The Classical Conception of Rhetoric

Rhetoric is an art, more particularly, is one of the seven liberal arts It is composed of principles which must be applied flexibly depending on the relationship among speaker, audience, occasion, and content

It is a matter of importance whenever humans seek to discover and communicate the humane truth It is an endeavor which develops the "Humane" condition (by helping us solve our problems in mind and society)

Stresses the power of the word showing how this power can be used properly or misused: narration and history contextualize

That probability is as important to human affairs as is certainty

Rhetoric is part of cultural affairs, especially civic, religious, and poetic

It is ethically based (prefers good to evil)

It has three faces (forensic, deliberative, demonstrative)

It seeks to persuade, inform, and/or please

Participants' contributions should influence society

It is a matter of importance whenever humans seek to convey the content and methodology of a subject in order to gain adherents to a point of view

That the power of a text is at issue

That conflict breeds discontinuities which Rhetoric can address

Rhetoric may be taught/learned

Depends on natural ability, educated training, extensive practice

Theories, models, and guided pract

ice are important perspectives for learning the art.

Virtue must be joined to eloquence

Knowledge of the world (philosophy, law, politics, history, literature) are essential

Rhetoricians have five canons at their disposal as resources


investigate facts (and "other" ways of knowing including dialectic, logic, intuition, inspiration/authority, and remembrance)

determine character of all sides of the case (stasis, status, and topoi)

artistic proofs, ethos/pathos/logical argument (and inartistic)


plan of compositions in general from the nature of all cases order the specific parts of the composition


word choice

virtues of style,

correctness, clarity, embellishment,

appropriateness types of style

plain, middle, grand

flexibility among styles that words not only "clothe," that they also "create"


thought memory (command of the material)

word memory (command of the words)

rote memorization (of parts or the whole)

associational systems


vocal control and variety

physical control and variety

Speeches have parts; each part contributes to the whole

Statement of the case and its proofs

Exordium, narratio, divisio, confirmatio, confutatio, peroriatio

Rhetoric emphasizes analysis and involvement of the audience and situation

Discovery of the question and the case

Use of the enthymeme

Includes dialectical (question and answer) formats

Is most often about the audience "doing" something civic/religious

Requires extensive audience analysis so as to learn the "best" approach

Empowers people to participate in social development

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