Aristotle Rhetoric Reading Notes

Book 1, Chapter 11 On Learning: Learning things and wondering at things are also pleasant as a rule; wondering implies the desire of learning, so that the object of wonder is an object of desire; while in learning one is brought into one's natural condition. That last phrase just needs to be thought about. A lot. Practical Wisdom: And since power over others is very pleasant, it is pleasant to be thought wise, for practical wisdom secures us power over others.

Could TC be seen as practical wisdom/ applied knowledge? Does that make it "power over others?" Book 1 I am reading Book 12 right now. I read several books earlier today, and there is just so much breaking down and classification. Lots of dualities, lots of mirroring, and a great deal of naming. "Pleasure expresses itself in five ways," or some such thing.

I do not know how to respond. In some ways, it feels contrived and artificial. But I think that is the jaded contemporary view. In another perspective, it seems ultimately sensible that you would want to sit down and describe the nature of your reality and your polis' reality to the best of your ability. And that means a lot of line drawing and classification.

Stylistically, such an approach feels really rather dry.

Content wise, I feel very, very heavy. This is such a dense collection of culturally important themes, that virtually any paragraph could be set aside and considered for the ramifications and echoing it has had for the past 2,500 years or so. Incredible stuff. And yet, at the very same time,

Aristotle Rhetoric Reading Notes

some of these very same things seem ultimately basic, simple, and Homer Simpson "Doh!"

I feel very engaged with the material, but I am not exactly sure what that means. I also fool viscerally far more engaged than I have with other materials, and I do not know what that means, either. This content, thus far, is throwing up a lot of unknowns for me.

Kegan's lecture/discussions mention shame vs. guilt in classical Greek society. That fascinates me. I hope there's more in our assigned readings.

Book 13, at the start Particular law is that which each community lays down and applies to its own members: this is partly written and partly unwritten. Universal law is the law of Nature.

Is natural law the same as the Truth? Can you make particular laws in accord with natural law? What constitutes "proof" of a natural law? Natural law just has too many echoes in my mind of fundamentalists seeking power in government as an expression of their natural rights (read: this applies to all Abrahamic religions as well as to non-Abrahamic religions as well).

1374a It is deliberate purpose that constitutes wickedness and criminal guilt, and such names as "outrage" or "theft" imply deliberate purpose as well as the mere action.

I really like this quote, and I like that it is levered on the fulcrum of intention. But how does one prove intention? How do you find out what was going on in someone's brain--especially if they never discussed or recorded anything about the act? And what if you hurt someone or kill someone in a rage? The conscious, thinking intention was probably not there--it was probably visceral, animalistic anger. Can that be regarded as methodical or calculated intention? It is almost like the very nature of intention empowers actions and, at the same time, makes it almost impossible to determine.

Aristotle Rhetoric Reading Notes

End of Book 13 A whole lot on Equity: Equity bids us be merciful to the weakness of human nature; to think less about the laws than about the man who framed them, and less about what he said than about what he meant; not to consider the actions of the accused so much as his intentions, nor this or that detail so much as the whole story; to ask not what a man is now but what he has always or usually been. It bids us remember benefits rather than injuries, and benefits received rather than benefits conferred; to be patient when we are wronged; to settle a dispute by negotiation and not by force; to prefer arbitration to litigation -- for an arbitrator goes by the equity of a case, a judge by the strict law, and arbitration was invented with the express purpose of securing full power for equity. This seems like a lot more about intention and compassion.

Aristotle Rhetoric Reading Notes
Aristotle Book 2 (mostly quotes) Chapter 1 1378 a There are three things which inspire confidence in the orator's own character -- the three, namely, that induce us to believe a thing apart from any proof of it: good sense, good moral character, and goodwill. False statements and bad advice are due to one or more of the following three causes. Men either form a false opinion through want of good sense; or they form a true opinion, but because of their moral badness do not say what they really think; or finally, they are both sensible and upright, but not well disposed to their hearers, and may fail in consequence to recommend what they know to be the best course.

Chapter 3 The reason is that it is shameless to deny what is obvious, and those who are shameless towards us slight us and show contempt for us: anyhow, we do not feel shame before those of whom we are thoroughly contemptuous.

At the end of Ch. 3 It is now plain that when you wish to calm others you must draw upon these lines of argument; you must put your hearers into the corresponding frame of mind, and represent those with whom they are angry as formidable, or as worthy of reverence, or as benefactors, or as involuntary agents, or as much distressed at what they have done.

Chapter 4 We may describe friendly feeling towards any one as wishing for him what you believe to be good things, not for your own sake but for his, [1381a] and being inclined, so far as you can, to bring these things about. A friend is one who feels thus and excites these feelings in return: those

Aristotle Rhetoric Reading Notes
who think they feel thus towards each other think themselves friends. This being assumed, it follows that your friend is the sort of man who shares your pleasure in what is good and your pain in what is unpleasant, for your sake and for no other reason.

Things that cause friendship are: doing kindnesses; doing them unasked; and not proclaiming the fact when they are done, which shows that they were done for our own sake and not for some other reason.

Chapter 5 Fear may be defined as a pain or disturbance due to a mental picture of some destructive or painful evil in the future.

... we can also see what Confidence is, about what things we feel it, and under what conditions. It is the opposite of fear, and what causes it is the opposite of what causes fear; it is, therefore, the expectation associated with a mental picture of the nearness of what keeps us safe and the absence or remoteness of what is terrible: it may be due either to the near presence of what inspires confidence or to the absence of what causes alarm. We feel it if we can take steps -many, or important, or both -- to cure or prevent trouble; if we have neither wronged others nor been wronged by them; if we have either no rivals at all or no strong ones; if our rivals who are strong are our friends or have treated us well or been treated well by us; or if those whose interest is the same as ours are the more numerous party, or the stronger, or both.

Chapter 7 1385b

Aristotle Rhetoric Reading Notes
In considering this subject we must look at all the "categories": an act may be an act of kindness because (1) it is a particular thing, (2) it has a particular magnitude or (3) quality, or (4) is done at a particular time or (5) place. As evidence of the want of kindness, we may point out that a smaller service had been refused to the man in need; or that the same service, or an equal or greater one, has been given to his enemies; these facts show that the service in question was not done for the sake of the person helped. Or we may point out that the thing desired was worthless and that the helper knew it: no one will admit that he is in need of what is worthless.

Ch 10-11 Difference between envy and emulation is that envy is being upset that someone has something you do not; emulation is being upset that you do not have something that someone else does. Envy is doing things to prevent your neighbor from living well; emulation is doing things so that you live well.

Ch 16 There is indeed one difference between the type of the newly-enriched and those who have long been rich: the newly-enriched have all the bad qualities mentioned in an exaggerated and worse form -- to be newly-enriched means, so to speak, no education in riches.

It was interesting to learn that hatred of the nouveau riche has been around for millenia.

Ch 21: Rocking the Maxim 1395b The maxim, as has been already said, a general statement and people love to hear stated in general terms what they already believe in some particular connexion: e.g. if a man happens to have bad neighbours or bad children, he will agree with any one who tells him, "Nothing is more annoying than having neighbours," or, "Nothing is more foolish than to be the parent of children." The orator has therefore to guess the subjects on which his hearers really hold views already, and what those views are, and then must express, as general truths, these same views on these same subjects. This is one advantage of using maxims. There is another which is more important -- it invests a speech with moral character. There is moral character in every speech in

Aristotle Rhetoric Reading Notes
which the moral purpose is conspicuous: and maxims always produce this effect, because the utterance of them amounts to a general declaration of moral principles: so that, if the maxims are sound, they display the speaker as a man of sound moral character.