In Defense of Rhetoric

Most of the time, people define rhetoric as a method of communication that is meant to trick the listener into believing the lies of the speaker. This definition, however, is of course inaccurate. Rhetoric is not a means of deceiving others and it has nothing to do with lying either. Rhetoric as an art form is centered around knowledge, having to do with the combined facts that are put together about whatever topic is being considered or discussed.

Aristotle defined rhetoric as “the art of finding the available means of persuasion in each case”. Someone else defined rhetoric as “the science which refreshes the hungry, renders the mute articulate, makes the blind see, and teaches one to avoid every lingual ineptitude”.

Yet the exact definition of rhetoric is not entirely clear. To really define rhetoric accurately would require an integration of the opinions of the various video creators and scholars interviewed in the video.

  • That rhetoric “enables people to create and assess messages effectively no matter what the facet is of any field” is among the first ways I heard it being defined.
  • “Rhetoric is about how we persuade each other or how we make arguments”.
  • “Rhetoric has to do with the emotional appeals that we make and how we try to identify with the listener, it isn’t just about the words that are being used”.
  • “Rhetoric makes you more self-conscious about your practices so that you can alter the way you approach a variety of situations depending on what experience tells you best fits the situation”.
  • “Rhetoric can help individuals break down components of language and argument”.
  • “Rhetoric enhances communication and presentation skills for students in university and benefits them in their personal life and as they prepare to enter the work force”.
  • Rhetoric answers the questions, “how can I make my argument effective” and “what are the best tools to use in order to achieve such an effective argument”.
  • “Rhetoric is used almost constantly throughout our lives, this is in choosing what to say and how to say it for the purpose of getting someone to either understand us, believe us, or agree with us”.

When the creators say that rhetoric is epistemic, they are referring to having that knowledge of something and being able to take it and weigh decisions based around the knowledge of the thing, using what is known in a systematic approach to come to a well thought out decision. When you have one argument against the other, epistemic rhetoric is a way of presenting the facts of both sides and using a process in order to determine which is the better option. One of those interviewed in the video said, “to say rhetoric is epistemic is to say rhetoric is a way of knowing”.

The study of rhetoric can be helpful for college students and even people outside the academy because rhetoric used properly can be applied in order to make good, well thought out decisions in life. Rhetoric helps a person to make better decisions when it comes to his job, leading to better job performance, etc.