Week three – Aristotle Rhetoric

Reflect on ‘rhetoric’:

Learning about rhetoric has been interesting.  To really understand what rhetoric was, I not only read through the Aristotle’s books I, II and III (Aristotle, 350 B.C.E.), I researched other materials to get a good grasp of it.  Rhetoric is

Reading Aristotle’s books  (Aristotle, 350 B.C.E.) was something that you had to really try and focus on, as it was written with a lot of uncommon words, meanings and terms.    It is not something I would read normally, however, in this instance for this Speech and Script unit in a professional communications degree, it is very relevant and appropriate.

Being aware of what rhetoric is now, it has become very obvious in everyday life.  Where I am finding myself seeing in practice in communication everywhere.


What are some of the key points Aristotle makes about rhetorical speech?

Preparing for a speech there are key points to consider. Including the topic, key argument points of the speech, who the audience is and what they want to hear.  Language, style of speech, how it is arranged, and how to persuade the audience effectively during the speech, (Aristotle, 350 B.C.E.).

Looking at persuasion in particular.  Rhetoric is universally used throughout all disciplines and it is essentially a tool to use to to persuade when communicating, (Aristotle, 350 B.C.E.).

Creating a connection with people through topics of interest in speeches can impact on how people are persuaded or influenced.  When preparing a speech for an audience, it is essential to understand who the audience is. Considering if the audience is educated, the generation, age, their background or religious views for an example. Research facts, what directly effects or interests the audience has, which can be included in the speech, for the messages to be successfully received by the audience.  The audience can ultimately determine the outcome decision and result of a speech.

Aristotle (350 B.C.E. n.p.) states, “the most important and effective qualification for success in persuading audiences and speaking well on public affairs is to understand them and their interests.”  If the audience (pathos) can see that the speaker understands and demonstrates he knows what he is talking about during the speech in an ethical argument, that creates a trust (ethos) which can persuade the audience.  Further to that, “good sense, good moral character and good will,” creates confidence in the speaker, according to Aristotle (350 B.C.E. n.p.).

(Slide Team, 2018)

Aristotle also discusses that emotions can have an effect in the process of persuasion in a speech (Aristotle, 350 B.C.E.).  To either, create or dissolve an emotional connection with an audience during persuasive speech.


Key argument points of a speech, which is supported with evidence and fact, forms the basis of the message (logos) which is delivered to the audience (University of Pittsburgh, 2007).   Aristotle goes into great detail explaining various examples of arguments for different situations including ceremonial speeches and political speeches, where the use of enthymemes and maxims should be implemented (Aristotle, 350 B.C.E. n.p.).

(Lera Blog, 2018)

The term maxim is mentioned in Aristotle’s book II (Aristotle, 350 B.C.E. n.p).  It is said that maxims should be incorporated into a speech by only people who have experienced the story who tell it with truth.    If the maxims are reliable then this will be perceived by the audience that the speaker is reliable and of moral character, which creates a connection an audience or with an individual (Aristotle, 350 B.C.E. n.p).

In summary, Aristotle goes in great detail on many key points about rhetorical speech in the three books.  All of which would be very helpful for anyone preparing an important speech for an audience.

2. Consider your own use of rhetoric: Reflect on an example of argument in your own life, one in which you were successful in persuading someone else of something.

Notes of my example of rhetoric situation.

Unaware to a lot of people, rhetoric is commonly used in conversations and communication every day throughout the world. 

An example of a situation where I used rhetoric was a morning where I felt like getting out and going for a walk. 

Sometimes there are days where you do not feel like exercising. 

Where you would rather, stay home, curl up on the couch and watch a movie right?

On this Sunday early morning, the weather was lovely and I just wanted to get out and go for a walk. 

I spent an hour trying to convince my teenage daughter to come with me.   

However, she does need to some motivation to get started. 

Being aware of rhetoric, I mentioned a few things we were going to do, while out and about.   

Aristole (350 B.C.E. n.p.) states “the most important and effective qualification of success in persuading audiences is to speak well on public affairs that interests them.”

