Group Contributors:
Anna Rodrigues, Naseem Aidid, Tahani Ibrahimkahn, Neil Supriyo, Jan Mazzulla, Kate Dykstra


Rhetoric is a written discourse on the subject of persuasion, which is “the art of finding the best way to persuade a particular audience in a particular situation” (Faulkner University, n.d.). Aristotle viewed rhetoric as a tool which could be used to manipulate others in practical debate. Aristotle considered rhetoric to be one of three key elements of philosophy (along with logic and dialectic). It is thought that Aristotle’s Rhetoric is a collection of notes written by students in response to Aristotle’s lectures and was never actually intended to be publicized.


Aristotle, rhetoric, persuasion, ethos, pathos, logos, artistic proof, neutral tool


Aristotle was born in 384 BC in Stageira, located at the north-western edge of the Ancient Greek Empire. (Stageira was a few kilometres away from current day Stagira.) His father was a physician who worked for King Amyntas of Macedonia. When Aristotle was 18 years old, he relocated to Athens and studied under Plato until the age of 37. From the age of 40, he was a tutor to the king’s son who became known as Alexander the Great.
(Faulkner University)

Background Information:

An English translation of Rhetoric was first published in 1909. Currently, George A. Kennedy’s translation of Rhetoric, published in 1991, is deemed to be the standard scholarly resource (Wikipedia, 2010).

Rhetoric is organized into three books:
Book I – a general overview containing the definition, purposes, and types of rhetoric
Book II – discusses ethos (“the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution”, Merriam-Webster, 2010), pathos (“an emotion of sympathetic pity”, Merriam-Webster, 2010), and logos (“reason that in ancient Greek philosophy is the controlling principle in the universe”, Merriam-Webster, 2010).
Book III – introduces the elements of style and arrangement.
(Wikipedia, 2010)

Book 1:

Definition of Rhetoric: "The faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.“ (Ross, 2010)
The purpose of Rhetoric : Inducing cooperation, involve more than mere persuasion

Essence of rhetoric: Argument.

Types pf Rhetoric:
  1. Foransic(legal)
  2. Epidictic
  3. Deliberative(political)

The Subjects of Political Oratory:

ways and means,
war and peace,
national defence,
imports and exports,

Classification of action
The law
the persons affected
the entire community
individual members of it.

Means of Persuasion

  1. . Internal – arguments that must be found or discovered. Sometimes called artistic proofs.
    External – witnesses, dispositions under torture, contracts laws, oaths. Sometimes called non‑artistic proofs, they are not part of the art of rhetoric.

Book 2:

As Book II commences, is noted that the purpose of rhetoric is to affect how decisions are given. In order to persuade an audience, there are three appeals which were identified by Aristotle:
· “An appeal to ethos (to establish the speaker’s character and values).
· An appeal to pathos (to stir emotions).
· And an appeal to logos (to show the audience the logic and truth of the argument) (Faulkner University, n.d.).”

It is necessary for a speaker to portray a good character and to put hearers in the right frame of mind in order to determine that the speaker is worthy of belief (for example, possessing "prudence, virtue, and goodwill"). The book provides definitions on a number of emotions: anger and calmness; friendship and enmity; fear and confidence; shame and shamelessness; kindness and unkindness; pity and indignation; and envy and emulation.
Human character is then broken down into categories based on ages and fortunes. Ages are grouped into youth, the prime of life (from the body at 30 to the mind at about 49), and the elderly. Men in their prime are described as being free from the extremes of the other two categories, having just the right amount of confidence and the ability to judge others appropriately. Younger men tend to seek superiority, whereas older men are more distrustful of others. Character is affected by the gifts of fortune: good birth, wealth, and power. Ethos is linked closely to the power (or success) of a good argument.
There are two general modes of persuasion: the example and the enthymeme (argument). Examples can either be based on true stories from the past (a reference to something that has previously occurred) or be invented, such a fable. A maxim is “a general statement about questions of practical conduct” (Book II, Chapter 21) and should be used to end an argument in an appropriate manner after accessing the audience.

Book 3:

Artistotle's Book III introduces the elements of style and arrangement and highlights the importance of speech composition. According to Aristotle, it isn't enough to know what to say but how to say it. He talks about the importance of pitch, volume of sound and maintaining a rhythm when speaking.

Aristotle discussed the notion of clarity and its importance in a speech. He states not to obscure what you are trying to communicate. To help with that: clearly state your facts, don't use vague terms and always avoid ambiguity.

