The Rhetoric of Reason: Writing and the Attractions of Argument

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Some classical writers on rhetoric Plato, for example believed that it was originally induced from trial-and-error experiment 7. However, it is clear to us that classical rhetoric was in fact deduced. It was this underlying principle that later critics of rhetoric attacked. This definition is clear in as far as it goes and Kennedy notes that problems do arise when we try to define the characteristic contents of such a theory 9. It is primarily oral: it is discourse, and, as such, there is no text. The context is thus usually civic.

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The primary function of rhetoric is the production of emotion. The orator attempts to move and convince the audience by presenting relevant arguments, but more importantly, by appealing to their emotions. This is a fundamental fact of classical rhetoric throughout its history: in the Greek and Roman periods, in the early Middle Ages, in its revival in renaissance Italy and in the neoclassical period of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in France, England and America Kennedy 1: and France: Primary or functional rhetoric is natural, direct and simple, and conceals the presence of an author.

These characteristics in combination with the appeal to the emotions suggest a close link of functional rhetoric with what the seventeenth century knew as the sublime Rhetoric is secondary or decorative when used as an end in itself, something set up for our admiration or pleasure. The speech act is no longer central, being replaced by a text that can be read and admired on any occasion by any audience.

Secondary rhetoric is a shift from discourse to literature including poetry and the context is no longer civic but personal. Secondary rhetoric embraces all the techniques and devices of rhetoric when they are used decoratively: for example, the commonplaces, figures of speech and thought, and tropes when used in elaborate writing. Secondary rhetoric is used to produce the varying patterns of emphasis on the surface of a communication an important and rhetorically significant function , thus maintaining the interest of the audience and helping to highlight the important points of the communication.

Literature, art and music can all be decorated with secondary rhetoric, and, when used excessively, this may be seen as a mannerism of the historical period in which it is produced. Secondary or decorative rhetoric is artificial, indirect and ostentatious, and reveals the presence of an author.

Indeed, it allows the author to demonstrate his education, eloquence or skill and make him acceptable to an audience. Secondary rhetoric can be the death of rhetoric in its original sense the art of persuasion and is what many people today understand rhetoric to be that is, insincere or exaggerated speaking or writing designed to impress. Table 2. It should be remembered, however, that such a dichotomy is artifical and that good rhetoric like good taste will have a mixture of the two It is important to note that Kennedy does not consider the letteraturizzazione of rhetoric a characteristic of the seventeenth century.

In seventeenth-century France, for example, the move towards neoclassicism can be seen as a move back to an emphasis on primary rhetoric in reaction to late renaissance mannerism. There are two reasons for the phenomenon of letteraturizzazione. The main reason is the place of rhetoric in education, where the emphasis was on teaching the more accessible technical aspects of rhetoric the parts of a speech, commomplaces, figures, tropes and so forth to children by rote The other reason is the lack of practical opportunities in certain periods, usually because of the political situation, to use primary rhetoric in its civic context.

Letteraturizzazione is not a characteristic of the neoclassical period seventeenth century because public speaking re-emerged as a major force in church and state Kennedy 1: 5. The metaphor of three strands of thought provides a useful means for describing and classifying the main features of classical rhetoric and hence its nature.

It will also be useful in then understanding how rhetoric can be and was applied to other arts such as music. The strands can be treated under the following headings:. Each strand places emphasis on different aspects of rhetoric and they can to some extent be related to the three factors or elements in the speech situation. By the end of antiquity classical rhetoric was a standard body of knowledge, which, once fully developed, remained essentially unaltered.

It was, however, constantly revised and adapted, and often made more detailed. Each strand made its distinctive contribution to this development and at different stages more, or less, emphasis was placed on each strand. In its fully developed form as in the works of Cicero and Quintilian , the theory of classical rhetoric was divided into five parts that taught how to plan and deliver a speech:.

Style or Expression Gk. This is one of the only accounts in the musical literature to deal with music and rhetoric using the approach argued in this thesis—it is concerned with analysis rather than performance practice. Aristotle divided the means of persuasion into two types: non-artistic or extrinsic and artistic or intrinsic. This division, and the subdivisions to be described below, became a standard part of classical rhetoric. These are those means dictated by circumstance. Because they pre-exist, they are not created by orators but are exploited by them.

