Posts Tagged ‘rhetoric


Olsen’s Rhetoric and Composition as Intellectual Work

Gary Olsen, ed.
Rhetoric and Composition as Intellectual Work
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
From Joseph Harris’ Review

•    Olson’s Rhetoric and Composition As Intellectual Work brings together two sets of essays-one arguing for composition as an academic discipline and the other offering sketches of what scholarship in that discipline might look like.
•    The quality of writing is high, even when the arguments are familiar:
o    Olson agitating for ideological critique,
o    Thomas Kent explaining paralogic rhetoric,
o    Cindy Selfe urging attentiveness to technology,
o    Victor Vitanza discoursing playfully about sophistics,
o    Stephen Mailloux insisting that theory really does have consequences,
o    Susan Miller and Susan Wells digging around in the archives
•    Olson asserts that “composition should be an intellectual as well as a service discipline” (xii).
o    While Olson makes it clear that he is not arguing against teaching per se but, rather, against a view of the field as one “devoted solely to improving writing pedagogy” (xvi), his phrasing distances intellectual work from service and associates it with discipline.
•    Gary Olson argues against what he calls a “disturbing trend in the discipline” (499) to blur key terms and categories describing our work, arguing that “teaching is not research; it can draw on research and apply research and confirm or discredit research results, but it’s not coextensive with or identical to research”


St. Augustine’s On Christian Teaching

St. Augustine
On Christian Teaching
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
The Significance of On Christian Doctrine (from Rhetorical Tradition)

•    His confessions may be seen as illustrating the application of Christian ideas to the governance of one’s own soul.
•    OCT advises the Christian pastor on how to foster both psychological and social order by correctly interpreting the Christian truth of the Scriptures and conveying this truth to diverse audiences.
•    The Platonic philosophers come closer to the truth of Christianity than any other pagan thinkers.
•    Augustine knew something of Plato and Aristotle—the Platonic philosophers came closer to the truth of Christianity than any other pagan thinkers.
•    Augustine suggests that eloquence can be achieved without rhetorical training and furthermore, that wisdom, which is separate from eloquence, is more important than eloquence.  Thus he seems to mount a Platonic attach on the declamatory rhetoric of the Second Sophistic that he himself once taught.
•    This separation of eloquence and wisdom implies a separation of things (truths, realities) and words (signs of things), thus also leading Augustine to the Platonic conclusion that language itself is only a means to the final, silent contemplation of divine truth.
•    Augustine thus shares with Cicero—and through hum, with Isocrates—the conviction that rhetoric must be employed for people’s own good.  Augustine follows Cicero in treating the three offices of rhetoric as pleasing, teaching, and persuading or moving to action.
•    Augustine may also place more emphasis on teaching because he assumes that the Christian pastor will usually be preaching to the converted.
•    The converted audience already values Christianity and desires to live by it but must be instructed in the proper way to do so.  In turn, this emphasis on preaching to the converted may lead to slightly more emphasis on style as an important concern for rhetoric in Augustine’s work, as opposed to its place in Cicero’s.

