Introduction Of all the arts rhetoric is especially susceptible to corruption because it involves persuading particular audiences to make specific decisions, and to achieve this goal it might appeal to inferior values or degenerate emotions. Aristotle himself acknowledges this explicitly in Rhetoric III where he says that those with the best delivery (rather than the wisest) tend to win political contests because of the corruptness of forms of govern- ment (8ioc ttiv j.1oxÐr¡píav iwv 7toÂ.ttEtrov) ; cf. Rhet. 1403b34-35. Thus, even though attention to style is rather vulgar, he feels it is necessary to write about it, since the whole point of rhetoric is to influence opinion (atXk o�.rls oDOT)q 7tpOe; 86^av T�js 7tpaYj.1a'tEíaç xfjs nepi rqv �TI-Topik�v); cf. 1404al-2. While Aristotle can exclude corrupt audiences from lectures on ethics and politics, he cannot do so for rhetoric because it is an art of talking persuasively to ordinary people. So, without presupposing the sciences of ethics and politics, it is difficult to see how the art of rhetoric can escape the truth- and value-relativity of degenerate audiences. It is clear that ignorant orators have more success with the mob than educated rhetoricians, since they present simpler argu- ments
Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy Online – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1992
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