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With the emergence of democracy in the city-state of Athens in the years around 460 BC, public speaking became an essential skill for politicians in the Assemblies and Councils – and even for ordinary citizens in the courts of law. In response, the technique of rhetoric rapidly developed, bringing virtuoso performances and a host of practical manuals for the layman. While With the emergence of democracy in the city-state of Athens in the years around 460 BC, public speaking became an essential skill for politicians in the Assemblies and Councils – and even for ordinary citizens in the courts of law. In response, the technique of rhetoric rapidly developed, bringing virtuoso performances and a host of practical manuals for the layman. While many of these were little more than collections of debaters’ tricks, the Art of Rhetoric held a far deeper purpose. Here Aristotle establishes the methods of informal reasoning, provides the first aesthetic evaluation of prose style and offers detailed observations on character and the emotions. Hugely influential upon later Western culture, the Art of Rhetoric is a fascinating consideration of the force of persuasion and sophistry, and a compelling guide to the principles behind oratorical skill.


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With the emergence of democracy in the city-state of Athens in the years around 460 BC, public speaking became an essential skill for politicians in the Assemblies and Councils – and even for ordinary citizens in the courts of law. In response, the technique of rhetoric rapidly developed, bringing virtuoso performances and a host of practical manuals for the layman. While With the emergence of democracy in the city-state of Athens in the years around 460 BC, public speaking became an essential skill for politicians in the Assemblies and Councils – and even for ordinary citizens in the courts of law. In response, the technique of rhetoric rapidly developed, bringing virtuoso performances and a host of practical manuals for the layman. While many of these were little more than collections of debaters’ tricks, the Art of Rhetoric held a far deeper purpose. Here Aristotle establishes the methods of informal reasoning, provides the first aesthetic evaluation of prose style and offers detailed observations on character and the emotions. Hugely influential upon later Western culture, the Art of Rhetoric is a fascinating consideration of the force of persuasion and sophistry, and a compelling guide to the principles behind oratorical skill.

