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Aristotles Definition Of Rhetoric English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1827 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Aristotle’s Definition of Rhetoric

Rhetoric can be defined as the study of the effective speaking and writing, it can also be defined as the art of persuasion as many people as possible. It is that art of observing any case the available means of persuasion. Rhetoric is the ability to persuade people you’re your ideas. Rhetoric has three main parts. One is the speaker’s power of evincing a personal character which will make his speech credible. Second is his power of stirring the emotions of his audience and last but not least is his power to argue and prove a truth or an apparent truth by means of persuasive argument. However, rhetoric has many different definitions. Aristotle was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and the teacher of Alexander the Great. According to Aristotle the definition of rhetoric is the art of being able to see what is likely to be persuasive in every case (Aristotle, 1967). Someone who is rhetoric is able to see what is likely to persuade people in every case. Aristotle defines a Rhetorician as someone who is able to see what can be persuasive in every case. Though a Rhetorician is able to see what can be persuasive in many cases it does not mean that he is able to see what can be persuasive in each and every case. Rhetorical ability comes about when someone has attention in it from the beginning. Although rhetoric and dialect are almost similar there are some differences in them. The most valid difference is that while rhetoric uses continuous exposition, dialectic proceeds by means of question and answers where only logical arguments are used. The second difference between the two is that dialectic deals with general questions (e.g. nature of justice) while rhetoric deals with practical questions (e.g. was this action just?)

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Aristotle briefly tries to explain that rhetoric is closely related to dialectic. Aristotle argues that dialectic is for the private use in attacking and maintaining an argument whereas rhetoric is for public use in accusing an opponent or defending oneself during an argument. Aristotle divides the art of rhetoric into three categories

The first is the ethos. These are derived from the good character of the speaker. The meaning of ethos can be defined as showing the moral character. In public speaking the speaker must first establish ethos. There are three different categories of ethos that can help the speaker establish a higher ethos when in public speaking. The three categories of ethos are:-phronesis which is the practical skills and wisdom. Arete is the virtue of goodness and lastly eunoia which is having goodwill towards the audience (Herrick,


Rhetoric has a major role in our present day politics. The politicians use their rhetoric ability to do their campaign. Politicians are able to identify what is persuasive in order to win the public support. Rhetoric may be used for good or for harm. Some people argue that rhetoric tools are only needed by those people whose aim is to convince people while they conceal their real aims. However this is not the case since even those who need to communicate the truth need rhetorical tools. This is the same case in modern politics politicians have to use rhetoric to express their views to the people. They use rhetoric to arouse emotions in the audience. Politicians use rhetoric to persuade the public to vote them in the government. Rhetoric is non-argumentative way of persuading people. In present days politicians use rhetoric to argue their cases out. Politicians will try to argue their acceptance that they will do well to the people when they are elected. Politicians use rhetorical art to argue cases in court; they also use the art to argue on the constitution. Rhetorical art is important in speech delivering to large audience.

Rhetoric plays some similar role in politic in modern times as in the ancient times of Aristotle. The art of rhetoric was used in ancient times in courts of law just like in modern times, people applied rhetoric to win cases in courts. In modern times rhetoric is used in court by the accused to win their cases. In ancient times politicians used rhetoric mostly when coming up with a constitution for the people. The judge also has to use the art of rhetoric when making decision about some cases on what is just and what is unjust. The legislators also have to make decisions on what is advantageous or disadvantageous in some future action which they take. Therefore there are different genres of rhetoric that corresponds to different audience. Based on the different types of audience there are three genres of rhetoric.

The first is the Forensic rhetoric. This type of rhetoric is mainly aimed at persuading an audience that a particular action that was take in the past was just. The second is the deliberative rhetoric. This type of rhetoric is mainly aimed at making the audience to believe that a future action that is about to be take will be advantageous. The last and not the least is the Epideictic rhetoric. This rhetoric mainly aims at making people see that a particular person or subject is noble (Aristotle, 2007).

In modern society rhetoric is very important. It helps to advance the cause of justice in the society. For example Martin Luther the King made use of rhetoric in persuading people and uniting during the civil rights movements. Most of the human beings prove difficult to convince or persuade using logic or scientific explanation. Therefore the art of rhetoric is needed in order to persuade them. When one is a rebel he really needs the art of rhetoric so that one can be able to deal with vicious arguments. The art of rhetoric enables one to be able to argue both sides of an issue. One should be able to defend himself against any verbal attack just like he can defend himself from a physical attack. These are similar uses of rhetoric in ancient times of Aristotle and in modern political lives. However there are few things that contrast rhetoric in modern times and that of times of Aristotle. In times of Aristotle rhetoric was a very major discipline. It was widely taught in Greece where it first begun with Aristotle. Ancient time rhetoric was only based on the discussion and the development brought up by rhetors

The political process has evolved in many different ways from its foundation in ancient Greece. The ancient Greece consisted of very many city states that were independent. There was no any established political system. However the Greek people had some culture, religion and a language. Greece system of government was easy due to its fragmentary nature and the fact that it did not seem to have any tribal origin. In the beginning, the many Greece states seemed like kingdoms. Back in the 6th century Athens city in Greece fell under the tyranny rule. Immediately when the tyranny rule was ended Athenians went ahead and formed the world first democratic government. They formed democratic government so as to prevent the aristocracy from regaining power.

It was after the formation of democracy in Athens that other city states founded democracies however there are others that continued with traditional form of government. Greece is now a parliamentary republic which is headed by the president. There are two parties in Greece which dominate over the other smaller parties. This is the same way that the political process has changed in many states. Many states were lead by dictators who were staying in power by force though their regimes were full of suffering to the citizens. Many states have been able to attain democracy in where the leader of government is elected directly by the people. This entire process of government evolved in Greece from the 16th century.

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The current political process has diverse changes through its evolution since its foundation in the ancient Greece. The ancient Greece had several city states that were more or less independent. This was in contrast to many societies that wee ruled only by a minority of people who were the elite in the society. The ancient Greece had various distinct features regarding its foundation of its political structure. Various political regions were divided by hills, rivers and mountains. Another very significant feature of the Greek people was the fact that they were a one united group that had one goal, one culture, one religion and spoke the same language. This is one of the features that were coveted by various societies at the time and they all looked forward to attaining the same unity just like that of the Greeks.

Moreover, the Greeks were very conscious of their origins and had a well founded tradition. Other the people knew their backgrounds; they rarely made any change in the Greek politics. Unlike the many societies at the ancient time as well as in the present that are much concerned with the tribe in their political settings, Greece had a solid union among all the tribes. In fact they lived like one tribe even when it came to the political context.

The Greek political system has caused a wide range of influence to many countries since the ancient times. Many countries have adopted the Greece political structure. Though there are some of the states that have been successful in achieving this, there are still those that are far away from achieving the same. Some of the countries that have become successful through the Greece political structure are located in the European countries. In these countries, they share a common language which is one element towards their unity. Many of the countries that find it hard adapting this political structure are the African countries. While they have divided their political regions using hills, valleys, mountains or even rivers, they are composed of a great number of people form various tribes. These tribes are ever against each other as they need to overpower each other to acquire the top seats in the government. The trend is however being opposed though this seems like it might take eternity.

In conclusion, the Greece government has played a significant role in giving ideas to many states regarding the formation of their political structure. This has been experienced in many governments and most of the countries in the whole globe have found the ancient political structure useful.


Aristotle, A. (1967). Aristotle: Poetics. Michigan: University of Michigan Press,

Herrick, J. (2009). The History and Theory of Rhetoric: An Introduction (4th ed.). London: Mc-Craw.

Aristotle, A. (2007). On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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