Passions and Persuasion in Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Oxford Aristotle Studies. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. ix + 248 pp. $66.00. isbn 9780198716266 (hbk).Considering the rhetorical tactics of politicians both ancient and modern, one might wonder if there is such a thing as a legitimate expertise of rhetoric. In his book Passions and Persuasion in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, Dow argues that Aristotle presents such an expertise (technē) of rhetoric, one that is ethically neutral but that upholds certain epistemic standards. Dow’s arguments, and the issues he raises, are therefore as relevant today as they were in ancient times.A central thesis of Dow’s book is that emotion-arousal is a legitimate part of the orator’s skill. According to Dow, Aristotle aims to stake out a middle ground between ‘the handbook writers’, whom Dow argues are to be identified with Gorgias and Thrasymachus, and Plato. Gorgias and Thrasymachus think that anything goes when it comes to persuasion, whereas Plato, in the Gorgias and Phaedrus respectively, suggests (a) that the orator ought to aim at the good and (b) that the orator must know the truth about the subject matter of his speech. It is not clear how Gorgian and Thrasymachean rhetoric will benefit
Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought – Brill
Published: Apr 4, 2017
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