Ramus’ Arguments in Rhetoric against Quintilian

Ramus, Arguments in Rhetoric Against Quintilian
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
•    Ramus is accused of undermining the whole tradition
•    Calls for a union of philosophy and eloquence
o    Separating spheres of 1) philosophy: dialectic; 2) rhetoric: style
•    Invention proceeds with 10 topics: causes, effects, subjects, adjuncts, opposites, comparisons, names, divisions, definitions, and witnesses
•    Dialectic becomes method for testing truth in any sphere of knowledge
•    Tropes of style to 4: metonymy, irony, metaphor, synecdoche
•    Ramus condemns Quintilian for making study of arousing emotion apart of rhetoric—it belongs to philosophy
•    Trope involves a single word, figure involves a group of words
o    A trope turns a word from its proper meaning; a figure’s proper meaning is unaffected
Arguments against Quintilian
•    The arts of dialectic and rhetoric have been confused by Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian
•    Cicero: made one art from two (invention and arrangement)
•    These scholars collected a lot of material but didn’t evaluate it sufficiently
•    Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilan are confused in their treatment of the dialectical and rhetorical’s use of reason
•    Quintilian: “the orator can’t be perfect unless he’s a good man”
o    Virtuous qualities of character
•    Theory of virtues proper to rhetoric, not philosophy?
•    In Quintilian’s five parts of rhetoric, he doesn’t fit philosophy anywhere in there
•    Rhetoric should demonstrate the embellishment of speech first in tropes and figures, second in dignified delivery
o    The dialectic is encroaching on rhetoric
•    Ramus: only two parts of rhetoric: style and delivery
•    An orator can’t be perfect without philosophy
•    Quintilian: goal of orator is not to persuade (this depends on chance result), but rather to speak well
•    Invention, arrangement, and memory→ belong to dialectic
o    Shouldn’t be intermingled with rhetoric
•    Ramus and Quintilian: rhetoric is the science of speaking well on all subjects
•    Quintilian records paltry falsehoods, not precepts derived from actual practice
•    Argument is a process of reason providing proof
Critical Moments in the Text
•    559: “Any subject can be analyzed in this way [structuring arguments by division or dichotomy].  Moreover, such arrangement renders other arts of memory unnecessary, for since this arrangement bodies forth the natural structure of both the world and the human mind, anything organized in this way is retained easily and thoroughly.”
•    565: “What then can be said against this definition of an orator? I assert indeed that such a definition of an orator seems to me to be useless and stupid: Why? Because a definition of any artist which covers more than is included in the rules of his art is superfluous and defective.  For the artist must be defined according to the rules of his art, so that only as much of the art as the true, proper principles cover—this much is attributed to the artist, and nothing further.”
•    567: “For all that, Quintilian continues and maintains his own opinion that since dialectic is a virtue, so therefore is rhetoric.  Quintilian should turn the whole thing around and should more correctly conclude that since dialectic is not a moral virtue which can shape a good man, so neither is rhetoric.”
•    576: “He teaches nothing about memory and delivery in the exordium and statement of facts; he confuses the very few instructions concerning style and arrangement.  And so I say that a theory of invention is left, which not only has nothing that could be referred to the true art of invention, but is one which I declare to be completely unreliable, sophistic, pedantic, and utterly puerile.”


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