “…good man speaking well.” Quintilian

“Rhetoric is the study of misunderstandings and their remedies.” Richards

“Rhetoric is a form of reasoning about probabilities, based on assumptions people share as members of community.” Erika Lindemann

“Rhetoric is the art, practice, and study of human communication.” Andrea Lundsford

I truly believe that words are powerful, and used wisely can have a serious impact.  When rhetoric is abused for negative motives or slanderous ones, that is when its power should not be considered rhetorical.

“Rhetoric is an action human beings perform when they use symbols for the purpose of communicating with one another…, [and it] is a perspective humans take that involves focusing on symbolic processes.” Sonja and Karen Foss

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