Rhetoric is Power

1689 Words7 Pages
The definition of rhetoric has been a contentious debate among scholars. In the World of Rhetoric course we have read the works of several different studiers of rhetoric as each offered their opinions on the definition and function of rhetoric. Based on the readings for World of Rhetoric I, I define rhetoric as the ability to utilize the available means of persuasion in order to elicit some type of change of heart in an audience. In other words, rhetoric is the power to command the masses to do or feel in the way that the rhetor wills. Plato, in Gorgias, initially views rhetoric as a “knack or flattery” that interfered with the truth seeking process (Gorgias 22). He later changes his position in Phaedrus as he admits that rhetoric can be useful in convincing different types of people of the capital ‘T’ Truth. I will be focusing on more on the Phaedrus when he says that “the art of rhetoric, taken as a whole, be a kind of influencing of the mind by means of word” (123). This rather brief speculation as to the function of rhetoric highlights the fact that even Plato/Socrates who so rejected and decried rhetoric-wielding Sophists, at least saw rhetoric’s viable applications. Plato even goes on to say that “he who possesses this art of doing this [rhetoric] can make the same appear to the same people . . . at will” (124). This supports my assertion that rhetoric is the power to command the masses to do as the rhetor wills. Having a mastery of rhetoric allows for the rhetor to entice the audience into thinking that they have knowledge of the Truth, creating the outward image of a competent leader. According to Aristotle, rhetoric is the available means of persuasion in any given situation (Rhetoric). Essentially, rhetoric is a tool ... ... middle of paper ... ... Print. 23-118. Bitzer, Lloyd F. “The Rhetorical Situation.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 1.1 (Jan. 1968): 1-14. PDF. 19 Aug. 2013. Plato. Gorgias. Trans. W. C. Hembold. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall/Library of Liberal Arts, 1997. Print. Plato. Phaedrus. Trans. Alexander Nehamas, and Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub., 1995. Print. Schiappa, Edward. Defining Reality: Definitions and the Politics of Meaning. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2003. Print. xi-32. Web. 19 Aug. 2013. Vatz, Richard E. “The Myth of the Rhetorical Situation.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 6.3 (Summer 1973): 154-61. PDF. 19 Aug. 2013. “American Rhetoric: John F. Kennedy – Joint Session Speech on Urgent National Needs (transcript-audio-video).” American Rhetoric: John F. Kennedy - Joint Session Speech on Urgent National Needs (transcript-audio-video). N. p., n.d. Web 8 Dec. 2013.
Open Document