Friday, April 01, 2011

Aristotle, Rhetoric

Aristotle, Rhetorica, from The Basic Works, Ed. Richard McKeon, The Modern Library, New York, 2001.

Rhetorica (Rhetoric)

Persuasion is clearly a sort of demonstration, since we are most fully persuaded when we consider a thing to have been demonstrated. The orator’s demonstration is an Enthymeme, and this is, in general, the most effective of the modes of persuasion. The Enthymeme is a sort of syllogism, and the consideration of syllogisms of all kinds, without distinction, is the business of dialectic, (1327)

What makes a man a ‘sophist’ is not his faculty, but his moral purpose. (1328)

Rhetoric may be defined as the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion. (1329)

Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself. Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible. We believe good men more fully and more readily than others: this is true generally whatever the question is, and absolutely true where exact certainty is impossible and opinions are divided. This kind of persuasion, like the others, should be achieved by what the speaker says, not by what people think of his character before he begins to speak. It is not, as some writers assume in their treatises on rhetoric, that the personal goodness revealed by the speaker contributes nothing to his power of persuasion; on the contrary, his character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion he possesses. Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. Our judgments when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile. (1329-1330)

With regard to the persuasion achieved by proof or apparent proof: just as in dialectic there is induction on the one hand and syllogism or apparent syllogism on the other, so it is in rhetoric. The example is an induction, the Enthymeme is a syllogism, and the apparent Enthymeme is an apparent syllogism. (1330)

When we base the proof of a proposition on a number of similar cases, this is induction in dialectic, example in rhetoric; when it is shown that, certain propositions being true, a further and quite distinct proposition must also be true in consequence, whether invariably or usually, this is called syllogism in dialectic, Enthymeme in rhetoric. (1330-1)

Speeches that rely on examples are as persuasive as the other kind, but those which rely on Enthymemes excite the louder applause. (1331)

The duty of rhetoric is to deal with such matters as we deliberate upon without arts or systems to guide us, … (1331)

The Enthymeme must consist of few propositions, fewer often than those which make up the normal syllogism. For if any of these propositions is a familiar fact, there is no need even to mention it; the hearer adds it himself. Thus, to show that Dorieus has been victor in a contest for which the prize is a crown, it is enough to say ‘For he has been victor in the Olympic games’, without adding ‘And in the Olympic games the prize is a crown’, a fact which everybody knows. (1332)

A member of the assembly decides about future events, a juryman about past events: while those who merely decide on the orator’s skill are observers. From this is follows that there are three divisions of oratory—(1) political, (2) forensic, and (3) the ceremonial oratory of display. [Or: deliberative (advisory), legal, and epideictic—the oratory respectively of parliamentary assemblies, of law-courts, and of ceremonial occasions when there is an element of ‘display’, ‘show’, ‘declamation’, and the result is a ‘set speech’ or ‘harangue’.] /
Political speaking urges us either to do or not to do something: one of these two courses is always taken by private counselors, as well as by men who address public assemblies. Forensic speaking either attacks or defends somebody: one or other of these two things must always be done by the parties in a case. The ceremonial oratory of display either praises or censures somebody. (1335)

We may define happiness as prosperity combined with virtue; or as independence of life; or as the secure enjoyment of the maxium of pleasure; or as a good condition of property and body, together with the power of guarding one’s property and body and making use of them. That happiness is one or more of these things, pretty well everybody agrees. /
From the definition of happiness it follows that its constituent parts are:--good birth, plenty of friends, good friends, wealth, good children, plenty of children, a happy old age, also such bodily excellences as health, beauty, strength, large stature, athletic powers, together with fame, honour, good luck, and virtue. A man cannot fail to be completely independent if he possesses these internal and these external goods; for besides these there are no others to have. (Goods and honour are external.) Further, we think that he should possess resources and luck, in order to make his life really secure. (1339-40)

The phrases ‘possession of good children’ and ‘of many children’ bear a quite clear meaning. Applied to a community, they mean that its young men are numerous and of good quality: good in regard to bodily excellences, such as stature, beauty, strength, athletic powers; and also in regard to the excellences of the soul, which in a young man are temperance and courage. Applied to an individual, they mean that his own children are numerous and have to good qualities we have described. Both made and female are here included; the excellences of the latter are, in body, beauty and stature; in soul, self-command and an industry that is not sordid. Communities as well as individuals should lack none of these perfections, in their women as well as in their men. Where, as among the Lacedaemonians, the state of women is bad, almost half of human life is spoilt. (1340)

