Plato and Aristotle's Impact on Rhetoric

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Plato and Aristotle are two rhetoricians than had a great impact on the history of rhetoric. Although they were similar in many ways, their use and definition of rhetoric were different. Plato had the more classical approach where he used rhetoric as a means of education to pass down his beliefs and practice of rhetoric to his students. He believed that it should be used to educate the masses, provoking thought, and thereby preserving that knowledge. Plato thought that rhetoric should be used to convey truth, truths already known to the audience, revealed through that dialectic critical thought. Plato also operated on absolute truths, things that are right or wrong, black or white. Aristotle was more modern in that he used rhetoric as a…show more content…
However, Petruzzi explains that Plato's dialogical strategy leads to an assumption of the indeterminate nature of truth and a “philosophical rhetor who "knows" that she is not able to know with any certainty” (Petruzzi 16). He insists that the primary quality of Plato's texts is “that dialogue and dialectic express neither a technical skill nor a method, but rather a mode of being-in-the-world: Dialectic is not so much a techne-that is, an ability and knowledge-as a way of being" (Petruzzi 17). For Plato, rhetoric is is agreement between participants where its success is reliant upon them presenting opposing sides or bringing a problem under consideration. Petruzzi explains that Plato searched for a stable definition that would anchor a concept in “"one" unified and temporary intellectual position.” However, he struggled because the disclosure of truth, through dialogue and dialectic, “explicitly contains the perspectival and relational quality of aletheia, or unconcealment” (Petruzzi 17). As we see, Plato strove for truth, but his error with in thinking that there were absolute truths that don’t change. William Benoit said that Plato’s views stand in sharp relief against those of the Sophists because he believed in certain knowledge, for he declares rather bluntly in the Gorgias that "truth, you see, can never be refuted." In the Phaedrus, he
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