Aristotle's Rhetorical Rhetoric?

Gaines, Robert N.
July 1986
Philosophy & Rhetoric;Summer1986, Vol. 19 Issue 3, p194
Academic Journal
This article shows that, even on its own terms, Carl B. Holmberg's characterization of Aristotle's rhetoric is untenable. Specifically, this article demonstrates that both lines of reasoning offered by Holmberg in defense of his view are inconsistent with the very texts they purport to elucidate. Holmberg's interpretations of Aristotle on the definition of rhetoric and on the enthymeme are both inconsistent with Aristotle's explicit statements regarding these matters. Could any argument render Holmberg's characterization acceptable? There is inclination to answer in the negative, because Aristotle is at pains in the Rhetoric to prove that his notion of rhetoric is dialectical. He announces his position conspicuously in the first sentence, Rhetoric is correlative to dialectic--and thereafter repeats it in various forms, proposing for example, that Rhetoric is a sort of offshoot of dialectic and Rhetoric is a sort of part and likeness of dialectic. Given Aristotle's unmistakable commitment to the dialectical nature of his rhetoric and the necessity that Holmberg deny it such a nature to preserve the consistency of his dialectical/rhetorical distinction, it seems very unlikely that any informative version of Holmberg's characterization can find plausible support.


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