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ASU ENG 472 - “Rhetoric: Its Functions and Its Scope.”

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BryantDonald C Bryant. “Rhetoric: Its Functions and Its Scope.” QJS 39:4 (December 1952): Bryant sets out the difficult, if not impossible task of defining rhetoric. He begins with the broad claim that “whatever we do or say or write, or even think, in explanation of anything, or in support, or in extenuation, or in despite of anything, evinces rhetorical symptoms” (401).Given this claim, he asserts that everything worth mentioning is rhetorical.Rather than rehashing 30 years or 20 centuries of work, or trying to clarify what has remained obscure over that period of time, he sets out to discuss the functions and scope of rhetoric.He first discuss the various and varying confusions in the meaning of rhetoric, pointing tothe various negative meanings (402), e.g, empty language or language used to deceive without any honest intentions behind its use; the meaning association with elocution, with forms and genres, and with the art of prose. Here is offers a useful demonstration ofSheehan’s claim that the more one knows about something or studies something, the less one really knows about the thing.He then moves to Aristotle’s claims regarding rhetoric—the rationale of informative and suasory discourse (404). And here he highlights Aristotle’s classification: Forensic (time, past; ends, justices and injustice; means, accusation and defense)Epideictic (time, present; ends, honor and dishonor; means, praise and blame)Deliberative (time, future; ends, the expedient and inexpedient; means, exhortation and dehoration)Here the focus is on rhetoric as method, not as subjectThere is a preoccupation, as he calls it, with informed opinion rather than with scientific demonstration—it matters that are open to dispute—things about which there are disagreements And here’s where Plato’s concerns about rhetoric arise: he attacked rhetoric that deals with opinion rather than with knowledge—with suggestion rather than with genuine probability (as does dialectic)To review:He uses the term Rhetoric in 3 distinguishable senses:- As the rationale of informative and suasory discourse, a body of principle and precept for the creation and analysis of discourse;- As a quality which characterizes that kind of discourse and distinguishes it from other kinds; and- As a study of the phenomenon of informative and suasory discourse in the social context (408)1BryantNext he moves to the subjects of rhetorical Discourse, noting that the five Aristotle spokeabout are still with us: finance, war, and peace, the defense of the country, imports and exports, and legislation.Now, is a rhetor to be knowledgeable in all areas? Cicero seems to say yes, as we’ll see later, but Bryant offers this: the rhetor attempts to learn the authorities and principles—she gains knowledge and relies on other authoritiesOccasions of Rhetorical Discourse:TeachingReading,WritingSpeakingWatchingImportant distinctions (412)Rhetoric is concerned with movement: it does rather than is. It’s chiefly involved with bringing about a condition, rather than discovering or testing a condition“rhetoric or the rhetorical is the function in human affairs which governs and gives direction to that creative activity, that process of critical analysis, that branch of learning, which address themselves to the whole phenomenon of the designed use of language for the promulgation of information, ideas, and attitudes” (412).Function of “adjusting ideas to people and of people to ideas” (413).It is not just concerned with logic or rationality, Rather, it aims at “what is worth doing, what is worth trying. It is concerned with values, and values are established with the aid of imaginative realization, not through rationale determination alone; and they gain their force through emotional animation” (415).It has a democratic function” to develop informed and educated citizens: Rhetoric teaches that the method and the power of discourse can be analyzed and understood; therefore it can be controlled for better or for worse (416; 419).Conclusion:assigns rhetoric to a four-fold status:So far as its concerned with the management of discourse in specific situations for practical purposes, it is an instrumental discipline:- It is a literary study involving linguistics, critical theory and semantics—the art of informing ideas and the functioning of language- It is a philosophical study so far as it is concerned with a method of investigation or inquiry- It is akin to politics- It is a social study of behavior in


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