From A+ Club Lesson Planner & Study Guide

"rhetoric" is persuasion

  • = "the art of use of language for persuasion"

See entries on

  • Rhetorical devices entry for more on Aristotle and his "modes of persuasion," ethos, logos and pathos, and other rhetorical uses and devices

Etymology[edit | edit source]

  • from Greek rhētorikētekhnē  for "art of an orator,"
    • rhētōr = "speaker, orator" or "orator in public."
    • rhesis = "speech"
    • rhema = "word, phrase" or
      • from PIE *wre-tor- for " "that which is spoken" (from root *were- "to speak")

Meaning & purpose[edit | edit source]

  • rhetoric is persuasion
    • "persuasion" = act of inducing belief or conviction by appeals to reason, not force
      • conviction induced by fear, threats, authority or force are not "persuasion"
      • persuasion is from PIE *swād- for "sweet"
        • thus persuasion is "sweet talk" not force
  • rhetoric is to persuade for good purpose
  • Social Scientist Stephen Ziliak notes:
    • rhetoric is "both act and perception" and "judges and is judged"
      • i.e., rhetoric goes both ways
    • from Ziliak's entyr in the "Encyclopedia of Social Science," p 237 "Rhetoric" entry:
Rhetoric is employed in both act and perception, in private thought and public communication. It is a means of communication as well as a theory for understanding and criticizing itself and the alternative means of communication.
Centrally speaking, the rhetoric of the social sciences is the study and practice of argumentation and proof making, constrained only by the available means of persuasion. As such, rhetoric judges and is judged, it moves and is moved.
  • as our student, Tiago, observes, "So Rhetoric is standup comedy"
    • exactly!