Luckily being my daughter we have similar likes.  I highlighted it is a beautiful day and we will see the ocean along the walking path, breathe in some fresh air, look at the scenery and you will feel better for it afterwards after a little walk. 

She was hesitant and still not sold on the idea. 

I told her that it will be nice, we can go and relax at the café at the beach afterwards and have a cold drink, and Ill grab a coffee.  She then decided that she would come with me.

The outcome was that we had a nice morning out, to go out and get some exercise, go to see the beach, ocean and scenery.  Saw a turtle pop its head up, a couple of yachts on the water, and enjoy a drink at the café on the beach.  Rather than for her, staying home watching TV or not doing much.  

In this example, in everyday conversation in a family environment, rhetoric was used.  Used in a way to persuade my teenage daughter to come out for a walk with her mum.   I did not change the way I communicate or say anything different that I usually would when trying to persuade her to come with me.  The difference is that as I have learnt about rhetoric, I am more mindful and aware of it now in everyday conversations. 


3. Review an argument: Watch In Defense of Rhetoric: No Longer Just for Liars

This YouTube video (Clemson University, 2011) was about Rhetoric.  Which included a collective discussion between university representatives and scholars, who analysed the definition of rhetoric, epistemic rhetoric and the rhetoric triangle.

According to Clemson University, (2011), the meaning of rhetoric is often misunderstood, with it supposedly being ‘related’ to trickery, however, this is not the case.  Rhetoric, is an ancient art that can be useful in effective communication.

With several descriptions discussed in the video about what rhetoric is, they all lead to a similar conclusion.  Rhetoric being, “the art of persuasion in effective communication,” said Clemson University (2011).

Rhetoric is present in everyday conversation and communication.  Through uses of language, expression, emotion, gestures to create an emotion connection or to share a point of view and opinion from experience, (Clemson University, 2011).

When looking at epistemic rhetoric in communication, it is based on fact, knowledge (Clemson University, 2011).  This contributes to informed decisions.  Clemson University, (2011), said “understanding workings of epistemic rhetoric is best defense.”  This is when a message is delivered with with intent,  knowledge, actual fact, truth and credibility, (Ames, 2018). 

The video highlights the rhetoric triangle which is used in effective communication. It consists of logos (message), pathos (audience) and ethos (communicator), (Clemson University, 2011).

Being aware of rhetoric when communicating a message (logos), can directly contribute to communicating the message across effectively.  Considering if the message is clear, if it is supported with evidence and if it is reasonable?

Pathos (audience) from a rhetoric perspective concentrates on if the message makes an emotional connection with the audience.

Ethos (communicator) is about the person delivering the message (Clemson University, 2011).  Is the communicator trustworthy, is a credible source, or is the message bias?

In summary, the communicator can influence or persuade their audience through their message when using rhetoric.  Or in best cases epistemic rhetoric following the rhetoric triangle to communicate effectively.




Aristotle. (350 B.C.E) Rhetoric.  Rhys Roberts, W. (Trans). Retrieved from http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/rhetoric.mb.txt

Clemson University. (2011).  In Defense of Rhetoric [Video file]. Retrieved from Clemson University  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYMUCz9bHAs&feature=youtu.be&hd=1

CQUniversity (2018). COMM12003-Speech and script: Study guide.  Rockhampton, QLD:  CQUniversity Australia.

Lera Blog.  (2018).  The best man speech advice [Image].  Retrieved from https://lerablog.org/business/marketing-business/communication/the-best-man-speech-advice/

Slide Team.  (2018).  Persuasive presentations: Aristotle shows the way [Image].  Retrieved from https://www.slideteam.net/blog/persuasive-presentations-ethos-pathos-logos-aristotle-shows-the-way/

University of Pittsburgh. (2007).  Argument: The basics.  Retrieved from http://www.speaking.pitt.edu/student/argument/argumentbasics.html


One thought on “Week three – Aristotle Rhetoric

  1. It’s interesting Amanda – your speech when performing is professional! When more informal, you run out of breath, so work on breathing as a general comment. Great tone, and an excellent ability to ‘step up and perform’ which is rare. Your prose can be a bit awkward at times and some incomplete sentences as a general comment, but the posts are well-considered and supported by references generally.


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