Rhetorical device

From A+ Club Lesson Planner & Study Guide

Rhetorical device / rhetorical devices = language or communication tools used for persuasion

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion, a fundamental component of open, civil society and discourse. Where there is no persuasion, there is mere conformity or, worse, compulsion. Rhetoric underlies a free, democratic society.

Rhetoric is more than a matter of speaking or writing style. It is a combination of 1) speaker & audience; 2) logic; 3) emotion = ethos, logos, pathos. Rhetoric moves ideas, is moved by ideas, and changes behaviors, beliefs, and actions.

Definitions[edit | edit source]

rhetoric[edit | edit source]

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

rhetorical[edit | edit source]

  • of or having to do with "rhetoric", which is "the art the use of language for persuasion"

device[edit | edit source]

  • a technique or tool employed in
  • thus, a technique for persuasion

rhetorical device[edit | edit source]

= techniques for persuasion

"rhetorical" in literary analysis[edit | edit source]

  • note that in literature, "rhetoric" and "rhetorical"

see also: Rhetoric page entry

Rhetoric[edit | edit source]

  • "the art of persuasion"
  • one of the three classical arts of discourse (see below)
  • Aristotle defined rhetoric as
    • "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion."
  • generally, rhetoric is the study of techniques to inform, persuade, or motivate (an audience)
  • In the Encyclopedia of Social Sciences, Stephen Ziliak defines rhetoric as:
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. (p. 237)

Trivium - "Three Arts of Discourse"[edit | edit source]

  • "trivium" = "the place where three roads meet"
  • Sister Miriam Joseph's explanation of the Trivium:
    • grammar for expression of thought
      • the thing as-it-is-symbolized
        • symbols = letters and words
    • logic for the art of thought
      • the thing as-it-is-known
    • rhetoric for communication
      • the thing as-it-is-communicated
      • use of language and logic to persuade
  • the trivium became the basis of the medieval "seven liberal arts"
    • the trivium (3) and its extension in the "quadrivium" ("four ways") of astronomy, arithmetic (mathematics), geometry, and music
      • why arithmetic and geometry are distinct?
        • arithmetic or mathematics = pure numbers (i.e. conceptual)
        • geometry = number in space (i.e. distance, relation, etc.)
          • studies the properties of distance, size, shape and relative positions

Grammar[edit | edit source]

  • the mechanics of language
    • including the "law of identity"
      • that states "a horse is a horse, and not a man"
      • see Plato's Cratylus

Logic[edit | edit source]

  • the mechanics of thought
    • i.e., analysis, deduction, argument
  • also, "dialectic"
    • = refers to reasoned argumentation, usually between two or more people who debate or discuss a topic with the aim to establish a truth

Rhetoric[edit | edit source]

  • application of language and logic for persuasion
  • Aristotle saw rhetoric as
    • "a combination of the science of logic and of the ethical branch of politics"
    • thus it was designed for understanding, discovery and argumentation
    • as both argumentation and ethics, rhetoric is truth-seeking
  • the art of rhetoric was especially important to the ancient Greeks who developed democracy and civic participation
    • rhetoric was a political tool and valued as an essential element of civic society

Aristotle's "Rhetoric"[edit | edit source]

  • Aristotle = 4th Century B.C. Greek philosopher who deeply influenced Western thought
  • his work, "Rhetoric" or "Art of Rhetoric" studied the art of persuasion
  • in it, Aristotle clarified a center ground between the "sophists", who cared only for persuasion, regardless for truth, and Plato (and thus, Socrates) who focused on philosophy and absolute truths
    • Plato felt that rhetoric was inherently deceptive, so only philosophy, which focused on discovering the truth
    • Aristotle's insight was that rhetoric is a key tool for the discovery of truth

Persuasion[edit | edit source]