From this source
BOOK I: Argument
The author divides his work into two parts, one relating to the discovery, the other to the expression, of the true sense of Scripture. He shows that to discover the meaning we must attend both to things and to signs, as it is necessary to know what things we ought to teach to the Christian people, and also the signs of these things, that is, where the knowledge of these things is to be sought. In this first book he treats of things, which he divides into three classes,–things to be enjoyed, things to be used, and things which use and enjoy. The only object which ought to be enjoyed is the Triune God, who is our highest good and our true happiness. We are prevented by our sins from enjoying God; and that our sins might be taken away, “The Word was made Flesh,” our Lord suffered, and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, taking to Himself as his bride the Church, in which we receive remission of our sins. And if our sins are remitted and our souls renewed by grace, we may await with hope the resurrection of the body to eternal glory; if not, we shall be raised to everlasting punishment. These matters relating to faith having been expounded, the author goes on to show that all objects, except God, are for use; for, though some of them may be loved, yet our love is not to rest in them, but to have reference to God. And we ourselves are not objects of enjoyment to God: he uses us, but for our own advantage. He then goes on to show that love–the love of God for His own sake and the love of our neighbour for God’s sake–is the fulfilment and the end of all Scripture. After adding a few words about hope, he shows, in conclusion, that faith, hope, and love are graces essentially necessary for him who would understand and explain aright the Holy Scriptures.
•    Those things which are objects of enjoyment make us happy. Those things which are objects of use assist, and (so to speak) support us in our efforts after happiness, so that we can attain the things that make us happy and rest in them.
•    For to enjoy a thing is to rest with satisfaction in it for its own sake. To use, on the other hand, is to employ whatever means are at one’s disposal to obtain what one desires, if it is a proper object of desire; for an unlawful use ought rather to be called an abuse.
•    Those things which are objects of use are not all, however, to be loved, but those only which are either united with us in a common relation to God, such as a man or an angel, or are so related to us as to need the goodness of God through our instrumentality, such as the body.
•    No man, then, hates himself. On this point, indeed, no question was ever raised by any sect. But neither does any man hate his own body.
•    Man, therefore, ought to be taught the due measure of loving, that is, in what measure he may love himself so as to be of service to himself. For that he does love himself, and does desire to do good to himself, nobody but a fool would doubt.
BOOK II: Argument
Having completed his exposition of things, the author now proceeds to discuss the subject of signs. He first defines what a sign is, and shows that there are two classes of signs, the natural and the conventional. Of conventional signs (which are the only class here noticed), words are the most numerous and important, and are those with which the interpreter of Scripture is chiefly concerned. The difficulties and obscurities of Scripture spring chiefly from two sources, unknown and ambiguous signs. The present book deals only with unknown signs, the ambiguities of language being reserved for treatment in the next book. The difficulty arising from ignorance of signs is to be removed by learning the Greek and Hebrew languages, in which Scripture is written, by comparing the various translations, and by attending to the context. In the interpretation of figurative expressions, knowledge of things is as necessary as knowledge of words; and the various sciences and arts of the heathen, so far as they are true and useful, may be turned to account in removing our ignorance of signs, whether these be direct or figurative. Whilst exposing the folly and futility of many heathen superstitions and practices, the author points out how all that is sound and useful in their science and philosophy may be turned to a Christian use. And in conclusion, he shows the spirit in which it behoves us to address ourselves to the study and interpretation of the sacred books.
BOOK III: Argument
The author, having discussed in the preceding book the method of dealing with unknown signs, goes on in this third book to treat of ambiguous signs. Such signs may be either direct or figurative. In the case of direct signs ambiguity may arise from the punctuation, the pronunciation, or the doubtful signification of the words, and is to be resolved by attention to the context, a comparison of translations, or a reference to the original tongue. In the case of figurative signs we need to guard against two mistakes:–1. the interpreting literal expressions figuratively; 2. the interpreting figurative expressions literally. The author lays down rules by which we may decide whether an expression is literal or figurative; the general rule being, that whatever can be shown to be in its literal sense inconsistent either with purity of life or correctness of doctrine must be taken figuratively. He then goes on to lay down rules for the interpretation of expressions which have been proved to be figurative; the general principle being, that no interpretation can be true which does not promote the love of God and the love of man. The author then proceeds to expound and illustrate the seven rules of Tichonius the Donatist, which he commends to the attention of the student of Holy Scripture.
BOOK IV: Argument
Passing to the second part of his work, that which treats of expression, the author premises that it is no part of his intention to write a treatise on the laws of rhetoric. These can be learned elsewhere, and ought not to be neglected, being indeed specially necessary for the Christian teacher, whom it behoves to excel in eloquence and power of speech. After detailing with much care and minuteness the various qualities of an orator, he recommends the authors of the Holy Scriptures as the best models of eloquence, far excelling all others in the combination of eloquence with wisdom. He points out that perspicuity is the most essential quality of style, and ought to be cultivated with especial care by the teacher, as it is the main requisite for instruction, although other qualities are required for delighting and persuading the hearer. All these gifts are to be sought in earnest prayer from God, though we are not to forget to be zealous and diligent in study. He shows that there are three species of style,–the subdued, the elegant, and the majestic; the first serving for instruction, the second for praise, and the third for exhortation: and of each of these he gives examples, selected both from Scripture and from early teachers of the Church, Cyprian and Ambrose. He shows that these various styles may be mingled, and when and for what purposes they are mingled; and that they all have the same end in view, to bring home the truth to the hearer, so that he may understand it, hear it with gladness, and practice it in his life. Finally, he exhorts the Christian teacher himself, pointing out the dignity and responsibility of the office he holds, to lead a life in harmony with his own teaching, and to show a good example to all.