30 review for The Art of Rhetoric

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Not Aristotle's clearest or best organized work, but still part of the core curriculum of a liberal education. Why read Aristotle today? Because he is one of the greatest minds in Western history, and such a person's well-considered thoughts are inherently worth reading, if anything is. In addition, this book was deliberately aimed at those seeking to play an active role in a democratic society, to help them fulfill their function as citizens of a free society. We in the West imagine ourselves (mo Not Aristotle's clearest or best organized work, but still part of the core curriculum of a liberal education. Why read Aristotle today? Because he is one of the greatest minds in Western history, and such a person's well-considered thoughts are inherently worth reading, if anything is. In addition, this book was deliberately aimed at those seeking to play an active role in a democratic society, to help them fulfill their function as citizens of a free society. We in the West imagine ourselves (mostly) to be members of a free society, and in fact take this for granted. But we tend not to participate in the political functioning of our society, and in general are not encouraged to do so. Most particularly, we are not educated to do so. In the ancient world the idea of the liberal education was formed: an education fitting for a free man, that is, one who was a participating citizen of a democratic state. In ancient Greece the citizens themselves formed the government of their city-states, and every citizen might expect to hold a government post at one or more times in his life. What knowledge did such a man need to fulfill his role in the best way? Which faculties should he cultivate and which suppress? Liberal education came to be envisaged as training in the seven "liberal arts": logic, grammar, rhetoric, mathematics, geometry, music, and astronomy. By medieval times these were split into two groups: a higher trivium consisting of the first 3, and a lower quadrivium consisting of the latter 4. As Sister Miriam Joseph explains in her excellent book The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric, these arts remain as relevant today as they ever were. For the art called logic is simply the art of how to think accurately about reality; the art of grammar is the art of expressing one's thoughts accurately in symbolic form, such as words; and the art of rhetoric is the art of persuading others of the validity of one's thoughts. Aristotle's book is probably still the most important text on this third art of the trivium. In broad strokes, Aristotle analyzes rhetoric and finds that it has 3 main applications, namely judicial, or talking about past events; deliberative, or talking about future courses of action; and so-called epideictic, or talking about the present, which Aristotle says is mostly connected with formally praising and blaming people. Facing one of these three tasks, the speaker or rhetor has 3 basic strategies of persuasion: logical argument, or persuasion via facts and logic; emotional argument, or finding language to arouse certain feelings in the audience; and the so-called moral argument, which consists in winning the audience's trust and good will through one's own character and demeanor. Interestingly, Aristotle regards this last "argument" as the most persuasive element in a speech. In terms of persuasion, how we say things is more important than what we say. There are further detailed breakdowns of how to achieve these various aims, illustrated in many cases with examples. The translator, George A. Kennedy, provides a summary of the main points of each chapter, along with interesting historical material and some notes about how Aristotle fits in with the flow of ancient teaching on rhetoric generally (for it was a subject keenly studied in both Greece and Rome). For my taste there is perhaps more attention drawn than necessary to academic issues like the question of whether certain sections were later additions and other minutiae of translation. In many cases he puts the original Greek term in brackets by the English word, which again is aimed at an academic reader. In general though I found the translator's comments useful and illuminating. Like all of Aristotle's surviving works, this is a technical manual (all of his publications for the general reader have been lost), and so you need some determination to get through it. But our society is becoming ever less free, and it's not going to become more free unless each of us takes responsibility for training ourselves to be free. It won't happen by itself; and our society--governments, schools, institutions--isn't doing it. A free society settles its differences through dialogue, not violence or fraud. This book is still a major text on how to do that. As such, it's well worth our time and attention all these centuries after it was first written.