  • persuasion is the art of influencing another person's attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, choices, intentions or motivations
  • persuasion is distinct from coercion
    • as such, persuasion marks the fundamental distinguishing element in democratic as opposed to totalitarian society
    • coercion is the use of violence, threats of violence, or some form of repercussion in order to control or shape behavior, beliefs, or ideas
    • forms of changing belief that are coercive include (and thus are not persuasion)
      • indoctrination
      • brainwashing
      • propagandism
      • censorship
  • persuasion requires
    • reciprocity
      • as Stephen Ziliak notes, "rhetoric judges and is judged, it moves and is moved."
    • honesty
      • which is why Aristotle was so concerned about "ethics"
    • logic
    • language
  • forms of persuasion
    • logic
    • rhetorical devices (see below)
    • heuristics
      • problem solving or argumentation that is not precise but yields an approximate truth or reality
      • heuristics are rational but not perfectly logical
      • includes:
        • educated guess
        • trial and error
        • applied experience (things turn out as expected from prior experience)

Aristotle's Modes of Persuasion[edit | edit source]

  • the commonly referred to modes of persuasion are ethos, logos and pathos
  • Aristotle also discussed a fourth mode of persuasion, kairos (see below)
  • Aristotle distinguished types of persuasive situations, including
    • epideictic = ceremonial speeches (praise or condemnation)
    • forensic = judicial, especially for establishing guilt or innocence
    • deliberative = persuasion of an audience on an issue or idea
      • the purpose of deliberative rhetoric was to pursue the koinon, or common, or greater, good
      • deliberative rhetoric was to be used in the four politeia, democracy, oligarchy, aristocracy and monarchy
  • and he distinguished two types of "rhetorical proofs"
    • proof = a logical argument that is sufficient to establish a truth
    • enthymeme = proof by logic (syllogism, or deductive reasoning)
      • i.e., if A= B, and B=C, then A=C
    • paradeigma = proof by example
      • in order to establish a general rule
  • he argued that philosophy is too narrow a discipline for practical purposes
    • while philosophy is useful for reasoning to a scientific (knowledgeable) certainty or truth
    • rhetoric has a larger, practical role in human affairs
  • In Rhetoric, Aristotle outlined three main categories of persuasive techniques to employ upon an audience
    • (note that the appeal must have an audience!)
    • ethos, logos & pathos
  • Aristotle agrees with Plato that persuasion can be deceptive and abusive,
    • thus while employing "pathos" (passion, emotion), a speaker must also exhibit "ethos" (see below)

Ethos[edit | edit source]

  • ethical appeal to establish speaker's credibility and character
    • most commonly taught in high school as "appeal to authority" or the "credibility" of the speaker
    • wherein the speaker establishes expertise, knowledge, authority or credibility
  • however, Aristotle's use of eunoia is essential to understand the meaning of "ethos"
    • an "ethos" is a common set of values
    • thus the mode of persuasion of ethos must appeal to and reinforce the beliefs, character, and ideals of the audience
      • it is from that commonality with the audience that the speaker earns credibility
  • for Aristotle ethos consists of a speaker's
    • phronesis = wisdom and good judgment
    • arete = excellence or virtue
    • eunoia = good will between the speaker and the audience
  • accordingly, a speaker's credibility may be impugned (disputed) if
    • speaker lacks expertise (i.e., speaker lacks authority, experience or knowledge to speak about the topic)
    • speaker has a personal interest in the outcome of the debate (i.e., has a personal bias, thus lacks credibility)
    • speaker has an ulterior motive in the outcome of the debate (i.e. has an additional reason for taking a position)

Logos[edit | edit source]

  • reason

Pathos[edit | edit source]

  • appeal to the emotions of an audience via
    • sympathy (I feel bad for you) or empathy (I know how you feel)

the three Modes of Persuasion circularity[edit | edit source]

  • while not explicit in Aristotle, we can see that each of the modes can be interconnected or self-referential to one another:
Reinforced or Dual Modes of Persuasion
Multi-modal argument Ethos Logos Pathos
A common or shared emotional experience w/ the audience ("I have suffered with you") y y
A common emotional experience that has a logical conclusion ("Starving babies is mean and also kills them") y y
A logical argument that leads to a common and/or emotional experience ("If we continue this madness, we will all die" y y y

Kairos[edit | edit source]

  • a well-timed appeal that stays within the context of the moment
  • kairos means "the right, critical, or opportune moment"
    • arguing something at the right time
    • keeping to the persuasive context

Rhetorical devices[edit | edit source]