Petraglia’s Reality by Design

Joseph Petraglia
Reality by Design: The Rhetoric and Technology of Authenticity in Education
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
Introduction: Why an Interest in the Authentic?

•    An understanding of contemporary education hinges on what we take authentic learning to mean and how we believe it’s achieved
•    Rhetoric of inquiry: study of how discursive practices constitute and sustain human understanding with special reference to academic investigation
X: “Situated cognition—an approach that again emphasizes the individual’s perception of and responsiveness to the immediate ambient world and motivating activities that seem personally real.”
4:  “Constructivism—the interdisciplinary view that we construct knowledge based on our cultural assumptions and prior experiences at hand.  Therefore, constructivism can be understood as a natural and social scientific complement to the progressivism which it developed alongside of.”
4: “Modern constructivism, Resnick argues, obliges us to view social behavior not just as an influence on thought, but also, as itself, a manifestation of cognitive processing that leads us to ‘analyze the ways in which people jointly construct knowledge under particular conditions of social purpose and interaction.”
5: “Technology can help in this process [of rethinking schooling] because it makes it possible to create learning situations that mirror what is happening in the real world in ways that are difficult to realize in a traditional classroom.”
8: “Thus, the rhetoric of authenticity can refer to how language such as authentic, real-world, genuine, and everyday is used by educators to conserve comfortable epistemological assumptions while linking pedagogical innovations to a more constructivistic intellectual framework.  In this first sense, then, the rhetoric of authenticity is about how and why the desideratum of authentic learning is used as a central trope in the contemporary educator’s vocabulary.  However, in a second and perhaps more technical sense, a rhetoric of authenticity can refer to the way in which the real, and thus, the authentic, can be seen as an outcome of rhetorical processes.”
10:  “The evolution of constructivism through the cognitive revolution of the 1950s and 1960s to what, in hindsight, looks to be the fairly natural resurrection of Soviet sociohistoricism.  It is the sociohistorical perspective initiated by Vygotsky and his colleagues in the 1920s and 1930s that creates the conceptual space in psychology necessary for the treatment of everyday context.  This is accomplished via the quotidianization of learning—that is, by looking to everyday situations and activities as the primary source of learning rather than at deliberately structured learning episodes or learning acquired in school under formal conditions.”
12:  “Rhetorical and constructivist frameworks share many features—for instance, both are preoccupied with an interest in how representations of the world are constructed and modified.  However, the rhetorical tradition usefully distinguishes itself in its focus on the affective dimensions of thinking and knowledge-making and in its long experience with context-dependence.”
Chapter Six: Negotiating the Real world: Conceptual Obstacles and Opportunities for Education
•    A constructivist analysis of knowledge foregrounds rhetoric: the powers of persuasion and the differences of dispute
•    Making students participate in their own learning, rather than students being simply the audience
•    Who is the audience (Bitzer): an inappropriate audience is no audience at all
•    Rhetoric: performative dimension of expertise
o    The status of expert is not necessarily granted to one that knows the content in any objective sense, but is a status granted to the person that possess the means in which to perform the knowledge
•    Who can persuade others of their own expertise (Gorgias)
134: “The challenge of authenticating learning becomes transformed from that of presenting the learner with new and improved ‘reality kits’ to that of persuading learners that the problems with which they are presented correspond in some important way to their own sense of how the real world works.”
135: “The student as audience, a rhetorician would contend, is less a passive sounding board for the educator’s lecture, than an active interlocutor who is fully capable of evaluating claims, assessing evidence, and posing rebuttals.”
137:  “In other words, a rhetorician may observe that technologists often design environments for what Perelman calls the universal audience—that ‘reasonable and competent’ audience to which we direct out idea arguments.  This is rooted in the assumption that rationality is universal and needs no audience.  Yet Perelman reminds us that while the universal audience has its uses, it is only a fiction that serves as a heuristic in helping us define our particular audience—those living, breathing, alternately reasoning, and alternately competent audiences that we actually encounter in the real world.”
141:  “In recognizing that expert performance is rhetorically constructed at various times for various reasons, educators are reminded that authentic assessment—a critical subject in many education-based literatures—is entirely dependent on the norms of, and consensus among, evaluators.  New ripples, trends, tastes, and politics can quickly dethrone experts and replace them with individuals whose performance was previously considered highly inexpert.”
149:  “A rhetorical perspective reminds us that there is no guarantee of success in making learning authentic: Although we may argue for a given task’s authenticity, evidence one audience finds compelling, another audience fins inadequate.  What Aristotle identified as rhetoric’s natural concern with probable outcomes instills in the rhetorically sensitive educator an explicit awareness of the limits of persuasion and thus success.  In Book One of Rhetoric, for instance, Aristotle reminds us that the rhetorician who discovers the available means of persuasion does so with no assurances that the means employed will succeed.  He advises us to set out sights a bit lower and suggests that a more reasonable objective is to come ‘as near such success as the circumstances of each particular case allows.’”