In arrangement, Aristotle points out the importance of stating your case and backing it up with facts. You can't make a statement of case and then not prove what you are saying with a valid argument if you want your listeners to find you credible.

VoIP and Artistotle: Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) is an important area where Aristotle's speech composition elements are important. When speaking over the Internet it is important to keep the elements of style in mind. Especially making sure that the speaker has the right volume of sound, is speaking with clarity and keeping in mind pitch and rhythm.

Aristotle from Ancient Greece to Thomas Aquinas:

Educational and Technological Applications (Bringing Aristotle into 2010):

Significant amount of Aristotle’s works have been lost. Still Aristotle has definitely influenced today's society through philosophy, psychology, logic, morality, political thinking, biological knowledge, and literary critic and the list go on. Aristotle believed education is the foundation upon which the society is built and has value for it’s own sake; the fulfilled person was an educated person.

Epistemological view of Aristotle

Aristotle's epistemology is different than Plato’s epistemology. Plato suggested that man was born with knowledge (Rationalism – knowledge is a priori), whereas Aristotle argued that knowledge comes from experience. Aristotle if the founder of the School of Empiricism – knowledge is a posteriori (comes after experience)
Aristotle classified knowledge into three categories: Theoria, Poïesis, Praxis whic
h mean theoretical, practical, and productive. We still classify our education system based on Aristotle’s view of Education.
He also introduce the deductive reasoning.

Influence on History:

While he was attending Plato’s Academy at the age of 18, he was known for his study and then built up the first great library which served as a model for the libraries of Alexandria and Pergamon. History did not help us to know the relations between Aristotle as a educator and his pupil Alexander. Peter Bamm has described:
“Aristotle, that man who with his thoughts constructed a dwelling so vast that it accommodated Western science for 2,000 years, helped, through the ideas he inculcated in Alexander, to create the conditions necessary in order that the West itself might come into being. If it had not been for Alexander we should hardly know the name Aristotle.”
Without Aristotle, Alexander would never have become the Alexander we admire.

Influence of Aristotle communication model

As you already know, Aristotle’s communication model know as Rhetoric which has three elements: Speaker, Subject and Listener. The model has three factors to consider: Ethos (Trust), Pathos (Emotion), and Logos (Logic). This ancient model is the root of numerous modern communication model e.g. , Lasswell's model, Narrative Paradigm, Hall’s Cultural Study model. Good number of web developer pay attention to Aristotle’s model while they build the websites.

Aristotle's Linear Model

Concept of Research based and Open University

In 334 Aristotle established his school, the Lyceum where research was part of higher education – an introduction to modern research based university. In morning, it was opened to its registered student while in the afternoon it was open to a wider public - the first Open University in the history.

Public School and Democratization of Education

Aristotle mostly attended private school which was the common practice of his day, but he believed education was a responsibility of the state. What he works out is therefore a genuine education policy. He argued that children should be educated, and that this should take place through common instruction by state-appointed teachers in publicly provided places.
Public education and democratization of education goes hand in hand. He advocated ‘education must be one and the same for all’. Aristotle prescribed vocational training for and certain form education for slaves. Women are certainly not the equals of men according to his point of view but he emphasized women physical and moral qualities should be developed as equal as men [but their virtues are different]. Therefore, he obviously envisioned public education for girls. Such education would be directed towards ‘beauty and greatness, chastity and a liking for work without greed’.
Aristotle also introduced the concept of the running of the school by the various members of the teaching staff in turn, each took the responsibility for ten days. This can be a early version of the democratization of education.

Continuing Education and Life-long learning

Due our economic recession, now a days we are exploring the option of continuing education and life-long learning concept. Aristotle is one of key thinker behind these two concept. Like Plato, Aristotle formulated a veritable system of continuing education which is not limited to youth; it is a comprehensive process pertaining to person overall life and lasting a lifetime. As we mentioned earlier, Socrates and Aristotle has different epistemological view point, but they both agreed on experiential learning which leads to modern concept of Prior Learning (PLA).

Child Development and Aristotle

Aristotle view is highly regarded in the modern society even after 2500 years. Aristotle explained that the responsibility of parents and for their nurture and upbringing. He indicates the best age for father and mother and even the best period for conception. During pregnancy, mother should eat nutritious food and take exercise and keep their mind in a very peaceful state. The newborn should be feed the food with the highest milk content and the less wine content.
Aristotle was a constructionist as he believed Children under five must learn tough games. Children learn by experience, so they must exercise and habituated to the cold weather from their earliest years.
Children must not be exposed to vulgar or exhausting or effeminate content in form of language and pictures. Children must be protected from all shameful sensations.