They include laws, witnesses, contracts, evidence of slaves and oaths. Logos logical argument comprises the modes or tools of persuasion by real or apparent demonstration. They are different from the strict, logical and detailed reasoning of dialectic non-specialist audiences—non-philosophers—were considered unable to follow such reasoning , but involve informal reasoning that is more easily understood.

The modes of logical persuasion include the example, the maxim and the enthymeme the syllogism of probability. Pathos the emotion a speaker can awaken in the souls of the audience deals with persuasion derived from appeals to the emotions of the audience.

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These are general arguments or lines of reasoning applicable to all subjects that the orator can adapt to the question at issue and then amplify. They include ethical and political premises that can be used in enthymemes, logical strategies such as arguing from cause to effect and techniques of amplification such as by division and definition. Consider the following sentence from one of my own manuscripts. This is the last sentence in the Introduction [ 3 ]:. How often are residents taught informally by physicians and nurses in clinical settings?

What teaching techniques are used by physicians and nurses to deliver informal education? The reader can now expect that the manuscript will address each of these questions, in this order. If not, your writing will not be logically developed and you will weaken the logos at work in the manuscript. If the writer uses the wrong signpost, the meaning of the sentence falls apart, and so does the logos:.

This sentence does not present two different alternatives; it presents two contrasting ideas. Using alternatively confuses the meaning of the sentence, and thus impairs logos. With clear and precise signposting, the reader will easily follow your argument across the manuscript. This supports the logos you develop as you guide the reader to your conclusions. Pathos is the rhetorical appeal that focuses on the reader.

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Pathos refers to the emotions that are stirred in the reader while reading the manuscript. The author should seek to trigger specific emotional reactions in their writing.

Be Persuasive The Rhetoric of Reason: Writing and the Attractions of Argument ( Rhetoric of the Human Sciences) (): James R. Crosswhite. The Rhetoric of Reason Writing and the Attractions of Argument James Crosswhite. Rhetoric of the Human Sciences A call for reasoning, writing, and rhetoric in.

And, yes, there is room for emotions in scientific research articles. Another example is found in Bonfire red titles. To use an analogy from card games e. God-terms like freedom, justice, and duty call on shared human values, trumping contradictory feelings. By alluding to God-terms in our research, we increase the emotional appeal of our writing. Let us reconsider the example from above:.

While burnout continues to plague our residents, medical educators have yet to identify the root causes of this problem. Consider this variation on the previous example:. While burnout continues to ruin the lives of our residents, medical educators have neglected to identify the root causes of this problem. By over-amplifying the appeals to emotion, this rephrasing elicits feelings of refusal and rejection in the reader.

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These are classical Greek terms, dating back to Aristotle, who is traditionally seen as the father of rhetoric. The next war may not turn out like the Past, and should it not, the advocates for reconciliation now will be wishing for separation then, because, neutrality in that case, would be a safer convoy than a man of war. In its fully developed form as in the works of Cicero and Quintilian , the theory of classical rhetoric was divided into five parts that taught how to plan and deliver a speech:. Following the neo-Aristotelian approaches to criticism, scholars began to derive methods from other disciplines, such as history, philosophy, and the social sciences. Category Task Force Discussion. Add to Basket.

Instead of drawing the reader in, it pushes the reader away. Researchers must explain them. In that explaining, we endeavour to convince the audience that our propositions should be accepted. While the science in our research is at the core of that persuasion, there are techniques from rhetoric that can help us convince readers to accept our arguments.

Ethos, logos and pathos are appeals that, when used intentionally and judiciously, can buoy the persuasive power of your manuscripts. Her program of research investigates the many kinds of teams involved in health professions education e. Wherever there is meaning there is persuasion. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Perspect Med Educ v. Perspect Med Educ. Aristotelian rhetoric as such is a neutral tool that can be used by persons of virtuous or depraved character. This capacity can be used for good or bad purposes; it can cause great benefits as well as great harms.

There is no doubt that Aristotle himself regards his system of rhetoric as something useful, but the good purposes for which rhetoric is useful do not define the rhetorical capacity as such. Thus, Aristotle does not hesitate to concede on the one hand that his art of rhetoric can be misused.

But on the other hand he tones down the risk of misuse by stressing several factors: Generally, it is true of all goods, except virtue, that they can be misused. Secondly, using rhetoric of the Aristotelian style, it is easier to convince of the just and good than of their opposites. Finally, the risk of misuse is compensated by the benefits that can be accomplished by rhetoric of the Aristotelian style.

