Aristotelian Rhetoric: Progression of Sophists' Nascent Teachings

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Scholars and historians of rhetoric consider the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, one of the great contributors to our present understanding of this art which, since its early origins and until present, has been a controversial field of study because of its association with persuasion and influence. However, readings of the many ancient and contemporary texts and analyses of the origins and the developments of this ancient art marginalized the role of the Sophists, who were the first to introduce rhetoric to Greece, and usually associated them with the bad reputation rhetoric has acquired over the years. Undoubtedly, Aristotle developed rhetoric in a more comprehensive and systemized explanation than what the Sophists offered, but an…show more content…
Accordingly, the Sophists professed that arête was a skill that can be acquired and taught, not a born talent as the Greeks earlier assumed. Herrick (2009) noted that the sophistic rhetoric changed assumptions and reformed beliefs of the Greeks who “gradually rejected the idea that human destiny was shaped by the gods, and accepted in its place a new notion: Human destiny is shaped by human rationality and persuasive speech” (p. 35).
These new convictions, however, angered many Greeks, especially the aristocrats whose influence, according to Herrick (2009) lessened as the now-governing middle class people accepted such novel convictions, shaped by the Sophists’ learning methods of examining and questioning traditional values through persuasive arguments. Gods and traditional beliefs belonged to a pervious era, replaced by a novel one: forming beliefs and ideas that best served the rising middle class Greeks excel in the polis. According to Marrou (1956), the Sophists believed that success in political life, running state affairs, and managing one’s household and personal affairs were practical aims that required effectiveness and practicality. “There was no time to waste on speculating…on the nature of the world and the nature of the

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