Rhetoric In Our Modern Age Essay, Research PaperIn “ The Revival of Rhetoric, ” Professor Wayne C. Booth suggests that “ a instance could be made for the claim that we live in the most rhetorical age of all clip.
. . ” ( 36 ) . The truth of this statement depends upon one ’ s reading of what rhetoric is or is non. In simple footings, rhetoric is the art of persuasion.
By this obscure definition all political addresss, commercials, advertizements, etc. , could justifiably be considered rhetoric, because they do in fact carry us and inform our picks and determinations in all facets of life. While persuasion is an indispensable portion of rhetoric, mere persuasion entirely is an deficient definition because it lacks the chase and find of truth through statement. True rhetoric requires an statement. In our society we are continually bombarded with address, imagination and thoughts geared toward carrying us to purchase, support or believe in something or person.
Booth defines this as “ bad rhetoric, ” and speaks of the current use of rhetoric in our society as “ fustian, mere propaganda, possibly necessary for the personal businesss of work forces but needfully tainted ” ( 36 ) . Much of what we are persuaded by is based on sensationalism and frequently the state of affairs is fixed, deliberately dramaticized to arouse our emotions instead than appeal to our sense of truth or to arouse idea. In “ An Introduction to Rhetoric, ” Craig R. Smith provides an first-class illustration of this use in the political sphere.
Smith remarks on the rhetorical schemes used by former President Bush to derive support and ballots. During the address in inquiry, Bush stated that drug agents were able to purchase ace cocaine in Lafayette Park across from the White House ( Rhetoric and Human Consciousness, 13 ) . This remark was used to show that drugs could be found anyplace – even in an country that one would believe of as “ safe. ” While this “ unartistic cogent evidence ” succeeded in bring forthing involvement and support, Smith subsequently informed us that the incident was a set up, that the drug trader was lead at that place for the exclusive intent of doing the drug job seem more baleful and closer to place ( endnotes, 16 ) . It is both scaring and shocking that our leaders would plan this manner, yet in visible radiation of our societies bastardization of true rhetorical chase, it is non surprising. Surely, all of the incrimination for the current corruptness and maltreatment of rhetoric can non be laid entirely upon the shoulders of the politicians, media and other people of influence, because we as a society are all excessively willing to be duped or mislead.
We would instead accept a juicy, sensationalized narrative instead than a dull but accurate one. We ourselves contribute to this “ bad rhetoric ” by accepting it as truth. Even worse, we frequently ignore those trying to do sound, true rhetorical statements because their opposition ’ s “ bad rhetoric ” is more interesting or dramatic. This corruptness of rhetoric extends even further into our lives than the obvious and immediate concerns of the political sphere and media docket.
Our personal beliefs, self image, and educational promise are all informed by the usage or instead abuse of rhetoric. Booth points out that although our impressions of ego worth which were one time ( and should be ) based on affairs of moral virtuousness, household history and fiscal assets, are now settled rhetorically ( 37 ) . Booth goes on to cite the Celebrity Register ’ s Daniel Boorstin about the current rhetoridegree Celsius of ego worth, “It’s impossible to accurately name the success or value of work forces ; but you can judge a adult male as a celebrity–all you have to make is weigh his imperativeness clippings” ( 37 ) . Indeed, we frequently gauge our beliefs and self image upon what society has presented as the ideal. We assess our personal worth non upon our ain virtues, but upon how we compare to an unrealistic ideal set Forth by some entity finally seeking to sell us something.Possibly the worst country of devolution of art of rhetoric is in the kingdom of instruction, refering both public perceptual experiences and pedagogical methods.
Undeniably, more weight is placed on where an person received his or her instruction, instead than what the single studied, what classs were earned or the extra challenges which pupils faced while gaining their grade. For illustration, if two campaigners were viing for the same occupation, one holding a grade from North Western, and the other from Governor ’ s State, the place would more than probably travel to the campaigner from North Western. Despite the fact that both appliers would be comparably qualified, and despite the fact that the G. S. U. pupil may hold besides worked, raised a household and had any figure of extra duties while gaining their grade – therefore turn outing their motive and organisational accomplishments, the prestigiousness and gaudery attached to the name North Western carries more weight.
The educational system itself contributes to rhetorical impairment by non supplying direction in rhetorical theory beyond its stylistic deductions in literature or oratory. Many people in our civilization are rhetorically illiterate, frequently missing both the cognition about their subject, and the ability to associate thoughts in a mode which can convert, turn out or rock others. Even if one were interested in larning the art of rhetoric, one would be hard pressed to happen equal direction in the subject. Booth notes that “ at most universities a pupil still can non set about serious rhetorical survey even if he wants to, for deficiency of instructors, classs, or library installations ” ( 41 ) .
For most high school pupils and many college pupils, speech category is their lone experience in the art of rhetoric, and even so, direction is geared toward persuasion or account – non debate or truth seeking discourse. Possibly our society does populate in the most rhetorical age of all clip, but merely if we cut down the definition of rhetoric to persuasion by appliance or sensationalism. In our society inquiries of truth are rarely tested by argument, political power is non frequently genuinely in the custodies of the people and presuming that all work forces are “ capable to good rhetoric ” is imprudent. It is non that our society is non capable of being the most rhetorical age, after all, we do hold one of the best educational systems in the universe, every bit good as entree to more information and a more extended forum for the look of thoughts than any old society, but the credulousness, apathy and self-seeking dockets of our public prevent us from going such. Rhetoric requires the chase of truth through treatment and statement.
Any rhetoric lacking this indispensable component can non be true rhetoric – simply cunning persuasion.Booth, Wayne, C. “ The Revival of Rhetoric. ” PMLA. v. 80, no. 2.
1965. Pp. 35- 46. Smith, Craig, R.
“ An Introduction to Rhetoric. ” Rhetoric and the Human Consciousness. Prospect Heights: Waveland Press, 1998. Pp. 2-16.