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Aristotle defines. Unmercifully. And The Art of Rhetoric is no exception. Aristotle disdained the sophist tradition of ancient Greece as much as Plato, but he also understood that rhetoric was a popular study of the day and it became another discipline he sought to master. With a scientific eye and a mind toward philosophical value, Aristotle studied rhetoric as “the power to observe the persuasiveness of which any particular matter admits” (pg. 74; Ch. 1.2). Rhetoric, when used appropriately, b Aristotle defines. Unmercifully. And The Art of Rhetoric is no exception. Aristotle disdained the sophist tradition of ancient Greece as much as Plato, but he also understood that rhetoric was a popular study of the day and it became another discipline he sought to master. With a scientific eye and a mind toward philosophical value, Aristotle studied rhetoric as “the power to observe the persuasiveness of which any particular matter admits” (pg. 74; Ch. 1.2). Rhetoric, when used appropriately, becomes a tool of the dialectic instead of one that subverts. So begins the dissection of speech. There are three genres of rhetoric: deliberative, forensic and epideictic (display). But regardless for what purpose the rhetorician speaks, there are three components to each speech: ethos (the ethics of the speaker), pathos (the emotions of the audience) and logos (the logic of the words). What follows is a practical handbook for the orator. Part psychology, part theory part logic, The Art of Rhetoric lists considerations for the public speaker. The age of the audience, the nature of a government’s citizenry and a thorough examination of the motives for various emotions fill Book II. In many ways, Book II resembles the Nicomachean Ethics in its utilitarian analysis of what drives human beings. However, Book III resembles Poetics in its methodical analysis of persuasive writing. Aristotle covers the value and pitfalls of metaphor, similes and other devices. He examines what makes “frigid” language and rhythmic speech. As with Book II, it is chocked full of examples of the good and bad. To fully appreciate The Art of Rhetoric, one must have a strong familiarity with its context. Which, quite honestly, I don’t. Undoubtedly, the competing schools of rhetoric defined Athenian education and Aristotle was competing against Isocrates for students. Though most likely one of the first and most comprehensive collection of thoughts on the components of rhetoric, for the modern reader the ideas are at times dated and over generalized. The examples that Aristotle serves as benchmarks for various enthymemes (truncated syllogisms relying on commonly understood principles) are unknown to modern audiences. Likewise, his rudimentary psychological analysis of his audience is overbroad (though still impressive given his pioneering of this discipline at the time). For historical importance, this is most likely a five star work. But we have the advantage of not living in ancient Greece. In terms of enjoyment, and actual value for the modern reader, these ideas regarding communication and public speaking have been conveyed more clearly and effectively by other writers. __________________________________________________________ One interesting comparison of East/West thought can be seen by these two passages. First, Aristotle:Surely everyone would agree that one or more of these is happiness. If, then happiness is some such thing, its elements must be: Gentle birth, a wide circle of friends, a virtuous circle of friends, wealth, creditable offspring, extensive offspring and a comfortable old age; also the physical virtues (e.g. health, beauty, strength, size and competitive prowess), reputation, status, good luck and virtue…(pg. 87, Ch. 1.5, circa 4th century B.C. emphasis added) Compared to Lie Yukou, circa 5th century B.C, whose sayings were compiled in the Lieh Tzu (Liezi) in the 3rd or 4th century A.D:There are four things," states a Taoist work of this age (the Lieh Tzu: third century A.D.), "that do not allow people to have peace. The first is long life, the second is reputation, the third is rank, and the fourth is riches. Those who have these things fear ghosts, fear men, fear power, and fear punishment. They are called fugitives…(Oriental Mythology; Campbell, Joseph pg. 435)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Broussard

