Crash- course in rhetoric, part 1 Rhetoric and so on. Since the lot of you are worse than green when it comes to the discipline - and I'm infinitely bored today (it's saturday, and I have nothing to do) - I have decided to pause my other rants for a while, and instead dedicate a little time to constructing a straightforward crash- course in rhetoric. And since I doubt it will improve things much all by itself, I hope some will have the balls to question the logic used as well as the rhetoric I make use of to state the various points. Since this is the only way anyone can truly learn to use a tool such as rhetoric - or so I believe, at any rate. So I encourage you to tear everything down, and propose weaknesses with the analysis. From the outset, therefore, I will present you with what rhetoric is: a tool to use for a purpose. And a tool that is obvious, but also so subtle and complex that it can be fully functional even though it's internal operation may be built on questionable, or even illogical material. Speaking of which, the crash- course will consist of the following parts: Part 1: Form. Part 2: Substance. Part 3: Methods. Part 4: Ends and means. Each part will probably be around 5-600 words (seems like I hit the target, now that I've read through it). I'll post the rest of the parts later. Part 1: "Form". Before I begin, I would like to mention that in order to avoid plugging classical terms too much, for the sole purpose of looking intelligent and slighting people who do not enjoy reading Plato, I will instead try as best I can to explain what I'm actually saying. But in order to do that, I need to establish a set of words, and define them properly. Words are typically defined in the following way: terms that in such and such defined circumstances typically mean a specific thing. In the way that a term used is dependent on the context it is written in. This holds true, fortunately or not, regardless of whether we're dealing with nominal or real terms - so we can establish the following: Lemma 1: words are defined from context. This means that the form of the rhetoric is important to examine, since we may find what the rhetoric refers to, and whether it is internally consistent (which we will learn to do in part 2, so we shall not get ahead of ourselves). But the form of the rhetoric may be in different shapes. For instance, a scientific journal will typically be filled with a type of rhetoric that is intended to be clear, and a prose that is less convoluted, emotional, or fleeting than one would expect from for instance a Beatles- text. In this type of text, in other words, the rhetoric is deliberately attempting to convey a message as clearly and eloquently as possible, using known terms in well- defined contexts. It would be unusual, after all, to find a scientific journal polemicising on an issue from a purely emotional standpoint. And unexpected to find a scientific text based solely on hope and belief, without physical evidence. So even though terms like "scientific" may be unclear, we can easily establish that scientific is associated with a specific type of rhetorical form. Another example would be a political speech, where the form is perhaps as important, if not more important, than the substance. In the sense that a political speech will not be based primarily on established terms, but perhaps reference them in passing in various contexts. Yet another example would be a religious sermon, where form and content also plays an equally important role, although here the form is recognised by being ritualistic. More examples would include a school- teacher, who would deliberately appeal to both emotion and reason, quickly from one to the other, in order to engage the students as much as possible. But - common for all of the different forms is that the form of the rhetoric does not determine the substance of it. Neither does a specific substantive and recogniseable point necessarily make the speech belong only in one of the different categories mentioned above: Lemma 2: the form of the rhetoric does not determine substance. This is important because to assume that the form of the rhetoric - what we can immediately see - determines the content, is the same as not taking whatever is said seriously. One simply recognises certain aspects of the speech, and then fills in what the speech must obviously be about through heavy personal, or externalised and assisted assumption. We can then also propose that: Lemma 3: Context does not determine the form of the rhetoric. I am not suggesting with this that making assumptions and predictions is wrong, of course. Instead, it is an important and essential basic skill, which is made infinitely better by knowing the ways others and yourself can manipulate it. And knowledge about ways to manipulate those assumptions is called knowledge about rhetoric. Rhetoric being now defined, appropriately or not, as words shaped in ways that connect with the recepient's assumptions and thinking. In other words, manipulating the form of rhetoric in itself is both a necessary and abused skill, like most other tools - even though the meaning of the word, injured as it may be through rhetorical skill, really is really pretty clear. next: Substance.