It could still be objected that rhetoric is only useful for those who want to outwit their audience and conceal their real aims, since someone who just wants to communicate the truth could be straightforward and would not need rhetorical tools. This, however, is not Aristotle's point of view: Even those who just try to establish what is just and true need the help of rhetoric when they are faced with a public audience.

Aristotle tells us that it is impossible to teach such an audience, even if the speaker had the most exact knowledge of the subject. Obviously he thinks that the audience of a public speech consists of ordinary people who are not able to follow an exact proof based on the principles of a science. Further, such an audience can easily be distracted by factors that do not pertain to the subject at all; sometimes they are receptive to flattery or just try to increase their own advantage. And this situation becomes even worse if the constitution, the laws, and the rhetorical habits in a city are bad.

Finally, most of the topics that are usually discussed in public speeches do not allow of exact knowledge, but leave room for doubt; especially in such cases it is important that the speaker seems to be a credible person and that the audience is in a sympathetic mood. For all those reasons, affecting the decisions of juries and assemblies is a matter of persuasiveness, not of knowledge. It is true that some people manage to be persuasive either at random or by habit, but it is rhetoric that gives us a method to discover all means of persuasion on any topic whatsoever.

Aristotle joins Plato in criticizing contemporary manuals of rhetoric. But how does he manage to distinguish his own project from the criticized manuals? The general idea seems to be this: Previous theorists of rhetoric gave most of their attention to methods outside the subject; they taught how to slander, how to arouse emotions in the audience, or how to distract the attention of the hearers from the subject. This style of rhetoric promotes a situation in which juries and assemblies no longer form rational judgments about the given issues, but surrender to the litigants.

Since people are most strongly convinced when they suppose that something has been proven Rhet.

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In Aristotle's view an orator will be even more successful when he just picks up the convincing aspects of a given issue, thereby using commonly-held opinions as premises. Since people have a natural disposition for the true Rhet. Of course, Aristotle's rhetoric covers non-argumentative tools of persuasion as well. It is understandable that several interpreters found an insoluble tension between the argumentative means of pertinent rhetoric and non-argumentative tools that aim at what is outside the subject.

It does not seem, however, that Aristotle himself saw a major conflict between these diverse tools of persuasion—presumably for the following reasons: i He leaves no doubt that the subject that is treated in a speech has the highest priority e. Thus, it is not surprising that there are even passages that regard the non-argumentative tools as a sort of accidental contribution to the process of persuasion, which essentially proceeds in the manner of dialectic cp. His point seems to be that the argumentative method becomes less effective, the worse the condition of the audience is.

This again is to say that it is due to the badness of the audience when his rhetoric includes aspects that are not in line with the idea of argumentative and pertinent rhetoric. The prologue of a speech, for example, was traditionally used for appeals to the listener, but it can also be used to set out the issue of the speech, thus contributing to its clearness.

Similarly, the epilogue has traditionally been used to arouse emotions like pity or anger; but as soon as the epilogue recalls the conclusions reached, it will make the speech more understandable. The systematical core of Aristotle's Rhetoric is the doctrine that there are three technical means of persuasion. Further, methodical persuasion must rest on a complete analysis of what it means to be persuasive. A speech consists of three things: the speaker, the subject that is treated in the speech, and the listener to whom the speech is addressed Rhet.

It seems that this is why only three technical means of persuasion are possible: Technical means of persuasion are either a in the character of the speaker, or b in the emotional state of the hearer, or c in the argument logos itself. If the speaker appears to be credible, the audience will form the second-order judgment that propositions put forward by the credible speaker are true or acceptable.

This is especially important in cases where there is no exact knowledge but room for doubt. But how does the speaker manage to appear a credible person? Again, if he displayed i without ii and iii , the audience could doubt whether the aims of the speaker are good. Finally, if he displayed i and ii without iii , the audience could still doubt whether the speaker gives the best suggestion, though he knows what it is. But if he displays all of them, Aristotle concludes, it cannot rationally be doubted that his suggestions are credible.

It must be stressed that the speaker must accomplish these effects by what he says; it is not necessary that he is actually virtuous: on the contrary, a preexisting good character cannot be part of the technical means of persuasion. Thus, the orator has to arouse emotions exactly because emotions have the power to modify our judgments: to a judge who is in a friendly mood, the person about whom he is going to judge seems not to do wrong or only in a small way; but to the judge who is in an angry mood, the same person will seem to do the opposite cp.