Walker’s Rhetoric and Poetics in Antiquity

Jeffrey Walker
Rhetoric and Poetics in Antiquity
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
From Kirby’s Review

•    An era obsessed with text and textuality, a book on rhetoric and poetics has emerged urgently central
•    Hesiod and Aristotle conceived of poetics in rhetorical terms
•    Walker’s interpretation of mimesis too narrow:
o    Doesn’t account for the verbal mimesis of poetry
o    The rhetor is performing a version of himself from a script provided by the logographer.  Rhetoric has mimetic aspects, just as Aristotelian mimesis is rhetorical
•    Walker misinterprets houtos ekenios:
o    Doesn’t refer to the noetic experience of poetry
o    Does mean the cognitive connection between visual images and the things they represent
•    While Walker tries to downplay the role of Aristotle, he relies heavily on the Aristotelian system
•    Throwback to Schiappa’s question of whether and how the naming of a thing alters our understanding of it
580: “what came to be called rhetoric was neither originally nor essentially an art of practical civic oratory-rather . . . it originated from an expansion of the poetic/epideictic domain, from ‘song’ to ‘speech’ to ‘discourse’ generally … although there certainly were changes in sociopolitical conditions and rhetorical practices, there was no ‘decline of rhetoric’ in any meaningful sense in either the Hellenistic or the Roman period” (ix). In parts 3 and 4 he develops “a notion of rhetorical poetics that can be found embodied in archaic poetry” and discusses “the gradual occlusion of this notion in the grammatical tradition and the ‘grammaticalized’ rhetoric and poetics transmitted from the Middle Ages to early modernity” (x).  This history is recounted from a “‘sophistic’ or neosophistic rather than a neo- Aristotelian perspective” (xi); as Walker says, Plato and Aristotle “play less central roles in my discussion than some readers might expect”
581: But for Walker, the Poetics embodies a “double vision” by which Aristotle, on the one hand, presupposes a “fundamentally rhetorical conception of poetic discourse” (281) while,  n the other, simultaneously occluding its “rhetorical, argumentative, suasory character.”
From Hill’s review:
•    A sophist’s history of rhetoric
From Enos’ review:
•    Rhetoric and poetry share a common origin and are tied together as epideictic discourse
•    Insofar as epideictic is the primary form of rhetoric, and poetry is the original and ultimate form of epideictic, poetry is also the original and ultimate form of rhetoric
•    This book would benefit by stressing how all oral poetry is rhythmical and how euphony is an important feature for memory and arrangement would help readers to understand what Ong calls the “psychodynamics” of orality
•    If rhetoric was in ‘decline’ (as many historians of rhetoric describe) whey does it actually prosper?


