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Aristotle¶s Rhetoric and its Influence on Modern American Politics
Tyler Cannon English 143 Studies in Rhetorical Theory Dr. Haydel May 25, 2010
phrases.e. or human emotions and their causes. gymnastics. Aristotle defines rhetoric as ³an ability. which discusses human character and decency . 37). The beautification of words. There are three artistic proofs in which Aristotle¶s brought forth to support claim that rhetoric is indeed a true art form. to see the available means of persuasion´ (Kennedy. as well as from other people and thinkers of his time and time thereafter. The idea and art of rhetoric was touched by Aristotle as well. in each particular case. etc.) persuades about anything else besides it¶s own subject matter. and ³ethos´. and that no other action that is considered an art (i. as he brought forth ideas that sparked more ideas. director. Spawning from his ideas of this new interpretation of rhetoric came a seemingly new judiciary process of political oratory. These artistic proofs are called ³logos´. 2007. He goes further to call rhetoric an ³art´. developed by Aristotle from his findings on the human psyche. By demonstrating Aristotle¶s definition of rhetoric and his interpretation of its components. ideas. understanding the judiciary process in Ancient Greece. p. and taking this prose and being able to emotionally move and persuade a person or a large group of people is precisely the subject of rhetoric. and that it is an art of ³persuasion´ in and of itself. and though he was not the first person to coin the idea he did have his way of explaining and interpreting it in a way that was never seen nor heard before. as well as social influences. to the point where seemingly most of western thought and philosophy has been spawned from him alone. ³pathos´. or logical reasoning.Aristotle s Rhetoric 2 Aristotle¶s contributions to the world can be seen as endless. woodworking. medicine. and using these brief understandings to compare with our modern judicial process we will be able to see how much Aristotle has influenced our present-day political operation.
This is the proof of pathos. This credibility is not based on prior reputation of the speaker. Forming arguments based on evidence is a form of reasoning. the constituency of a politician wants to be convinced of his genuine beliefs. 2009. This idea is till used today in our political process. 87). Logical reasoning has to do with intellect. Ethos deals with the credibility of the speaker (Herrick). and control the dynamics of the volume. ethos was potentially the most persuasive (Herrick. and introducing these reasoning¶s into a discourse is precisely what logos stands for.Aristotle s Rhetoric 3 (Herrick. Pathos (having to do with the human psyche) is a type of study of human emotion. What he says and what he does is always under scrutiny. p. When a politician or lawyer wants to speak about a person or law. When criminal defense lawyers are speaking to a jury about how their client is innocent of killing a man they must make the jury feel sympathetic. demonstrated in politics. p. but the worth of his words. Aristotle¶s clear understanding of human emotion enabled him to demonstrate the importance of formulating a discourse to the parameters of a certain audience. Aristotle claimed that of the three artistic proofs. 2009. they cannot use the same way to present the argument in all environments. Aristotle described pathos as ³putting the audience in the right frame of mind´ (Herrick. The speaker needs to be trusted by the audience for the audience to buy into what he is saying. 88). Politicians and lawyers use logic to get their points across to the public or the jury. Being able to formulate a logical argument means nothing if one is not able to understand human emotion and how to convey that logic to each and every person. If he speaks one time he must sound knowledgeable and seem convincing. They must speed up their words. add emphasis to others. 90). Being able to reason using words and phrases. Also in the modern political sense. The initial definition of . 2009. This is still used today. p.
looking at what happened in the when and deciding what to do with it is the nature of the category. ³Epideiktikon´ is another type of rhetorical purpose. It was used to make recommendations about what would make the city better. this judicial type of rhetorical purpose deal with judgment (Herrick.Aristotle s Rhetoric 4 rhetoric and the discussion of the artistic proofs provide the very basis of understanding on how rhetoric has shaped our modern political culture. p. This type did not require the people to perform an action. Presidents have advisors who help the President make decisions about large events. The last specie of rhetorical purpose is ³dikanikon´. Making decisions from what happened in the past. 85). This category of rhetoric was used to create rules and regulations and debate about things that would help the people of a city. Deliberative oratory discusses events that may happen in the future. These were speeches made at funerals or after a great battle (Herrick. In and outside of the courts this is used to figure out what happened in the past in order to gain understanding. 86). Probably most tied to our judicial system today. This ties in with modern day politics easily. The first was called ³symbouleutikon´ or ³deliberative oratory´ (Herrick. 2009. similar to a type of consultant. It judges based on a set of found facts. 85). but only to think and reflect. This was concerned with issues of the past. These species of rhetoric provide even more insight into the nature of rhetoric and . p. observing and reflecting on what happened. What about the settings where Aristotle¶s rhetoric and the artistic proofs were used? Three different settings were described as diverse types of oratory. In modern politics we use past speeches and past happenings to look back on and learn. They are always looking for and comparing trends in order to discover what the best decision for the future might be. We often think about the past and use it to inspire us to do more.
Specific law deals with a written rule or piece of legislation written which is subsequently broken. p. Natural law deals with laws that are innate inside of our beings. p. Seeing how persuasion was a being misused by many rhetoricians at the time his excellence in thought helped to redefine the genre and create new ideologies and a new way of thought. American law was originally adapted from English law that practiced a common law-type system during the time of the Revolutionary War (Hughes. Aristotle brought in a point in his Rhetoric text. ³specific´ law and ³common´ or ³natural´ law (Kennedy. Our judicial system in the United States of America is based off of these two types of law. written by Thomas Jefferson talks of our natural rights: ³We hold these truths to be self-evident. 12). but politics around the world. He states that right and wrong have to be looked at from two different types of law. that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. In many ways the political area of Ancient Greece is similar to that of modern America. natural law. that are subsequently broken. that among these are Life. that all men are created equal. not necessarily written. These words echo the words written by Aristotle almost three thousand years earlier. 97). Speaking in the sense of politics in terms of law and the study of judiciary procedures. Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness´. The Declaration of Independence. that of . These ideas from Aristotle were able to produce a part of law that we use still this day. 2007.Aristotle s Rhetoric 5 our modern politics. 1996. The uses of the artistic proofs are still evident in not just US politics. Our American political system is highly developed from Aristotle¶s translation and interpretation of rhetoric. The species of rhetoric and their type of judge (or no judge at all) is still used in the rings of oratory in our times.
Aristotle s Rhetoric 6 there being a war of words throughout the land has always been prevalent. . Without Aristotle¶s Rhetoric we would not be politically where we are to this day.
New York: Oxford University Press. . Boston: Allyn and Bacon. G." in Fundamentals of american law. A. A. "Common Law Systems. New York: Oxford University Press. (2009). The history and theory of rhetoric: An Introduction. J. Hughes.Aristotle s Rhetoric 7 References Herrick. Kennedy. (2007). G. On rhetoric: A history of civil discourse. (1996).