    I'm sure it's excellent, necessary, brilliantly designed, etc. But so is a sewer system, and you don't want to spend too much time there either.

  4. 4 out of 5

    AB

    Right off the bat, Im not going to say I understood it all. I felt like a fish out of water for a bit with Aristotles discussions on enthymemes and syllogism and so on (mostly because my previous experience with Classical Philosophy centred on choice passages relating to social history rather than on philosophy for philosophies sake). I had read parts of his discussions on emotions for a social history class, but the bulk of the book was new for me. I went into it looking for a better understand Right off the bat, Im not going to say I understood it all. I felt like a fish out of water for a bit with Aristotles discussions on enthymemes and syllogism and so on (mostly because my previous experience with Classical Philosophy centred on choice passages relating to social history rather than on philosophy for philosophies sake). I had read parts of his discussions on emotions for a social history class, but the bulk of the book was new for me. I went into it looking for a better understanding of what Rhetoric is and the best ways to practice it. Ultimately, I believe I got that. Aristotle is unbelievably insightful and I really have the desire to read more of his works to get a better picture of his skills of observation and thought.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paul Haspel

    You may never have read anything by Aristotle; but if you've ever taken a college writing course, you've had him as your teacher. The Art of Rhetoric did so much to define how subsequent generations, and civilizations, regarded the task of crafting persuasive language that it can truly be regarded as a founding text. Methodically, Aristotle sets forth his sense of how the writer's handling of character and emotion contributes to success in rhetorical terms. His insights regarding style and compo You may never have read anything by Aristotle; but if you've ever taken a college writing course, you've had him as your teacher. The Art of Rhetoric did so much to define how subsequent generations, and civilizations, regarded the task of crafting persuasive language that it can truly be regarded as a founding text. Methodically, Aristotle sets forth his sense of how the writer's handling of character and emotion contributes to success in rhetorical terms. His insights regarding style and composition, written for a Greek audience of the 4th century B.C., are surprisingly relevant for people writing in English in the 21st century A.D. Readers sometimes find Aristotle's list-heavy style dry; unlike Plato, he does not present philosophical ideas in the form of a dialogue between characters. But his insights on rhetoric still do much to shape the way in which composition courses are taught at universities and colleges worldwide.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    The first book of Aristotle’s highly taxonomical Rhetoric opens with a parsing of dialectic and rhetoric. He sets up the latter as an art of persuasion related to but nevertheless distinguishable from the former. After exploring the usefulness of syllogisms and enthymemes for both arts, Aristotle sets out his three basic categories of rhetorical discourse: deliberative, judicial (or forensic), and epideictic. He spends the rest of the first book exploring topics (related to the Greek topos, for The first book of Aristotle’s highly taxonomical Rhetoric opens with a parsing of dialectic and rhetoric. He sets up the latter as an art of persuasion related to but nevertheless distinguishable from the former. After exploring the usefulness of syllogisms and enthymemes for both arts, Aristotle sets out his three basic categories of rhetorical discourse: deliberative, judicial (or forensic), and epideictic. He spends the rest of the first book exploring topics (related to the Greek topos, for place) useful for finding and constructing arguments in each of the three categories. The second book is generally focused on pathos, ethos, and logos, with Aristotle cataloging the various ways rhetors can make use of emotion, character, and reason as means of persuasion. He works through emotions first, explaining how various emotions can be useful to rhetors as well as characterizing the states of minds of those feeling particular emotions. He then discusses ethos, exploring the character of various audiences (young versus old, for instance) and how a speaker might thus adapt a speech based on a particular audience’s character. Lastly, he delineates varieties of logical argument: examples, maxims, enthymemes, and topoi. The final book deals with lexis, somewhat synonymous with “style,” and taxis, which approximates “arrangement.” Aristotle thus considers how various stylistic strategies such as energeia (which George Kennedy translates as “bringing-before-the-eyes”) and metaphor can be used to enhance a discourse’s persuasiveness depending on its classification, then breaks down the parts of arguments: the prooemion, the narration, the proof, the interrogation of the opposition, and the epilogue. Kennedy's edition also includes a translation of Gorgias' "Encomium of Helen." In this encomium, Gorgias sets out to “refute those who rebuke Helen … whose ill-omened name has become a memorial of disasters. I wish, by giving logic to language, to free the accused of blame and to show that her critics are lying and to demonstrate the truth and to put an end to ignorance” (2). After narrating Helen’s history and parentage, Gorgias argues that “either by fate’s will and gods’ wishes and necessity’s decrees she did what she did or by force reduced or by words seduced or by love induced” (6). He claims that Helen is blameless if fate or force were to blame, as “by nature the stronger force is not prevented by the weaker” and Helen, the “weaker” in this case, cannot be blamed for fate or force’s irresistibility. “But if speech (logos) persuaded her,” Gorgias argues, it is still not difficult to exonerate Helen. For speech, he claims, “is a powerful lord that with the smallest and most invisible body accomplishes most godlike works” (8). Because “it is easy neither to remember the past nor to consider the present nor to predict the future … on most subjects most people take opinion as counselor to the soul” (11). “What is there,” then, to prevent young Helen from being “carried off by speech just as if constrained by force? Her mind was swept away by persuasion” (12). Speech is as strong as necessity, and “[t]he power of speech has the same effect on the condition of the soul as the application of drugs to the state of bodies”: “some instill courage, some drug and bewitch the soul with a kind of evil persuasion” (14). After setting up love as a similarly irresistible force, Gorgias concludes, “By speech I have removed disgrace from a woman.... I wished to write a speech that would be Helen’s encomion and my own paignion”--an amusement or plaything (20).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Felix

    I think I finally figured out Aristotle! Before I read this, I didn't really connect with his thinking, but now I think I do. The Art of Rhetoric is an astoundingly comprehensive guide to the complex and delicate skill of oration. It moves through three parts: firstly, Demonstration, secondly: Emotion and Character and thirdly: Universal Aspects, each one covering a different part of the skill. Aristotle leaves no stone unturned in his search for what makes great oration great. As a result, there I think I finally figured out Aristotle! Before I read this, I didn't really connect with his thinking, but now I think I do. The Art of Rhetoric is an astoundingly comprehensive guide to the complex and delicate skill of oration. It moves through three parts: firstly, Demonstration, secondly: Emotion and Character and thirdly: Universal Aspects, each one covering a different part of the skill. Aristotle leaves no stone unturned in his search for what makes great oration great. As a result, there are so many examples in this book that by the end of it, it's hard not to want to write a speech. Aristotle provides enough material to write a thousand speeches. It's important to note however, that this book is not light reading. In fact, it doesn't even really ask to be read at all. Aristotle is famously dry, but Rhetoric really takes the biscuit on dryness. There are many arid deserts, both on, and indeed beyond, earth that are less dry than this book. What it really demands is not reading - but study. Going through this book cover to cover was enlightening in many ways, and definitely gave me a strong appreciation for Aristotle's thinking, but it never seemed like this was the way it was meant to be read. Rhetoric is more of a handbook (or maybe even a textbook) for orators.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Josiah

