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Rhetoric and Social Thought

Maurice Charland

Subject Linguistics
Communication Studies » Rhetorical Studies

People Freud, Sigmund, Marx, Karl

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Aristotle defines rhetoric as the art of determining the available means of persuasion in a particular case. This can be interpreted in a number of ways. When considered narrowly, the study of rhetoric can be equated with the psychology of →  Persuasion or with informal logic. However, when that definition is read along with the rest of the Rhetoric , as well as the Ethics and the Politics , and in the context of the rhetorical instruction given by the Sophists and Isocrates, rhetoric is better understood as the theory and practice of civic →  Discourse (→  Rhetoric, Greek ). This civic orientation is, at least among American scholars working in communication departments, usually associated with the study of political oratory, or what is called public address (→  Rhetoric and History ; Rhetoric and Politics ). While studies of public address in the early to mid-twentieth century were often primarily descriptive or appreciative, the last three decades of that century saw the development of a systematic attempt to link rhetorical theory and the study of public address to the literature on political and social theory. This was anticipated in the work of Kenneth Burke, which was heavily influenced by Marx and Freud, in books such as Counter-statement (1931), A grammar of motives (1945), and A rhetoric of motives (1950). Burke offered a philosophically rich account of the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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