Speech Criticism, the Development of Standards for Rhetorical Appraisal

By Lester Thonssen; A. Craig Baird | Go to book overview

Chapter 11
THE INTEGRITY OF IDEAS

The organization of this part of the book approximates the conventional framework of rhetorical study.1 Rhetoricians since Aristotle have generally accepted his concept that the modes of persuasion, depending upon the effect they produce in hearers, "are of three kinds, consisting either in the moral character of the speaker or in the production of a certain disposition in the audience or in the speech itself by means of real or apparent demonstration."2 These, in the order mentioned by Aristotle, are usually called the ethical, the pathetic or emotional, and the logical. Most rhetorical estimates are based in some degree upon this classification, many being so firmly founded upon it as to become noticeably stereotyped. This and the following two chapters will deal respectively with the logical, the pathetic, and the ethical modes of persuasion. In the conventional rhetorical scheme, these three chapters should be grouped under the general head of Invention; Chapter 14, dealing with "The Structure of Oral Discourse," embraces the idea of Disposition; Chapter 15, on "The Style of Public Address," covers the conceptions originally included under Elocution; and Chapter 16 embodies the data on Delivery. The only part of the conventional scheme not covered by this analysis is Memory, a canon no longer given individual status but usually considered (when its treatment seems relevant) under delivery.


Place of Logical Proof in Rhetoric

Students of speechmaking, whether critic or practitioner, are still divided on the question as to what degree of emphasis the so-called rational appeal should be given in the process of their art. Aristotle was impelled to write his Rhetoric because he felt that his predecessors had neglected to give logical materials their deserved place in speechcraft. While the Rhetoric surely gives emotional and ethical proof due consideration, Aristotle held to his conviction that the most important ingredient of a speech is rational demonstration through severe argumentation.

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