    The only rhetoric textbook a classical school should ever need (I exaggerate slightly... but not much). Aristotle's Art of Rhetoric has everything. And it's all brilliant. I've been using this (Book I particularly) as my 11th grade writing curriculum this year, and it's amazing. This translation (Waterfield) in particular is much easier for my students to grasp than other translations out there, and it doesn't take much to turn his advice here into a series of really practical writing assignment The only rhetoric textbook a classical school should ever need (I exaggerate slightly... but not much). Aristotle's Art of Rhetoric has everything. And it's all brilliant. I've been using this (Book I particularly) as my 11th grade writing curriculum this year, and it's amazing. This translation (Waterfield) in particular is much easier for my students to grasp than other translations out there, and it doesn't take much to turn his advice here into a series of really practical writing assignments. Thousands of years after its publication, it still may be the best work on rhetoric out there. I learned a lot reading through this and will be heavily using this moving forward whenever I teach high school Rhetoric. A++ work. Rating: 4.5-5 Stars (Extremely Good).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Don't be put off by the rating. Worth a read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    I need an Idiot's Guide type book to help me with this one because this is just not sinking in. Perhaps I need to reread it. ehh. I'm not really a fan of rhetoric to begin with but this is certainly the book for orators, politicians, and lawyers to be. Proof, proof, proof, make sure you can back up what you say, but when you don't have proof, at least say it with style and panache, that's half the battle. An interesting read during election season. One of the most interesting moments in this boo I need an Idiot's Guide type book to help me with this one because this is just not sinking in. Perhaps I need to reread it. ehh. I'm not really a fan of rhetoric to begin with but this is certainly the book for orators, politicians, and lawyers to be. Proof, proof, proof, make sure you can back up what you say, but when you don't have proof, at least say it with style and panache, that's half the battle. An interesting read during election season. One of the most interesting moments in this book is when Aristotle defines happiness: "If, then, happiness is some such thing, its elements must be: Gentle birth, a wide circle of friends, a virtuous circle of friends, wealth, creditable offspring, extensive offspring and a comfortable old age; also the physical virtues (e.g. health, beauty, strength, size and competitive prowess), reputation, status, good luck and virtue (or also its elements, prudence, courage, justice and moderation)."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    This book is obviously a classic to the field of rhetoric. It also contains what is essentially the first treatise on human psychology, in addition to systematically analyzing the art of persuasion. I have never read any other editions of this book, but I would recommend this edition to everyone who wants to read it. George Kennedy's translation and his commentary are incredibly helpful, even amusing at times. His sheer knowledge of Aristotle and this work (he must have spent decades on it) is st This book is obviously a classic to the field of rhetoric. It also contains what is essentially the first treatise on human psychology, in addition to systematically analyzing the art of persuasion. I have never read any other editions of this book, but I would recommend this edition to everyone who wants to read it. George Kennedy's translation and his commentary are incredibly helpful, even amusing at times. His sheer knowledge of Aristotle and this work (he must have spent decades on it) is staggering. Plus, the fact that it's the Oxford University Press gives it some--to use Aristotle's vocabulary--ethos.