It is important to keep in mind that schools in the Western Civilization have been heavily influenced since the fourth century B.C. by the philosophies of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the word curriculum has been used historically to describe the subjects that are being taught during the classical period of Greek Civilization
Education would be holistic, including facts, skills, physical discipline, and music and art, which he considered the highest form of endeavor. His belief moves us away from aristocracy as a political system.
Aristotle poses the question about the content of education. Aristotle indicated subjects like grammar, arithmetic, drawing and physical training, but not manual work or anything that could lead to paid work, which he described as menial. He emphasized that young people must be taught to fill their leisure time graciously.
What this establishes is essentially a system of selective public education premised on the assumption that an educated minority of the population are, by virtue of their education (and inborn educability), sufficient for healthy governance.
Until age of 18, learner would be in elementary education and followed by two years of mandatory military education and then by higher education only for qualified learners. Both boys and girls got the same kind of education. Elementary education is consist of game, music and gymnastics
At the age of 20, selected student will take an advanced course in mathematics, geometry, astronomy and harmonics for ten years. The first course in the scheme of higher education would last for ten years. At the age of 30, another selection will take place and those who qualified would study dialectics and metaphysics, logic and philosophy for the next five years. At the age of 35, they will join in army in junior positions and serve for 15 years. By the age of 50, a man would have completed his theoretical and practical education. Physical training is only concern for the body, it help to form character. Same for the music education, music develops moral character.
Aristotle believed the teacher was to lead the student systematically, which differs from Socrates' emphasis on questioning his pupils to bring out their own ideas (It is important to mention that Socrates was dealing with adults). Aristotle put great importance on balancing the theoretical and practical aspects of study and the importance of play. Like Confucius and Plato, Aristotle’s primary mission for Education was to produce good and virtuous citizens.


Like all of his practical philosophy, Aristotle’s theory of education is based on good sense. He explained the purpose of physical training and music education. Physical training is not to produce champions and musical education focused on the pleasure of listening, not to develop music talent. Student should not be asked to do more than their ability permits. For example, student should not be given lessons on political science as they don’t have experience in practical matters of politics. Like Vygotsky mentioned Zone of proximal development (ZPD), Aristotle explained, it is necessary to take account of the intellectual level of pupils as ‘argument [is] not powerful with all men’ and education should taking account of student’s age, character, and so on.
Aristotle indicated two complementary educational categories. First one is the education through reason which is also divided into two methods. We either (a) learn by induction (epagoge), or (b) learning by demonstration. Epagoge is the path that leads from experience to knowledge.
Second one is the education through habit. It does not mean a sort of repetitive activity or training; it is ‘active learning’ process. We learn things by doing them, e.g. hockey players become hockey player by playing the hockey. This learning process also valid for moral education, as he said ‘We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.’ [Rheotoric., II, 1, 1103 b 1-2]


Perhaps we can say that to know the history of the western intellectual world and philosophy, it must be begin with an <!--[if gte mso 10]>
of ancient Greek thought.


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.
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.
Aristotle applies numerous concepts and arguments that are also treated in his logical, ethical, and psychological writings. His theory of rhetorical arguments, for example 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.

Aristotelian rhetoric as such is a neutral tool that can be used by persons of virtuous or depraved character. This capacity can be used for good or bad purposes; it can cause great benefits as well as great harms.
Aristotle does not hesitate to admit on the one hand that his art of rhetoric can be misused. But on the other hand he tones down the risk of misuse by stressing several factors:
Generally, it is true of all goods, except virtue, that they can be misused.
Secondly, using rhetoric of the Aristotelian style, it is easier to convince of the just and good than of their opposites.
Finally, the risk of misuse is compensated by the benefits that can be accomplished by rhetoric of the Aristotelian style.

Previous theorists of rhetoric gave most of their attention to methods outside the subject; they taught how to slander, how to arouse emotions in the audience, or how to distract the attention of the hearers from the subject.
But This style of rhetoric promotes a situation in which juries and assemblies no longer form rational judgments about the given issues, but surrender to the litigants.
Aristotelian rhetoric is different in this respect: it is centered on the rhetorical kind of proof, the enthymeme, which is called the most important means of persuasion.
In Aristotle's view speaker will be even more successful when he just picks up the realistic aspects of a given issue, thereby using commonly-held opinions as premises.
Since people have a natural disposition for the true and every man has some contribution to make to the truth there is no unbridgeable gap between the commonly-held opinions and what is true.


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