Aristotle's Rhetoric has had an enormous influence on the development of the art of rhetoric. Not only authors writing in the peripatetic tradition, but also the famous Roman teachers of rhetoric, such as Cicero and Quintilian, frequently used elements stemming from the Aristotelian doctrine. Nevertheless, these authors were interested neither in an authentic interpretation of the Aristotelian works nor in the philosophical sources and backgrounds of the vocabulary that Aristotle had introduced to rhetorical theory. Thus, for two millennia the interpretation of Aristotelian rhetoric has become a matter of the history of rhetoric, not of philosophy. In the most influential manuscripts and editions, Aristotle's Rhetoric was surrounded by rhetorical works and even written speeches of other Greek and Latin authors, and was seldom interpreted in the context of the whole Corpus Aristotelicum. It was not until the last few decades that the philosophically salient features of the Aristotelian rhetoric were rediscovered: in construing a general theory of the persuasive, Aristotle applies numerous concepts and arguments that are also treated in his logical, ethical, and psychological writings. His theory of rhetorical arguments, for example, is only one further application of his general doctrine of the sullogismos, which also forms the basis of dialectic, logic, and his theory of demonstration. Another example is the concept of emotions: though emotions are one of the most important topics in the Aristotelian ethics, he nowhere offers such an illuminating account of single emotions as in the Rhetoric. Finally, it is the Rhetoric, too, that informs us about the cognitive features of language and style.
Plato's discussions of rhetoric and poetry are both extensive and influential. As in so many other cases, he sets the agenda for the subsequent tradition. And yet understanding his remarks about each of these topics—rhetoric and poetry—presents us with significant philosophical and interpretive challenges. Further, it is not initially clear why he links the two topics together so closely (he suggests that poetry is a kind of rhetoric). Plato certainly thought that matters of the greatest importance hang in the balance, as is clear from the famous statement that “there is an old quarrel between philosophy and poetry” (Republic, 607b5–6). In his dialogues, both this quarrel and the related quarrel between philosophy and rhetoric amount to clashes between comprehensive world-views—those of philosophy on the one hand, and of poetry or rhetoric on the other. What are these quarrels about? What does Plato mean by “poetry” and “rhetoric”? The purpose of this article is to analyze his discussions of rhetoric and poetry as they are presented in four dialogues: the Ion, the Republic, the Gorgias, and the Phaedrus. Plato is (perhaps paradoxically) known for the poetic and rhetoric qualities of his own writings, a fact which will also be discussed in what follows.
The areas of study known as rhetoric and philosophy have a contentious history stretching back thousands of years. Yet, many of the issues they engage are either complementary or identical. Those studying rhetoric and philosophy engage in a synthetic study of human knowledge, value, and action in a way different from those scholars working in the fields of rhetoric or philosophy proper. Methods, scholarly sources, and issues often reflect the hybrid and synthetic nature of those working in the nexus between philosophy and rhetoric.
The topic of rhetoric and stylistics in philosophy opens up the broader question for theWestern tradition of the relationship between rhetoric and philosophy. Rhetoric can beconsidered in two ways: either as a separate form of discourse, used by certain individualsat certain times for certain distinct purposes (persuasion), or as a general feature of all discourse insofar as every linguistic act unfolds in a style and aims to produce an effect onthe receiver (move, instruct, entertain, deceive, convince. Philosophy likewise has gonethrough periods of institutional and societal isolation from other forms of discourse as well as periods where it reigned as queen over all other sciences and modes of expression. Inshort, both can have either particular applications or universal significance. This articlewill pursue the different modes of interaction between rhetoric and philosophy, first histori-cally and then in terms of systematic and conceptual issues
The certificate in philosophy, rhetoric and literature, offered by the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, is an interdisciplinary humanities program that integrates continental philosophy and religion, critical theory, rhetoric, literary criticism, aesthetics and communication. Through course work, students examine philosophical approaches to literary studies, conflicts between rhetoric and philosophy, and rhetorical elements of literature and theory. This program will prepare students for advanced study in the humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and the arts as well as lifelong learning in a variety of fields.
In its origins, rhetoric was an integral part of the political process in ancient Greece, especially in Athens and Syracuse of the fifth century B.C. It has long been acknowledged that rhetoric has profound and perhaps intrinsic ties to the political system of democracy. The ability to express oneself independently and articulately, whether in speech or in writing, has always been held to be one of the foundation stones of democracy. The mastery and control of language lie at the heart of the political process, and this centrality is most profoundly evident in a political democracy.