Encomium refers to what he has actually done; the mention of accessories, such as good birth and education, merely helps to make our story credible—good fathers are likely to have good sons, and good training is likely to produce good character. Hence it is only when a man has already done something that we bestow encomiums upon him. Yet the actual deeds are evidence of the doer’s character: even if a man has not actually done a given good tings, we shall bestow praise on him, if we are sure that he is the sort of man who would do it. … To praise a man is in one respect akin to urging a course of action. (1357) … Consequently, whenever you want to praise any one, think what you would urge people to do; and when want to urge the doing of anything, think what you would raise a man for having done. (1358)

‘Examples’ are most suitable to deliberative speeches; for we judge of future events by divination from past events. Enthymemes are most suitable to forensic speeches; it is our doubts about past events that most admit of arguments showing why a thing must have happened or proving that it did happen. (1349)

We have next to treat of Accusation and Defence, and to enumerate and describe the ingredients of the syllogisms used therein. There are three things we must ascertain—first, the nature and number of the incentives to wrong-doing; second, the state of mind of wrong-doers; third, the kind of persons who are wronged, and their condition. (1359)

Thus every action must be due to one or other of seven causes; chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reasoning, anger, or appetite. (1360)

There are also the so-called ‘non-technical’ means of persuasion; and we must now take a cursory view of these, since they are specially characteristic of forensic oratory. They are five in number: laws, witnesses, contracts, tortures, oaths. (1374)

As to witnesses, they are of two kinds, the ancient and the recent; and these latter, again, either do or not share in the risks of the trial. By ‘ancient’ witnesses I mean the poets and all other notable persons whose judgments are known to all. (1375)

…that the audience should be in the right frame of mind, in lawsuits. When people are feeling friendly and placable, they think one sort of thing; when they are feeling angry or hostile, they think either something totally different or the same thing with a different intensity: when they feel friendly to the man who comes before them for judgement, they regard him as having done little wrong, if any; when they feel hostile, they take the opposite view. Again, if they are eager for, and have good hopes of, a thing that will be pleasant if it happens, they think that it certainly will happen and be good for them: whereas if they are indifferent or annoyed, they do not think so. (1380)

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. … The way to make ourselves thought to be sensible and morally good must be gathered from the analysis of goodness already given: the way to establish your own goodness is the same as the way to establish that of others. Good will and friendliness of disposition will form part of our discussion of the emotions, to which we must now turn. (1380)

We are now to proceed to discuss the arguments common to all oratory. All orators, besides their special lines of argument, are bound to use, for instance, the topic of the Possible and Impossible; and to try to show that a thing has happened, or will happen in future. Again, the topic of Size is common to all oratory; all of us have to argue that things are bigger or smaller than they seem, whether we are making political speeches, speeches of eulogy or attack, or prosecuting or defending in the law-courts. (1409)

We will first treat of argument by Example, for it has the nature of induction, which is the foundation of reasoning. (1412)

Where we are unable to argue by Enthymeme, we must try to demonstrate our point by this method of Example, and to convice our Example as subsequent supplementary evidence. They should not precede the Enthymemes: that will give the argument an inductive air, which only rarely suits the conditions of speech-making. If they follow the Enthymemes, they have the effect of witness giving evidence, and this always tells. For the same reason, if you put your examples first you must give a large number of them; if you put them last, a single one is sufficient; even a single witness will serve if he is a good one. (1413)

One great advantage of maxims to a speaker is due to the want of intelligence in his hearers, who love to hear him succeed in expressing as a universal truth the opinions which they hold themselves about particular cases. … and people love to hear stated in general terms what they already believe in some particular connexion: … (1416)

Educated men lay down broad general principles; uneducated men argue from common knowledge and draw obvious conclusions. We must not, those we have defined—those accepted by our judges or by those whose authority they recognize: (1417)

We will begin, as we must begin, by observing that there are two kinds of Enthymemes. One kind proves some affirmative or negative proposition; the other kind disproves one. (1419)

