The importance of learning rhetoric Rhetoric has become a slam term, meaning manipulative language, but that’s a modern phenomenon. Originally it was a word of highest praise. The ancientphilosopher Plato defines rhetoric as ” the art of winning the soul by discourse” 1. Aristotle stated: ” Rhetoric is the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion” 2.
In George Campbell’s opinion, ” Rhetoric is that art or talent by which discourse is adapted to its end. The four ends of discourse are to enlighten the understanding, please the imagination, move the passion, and influence the will”. 3
As for me, rhetoric is verbalization of all power of fascination, which serves in most cases for persuasion or mutual understanding. Having learned the history of rhetoric, I realized that this ‘art of persuasion’ deserts delight and respect.
According to the historical chronicles, our understanding of rhetoric rises from the fifth century B. C. in Athens, Greece. The word implied a use of words, even a manipulation of words. The main stress was on public speaking, as at that time people didn’t need to write down their thoughts, so they expressed themselves in oral mode.
Aristotle was the philosopher who first gave detailed explanation of rhetoric. He suggested that logic was one of many available means of persuasion. ” People could also be persuaded by an appeal to emotions or to the character of the speaker, for example” 4.
The ancient Greeks were keen in all areas of rhetoric: finding interesting topics for discussion, organizing the information, remembering the points of the speech, using body language.
In the Middle Ages rhetoric was taught at all universities. Those who were skilled in oratory had more opportunities to get ahead in the courts, the forum and the church.
During the Renaissance, after the printing had been invented, rhetorical concepts were applied on a large scale to written discourse. But as books were quite rare, teaching had a form of ” lecture,” which implied reading aloud from a book so that the students could note the most significant things.
In the twentieth century, rhetoric is still popular, but it was a little modified during its 26-century history. A popular personality of 20th century Kenneth Burke, referring on Aristotle, extends it to the study of symbol systems, which ” make our bodies hop in unnatural ways” 5.
The study of rhetoric, both as a situated art and as a body of theoretical material, is significant. This is a means to shape our way of thinking and acting. As human beings, as citizens, as students, we use all kinds of language to adjust events in the world around us. Others, in turn, influence our everyday life a lot. So it is essential for me, as educated person, to scrutinize the way I am influenced and affected. Such knowledge is helpful not only for its practical benefits, but because it gives an opportunity of approaching many of the tasks which we face daily.
As for my, I always try to improve my language skills. I often use rhetoric to make a strong first impression, as it gives a chance to further successful persuasion. I enjoy using rhetoric when answering orally at the university, as well-organized language helps to express my opinion more correctly and adequately.
Persuasion is to be our weapon, as making a decision we persuade ourselves or others persuade us to act in a certain way. Hence, it is obvious that rhetoric is extremely important in the world of highly developed communication technologies and high speed of life, where person has to adapt oneself to dynamically changing demands of society.
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1) http://www. csulb. edu/crsmith/300syl. html
2) http://www. americanrhetoric. com/rhetoricdefinitions. htm
3) http://www. domfranco. com/design/rhetoric. html