The Place of Reason in Rhetoric - Paper Example

Published: 2021-08-15
1796 words
7 pages
15 min to read
Harvey Mudd College
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Majority of the people in the world today associate rhetoric with politicians, who have mastered the art of persuasion. These may include the promises that politicians give to people without necessarily taking into consideration how to accomplish them. In simple terms, rhetoric means vague or words that lack basis, which is why logic (reason) has to be incorporated (Jacobs, 2000). Persuasion is often written into the political rules of a representative democracy, and therefore, to be political means to argue, debate, persuade, or be persuaded. According to Demirdogen (2010, p. 190), politics, at its core, is about persuasion. However, this was not the case in the ancient world where rhetoric made a significant contribution to the society. In fact, persuasion is not only central to politics but has a bearing on a wide spectrum of real-world situations like negotiation and conflict resolution settings (Demirdogen, 2010, p. 198). Therefore, while dealing with critical issues like decision making and disputes resolution, rhetoric played a significant role. Even so, according to Jones (2010), logic is essential in application to rhetoric. Logic is not synonymous with truth or fact, but facts are part of the evidence in logical argumentation. A person may be logical without necessarily being truthful. Logical arguments determine whether a particular statement is false or true while rhetorical arguments attempt to persuade listeners that a specific statement is false or true. However, it is important to note that logic arguments often proceed directly from premises to a conclusion. However, rhetorical arguments can simultaneously proceed in many directions, and therefore, can be protracted indefinitely. Therefore, rhetorical arguments only end once one of the parties gets sick of the argumentation process. Logical conclusions are often of importance in rhetorical argumentation primarily because they can save much time when one of the parties involved recognizes it as an annoyance contest whenever the opponent refuses to succinctly define the relevant terms of his or her argument (Tindale, 2006). As such, the purpose of this paper is to find out whether logic adds value to rhetoric, by analysing secondary literature, as well as collating discussions and interviews.

Central Arguments for the Importance of Logic in Presenting Rhetoric

According to Crowley and Hawhee (2004), Aristotle highlighted three kinds of proofs that are convincing in rhetoric, which are based on the rhetors character and reputation, and based on an appeal to emotions, which are simplified as logos, pathos, and ethos. However, it should be noted that argumentation is the theme in the rhetorical tradition that ties rhetoric to logic. The history of logic is often marked by two broad orientations, rhetorical and technical. Aristotle is considered as the inventor of logic and father of rhetorical logic, which deals with probable knowledge and distinct in function and content; and the conclusions are time-bound, cultural, civic, and contingent. Rhetorical logics have historically arisen as certain thinkers, including Aristotle, have recognized that:

Reason is a standard feature in all discourses

The technical conception of reason are not useful in comprehending or evaluating non-formal expressions of reason

That is value in having aids for the composition, invention, as well as the presentation of relevant and sound reasons. (Fisher, 1987).

As such, logic is essential for establishing the sound reason, which can be applied in rhetoric. The sense of reason is seen as the primary proof in any rhetorical argument. To navigate through a complicated situation in rhetoric, it calls for a convincing power which happens to be the reason. Logic helps to substantiate rhetorical statements hence forming a basis for evidence. Aristotle once argued that rhetoric sentiments can be well canvased when a premise is set at the beginning of the argument. According to him any premise that one intends to use must be proven by experts to be true. Reason can ascertain a premise to be true or not. Therefore, it is important to highlight that logic plays a prominent role in rhetorical arguments.

Even so, there should be caution in treating all argumentation in regards to falsity and truth of something as many contemporary argumentation scholars, even for those disposed to integrate insights from rhetorical arguments, theorize that all argumentation is about the truth of some claim (Goodin, 2005). Essentially, this is true in informal logic although this type of argumentation emanated from the need to address practical arguments. For instance, Johnson and Blair in their informal logic text, Logical Self-Defense (1977), presumed this as a matter and the standard examples of the arguments that they cited at the beginning of the book have a defining feature in that they, attempt to persuade us of something and support a claim by citing reasons intended to support that claim and prove its truth (Johnson & Blair, 1977, p. 3). Recently, however, Johnson and Blair pointed out that all arguments, motivation is often a doubt in regards to the claims truth that occupies the conclusion position (Johnson & Blair, 2006). The authors illustrate that assuming that all argumentation is all about the truth of a claim, which consequently masks some of the peculiarities of rhetorical argumentation, as well as practical reasoning in its entirety.

