EMOTION IN SPEECH
Commenting on the purpose of council meetings, a character in a recent novel observes that it is not proper to force decisions through the stultifying influence of emotional appeals. Action so achieved, according to this claim, is won by falsity and trickery. Such observations are both important and provocative, for they suggest another of the persistent problems in rhetoric: the place of emotional appeal in the process of persuasion. Much has been written about it; schools of thought have debated the question; and pedagogical technique since antiquity has been moulded by the relative emphases accorded the concept from period to period. To this day, the matter has not been resolved to the satisfaction of all students, although all realize the significance of emotional appeal in speechmaking.
The problem with which we are now concerned is basically clear. It assumes that at least two forms of expression operate in rhetoric: the one appeals to the intellect while the other addresses the emotions. As John Ward put it: ". . . bare conviction is not sufficient for many persons, to excite them to action. They will acquiesce in the truth of a thing, which they cannot contradict, or will not give themselves the trouble to examine; and at the same time remain unconcerned to prosecute it."1 Joseph Priestley looked upon emotional proof as an energizer and expediter of conduct: "The genuine and proper use of the passions undoubtedly is to rouze men to just and vigorous action upon every emergency, without the slow intervention of reason."2
When we come to analyze the differences between the two types of appeal, we run into difficulties--difficulties both of definition and interpretation. Common sense tells us, of course, that both thought and feeling function in public address; that is, the notion of communication presupposes both an ideational and an emotional state in the speaker. Demonstration of an idea to others has its root in feelings and attitudes which result from the speaker's having, either directly or vicariously, experienced the thought. As John K. Gard
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Speech Criticism, the Development of Standards for Rhetorical Appraisal. Contributors: Lester Thonssen - Author, A. Craig Baird - Author. Publisher: Ronald Press Co.. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1948. Page number: 357.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.