Aristotle’s Rhetoric

Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

•    Hamartia: error in judgment; flaw; a fault
o    Fault: springs from error innocence
•    Qualitative Parts: plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle, and melody
•    Quantitative Parts: Prologue, episode, parode, stasiman, exode
•    Oratorical interest not in parallel between oratory and poetry, but in those between rhetorical and dialectical argumentation
•    Different forms of the soul (Plato): some are ruled by one emotion, others by another
o    By knowing different forms, one can shape argument in specific ways
•    Syllogism as “evidence”
o    But also how these proofs can be mishandled and false
•    Aristotle compares to the first principles of demonstrative science
o    Xviii: “What he means is that a mathematician starts with say a proposition about the angles of an equilateral triangle and goes on to show that, because the triangle with which he happens to be concerned is equilateral, its angles must be stated in the proposition.  As Aristotle sees it, our speaker who makes his case for peace proceeds basically in the same manner as this mathematician.”
•    Presentation of an argument need not bring out logical form (don’t bore audience)
•    Rhetoric is a counterpart of dialectic
•    Essence of rhetoric: appeals of emotion to warp the judgment
•    Definition of rhetoric: faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion
•    Argumentative persuasion = demonstration = rhetorical form is enthymeme
•    The rhetor must provide himself: power of evincing personal character (credibility); power of stirring emotions; power of proving a truth
•    Rhetoric must adapt itself to its audience
•    Three kinds of rhetoric:
o    Political (Deliberative): Future
o    Forensic (legal): Past
o    Epideictic (Display): Present
•    Political speaker enhanced by knowledge of four sorts of governments
•    Epideictic speaker is concerned with virtue and vice: praising one and censuring the other
•    Forensic speaker should have studied wrong doing: motives, perpetrators, victims
•    Non-technical means of persuasion (don’t strictly belong to art of rhetoric):
o    Law, witnesses, contracts, tortures, oaths
•    Enthymemes: not carry reasoning too far back, not put in all the details
o    Start from a commonplace
•    “I have done.  You have heard me.  The facts are before you.  I ask for you judgment.”
Xii: “It is safe to say that the speaker’s own and immediate concern is with his contemporary audience, Aristotle certainly visualizes a speech not as composed for the admiration of literary connoisseurs though all time but as designed for a specific, practical end, as delivered before an audience, as calculated to prove and convince.  In the nature of things it could hardly have been otherwise.”
Xiv: “Plato had rejected rhetoric—the artificier of persuasion—on the ground that its practitioners seek to persuade without having either knowledge of or regard for the truth.  The orator who aims at pleasing the crowd, while working for his own ascendancy, is a slave to the desire for power and operates within a scheme of utterly false values.”
Xvi: “Instead he starts in the case of each emotion with a precise and carefully worded definition which at once indicates under what conditions this emotion may be aroused and what kind of people are amenable to it.  The more specific statements concerning the occurrence of these emotions are derived from this initial definition which serves as a kinds of first principle or basic premise.  This is good scientific method, and a speaker possessed of such knowledge would be able to assess a given situation and to decide what passion could be aroused (or allayed) and how this should be done.”
8: “Since rhetoric—political and forensic rhetoric, at any rate—exists to affect the giving of decisions, the orator must not only try to make the argument of his speech demonstrative and worthy of belief; he must also make his own character look right and put his hearers, who are to decide, into the right frame of mind.  As to his own character: he should make his audience feel that he possesses prudence, virtue, and goodwill.”


Gross’ “Rhetoric of Science without Constraint”

Alan Gross
“Rhetoric of Science without Constraints”
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

•    Each science text must be interpreted and the means of settlement is persuasion/art of rhetoric
•    Make this world work for you, but only if you work for it
o    Burke: “recalcitrance”: the underlying casual basis of the world we mutually perceive
•    No line that can be drawn between rhetoric and science
•    To argue against the position that these regularities describe one natural limit, three distinctions must be made:
o    Between prediction and truth
o    Between prediction and explanation
o    Between an explanation and its target
•    If explanation is the stuff of science, scientific knowledge is clearly contingent
•    Recalcitrances (and Kant’s noumena) “exist” only outside time and space
o    Generates explanatory burdens no relativism need share; not only must recalcitrance describe the indescribable, it must make sense out of the jumble of discontinuous, seemingly incompatible, ontologies variously espoused throughout the history of science
•    In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant showed that the affirmation of casual foundations, and its contrary, their denial, are equally false.  Both assume the ability to escape the world of experience within which, and only within which, meaning and predication are possible
•    The persuasiveness of any demarcation between rhetoric and science doesn’t depend on a priori considerations; instead it relies on the ultimate failure of radical rhetorical analysis.


