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    The Argument of the Rhetorical Question and Rhetoric Concept in General Sense

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    Rhetoric itself is the art of argument and discourse. People can disagree with each other, especially deeply held beliefs. Rhetoric turns this disagreement into a debate. The rhetorician uses his text to persuade his audience. Aristotle discussed logical argument at length; maxims, topics and strategies, enthymemes (a logical argument with a part of the argument missing because it is assumed). Perelman said there are two ways the rhetor can insure that his audience is adhering to each successive element of an argument (2001). The first way is by making associations according to quasi-logical arguments, appeals to reality, and arguments that establish the real.

    The second approach responds to incompatible opinions through the dissociation of concepts. Perelman sends the message that all argumentation must start from a point of agreement. One cannot introduce contentious matters until sufficient agreement on prior or related issues has been established. The bases of agreement are divided into two categories: the first deals with facts, truths, and presumptions; the second with values, hierarchies, and loci of the preferable.

    All rhetoric has dealt in some fashion with the concept of audience – how an audience takes in the composition of the discourse and responds to it. The audience consists of individuals listening to a speech or viewing a performance or reading a piece of writing. The rhetorical audience includes those who can be persuaded by rhetoric. Two scholars significant for their treatment of the rhetorical audience are Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca (1969). Perelman, C., & Olbrechts-Tyteca, L. (1969).

    Kenneth Burke devised the idea of dramatism so the social uses of language could be understood (1989). He surmised that language is a specific planned response designed to address a specific situation. Language is a mode of symbolic action, not a mode of knowledge. His Dramatism Pentad, to ask of any discourse to begin fleshing out the motive) consists of a play, complete with agents (actors), acts (plots), scenes (settings), agencies (tools, instruments, or means), and purposes. These five elements form the dramatistic pentad. Dramatism is made up of the concepts of identification, dramatistic pentad, and the guilt-redemption cycle.

    Epistemology is the study of the nature and limitations of knowledge – what knowledge is, how it is acquired, and how to we know what we know. It is the analysis of the nature of knowledge and what it has to do with ideas such as belief, justification, and truth. Plato and Socrates discussed several theories as to what knowledge is. They thought knowledge is justified true belief. Rhetoricians think epistemology refers to the study of the nature, origin, and limits of human knowledge. Robert Scott (1967) brought back the sophistic view by saying rhetoric is epistemic. This brought back in the idea of rhetoric’s relationship to truth.

    Identification is defined by Kenneth Burke in A Rhetoric of Motives (1950), “any of the wide variety of means by which an author may establish a shared sense of values, attitudes, and interests with his readers.” (p. 19) Burke goes on to maintain, “Identification is affirmed with earnestness… precisely because there is division.” (p.19) Burke evaluated the traditional perception of rhetoric as persuasion and suggested that whenever some tries to persuade another person, identification occurs. For persuasion to happen, one person must identify with another person.

    During the 20th century, Western rhetoric shifted to focusing on the relationship between rhetoric and language. Richard Roty wrote an anthology The Linguistic Turn (1967) which dealt with a turn towards linguistic rhetoric/philosophy. The phrase itself was made by Gustav Bergmann, an Austrian rhetorician. Reality is really a convention of naming and characterizing, or language. If it cannot be named and characterized, it does not exist.

    Phaedrus, written by Plato, was a dialogue between Plato’s main protagonist, Socrates, and Phaedrus, another character in the discourse. Socrates is concerned with human and political virtue. The document, on the surface, is about love, but the discussion really talks metaphorically about the art of rhetoric and its proper practice. Subjects include discussions of the soul, madness, divine inspiration, and the practice and mastery of an art. As Weaver says, “Rhetorical language … for whatever purpose used, excites interest and with it either pleasure or alarm.” (2002, p. 134). The transcendent dialogue in Phaedrus does just that.

    Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca and Chaim Perelman developed the topos of Philosophical Pairs in their book The New Rhetoric. The basic idea is that what was experienced as a unity comes to be thought of as two essentially different things. Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca looked at the words and action or form and substance of such pairs as means/end, act/person, accident/essence, relative/absolute, language/thought, individual/universal, body/soul and try to show how “different philosophical perspectives stabilize around specific systematizations of these pairs” (pp. 420-3). Philosophical pairs are defined in relation to one another, and their concepts interact, and one of the terms subordinates to the other.