  12. 4 out of 5

    G.M. Burrow

    Read this when I barely knew what "rhetoric" meant. So I should sift through it again.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gastjäle

    The relevance of this book is mind-boggling. It's easy to draw a plethora of parallels from the enumerated rhetorical devices and tips of Aristotle to the modern orators, both public and private. Aristotle was clearly an honest man, for an ignoble cad would hardly have shared all their secrets for public success as openly and thoroughly as the ol' Greek master. Yet, in spite of his honesty, he acknowledges the inherent dishonesty of the art of rhetoric. This art does not deal with facts and trut The relevance of this book is mind-boggling. It's easy to draw a plethora of parallels from the enumerated rhetorical devices and tips of Aristotle to the modern orators, both public and private. Aristotle was clearly an honest man, for an ignoble cad would hardly have shared all their secrets for public success as openly and thoroughly as the ol' Greek master. Yet, in spite of his honesty, he acknowledges the inherent dishonesty of the art of rhetoric. This art does not deal with facts and truths - it deals with such fields of knowledge and persuasion wherein there are no clear-cut answers, and hence they rely on the manner of delivery more than the actual content. That is not to say that the structure of the delivery is irrelevant, but Aristotle points out what one ought to do in case one isn't fully prepared or can't seem to find enough arguments to back oneself up. He also deconstructs logical arguments for the reader so they could apply such theory in practice and simply sway the debates of all kinds! It's nice to see that for once Aristotle didn't consider his topic as black and white as usual. He gives multiple viewpoints in the text, and shows ways to contradict them all - so, above all, this book teaches the reader adaptiveness. (Of course, there are some recurring emphasis points, such as fluency, the quality of being natural, and the avoidance of turgidity). Nonetheless, I didn't find many new insights in the work. I'd consider myself self-aware enough to be able to pinpoint the weak points and foci of both my own and others' arguments. Thus, the theoretical interest was purely historical in my case. In addition to that, I was severely disappointed by the more stylistic matters. The examples were for the most part all Greek to me (thanks, Collins!), and Aristotle was clearly relying on demonstration, for he didn't really have much to say apart from the excerpts. I was hoping for him to elucidate on why certain rhythmic components or rhetorical devices make the speech as effective as it is, but Aristotle never clarified these points. He merely told you to do this and that. Furthermore, some of the details were really irrelevant, bearing upon Greek and its old metrics. In fine, this work is extremely important and worth reading. But since most of the things included have since become truisms, chances are that it may not be able to deliver as much as it used to back in the day. Still, A for effort.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Diāna

    The Art of Rhetoric is a study of argumentative persuasion using two modes- example or enthymeme to promote truth and justice. Divided in three parts it is taking a look into into the speaker, emotions, the *logos* and style of the speech. Throughout the book I couldn’t stop thinking of how much of Aristotle is really left in those words; and many examples got me lost simply because having no context in my mind. However, I suggest this book for those who are concerned about effective communicati The Art of Rhetoric is a study of argumentative persuasion using two modes- example or enthymeme to promote truth and justice. Divided in three parts it is taking a look into into the speaker, emotions, the *logos* and style of the speech. Throughout the book I couldn’t stop thinking of how much of Aristotle is really left in those words; and many examples got me lost simply because having no context in my mind. However, I suggest this book for those who are concerned about effective communication of ideas through language.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tom Shannon

    There is so much depth in here that is interesting and helpful, but unlike a lot of his work this one was written like a textbook. A book that begins so much of our modern logical studies having three stars might be slightly offensive but the reading itself is just not that interesting which the translator succinctly warns the reader before delving into this work. However, I was still able to take a lot of insight into political argumentation and determinative writing that i would not have if I h There is so much depth in here that is interesting and helpful, but unlike a lot of his work this one was written like a textbook. A book that begins so much of our modern logical studies having three stars might be slightly offensive but the reading itself is just not that interesting which the translator succinctly warns the reader before delving into this work. However, I was still able to take a lot of insight into political argumentation and determinative writing that i would not have if I had not put in the work to get through this text.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alexkidd117

