We have all been in arguments before. They are a part of life. We argue with our friends, we argue with family, we argue with our coworkers, and we definitely argue with our significant others. Arguing is one of the first things we learn to do when we start talking. Isn’t “no” every 2-year-old’s favorite word? If that 2-year-old grows up and becomes a lawyer, they are going to love arguing even more! And what is the best way to truly enjoy an argument? By winning it! And the best way to win an argument? Rhetoric!
What is Rhetoric?
Rhetoric is a Greek word that means, “the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.” Rhetoric is basically your shortcut to winning an argument. It is a way of organizing what you have to say, and delivering it in such a way that you can convince the person you are arguing with, that you are right! The best part of rhetoric, is that you don’t actually have to be right. You just have to make someone think you are right.
The History of Rhetoric
Rhetoric has been around for a long time. The Ancient Greeks viewed rhetoric almost as an art form. One of rhetoric’s original masters, and a pioneer of the technique, was Aristotle. He viewed rhetoric as a combination of logic and politics. He called it, “the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.” He created a rhetorical system, built upon the five canons of rhetoric, which he taught to his students.
Rhetoric is not a thing of the ancient past. It still surrounds us today. Every advertisement you see is employing rhetoric. Every political act is full of rhetoric. Rhetoric has become so ingrained in our culture, we almost don’t even notice it anymore. Keep an ear out, next time you are having a conversation with someone. Find out if they are trying to convince you of something and figure out how they are trying to do it.