    Theorists such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, and other French writers of the 1960s and 70s developed the movement of post-structuralism which was a critique of structuralism and the dominant Western philosophy and culture. Each responded to the traditions of phenomenology and structuralism.

    In a lecture series in 1976, Foucault briefly summarized the general impetus of the post-structuralist movement: For the last ten or fifteen years, the immense and proliferating criticizability of things, institutions, practices, and discourses: a sort of general feeling that the ground was crumbling beneath our feet, especially in places where it seemed most familiar, most solid, and closest to us, to our bodies, to our everyday gestures. But alongside this crumbling and the astonishing efficacy of discontinuous, particular, and local critiques, the facts were also reveling something…..beneath this whole thematic, through it and even within it, we have seen what might be called the insurrection of subjugated knowledges. (pp. 1-22)

    Post-structuralists formed beliefs that an individual develops tensions between conflicting knowledge claims. To properly study a text a reader must understand how the work is related to his or her own personal concept of self. What the author’s intended meaning was is secondary to the meaning the reader perceives.

    Richards in The Meaning of Meaning believed that there was a “proper meaning superstition,” or a false belief that there was one, precise meaning for each word. There is not a single “correct” meaning associated with each and every word because each word means something different to each person. He said that the common belief is “…that a word has a meaning of its own (ideally, only one) independent of and controlling its use and the purpose for which it should be uttered” (Richards, 2002, p.5) and this common belief is the Proper Meaning Superstition. He stated that meaning did not exist in words but in people as a result of their past experiences.

    His Semantic Triangle concept is an attempt to demonstrate the relationship between symbols and their referent. The triangle has the word, the thought, and the referent. Ogden, C.K., & Richards, I.A. (1989). The meaning of meaning: A study of the influence of language upon thought and of the science of symbolism. (English trans.). New Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

    Rhetorical resistance is a strong movement in contemporary rhetorical studies. As the recognition of the disparity between subordinate and dominant cultural groups grows, rhetoricians have begun in the 1990s to look into the rhetorical bases of resistance and the specific examples of rhetoric directed against the discourse of the dominant.

    But, rhetorical resistance can incorporate a wide variety of situations – conservative resistance rhetoric and the West Virginia textbook protest, tattoos and body piercings as rhetoric of resistance, the rhetorical abuse of unarmed Palestinian resistance by Mahmoud Assab, rhetoric and resistance in Black women’s autobiography. Asante in The Afrocentric Idea, says “Black discourse, therefore, to be healthy discourse, is resistance.” (p.99)

    The rhetorical situation refers to circumstances that involve at least one person using some sort of communication to modify the perspective of at least one other person. When a speaker (or writer) communicates with other people, he wants to get some sort of response or reaction from the listeners. The Rhetorical Situation involves the audience and the text. Bitzer (1999) began this discussion when he looked at the earlier rhetoric and said that human relations operated ethical, political, economic and social urgencies that invited incursive responses. Rhetoric happened when the speaker talked about the urgency that existed and the audience could be persuaded to make changes that could fix the urgency.

    Sophistry is a well-reasoned, but fallacious argument intended to generate a favorable response but used to deceive. The sophists of Ancient Greece, such as Protagoras and Gorgias, were teachers who used the tools of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching excellence or virtue. These teachers charged money to educate and provide wisdom to those young statesmen and nobles who could afford to pay. The Sophists rhetoric had an impact on the early development of Greek law.

    Plato thought these teachers and their teachings were deceptive. Plato’s Dialogues show Socrates as refuting some sophists. Some of Plato’s writings view the Sophists as not concerned with truth and justice, just seeking power. The philosophical foundations of sophism were challenged by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Poulakos (1999) said the Sophistic definition of rhetoric had to do with rhetoric as art, style as personal expression, the opportune moment, the appropriate, and the possible.

    Edwin Black said the role taken on by an audience (the implied audience) in response to a speech or text is The Second Persona. It seems a useful methodological assumption to hold that rhetorical discourses, either singly or cumulatively in a persuasive movement, will imply an auditor, and that in most cases the implication will be sufficiently suggestive as to enable the critic to link this implied auditor to an ideology. (Black, 1970, p. 109119)

    Black said The Second Persona is the ideal audience: “What equally well solicits our attention is that there is a second persona also implied by a discourse, and that persona is the implied auditor. This notion is not a novel one, but its uses to criticism deserve more attention.” By analyzing rhetorical discourse, the critic should reconstruct the implied audience.