Rossi: Logic and the Art of Memory

Paolo Rossi
Logic and the Art of Memory
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

•    Clavis universalis: method of general science to allow a man to look beyond phenomenal appearances
•    Ramus, Bacon, Leibniz: saw memory as one of the primary divisions of the new logic and tabular method
•    The present can carry the past within without anyone knowing it
•    Yates: Ancients—passing from a visual world to the verbal
o    A “faculty” lost by the modern world
o    The marginality of mnemotechnics
•    Bacon and Vico: gestural and symbolic language of 17 and 18c. are bound up with the debate on Egyptian hieroglyphs—written expressions ≠ alphabet and words
•    Foucault: “natural history” of early modern period is a “theory of words”
Chapter 1: The Power of Images and the Places of Memory
•    Hume: Memory need not be as valued
o    Artificial memory is no good without strong natural memory and employment of various/numerous images was unhelpful
•    Memory is the conservation of knowledge of others
•    The necessity of image with memory shows that there is a close link between the imagination and sensation (Aristotle)
•    “The memory seems to proceed from places”
•    Aquinas: 1) images 2) order 3) careful construction of the loci 4) repetition
•    Peter of Prague: art of memory divided between places and images
•    Details of “rules”/”qualifications” for memory places
•    Additions and “refilling” of memory became an issue
•    Ravenna: used beautiful women as memory places
Chapter 4: The Imaginative Logic of Giordano Bruno
•    Bruno: ars combinatorial and ars reminiscendi
•    Art of memory: not simply rhetorical technique, but an instrument for representing the structure of reality
•    Cicero: places (loci); images (imagines)
•    Bruno: prime subjects (subjecta); secondary or proximate subjects (adiecta)
Chapter 5: Artificial Memory and the New Scientific Method: Ramus, Bacon, Descartes
•    Ramus: remove memory from rhetoric
o    Memory was an instrument for introducing order to both understanding and discourse
•    Llull: ars combinatoria = ostentious and charlatan
o    ≠Bacon and Descartes: ars memorative
•    For Bacon, logic ruled discourse
•    Many thinkers (Ramus, Ravenna) have stressed that loci delimits and orders fields of research
Critical moments in the text
8: “The art of memory, Cicero argued, was analogous to the process of writing: the places have the same function as a wax tablet, while the images function like the letters which are written on it.  Images are used because visual memories are more persistent than other kinds of memory, and because the ‘memory-places’ themselves are necessarily visual.”
12: “For this reason, as it has been correctly suggested, one can speak of ‘scholastic rhetoric’ only if one eliminates from the term ‘scholastic’ all reference to the ‘authority’ of Aristotle.”
16: “Memory-places are quite different from images: memory-places are not corners of a room, as some believe, but fixed images on which delible images are written like letters on paper: memory-places are like matter, whereas images are like forms.  The difference between them is the same as the difference between the fixed and the non-fixed.”
84: “Bruno believed that the ‘miraculous art’ of mnemotechnics would lead to a ‘renewal’ or reform of knowledge, and bring about an infinite increase in man’s capacities, and his dominion over nature.  This was certainly the way it was perceived in the Platonic circles of Paris in which Copernicanism and Ramist reformism were circulating alongside more occult scientific interests in subjects such as the cabala and Lullism.”
95: Lull: “The rhetoric, by means of which one can discover that which is proper in oration, and which is disputable by dialectic, according to the subtlety of the Lullist art, and other more secret arts which are contained in one single lesson necessary in every art.”
108: “Embems ‘render intellectual things sensible, and since the sensible strikes the memory more forcibly, it is impressed in it with greater ‘ease.’”
118: Bacon’s four tasks: 1) The art of inquiry or invention 2) The art of examination or judgment 3) The art of custody or memory 4) The art of elocution or tradition

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