Re: THE RHETORICAL THEORY
Fred Barton (bartonf@PILOT.MSU.EDU)
Wed, 31 Jul 1996 21:53:32 +2000
You realize, of course that there are books that make an attempt to answer
the question you have just asked--and sometimes die valiantly in the attempt.
Like the proverbial (some would say literal) fool though, I will rush in with
a short and hopefully not to glib answer: Audience.
The rhetorical approach starts with a realization that words affect people
and people are the reason words were invented in the first place--by people.
Read "Cicero's" Ad Herenium, or even Plato's attack on the rhetoricians and
you'll see that everything revolves around the power of words to move people.
The forms, tropes, schema, narratios, dispositios, etc., etc., etc. are tools
which the rhetorician employs to affect his or her audience in ways he or she
Glib huh? Sorry. I do it with the best of intentions. I'm sure you have
read many people on this subject. The common subtext as far as students are
concerned is "why?" Why do I write? To have something happen is the generic
response and that means people (readers)need to do something and that's what
rhetoric is all about.
I withdraw from the field, bloody, but unbowed.