Aristotle On Rhetoric ristotle (384-322 B.C.) was a Greek philosopher, educator, and scientist. He was able to combine the thoughts of Socrates and Plato to create his own ideas and definition of rhetoric. He wrote influential works such as Rhetoric and Organon, which presented these new ideas and theories on rhetoric. Much of what is Western thought today evolved from Aristotle’s theories and experiments on rhetoric. Aristotle’s Life Aristotle was born in 384 B.C., in Northern Greece.
His father was a physician to the king of Macedonia, Amyntas II. Amyntas II was the grandfather of Alexander the Great. When Aristotle was still a boy, both of his parents died; so he was raised by a guardian named Proxenus. At the age of seventeen, he went to Athens to attend Plato’s school, the Academy. Aristotle stayed at the Academy for twenty years as a student, a research assistant, a lecturer, and a research scientist.
After Plato died, he moved and lived with Hermeias, a former pupil of Plato. During his three year stay, Aristotle married princess Pithias, Hermeias’s daughter. The couple had two children: a son named Nicomachus and a daughter. In 342 B.C., Aristotle was invited to educate Alexander by Philip of Macedon. He taught Alexander until King Philip was assassinated, then Alexander became ruler. In 335 B.C., he left Macedonia and returned to Athens to found a school named Lyceum.
Twelve years later, when Alexander died, the Athenians charged Aristotle with impiety because they resented his relationship with Alexander and other influential Macedonians. Aristotle said that he would not let the Athenians sin twice against philosophy (Soll, 663), so he fled to Chalcis. One year later he died at the age of sixty-two. Aristotle’s Writings and Philosophies Aristotle’s writings can be categorized into three groups: popular writings, memoranda, and the treatises. His popular writings were written for a general audience and modeled after Plato’s dialogues. The memoranda is a collection of research materials and historical records.
Most of the writings from these two groups have been lost. The third group, the treatises, was written for his classes, to teach his students. They were either lecture notes or textbooks. These treatises were made only for the students and are the only writings that still survive today. Aristotle’s early writings showed his admiration for Plato by imitating Plato’s style.
He wrote in dialogue form and his themes were variations of themes that Plato had developed. Later on, his writings strayed from Platonistic views and they compared concrete fact to the abstract and often clashed with the views of Plato. Two of his most important writings concerning rhetoric are Organon and Rhetoric. Organon was a collection of papers that included the Categories, the Prior and Posterior Analytics, the Topics, and On Interpretation. The word organon means instrument. In these papers Aristotle investigates thought, which is the instrument of knowledge.
Rhetoric was written sometime between 360 and 334 B.C. In this work, he writes about the art of public speaking. It seems that he is writing in direct response to Plato’s condemnation of the art. He believes that different rhetoric treats specific cases. These specific cases are topoi, which are different topics that can be persuaded.
In Book two of Rhetoric, he lists the twenty-eight common topics, or topoi. He also addresses style, diction, metaphor, and arrangement, but he basically ignores the other canons of rhetoric. This work was the first psychological rhetoric ever presented. The theory of the syllogism was first introduced by Aristotle. He was the first to analyze an argument in a logical order.
The generic syllogism is if A belongs to all B, and B belongs to all C, then A belongs to all C. A syllogism can either be dialectical or rhetorical. Dialectical syllogisms are always true. Rhetorical syllogisms are probably true, but not always true. The rhetorical syllogism is also called an enthymeme. An enthymeme is a statement that transfers attitudes the audience already holds to the case at hand: it is like a syllogism, except that its result is not new knowledge, but action (Brumbaugh, 187). The enthymeme has a missing part that must be filled in by the audience.
Syllogism and enthymeme are very closely related. Another concept, pisteis, was developed by Aristotle. Pisteis is divided into three sections: ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos is the credibility of the rhetor. Pathos is the emotions of the audience. Aristotle wrote about the different emotions to use on specific groups of people, in order to persuade them of some idea. Logos is the power of reasoning shared by the rhetor and the audience. All three are intertwined, even though they are categorized separately.
Aristotle had his own beliefs on rhetoric. He believed that [the function of rhetoric] is not to persuade but to see the available means of persuasion in each case (Covino, 3). Aristotle studied the art of argument and developed an optimistic view. He finds hope in the belief (1) that rhetoric is useful, because the true and the just are naturally superior to their opposites, (2) that generally speaking, that which is true and better is naturally always easier to prove and more likely to persuade and (3) that men have a sufficient natural capacity for the truth and indeed in most cases attain to it (Stone, 93). He also believed that even though persuasive argument is all classified under rhetoric, that each argument is its own case and should be dealt with differently than all other cases.
Aristotle had strong opinions on rhetoric which influenced many others. After his death, Aristotle’s works were perpetuated at the Peripatetic school by some of his loyal followers. Between 500 and 1000 his ideas disappeared in Western thought, but were preserved by Arabic and Syrian scholars. These scholars reintroduced Aristotle to Western thought betwen 1100 and 1200. Since this time, Aristotle has been extremely influential in Western thought on rhetoric. Top | Part 2 ristotle (384-322 B.C.), a Greek philosopher, educator, and scientist is arguably the most renowned and respected student of rhetoric in history. It is because of the early works of Aristotle that the field of rhetoric is as defined and understood as it is today.
By combining the thoughts of earlier philosophers such as Socrates and Plato, Aristotle created his own ideas and definitions of rhetoric. He incorporated these ideas into essays and books such as Rhetoric and Organon, which are still valued by rhetoricians in present day applications. It is plain to see that much of what is Western thought evolved from Aristotle’s theories and experiments with rhetoric. Aristotle’s Life Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. in the small northern Greek town of Stagiros. The son of a physician, Aristotle was introduced to the field of medicine at an early age.
It is this knowledge of anatomy and organic structure , many say, that enabled him to develop a remarkable talent for observation and discovery. His father was the personal physician of the great Macedonian king, Amyntas II, the grandfather of Alexander the Great. When Aristotle was still a boy, both of his parents died. From this point he was raised by a guardian named Proxenus until he departed for Athens to attend Plato’s Academy. He remained at Plato’s school for over twenty years where he served as a student, research assistant, lecturer, and a research …