Saturday

Rhetoric.


Republican political rhetoric
Originally uploaded by Old Sarge

I always thought of rhetoric as being the study of how to use words to influence people, the art of persuasion through language. When someone is talking and they ask something that’s meant for you to think about versus answering they have asked a rhetorical question. My first thought of rhetoric was this, a thought provoking question. Rhetoric also helps to define a culture and understand meaning within the culture.

In chapter one of Rhetoric in Popular Culture the author Barry Brummett explains rhetoric as the ways in which signs influence people, (Pg. 4) he then goes on to use the definition by American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce which says everything is a sign. (Pg. 7) I conclude then-since everything is a sign and rhetoric influences people through signs-that rhetoric is all around us and it aids in the creation of our culture and the world we live in. From the conclusion I can clearly point out things that are rhetorical and things that are not.
Political campaigns are clearly rhetorical because of the strong influence it has on our culture. Regardless of what political party you identify with in American culture the two major ones are Democrats and Republicans. These two political parties have power because we give them power, and because we give them power, they have power. This cycle of signs and influence is an example of rhetoric. Since everything can be made rhetorical within it’s context it’s hard to say if something is definitely not rhetorical, but if I had to choose something I would say a wooden chair.

I know this is not as grand as a political campaign but it will have to due. Although a wooden chair by itself is definitely not rhetoric; a wooden chair at Starbucks now has meaning and a chance of rhetoric potential. If I’m in a Starbucks sitting in a wooden chair while drinking a Grande Pike Place with no room the rhetorical value for this wooden chair has just increased because I can now attach it with influence and it is a sign of me having a relaxing evening alone or with the people I care about. So to wrap it up I conclude rhetoric is all around and therefore we must get use to it because it’s not going anywhere.

This blog post was in response to this question: Consider the term rhetoric. What other meanings have you heard or read about? What does the term mean to you? Are there some things or events that you would identify as definitely rhetorical and others that you would say are definitely not rhetorical?
Olivia Myles

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