  • see above for Ethos, Logos and Pathos
  • additional sections will cover rhetorical devices of counter-argument and repetition
  • note
    • some of these rhetorical devices may be used to create false or misleading arguments or logical fallacies, or to impugn (insult, insincerely attack) another person or position (ex. "ad hominem")
    • many of these devices are also called "literary devices" and so are listed within that category, as well
    • see Logical fallacies and Literary devices

ad hominem[edit | edit source]

alliteration[edit | edit source]

  • repetition of sounds
    • tightening tentacles terribly perturbs our tentative template

aporia[edit | edit source]

  • expression of doubt
    • when will this ever end, that is our problem

assonance[edit | edit source]

cacophony[edit | edit source]

  • clashing sounds and words meant to convey tension or trouble

consonance[edit | edit source]

irony[edit | edit source]

Gish gallop[edit | edit source]

  • rapid use of multiple arguments in order to overwhelm a debate or argument
    • avoids scrutiny of individual arguments
    • named for Duane Gish who spoke rapidly and without allowing the opponent to intervene or analyze each individual arguments

metanoia[edit | edit source]

  • re-expressing a statement in a stronger or lesser way
  • Her idea changed our country; indeed, it changed the world!

metonymy[edit | edit source]

  • a reference to a person or thing though an office or attribute
    • the White House (the president)
    • my heart beats for you (love, care)
    • those suits care only about themselves (corporate leaders)

onomatopoeia[edit | edit source]

  • using words that sound like the mean

paralipsis[edit | edit source]

  • see apophasis

personification[edit | edit source]

trap question[edit | edit source]

  • a syllogistic (logical) line of questions or thought that lead one's opponent to a logical conclusion in support of one's own argument
  • particularly powerful in trials, whereby the witness is "trapped" into an admission of some fact

understatement[edit | edit source]

Rhetorical devices of counterarguments[edit | edit source]

diasyrmus[edit | edit source]

  • a ridiculous comparison in order to dismiss a counter argument

derision[edit | edit source]

  • ridicule or satire of an opposing argument
    • You believe that? I have a bridge to sell you!

procatalepsis[edit | edit source]

  • an argument that anticipates a possible objection
  • then rebuts those objections

enthymeme[edit | edit source]

  • an incomplete logical argument that begs the listener to fill in the answer or one that is already understood
    • You can bet he'd never do that. Well, not if he's the kind of person he thinks himself to be.

hyperbole[edit | edit source]

  • exaggeration for effect

hypophora[edit | edit source]

  • ask a question, then proceed to answer it

Rhetorical devices of repetition[edit | edit source]

anadiplosis[edit | edit source]

  • repeating a word or idea between sentence parts
    • to each a duck, ducks for all!
    • whosoever suffers it, suffers the most

anaphora[edit | edit source]

  • repeating a word at the beginning of each clause, sentence or paragraph
  • similar to epistrophe
    • = repetition of a word or phrase at the end of a cause, sentence or paragraph
  • symploce ("sim-ploh-see")
    • = use of both anaphora and epistrophe

antanaclasis[edit | edit source]

  • repeating a word without interruption
    • yes, yes, yes
    • why? why? why?

apophasis[edit | edit source]

  • also called paralipsis
  • author mentions an argument or fact in order to deny it or to deny using it
  • also used to mention something indirectly
  • = a form of irony
    • may be seen as a "passive-aggressive" argument
      • in that it states something while apologizing for having stated it
  • examples:
    • "But we won't talk about my opponent's disastrous married life"
    • "It would be a breach of decorum to mention base morals such as she embodies"
  • actual use of paralipses:
    • during Prohibition (when sale of alcohol was banned), a grape juice company included this paralipsis on its grape concentrate packaging:
      • "After dissolving the brick in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for twenty days, because then it would turn into wine."
    • during the 1984 presidential debates, Ronald Reagan, who was much older than his opponent, stated,
      • "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."

Figurative or literary devices[edit | edit source]

  • generally used for literary purposes and effects, these devices may also aid in the persuasive use of rhetoric

imagery[edit | edit source]

metaphor[edit | edit source]

simile[edit | edit source]