== Chapter Four: The Big Aristotle ==
Aristotle's Rhetoric, Books One and TwoAristotle. On Rhetoric / A Theory of Civic Discourse. Trans. George A. Kennedy. Oxford UK: Oxford UP, 1991.
I suggest that the Rhetoric is an early work of Aristotle's. We can tease out a tension between Plato's fairly resolute condemnation of rhetoric and what will become Aristotle's robust, ethical, pragmatic orientation toward civics and the public sphere. In the context of a sixteen week semester, we cannot read *all* of Aristotle, but I would encourage rhetorical scholars to explore a few of his other works--such as the Poetics for in Aristotle's defense of art in terms of memesis I hear echoes of Isocrates' notion of paideia, and, of course, the Nicomachean Ethics for its distinction betwee episteme and techne, which I might quickly reduce to a distinction between positive knowledge and practical application. To return to the opening line of the Rhetoric, to an introduction that I think Aristotle wrote long after the original definition of rhetoric as a way of seeing available means, rhetoric is antistrophe to dialectic: one provides us with knowledge, the other with the ability to enact the fruits of that epistemic labor. And while my reading of Latour is likely shading my reading of Aristotle--I would propose that Aristotle would consider each incomplete without the other.
=== Notes on Kennedy's Introduction ===
Of interest in Kennedy's introduction is his mention of Isocrates' "Letter to Alexander" (6). Kennedy argues that while Aristotle found Isocrates' rhetoric wanting for depth and too focused on style, Isocrates found Aristotle's rhetoric, with its underlying emphasis on dialectic, too agonistic (mere wrangling) (12).
Kennedy's definition of rhetoric: "Rhetoric, in the most general sense, is the energy inherent in emotion and thought, transmitted through a system of signs, including language, to others to influence their decisions or actions" (7).
A tension I find in Kennedy's depiction of Aristotle--while Kennedy acknowledges that Aristotle's primary emphasis rests on metaphysics, he also remarks dialectic and rhetoric are tools for Aristotle. However, one must ask whether dialectic and rhetoric belong in a sense, to different metaphysical systems, whether the designation of rhetoric as a tool already suggests we are operating within a Platonic metaphysics.
=== Understanding the Basics ===
Rhetoric is the art (techne) dedicated to seeing (and perhaps using) the available means of persuasion. The art is composed of three primary forms of artistic proof (pisteis) (as opposed to non-artistic proof such as witnesses or contracts, Aristotle cites the difference as pointing to things that exist or bringing things into existence):
Logos: the use of reason and logical demonstration. In a literal sense, we can take it to mean "showing something to the audience." Aristotle identifies two kinds of logical pisteis: artistic and inartistic (1356a). The former are invented by the speaker; the latter are "given," indicating that a speaker quotes laws, contracts, oaths, witness testimony, reports (including torture, though Aristotle is critical of its worth), etc.
Ethos: There is some conflict regarding Aristotle's treatment of ethos. At one point, he indicates that ethos chiefly refers to the character of the speaker. But note for Aristotle this should not include what we know of the person previous to the speaking occasion. In an early move to kill the author, the authority of a speech should descend from the quality of its logos. See 1377b for Aristotle's emphasis on performing a character that prepares the judge [audience] for a particular argument (1377b-1378a).
Pathos: While we usually consider this an appeal to emotion, Aristotle frames it in a quite peculiar way (more of this below). Kennedy translates pathos as "disposing the listener in some way." I like to think of Aristotle's treatment of pathos as almost a precursor to Heidegger's articulation of mood. Suffice to say for a quick exposition, he is suspicious of over-dramatization as a part of oratory.There are three major species, or branches, of rhetoric. Each branch draws upon all three of the appeals, although some are more important than others for particular branches. I have a grid.
While each branch has specific knowledges pertaining to it, they also share a number of common topics (topoi, Greek for place, hence "inhabiting a common place"--also, note that spatiality was core to Greek theories of memory, if you wanted to remember a speech, then you mapped part of the speech onto objects around you). There are 28 topics in general;