Many interpreters writing on the rhetorical emotions were misled by the role of the emotions in Aristotle's ethics: they suggested that the orator has to arouse the emotions in order i to motivate the audience or ii to make them better persons since Aristotle requires that virtuous persons do the right things together with the right emotions. Thesis i is false for the simple reason that the aim of rhetorical persuasion is a certain judgment krisis , not an action or practical decision prohairesis.

How is it possible for the orator to bring the audience to a certain emotion? Aristotle's technique essentially rests on the knowledge of the definition of every significant emotion. According to such a definition, someone who believes that he has suffered a slight from a person who is not entitled to do so, etc. If we take such a definition for granted, it is possible to deduce circumstances in which a person will most probably be angry; for example, we can deduce i in what state of mind people are angry and ii against whom they are angry and iii for what sorts of reason.

Aristotle deduces these three factors for several emotions in the chapters II. With this equipment, the orator will be able, for example, to highlight such characteristics of a case as are likely to provoke anger in the audience. In comparison with the tricks of former rhetoricians, this method of arousing emotions has a striking advantage: The orator who wants to arouse emotions must not even speak outside the subject; it is sufficient to detect aspects of a given subject that are causally connected with the intended emotion.

For Aristotle, there are two species of arguments: inductions and deductions Posterior Analytics I. A deduction sullogismos is an argument in which, certain things having been supposed, something different from the suppositions results of necessity through them Topics I. The inductive argument in rhetoric is the example paradeigma ; unlike other inductive arguments, it does not proceed from many particular cases to one universal case, but from one particular to a similar particular if both particulars fall under the same genus Rhet. At first glance, this seems to be inconsistent, since a non-necessary inference is no longer a deduction.

If the former interpretation is true, then Aristotle concedes in the very definition of the enthymeme that some enthymemes are not deductive. But if the latter interpretation which has a parallel in An. For Aristotle, an enthymeme is what has the function of a proof or demonstration in the domain of public speech, since a demonstration is a kind of sullogismos and the enthymeme is said to be a sullogismos too.

In general, Aristotle regards deductive arguments as a set of sentences in which some sentences are premises and one is the conclusion, and the inference from the premises to the conclusion is guaranteed by the premises alone. Since enthymemes in the proper sense are expected to be deductive arguments, the minimal requirement for the formulation of enthymemes is that they have to display the premise-conclusion structure of deductive arguments.

This is why enthymemes have to include a statement as well as a kind of reason for the given statement. The reason why the enthymeme, as the rhetorical kind of proof or demonstration, should be regarded as central to the rhetorical process of persuasion is that we are most easily persuaded when we think that something has been demonstrated. Hence, the basic idea of a rhetorical demonstration seems to be this: In order to make a target group believe that q , the orator must first select a sentence p or some sentences p 1 … p n that are already accepted by the target group; secondly he has to show that q can be derived from p or p 1 … p n , using p or p 1 … p n as premises.

Given that the target persons form their beliefs in accordance with rational standards, they will accept q as soon as they understand that q can be demonstrated on the basis of their own opinions. Consequently, the construction of enthymemes is primarily a matter of deducing from accepted opinions endoxa. That a deduction is made from accepted opinions—as opposed to deductions from first and true sentences or principles—is the defining feature of dialectical argumentation in the Aristotelian sense.

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Thus, the formulation of enthymemes is a matter of dialectic, and the dialectician has the competence that is needed for the construction of enthymemes. However, in the rhetorical context there are two factors that the dialectician has to keep in mind if she wants to become a rhetorician too, and if the dialectical argument is to become a successful enthymeme.

First, the typical subjects of public speech do not—as the subject of dialectic and theoretical philosophy—belong to the things that are necessarily the case, but are among those things that are the goal of practical deliberation and can also be otherwise. Second, as opposed to well-trained dialecticians the audience of public speech is characterized by an intellectual insufficiency; above all, the members of a jury or assembly are not accustomed to following a longer chain of inferences.

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Therefore enthymemes must not be as precise as a scientific demonstration and should be shorter than ordinary dialectical arguments. This, however, is not to say that the enthymeme is defined by incompleteness and brevity. Rather, it is a sign of a well-executed enthymeme that the content and the number of its premises are adjusted to the intellectual capacities of the public audience; but even an enthymeme that failed to incorporate these qualities would still be enthymeme. In a well known passage Rhet. Properly understood, both passages are about the selection of appropriate premises, not about logical incompleteness.

