Introductory Rhetoric

This is an introduction to the art of rhetoric, written from the perspective of Aristotle—that is, if he were a contemporary American with an interest in old books.  Think of it as a simplified, Aristotelian account of the art, simplified since I will avoid almost all Greek terminology, I will not feel obligated to cite Aristotle all the time, instead paraphrasing, and I do not plan on weighing in on arcane, scholarly disputes about this or that.  The appendices offer sources for more advanced study.  I intend this as an introduction for those who want to know what rhetoric is and who may have an interest in Aristotle.  You may want to improve your writing, your reading, your speaking, and/or your listening.  Aristotle always improves your thinking.  Indeed, when Adler divides Aristotle’s overall concerns into three general categories—making, doing and thinking—he explains that each is actually a form of thinking:  thinking about making, thinking about doing, and thinking about thinking.  As we will see, rhetoric concerns all three:  Since it is a productive art, rhetoric asks us to think about “making” speech; since that made speech occurs in social settings (intimate and civic), rhetoric asks us to think about “doing” ethical and political things with it; and since that made-speech for ethical and political purposes is intimately related to philosophy, it is often theoretical.  Every rhetoric, no matter how concerned with technique or virtue, assumes a theory of rhetoric.  Aristotle’s Rhetoric, then, takes up all three subjects of making, doing and thinking about language. . . .

-Scott F. Crider, The University of Dallas

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