    Very interesting book of one the masters of western philosophy. Well written, this short book is a useful anatomy of rhetoric. We find a wise advises to deliver a speech and convince an assembly. I do not give 5 stars because we don't have more direct advises, or maybe it is just my contemporary expectations for a book of self-improvement.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ethan Slabbert

    Probably the most important book to read in a persons life (unless you're religious). This book contains and elaborates on the modes of persuasion such as Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. Read this book 3 times and it never gets old.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Overall, I found the book messy and terrible structured. Not the best I've read from Aristotle.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Banal Girl

    It is okay. Aristotle is a bad writer. However, his ideas make sense and where really important for the human evolution!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Zac Sydow

    Aristotle is a failed Platonist

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Sitch

    Παντες ανθρωποι τον εἱδεναι ορεγονται φυσει-Ἀριστοτέλης There's this thing little kids do, when they find something they're interested in, where they have to tell everyone every single thing they know about the subject. It almost seems like a pre-theory-of-mind quirk in which a kid literally cannot imagine that another human being could find the subject less than captivating. I myself remember being little and telling anyone—or, at least, anyone who would listen—everything I knew about dinosaurs Παντες ανθρωποι τον εἱδεναι ορεγονται φυσει-Ἀριστοτέλης There's this thing little kids do, when they find something they're interested in, where they have to tell everyone every single thing they know about the subject. It almost seems like a pre-theory-of-mind quirk in which a kid literally cannot imagine that another human being could find the subject less than captivating. I myself remember being little and telling anyone—or, at least, anyone who would listen—everything I knew about dinosaurs (there are Iguanodons and Spinosaurs and Ichthyosaurs and...); in some sense, this is how Aristotle philosophizes. His works consist of compulsive list-making with many sections (and subsections and sub-subsections) where he seemingly just tells the reader everything there is to know about a particular subject. This is often overwhelming/annoying and too much of it at once can make Aristotle look oh-so ignorable (and the kid oh-so smotherable), but on more patient days, one can find something both admirable and beautiful in the fact that Aristotle is able to view philosophy with the same liveliness and wonder with which children are able to view the world.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Gargallo

    A translation is mainly an analogue to another text. This edition presents a direct analogue that, to the layman, doesn’t arouse any suspicions of misrepresentation in the text, and sustaining that particular suspension of disbelief is the measure of any translator's work. I was totally content with this specific publication, but my interests were to read it once and be done with it. This is an unglamorous edition and I wouldn’t give it to your daughter’s boyfriend for Christmas. As a speechwrit A translation is mainly an analogue to another text. This edition presents a direct analogue that, to the layman, doesn’t arouse any suspicions of misrepresentation in the text, and sustaining that particular suspension of disbelief is the measure of any translator's work. I was totally content with this specific publication, but my interests were to read it once and be done with it. This is an unglamorous edition and I wouldn’t give it to your daughter’s boyfriend for Christmas. As a speechwriter, I did grow from reading this book. This is a highly technical exploration of rhetoric and it disrupted my past perceptions of speechwriting as a craft. After you read this book, you should feel like Dorothy discovering the man behind the curtain the next time you listen to any discourse.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    While this is a book about rhetoric the broad definition that is used by Aristotle allows for excursions into philosophy, government, history, ethics, and literature. Thus when discussing the proper organization of a speech Aristotle draws on literary examples from Homer and Herodotus to Sophocles. No one can deny the strength of Antigone's argument when she says, "But when mother and father have gone to Hades there is no brother who can be born again".(p 271) The work is difficult for Aristotle While this is a book about rhetoric the broad definition that is used by Aristotle allows for excursions into philosophy, government, history, ethics, and literature. Thus when discussing the proper organization of a speech Aristotle draws on literary examples from Homer and Herodotus to Sophocles. No one can deny the strength of Antigone's argument when she says, "But when mother and father have gone to Hades there is no brother who can be born again".(p 271) The work is difficult for Aristotle as he often does writes in a terse compressed style, but George Kennedy makes it clear through his translation with informative notes and useful, even interesting, appendices.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric McLean