The remark that enthymemes often have few or less premises concludes the discussion of two possible mistakes the orator could make Rhet. The latter method is unpersuasive, for the premises are not accepted, nor have they been introduced. The former method is problematic, too: if the orator has to introduce the needed premises by another deduction, and the premises of this pre-deduction too, etc. Arguments with several deductive steps are common in dialectical practice, but one cannot expect the audience of a public speech to follow such long arguments.

This is why Aristotle says that the enthymeme is and should be from fewer premises. Just as there is a difference between real and apparent or fallacious deductions in dialectic, we have to distinguish between real and apparent or fallacious enthymemes in rhetoric. The topoi for real enthymemes are given in chapter II. The fallacious enthymeme pretends to include a valid deduction, while it actually rests on a fallacious inference. Note that neither classification interferes with the idea that premises have to be accepted opinions: with respect to the signs, the audience must believe that they exist and accept that they indicate the existence of something else, and with respect to the probabilities, people must accept that something is likely to happen.

However, it is not clear whether this is meant to be an exhaustive typology. But there are several types of sign-arguments too; Aristotle offers the following examples:. Sign-arguments of type i and iii can always be refuted, even if the premises are true; that is to say that they do not include a valid deduction sullogismos ; Aristotle calls them asullogistos non-deductive.

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Sign-arguments of type ii can never be refuted if the premise is true, since, for example, it is not possible that someone has fever without being ill, or that someone has milk without having given birth, etc. Now, if some sign-enthymemes are valid deductions and some are not, it is tempting to ask whether Aristotle regarded the non-necessary sign-enthymemes as apparent or fallacious arguments. However, there seems to be a more attractive reading: We accept a fallacious argument only if we are deceived about its logical form.

So it seems as if Aristotle didn't regard all non-necessary sign-arguments as fallacious or deceptive; but even if this is true, it is difficult for Aristotle to determine the sense in which non-necessary sign-enthymemes are valid arguments, since he is bound to the alternative of deduction and induction, and neither class seems appropriate for non-necessary sign-arguments.

Cicero, Brutus , 46—48 and Isocrates. Aristotle's book Topics lists some hundred topoi for the construction of dialectical arguments. These lists of topoi form the core of the method by which the dialectician should be able to formulate deductions on any problem that could be proposed. Most of the instructions that the Rhetoric gives for the composition of enthymemes are also organized as lists of topoi ; especially the first book of the Rhetoric essentially consists of topoi concerning the subjects of the three species of public speech.

It is striking that the work that is almost exclusively dedicated to the collection of topoi , the book Topics , does not even make an attempt to define the concept of topos. According to this definition, the topos is a general argumentative form or pattern, and the concrete arguments are instantiations of the general topos. That the topos is a general instruction from which several arguments can be derived, is crucial for Aristotle's understanding of an artful method of argumentation; for a teacher of rhetoric who makes his pupils learn ready samples of arguments would not impart the art itself to them, but only the products of this art, just as if someone pretending to teach the art of shoe-making only gave samples of already made shoes to his pupils see Sophistical Refutations b36ff.

By recalling the houses along the street we can also remember the associated items. At least within the system of the book Topics , every given problem must be analyzed in terms of some formal criteria: Does the predicate of the sentence in question ascribe a genus or a definition or peculiar or accidental properties to the subject?

Does the sentence express a sort of opposition, either contradiction or contrariety, etc.? Does the sentence express that something is more or less the case? Does it maintain identity or diversity? Are the words used linguistically derived from words that are part of an accepted premise? Depending on such formal criteria of the analyzed sentence one has to refer to a fitting topos.

For this reason, the succession of topoi in the book Topics is organized in accordance with their salient formal criteria; and this, again, makes a further mnemotechnique superfluous. More or less the same is true of the Rhetoric —except that most of its topoi are structured by material and not by formal criteria, as we shall see in section 7. Other topoi often include the discussion of iv examples; still other topoi suggest v how to apply the given schemes.

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Often Aristotle is very brief and leaves it to the reader to add the missing elements. In a nutshell, the function of a topos can be explained as follows. First of all, one has to select an apt topos for a given conclusion. The conclusion is either a thesis of our opponent that we want to refute, or our own assertion we want to establish or defend.