Another line is based upon induction. Thus from the case of the woman of Peparethus it might be argued that women everywhere can settle correctly the fats about their children. (1422)

Another line of argument is used when we have to urge or discourage a course of action that may be done in either of two opposite ways, and have to apply the method just mentioned to both. The difference between this one and the last is that, whereas in the last is that, whereas in the last any two things are contrasted, here the things contrasted are opposites. For instance, the priestess enjoined upon her son not to take to public speaking: ‘For’, she said, ‘if you say what is right, men will hate you; if you say what is wrong, the gods will hate you.’ The reply might be, ‘On the contrary, you ought to take to public speaking: for if you say what is right, the gods will love you; if you say what is wrong, men will love you.’ This amounts to the proverbial ‘buying the wrong, men will love you.’ This amounts to the proverbial ‘buying the marsh with the salt’. It is just this situation, viz. when each of two opposites has both a good and a bad consequence opposite respectively to each other, that has been termed divarication. (1424)

Besides genuine syllogisms, there may be syllogisms that look genuine but are not; and since an Enthymeme is merely a syllogism of a particular kind, it follows that, besides genuine Enthymemes, there may be those that look genuine but are not. /
Among the liens of argument that form the Spurious Enthymeme the first is that which arises form the particular words employed. too in rhetoric a compact and antithetical utterance passes for an enthymeme, such language being the proper province of enthymeme, so that it is seemingly the form of wording here that causes the illusion mentioned. In order to produce the effect of genuine reasoning by our form of wording it is useful to summarize the results of a number of previous reasonings: as ‘some he saved—others he avenged—the Greeks he freed’ [Isocrates, Evagoras, 65-9] Each of these statements has been previously proved from other facts; but the mere collocation of them gives the impression of establishing some fresh conclusion. (1428)

Another line is the use of indignant language, whether to support your own case or to overthrow your opponent’s. we do this when we paint a highly-coloured picture of the situation without having proved the facts of it: if the defendant does so, he produces an impression of his innocence; and if the prosecutor goes into a passion, he produces an impression of the defendant’s guilt. Here there is no genuine Enthymeme: the hearer infers guilt or innocence, but no proof is given, and the inference is fallacious accordingly. (1430)

The musical prelude resembles the introduction to speeches of display; as flute-players play first some brilliant passage they know well and then fit it on to the opening notes of the piece itself, so in speeches of display the writer should proceed in the same way; he should begin with what best takes his fancy, and then strikes up his theme and lead into it; which is indeed what is always done. (Take as an example the introduction to the Helen of Isocrates—there is nothing in common between the ‘eristics’ [i.e. the disputations dialecticians to whom Isocrates refers in the introduction to his Helena, 3, 4: Protagoras, Gorgias, &c.] and Helen. (1438)

The usual suspect for the introductions to speeches of display is some piece of praise or censure. Thus Gorgias writes in his Olympic Speech, ‘You deserve widespread admiration, men of Greece’, praising thus those who started the festival gatherings. Isocrates, on the other hand, censures them for awarding distinctions to fine athletes but giving no prize for intellectual ability. (1438)

In prologues, and in epic poetry, a foretaste of the theme is given, intended to inform the hearers of it in advance instead of keeping their minds in suspense. Anything vague puzzles them: so give them a grasp of the beginning, and they can hold fast to it and follow the argument. So we find—
Sing, O goddess of song, of the Wrath…
Tell me, O Muse, of the hero…
The tragic poets, too, let us know the pivot of their play; if not at the outset like Euripides, at least somewhere in the preface to a speech like Sophocles… (1439)

The other kinds of introduction employed are remedial in purpose, and may be used in any type of speech. They are concerned with the speaker, the hearer, the subject, or the speaker’s opponent. Those concerned with the speaker himself or with his opponent are directed to removing or exciting prejudice. (1439)

The appeal to the hearer aims at securing his goodwill, or at arousing his resentment, or sometimes at gaining his serious attention to the case, or even at distracting it—for gaining it is not always an advantage, and speakers will often for that reason try to make him laugh. (1439)

The Epilogue has four parts. You must (1) make the audience well-disposed towards yourself and ill-disposed towards your opponent, (2) magnify or minimize the leading facts, (3) excite the required state of emotion in your hearers, and (4) refresh their memories. (1450)


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