Some rhetorical premises are considered as commonplaces, and thus, it is why they are accepted in the relevant community. Essentially, when the premises of rhetorical arguments draw on the commonplaces, rhetorical reasoning can be referred to as ideological, for example, "convicted criminals should be punished" and "anyone can become president of the United States" (Crowley & Hawhee, 2004, p. 143). In such instances, logic in rhetoric also helps to develop or formulate ideological statements. When people exploit reason in rhetoric, then ideologies can be incorporated. Also, in the paper, Technology and Terrorism: The New Threat for the Millennium, Bowers and Keys (1998) incorporated various ideologies, such as the explanation of the new type of terrorist. They highlighted that in the traditional view, the terrorist is mainly an extremist who is motivated by sociological, ethnic, and political grievances and work with others having a common outlook. However, in the current view, analysts have placed terrorism within the framework of nationalism studies, activities orchestrated by dictatorial regimes, or even by radical ideologies, for example, Islamic fundamentalism (Bowers & Keys, 1998). Ideologies cannot be arrived at without thinking, which is why Bowers and Keys (1998) brought up the idea of radical ideologies, such as Islam in explaining the current view of terrorism.

Therefore, it can be considered that logic is the only way to arrive at ideological sentiments in rhetoric. The reflections that arguers are subjected to in trying to come up with an ideology for rhetoric qualifies this to be a component of reason. Ideologies are always considered to be commonplaces in rhetoric. Many citizens in America take commonplace premises for granted, and thus, accept arguments and conclusions that follow from them as persuasive and forceful. In effect, taking them for granted qualifies them as commonplaces in the American ideology, which in turn qualifies them as premises in ideological, which is a kind of rhetorical reason (Crowley & Hawhee, 2004). Since reason is mainly encapsulated in the logic, it follows that indeed logic is paramount in rhetoric. They are used to develop interest, persuasion and create awareness on the side of the audience. However, ideologies in rhetoric require much time to engage the mind in constructive thinking. This, therefore, implies that logic or reason in rhetoric is something that cannot be overlooked because it is central to rhetorical arguments. For example, in, Fashion, Costume and Narrative Tropes in TV Drama, Warner (2004) highlights that there are various rhetoric that explain consumption of fashion in Sex and the City and Ugly Betty, which include femininity, shopping, and programming of fashion terrain. In both TV shows, fashion is portrayed in many ways that no rhetoric seems to explain fashion consumption, and subsequently, Warner (2004) concludes that both TV shows contribute to a broader agenda that is privileging and challenging the consumption and practice of fashion. Therefore, it follows that unless logic is applied in rhetoric, a discussion can continue such that no consensus is reached.

In fact, arguments in logic and rhetoric are methods of proving what is not satisfied using what is certain, and therefore, in such arguments enable one thing to be inferred from another. Therefore, being logical means that the logical thinker should provide arguments that support the conclusion of a particular claim. In the Technologies, Security, and Privacy in the Post9/11 article by Levi and Wall (2004) highlighted the need for increased adoption of hard and soft security strategies owing to the September 11 attacks. The authors posited that the investment of incorporating these security aspects is justified and emanates from the rhetoric of war, and logically highlighted that incorporating these security features was important in eliminating crime. Essentially, the researchers posited that the introduction of the soft and hard security features would reduce crime levels, which can subsequently pose less serious threat to the society and economy. The reasoning behind the adoption of the security is to reduce crime, which is justified by a more secure country that can thrive economically. As such, in this case, the rhetoric of war can logically be mitigated by adopting the security features, and the justification was the main premises of the logical argumentation. Besides, in Post/human Conditions by Graham (2004), highlights that there are many rhetoric concerning the incorporation of new technologies in the 21st century, which span from political, theological, ethical, and philosophical understandings, and these include the capacity to reconfigure space and time conceptions, augmenting minds and bodies, and genetic modification that challenges the fixity of human nature. With these rhetoric, only reaching a logical conclusion was important, which is the need to advance themes with a deeper theological critique of human, divine, creativity, sacramentality, and transcendence dimensions, which saves a lot of time going through the numerous understandings. Therefore, this highlights the need for logical reasoning in presenting rhetoric.

Additionally, in the discussion of Schoenfelds (2015) article, In Defense of the American Surveillance State, two sets of logical reasoning can be applied, an argument for and against the argument for adopting surveillance. The logical argument for the rhetoric is that the surveillance works well regarding protecting citizens from external and internal threats, and is not as invasive as some people may think; it has a limited scope in that it still operates under constitutional norms. It is also subjected to Congressional oversight and subjected to approval and oversight by independent Article III judges. On the counter-reasoning, new technologies are being created more privacy concerns are being raised. Although the government has been able to gather information about the internet of things (IoT) users for the greater good and safety of its people, users are concerned of this data being used for something other than its purpose. As smartphones, wearable data and computer systems are being surveilled and gathering information to detect threats, only a small portion of this data becomes us...

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