English 8170: Historical Foundations of Rhetoric -- Dr. George PullmanEmail: gpullman@gsu.edu
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A Study Guide for Aristotle's Rhetoric


Respond to each one of the following sentences. They proceed more or less in order through the chapters of Rhetorica, so beginning at the beginning and dealing with each one in turn will help you proceed through the text. This list is not complete however. You may well observe other things equally worthy of comment. Before you begin taking your notes, read each sentence of this document carefully. Once you have completed this guide with your copy of Rhetorica open in front of you, see if you can complete it again from memory. Page references are for the Kennedy translation.

Book 1
How are rhetoric and dialectic similar and how are they different? To do this adequately you will need to look at several different places throughout book one, see in particular 29, 31 (hint: law is more like dialectic), 34, 38, 40, 53.

What justification does Aristotle offer for rhetoric's being an art?

Why does he prefer deliberative rhetoric?

What three reasons does he offer for studying rhetoric and what two arguments against studying rhetoric does he refute?

What is his definition of rhetoric?

What are artistic proofs?

What are inartistic proofs?

What are the three kinds of artistic proof and of which does Aristotle most approve and why?

Why does he say that character is almost the controlling factor in persuasion? (38)

What is a probability?

What is a sign?

An infallible sign?

What is an enthymeme?

What is a paradigm?

"Since the persuasive is persuasive to someone ... no art examines the particular.... neither does rhetoric theorize about each opinion. . . but about what seems true to people of a certain sort." (41). What can you say about the above passage?

Comment on the following quotation: "[Rhetoric's] function is concerned with the sort of things we debate and for which we do not have other arts and among such listeners as are not able to see many things all together or to reason from a distant starting point. And we debate about things that seem to be capable of admitting two possibilities; for no one debates things incapable of being different either in past or future or present, at least not if they suppose that to be the case; for there is nothing more to say. . . thus it is necessary for an enthymeme and a paradigm to be concerned with things that are for the most part capable of being other than they are" (41-2).

Comment on the following: "The more speakers fasten upon the subject matter in its proper sense, the more they depart from rhetoric and dialectic" (44-45).

What is the difference between idia and koinon?

Differentiate among the three types of rhetoric as regards time, audience, and primary ends. Why does Aristotle say that any speaker must have propositions about the possible and the impossible, the true and the false, the important and the irrelevant, the advantageous, the just, the honorable and their opposites?

Why also must all speakers be able to create comparisons and contrasts.?

What are the five idia (sources of propositions) of deliberative or political rhetoric?

Why does he say that "insofar as someone tries to make dialectic or rhetoric not just mental faculties but sciences, he unwittingly obscures their nature by the change, reconstructing them as forms of knowledge of certain underlying facts, rather than only of speech." (53) What impact does the division of rhetoric from knowledge of specific subjects have on rhetoric as a discipline?

Why does he say "It is necessary also to be willing to do research about what has been discovered elsewhere in regard to deliberation about these matters" (54). Why does Aristotle discuss happiness and its particulars in relation to deliberative rhetoric?

What is happiness and what are its parts?

How does Aristotle define a good?

List the propositions from which people derive enthymemes regarding the value of things--separate the absolute values from the contingent ones, as Aristotle does (62-66). (The first one, for example, is that the acquisition of good things (and the elimination of evil things) is good. Why does he also include a discussion of the greater and the lesser in book I chapter 7?

List the koinon of magnitude--the propositions from which enthymemes can be constructed that will enable one to compare and contrast the relative value of two or more competing courses of action or objects of desire, regardless of subject. And give your own example for each (67-74). The first one, for example (maybe--I find this paragraph one of the toughest to decipher), is that: because the good is anything that is chosen for its own sake, whatever is chosen for its own sake is superior to (of greater value than) anything chosen for the sake of what it can produce or lead to; and anything which exists for itself is superior to anything which exists for the sake of some other thing. Or, the end is preferable to any means to that end--a bird in the hand. A concrete example of an enthymeme based on this structure might be: independence is superior to wealth because (if) the purpose of wealth is independence.

What are the 4 kinds of constitution and why must a rhetor be familiar with the characteristics of each?

How does Aristotle define arete or excellence (virtue)?

What are its characteristics?

What are the idia of praise and blame?

How can you turn them into statements useful in deliberative situations?

What kind of proof is best suited to deliberation?

What kind of proof best suits forensic situations?

Why does Aristotle assert that amplification is best suited to epidiectic?( 87).

What is the definition of wrongdoing?

What motivates people to do wrong?

What are the topics of pleasure?

What kinds of people are wrongdoers?

Why is this important?

What kinds of people are wronged?

How might you use this in deliberative situations?

On page l02, Aristotle makes a distinction between specific and common laws, what one might call a distinction between the laws of nature and the laws or conventions of humanity. How might this distinction be useful in a given judicial situation?

In an epidiectic situation?

In a deliberative situation?

Consider this also in relation to the well known distinction between equity and strict application of a law (110).

What topics does one employ to magnify (and minimize) the appearance of wrongdoing?

List the five kinds of atechnic (inartistic) proofs.

Book 2
Why must one consider more than just the logos centered arguments?

Why is ethos more useful in deliberative situations while pathos is more useful in forensic situations?

What are the 3 characteristics that a person wants to suggest in order to construct a positive ethos?

Which topics from the previous and current books might help a speaker establish these three personal characteristics?

What is Aristotle's definition of emotion?

How is anger defined and what are its sources (topics)?

With whom do people become angry?

Why is he telling you this?

What is calmness and how does one instill it in an audience (remember that there are different kinds of audience)?

How does Aristotle define friendliness and how does he suggest you can create this feeling?

What kinds of people are feared?

What state of mind is one in when one is afraid, and how is this applicable to writing?

Who are the confident and how does one inspire confidence?

What are shame and shamelessness? What characteristics are shameful? Why are these important and how can you use them?

Define pity and explain how one might create it in a group of people. Define indignation and explain how one might create it. Define envy and explain how it is created.?

Explain emulation.

Explain in detail the character of the young, the old, the middle-aged. What effects do wealth, power and birth have on a person?

Why does Aristotle say that one must not speak on the basis of all opinions but on those held by an identified group (l87). Why does he also say here, "do not draw the conclusion only from what is necessarily valid, but also from what is true for the most part"?

Why does Aristotle say that one must grasp the facts on any subject about which one is going to speak (or write)?

What does he say about relevance?

What are the two kinds of syllogism?

What is a maxim, what relation does it bear to an enthymeme and what advice does he offer about using them?

List each one of the 28 topics and for each one provide an example of your own invention.

List the 9 fallacious topics and for each give your own example.

What does Aristotle say about refutation?

Book 3
What are lexis and taxis?

What is hypokrisis and why should one pay attention to it, as far as Aristotle is concerned?

How does the lexis of prose differ from the lexis of poetry?

What are the so-called virtues of style?

What it to prepon and what does Aristotle say suggest regarding it?

What does he say about urbanity, energia, and visualization?

What does he say about rhythm in prose?

What does he say about the differences between written and spoken style?

Andy why do you suppose he says that epidiectic is most like writing and forensic second most? (257)

What are the necessary parts of a speech?

What should an introduction contain?

How should one meet a prejudicial situation?

What does he say about narration?

Why are paradigms most suited to deliberative oratory and why is forensic rhetoric best served by enthymemes?

(274) Why does he suggest you not use enthymemes when you wish to create ethos and pathos?

Why does he suggest that sometimes it is wise to change enthymemes into maxims and what does he mean by this?

Give an example. What does he advise about humor?

What should an epilogos contain?