Rhetoric: Aristotle, RBG, and the art of persuasion

Source: Rhetoric: Aristotle, RBG, and the art of persuasion

Rhetoric was long a required course at Fordham College as at other colleges that followed the classical education model. The class centered – back in the day – on Aristotle’s classic  Rhetoric.  It is a highly accessible treatise well worth reading.  The Philosopher, as Aquinas called him, emphasizes the  discipline of facts and the need to look at both sides of a question:

[W]e must be able to employ persuasion, just as strict reasoning can be employed, on opposite sides of a question, not in order that we may in practice employ it in both ways (for we must not make people believe what is wrong), but in order that we may see clearly what the facts are, and that, if another man argues unfairly, we on our part may be able to confute him. No other of the arts draws opposite conclusions: dialectic and rhetoric alone do this. Both these arts draw opposite conclusions impartially. Nevertheless, the underlying facts do not lend themselves equally well to the contrary views. No; things that are true and things that are better are, by their nature, practically always easier to prove and easier to believe in.

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