    There is a lot of good stuff here (obviously-it's Aristotle, man!) and it almost feels wrong not giving this 5 stars, but alas...I just didn't find all of it very interesting. I struggled to finish this, mostly because there were some great points on rhetoric surrounded by mountains of definitions that don't really seem to define rhetoric as it is today. I'm sure there are some more modern texts that get at the same ideas in a more modern context-but we all owe a lot of that to Aristotle. Anyway, There is a lot of good stuff here (obviously-it's Aristotle, man!) and it almost feels wrong not giving this 5 stars, but alas...I just didn't find all of it very interesting. I struggled to finish this, mostly because there were some great points on rhetoric surrounded by mountains of definitions that don't really seem to define rhetoric as it is today. I'm sure there are some more modern texts that get at the same ideas in a more modern context-but we all owe a lot of that to Aristotle. Anyway, a good book that any scholar of philosophy/english/rhetoric/etc. should read for the academic and classical value alone.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Petruzzi

    I cleared my one-star rating for being a purely subjective impression as a college freshman. Never have I read a more unpersuasive and engaging treatment of the art of persuasion. Perhaps I would have found it more so with a better translation? Someday I may pick up a Sachs translation and give it another go.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Will Mego

    Don't throw things at me. When I trudged through the dull translation of a section that proclaimed no value to a type of oration that I had just that evening used to great effect in a public political speech to a small audience, perhaps the years have been unkind, but I knew this wasn't going to be of great use to me. Times change, and sophistry is a fact. Wishing it away changes nothing.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda

    I am glad to be reminded of this wonderful book, although I read it some time ago. It is effectively practical advice in nature which perhaps I did not completely appreciate at the time. Perhaps it is time to read it again.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Tribley

    I find Aristotle's understanding of rhetoric much more comprehensible than Plato's, but also beyond that, Aristotle's agency of rhetoric being a means of available persuasion was more aligned with my character rather than Plato's search for absolute, transcendental truth.

  29. 5 out of 5

    sologdin

    aristocrats must talk pretty to keep the peasants in line.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael de Percy

    Some of this book reads like a manual for living with what seem to be the simplest instructions imaginable. Wake up, lift the cover, put your feet on the floor, stand up, go to the bathroom, etc. Yet when one thinks about this being some of the earliest writings in recorded history, this instruction manual in how to be persuasive in speech and in writing states exactly what we teach our university students today. And therein lies the simplicity that belies its brilliance. This is my first cover- Some of this book reads like a manual for living with what seem to be the simplest instructions imaginable. Wake up, lift the cover, put your feet on the floor, stand up, go to the bathroom, etc. Yet when one thinks about this being some of the earliest writings in recorded history, this instruction manual in how to be persuasive in speech and in writing states exactly what we teach our university students today. And therein lies the simplicity that belies its brilliance. This is my first cover-to-cover reading of Rhetoric. There are many references to Topics, Poetics, and Politics, and other works on rhetoric by other authors, but the reading of this work has inspired me to embark on a proper reading of the Great Books series, as set out by Hutchins and Adler at the University of Chicago, and I have begun at the beginning with Homer's Iliad. I recall a commentary on Darwin - George Bernard Shaw I think it was - that ran something like "once Darwin had proved, through systematic use of the evidence, that natural selection was a very real phenomenon, he did it over again with even more examples to the point of tedium". But Aristotle was the original. Simply reading this points me to the problem with all of my rejected papers - they are not systematic. I recall the guidance of my old professor: "When it is so simple it sounds too easy, then it is good". I also recall Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's "[etc]...has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away". Aristotle points to this and, much like Darwin, points to it again and again so as to remove all doubt. While reading Aristotle is much like my reading of J.S. Mill and Trotsky, as in it feels like I am reading my own knowledge in a book. Not because I am so knowledgeable, but because these authors permeated my education. Now, at least, I can see clearly where that education came from, and I am, strange as it may seem, excited about reading the Great Books I am yet to read.

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