As a student and at times human being, I admit I adore rhetoric.
Words like Discourse and Rhetor fly around my classrooms…
Discourse – essentially any meaningful use of symbols or signs (ex. words, images…)
Rhetor – a producer of discourse
—In my first week of class, we were essentially pondering Aristotle’s justification of slavery. Common calls of “he was a man of his times” or “abolition wasn’t really mainstream topic in that society” echoed around the room. While the discussion trucked on I began to ask myself a more general question… Why isn’t rhetoric studied in more of a mainstream fashion? More importantly, why does the term “rhetoric” even have a bad name? I think we have a lot to learn from master rhetors like Aristotle. While he and many other individuals and their works sometimes have spots of fallacy or horror it doesn’t mean you should throw their entire body of work out.
—Another thing we addressed was ‘Sophistic’ rhetoric, which also so happens to have somewhat of a bad name. Sophists are typically characterized as deceptive but in modern academia there is a growing re-evaluation of this stereotype. A Sophistic rhetor is someone who employs the mental fortitude and dedication to actually understand and articulate all the possible sides and dimensions of an argument.
—Imagine a good lawyer or debater in general… someone who if you flipped a coin would know how to handle a discussion in a variety of ways and argue for either side. By being a real Sophist and knowing both if not many sides to an argument, you actually become more acquainted with the issues at hand. With the political debate heating up everywhere… and a range of hot button issues coming to us this November, I beg everyone, my generation especially to at least try to be a little more “Sophistic” in their everyday lives.
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