Rhetoric: Example of a Situation I Was a Rhetor
Pick a situation in which you were a rhetor. Were you a “lover”, or were you an “evil lover/seducer?”
Rhetoric is considered by Plato, Brockriede, Weaver, Bakhtin and Burke as a persuasive speaking involving eloquent language and wisdom in the themes. In this essay I focus on one of the occasions when I was a true rhetor. It happened when I was at home talking with my parents and some friends of my parents visited us and started asking me questions to get my views about the essence of life. As a young philosopher, I used rhetoric to explain the importance of happiness in life. According to me, happiness came with love; love of family, love of friends, love for community, love for humanity and love for the nation. I used my eloquence and expertise in language as well as wisdom in the field of philosophy and life to convince my audience to believe in what I believe. As a human, I considered sharing my views with others as an ethical approach the same way that Mikhall Bakhtin wrote in his essays. According to Bakhtin, subjects are constituted through relations between self and others. Therefore, I identified myself as part of my audience in order to share with them and achieve ethical givenness suggested by Bakhtin.
In the rhetoric, I was a lover because I loved my speech and I suggested in my speech that it was better to be a lover than a non-lover; as opposed to Phaedrus’ view that it is better to be a non-lover because to care nothing for a lover is better than actually to care for him. On my part, I follow Bakhtin’s view of ethicality in speech. I contended that Plato’s view of rhetoric as a necessary tool to obtain order in an individual and the state was an essential element of ethics, which demonstrates love. My love for justice and wisdom brought me to articulate the importance of loving one another clearly in a simple rhetoric that brought my audience to understand and appreciate my speech.
My thoughts, intentions, speech and rhetoric aligned because I explained the points I had in my mind clearly and eloquently using well-chosen language to suffice my speech and rhetoric in a manner that the audience understood and shared in my thoughtful speech. As suggested by Plato, rhetoric is an art of leading the soul towards truth. This requires an interaction between various components of the body which make up the soul; including thoughts, intentions and speech. The connection between my thoughts, intentions and rhetoric was guided by love for wisdom and justice that was proposed by Plato. The thoughts gave me wisdom to show my intentions eloquently through rhetoric.
My rhetoric was self-other oriented as suggested by Bakhtin. This relationship of self-other led me to provide a speech that affected others. According to Bakhtin, self-other relation is mutually enriching; it brings other into being by enlightening them to develop consciousness. In my rhetoric, I brought our visitors into being by explaining to them the essence of loving the family, the state and the community. My rhetoric encouraged participation between me and my audience as part of a shared meaning and horizon. My rhetoric also brought my consciousness to merge with that of my subjects in a way that encouraged my presence in others. This brought others into being and enabled me to recognize myself as being a profoundly social and intersubjective being as proposed by Bakhtin.
Ethics played a crucial role in this rhetoric. The element of ethics was specifically articulated by Bakhtin in his writing. He suggested that we are all responsible for the answer we give to others through our speech. In my rhetoric, I provided answers to the questions in the minds of my audience which I felt obligated to provide in order to promote good behaviour through loving and sharing. Sharing is an essential part of being ethical and human. Ethics in this sense involves looking at oneself through the eyes of others. Our deeds, words and language reflect our lives through others. Mutual recognition and trust was developed through my speech as an ethical way of enhancing dialogue and enhancing good human relationships.
The importance of the true art of rhetoric is the ability to lead and appeal the soul of others. According to Plato, this requires the love of wisdom and justice. In my rhetoric where I spoke about loving the community and the state, I intended to suffice the entire community by leading the souls of others to truth. The thorough knowledge of human souls was therefore important in my rhetoric. I could not lead myself to believe that I could promote ethics and justice without involving others; and involving others required my understanding of their souls and leading them to truth. My intention was also to order the society and encourage a healthy nation from an orderly society. There are two pictures that make up rhetoric – evil and virtuous. In my rhetoric, the virtuous picture was necessary to encourage love and bring the nation to order. I indulged in being a “lover” rather than an evil. This aspect of rhetoric was considered by Plato to be an important aspect of truth and shaping the society.
Another idea that emerged from the rhetoric is that we have a responsibility with our response-ability. In this case, we are required to be responsible with how we present our speech to others. In other words, rhetoric involves being responsible with our words. We need to promote a responsible behaviour to encourage a loving society filled with justice and order