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Rhetoric - March 26.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
Greig Henderson

ENG205: Rhetoric Phaedrus restricts rhetoric to forensic and deliberative discourse. Socrates says that rhetoric is a method of influencing minds by means of words. To him, rhetoric deals with all matters-- serious and trivial. It is all-pervasive; not just confined to law or politics. Every kind of discussion covered by the art of rhetoric. Socrates says that even those who would mislead others without being misled themselves must know the real likenesses or differences among things. If you want to master rhetoric, you have to understand the true nature of things. If you don't, you won't know how to make that gradual removal from the truth that will allow you to persuade people. If you don't know the truth, you can't deceive. Every detail should be necessary--you shouldn't be able to cut something off from a discourse. Everything should have an internal coherence: principle of unity. If we want to attain that kind of wholeness, we need a new philosophical method of division: definition by collection and division. Essential definition: put something into a class, and show how it is different from every other member of that class. Explicit topics in Phaedrus: - love -soul -speech-making -principles of composition -nature of rhetoric Plato as ultimate rationalist--but a lot of his persuasion depends on myth and allegory. He understands limitations of logic, and when you need to go beyond them. "Basic English". The idea that reducing language to its most simple form can lead to a better life. This is what the utilitarian speaker does. Rhetorical language, on the other hand, incites interest and brings pleasure. It is the speech of emotion. Neutral language is the speech of business and science. It assumes there is a rational solution to all human problems. Socrates says that love is madness, but not all madness is evil. All persuasive speech is a form of love. Plato's big question: if truth is not sufficient to persuade people, what else can be legitimately added? Knowledge of the truth must precede the art of persuasion. First you need a knowledge of the human soul, then recognition of the power of definition (similarity/difference, division, cause/effect). Something to think about: triad of oppositions/associative clusters/etc. Structure of binary oppositions--gives you building blocks. How something develops is the most important part of the argument. There cannot be a true rhetoric without philosophy underlying it. Dialectic first, rhetoric second. You have to establish the terms of the debate, and then move people to accept your view. Often you have to pass f
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