    Toulmin was a contemporary British rhetorician whose main theory dealt with moral reasoning and the ethics behind moral issues. The Toulmin Model of Argumentation was a diagram that had six interrelated components used for analyzing arguments which contained the claim, ground (evidence or data), warrant, backing, rebuttal, and qualifier. He had objections to absolutism and relativism (which came from Plato’s formal logic rhetoric) and pushed for a return to humanism including oral discourse and communication.

    Robert Scott (1967, pp. 9-17) said that “rhetoric is epistemic”. Epistemology is the area of rhetoric and philosophy that is concerned with the nature and limitations of knowledge. It looks at what knowledge is, how it is acquired, and how we know what we know. This concept has had a strong impact on contemporary rhetoric while still continuing to be disputed. Scott looks at a relationship between certainty and knowledge. A large part of the dispute comes with defining certainty, which Scott never really does. Let’s just say some form of certainty, or at least near- certainty, is needed for knowledge.

    Rhetoric-is-epistemic theories assume that knowledge must be justified belief and that the justification can, should, or must be rhetorical. Individuals interact to come to mutual or opposite understandings of truth as best they can; therefore, rhetoric may help us to understand how people examine their subjective uncertainty.

    Epistemic rhetoric of science confronts issues pertaining to truth, relativism, and knowledge. Viewing the field of science from the point of texts showing epistemology based on prediction and control can provide comprehensive ways to see the function of rhetoric of science. Epistemology is important to contemporary rhetoric because rhetoric has to do with communication between two people and the knowledge exchanged.

    To exchange knowledge we have to know what knowledge is. We have to know why it is knowledge. Scott thought that a relationship among rhetoric, knowledge, and truth would free us from the narrow conceptions of truth (1999). I think this is true, and, therefore, this epistemic relationship impacts contemporary rhetoric in a positive manner.

    Public morality is generally thought to be the moral and ethical standards enforced in a society. These standards can be enforced by law or police work or social pressure. The standards are applied to public life. These standards are different in different countries, religions, and even regions of an individual country. They change over time; public views on which things which are acceptable often move towards wider tolerance. Condit says that rhetoric is a craft that manages prevailing public vocabularies, the myths, metaphors, narratives, ideographs, common arguments (1999, p. 249).

    The authors of Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader (1999) say that “constituting an effective deliberative democracy for the twenty-first century, will require sustained attention to the range of ways in which rhetoric constitutes and is implicated in the process of public decision making.” (p. 249) Friend (1999) discusses how those who talk about morality assume that it is closely linked to language and public discourse. In this age of a diverse and technologically complex society, rhetoricians must be able to voice their views. Condit (1987) created a theory of the rhetorical crafting of public morality, says it is advisable to maintain a theory of public rhetoric that recognized collective discourse in today’s society.

    She says “Morality is described as humanly generated, objectively constrained, and contingent” (1987, p.79). Contemporary rhetoric is examining public morality in many areas: feminism, justice for Afro-Americans, war, political platforms, WWII propaganda, civil rights rhetoric of President George H. W. Bush, photographs from the Abu Ghraib prison, same sex marriage, and drunk driving. What is to be gained? Change, wider tolerance, restriction.

    Men have an ancient and honorable rhetorical history. Their speeches and writings, from antiquity to the present, are studied and analyzed by historians and rhetoricians… Women have no parallel rhetorical history. Indeed, for much of their history women have been prohibited from speaking, a prohibition reinforced by such powerful cultural authorities as Homer, Aristotle, and Scripture… (1989, p.1)

    This is the impact feminist philosophy has on contemporary rhetoric. It gives women a voice. The speeches and writings of women are, and will be, studied and analyzed by historians and rhetoricians. The voice can be heard over and around the powerful cultural authorities. Hopefully, the impact will be felt even more in twenty-first century rhetoric. Biesecker (1992) wrote that “a gender difference does seem to be challenging the identity of the field and history of Rhetoric” (1992, p. 143).

    Feministic rhetoric works to create social change and social economies. Meanings of a feminist movement and of feminism itself have changed dramatically over the last one hundred years, and it will continue to change. Feminism needs a unifying theory and a vocabulary. Rorty (1989) stated there was the need for changing and revising language to better suit the group’s needs in order for the group to transcend the limitations of the prevailing social order. As feministic rhetoric continues, this will happen. Since the early 1970s, the study of rhetoric has included the writings of Gloria Anzaldua, bell hooks, Gloria Steinem, Ruth Gehar, Carole Blair, Julie Brown, and Leslie Baxter, giving attention to feminine ideology.

    Imagine you have risen into heaven (or descended to hell). Which three contemporary rhetoricians might you find there? Why are they where they are? Be creative but also be through in making logical arguments based on your research and readings this semester. When I ascend into heaven (because I do not plan to descend to hell, and I do not think these three rhetoricians would plan to do so either), the first rhetorician I will find there is bell hooks.

    Men have an ancient and honorable rhetorical history. Their speeches and writings, from antiquity to the present, are studied and analyzed by historians and rhetoricians… Women have no parallel rhetorical history. Indeed, for much of their history women have been prohibited from speaking, a prohibition reinforced by such powerful cultural authorities as Homer, Aristotle, and Scripture… (1989, p.1) bell hooks has given women a voice through her speeches and writings. Hooks has been termed as a revolutionary activist.

    In an interview in Essence magazine, she said: Fundamentally, my life is committed to revolutionary Black-liberation struggle, and I don’t ever see Black liberation and feminism as being separate. Black people across the world are still not free. We do not have justice. Nor do we have access to the kind of material resources that will allow the masses of us to lead fulfilling lives.

    That is the ground of my struggle, but this ground is fundamentally feminist ground. (Posey, 1995) Granted, Essence magazine is not the premier publication for rhetorical literature, but I like to think that if I were Black and still a woman, I would speak and write as she did. She always advocates for coalitions between antiracist individuals, regardless of color, class, or gender, to work together.

    hooks has also been called an African American feminist, critic, social activist, writer, educator, and public intellectual. As an author of numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, and over 30 books, and appearance in several documentary films and participation in public lectures, her rhetorical voice on issues of feminist politics and the representation of race in film, television, and advertising has been heard. Yes, she has definitely drawn criticism, often from conservative (and usually male) writers.

    Why is hooks in heaven? Because she spent her life trying right wrongs. (Yes, that is very trite, but very true and much needed). She was born into a poor, but hard working family, wrote and wrote, became highly educated, spent the majority of her life trying to make society a better, more equal place for all.

    The second rhetorician I expect to see, and with whom I would like to talk, is Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, the Belgian academic and longtime co-worker of the philosopher and rhetorician Chaïm Perelman. She volunteered in 1948 to support his work and continued working with him until 1984 (when Perelman died). She worked on a substantial addition to the argumentation theory. In later years, she developed several aspects of the New Rhetoric independently (Gross & Dearin, 2003). In 1974, she published a work on rhetoric and comics.

    This book examines comic discourse from a rhetorical perspective, considering how values, language, logic, and presumptions make an audience laugh or smile. I would like to know more about her, about her writings, especially the comic discourse book (since my French is nearly good enough to read it, and I cannot find an English translation). Her work remains untranslated and limited to European publications. Her single authored work reveals an interest in “discursive structures and in how they were culturally situated and adapted to audiences” (Warnick, & Wertheimer, 1997, p. 70). Olbrechts-Tyteca provided the empirical work, observations, examples, and “middle-level” theory in her writings with Perelman. I would like to discuss the observations and examples with her.

    Why is Olbrechts-Tyteca in heaven? She spent 36 years of her life playing second fiddle to Perelman! She was always second author, and she never was awarded the prizes and recognition he received.

    The third? Since I must pick three, I guess I should put in a man. I choose I.A. Richards. Richards said that rhetoric should be s study of misunderstanding and its remedies. I think this still applies. He also said we can measure “the extent and degree of our hourly losses in communication” (2002, p.1). He wrote about how words work, how their meanings change from one context to another. Words and their meanings and usages are interesting to me – always have been.

    I would like to hear him talk about his thoughts. I know that the Basic English Word List (Richards, 1943) is antiquated and not really used anymore, but I still like the idea, plus the list is a good one, even if it should contain more than 850 basic words. I wish all of my students (yes, graduate students) knew all of these words and could spell them consistently. Richards also taught poetry at Harvard. I never understand poetry. Hopefully Richards could teach me. He had a Basic English version of the Illiad. I would like to hear it (then maybe I could understand it). Richards has a love of English, as do I. I think we could have some really interesting conversations in heaven.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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