Distinctions Between Classical and Modern Rhetoric
Andrea A. Lunsford & Lisa S. Ede’s further contributed to the same movement contributed to by Richard Weaver, Kenneth Burke, Donald C. Bryant, and Chaim Perelman as they drew upon the classical tenets of rhetoric in an attempt to merge a contemporary concept of rhetoric, rather than attempting “to define [the new rhetoric] against classical tradition’ (Lunsford & Ede 397).
The seriously flawed, conventional understanding of rhetoric as displayed in Table 1
Major Distinctions Typically Drawn Between Classical and Modern Rhetoric
- 1. Man is a rational animal living in a society marked by social cohesion and agreed-upon values.
- 2. Emphasis is on logical [or rational] proofs.
- 3. Rhetor-audience relationship is antagonistic, characterized by manipulative one-way communication.
- 4. Goal is persuasion.
- 1. Man is a symbol-using animal living in a fragmented society.
- 2. Emphasis is on emotional or psychological0 proofs.
- 3. Rhetor-audience relationship is cooperative, characterized by emphatic, two-way communication.
- 4.Goal is communication.
Rather than having distinctions pull modern rhetoric farther away from classical rhetoric, Lunsford & Ede argue that the similarities primarily as well as some of the distinctions (as seen in Table 2 ) between classical and modern rhetoric “will help to identify those qualities which must characterize any vital theory of rhetoric” (405).
Table 2: Similarities and Qualifying Distinctions Between Classical and Modern Rhetoric
- 1. Both classical and modern rhetoric view man as a language-usage animal who unites reason and emotion in discourse with another.
Qualifying Distinction: Aristotle addresses himself primarily to the oral use of language; our is primarily an age of print.
- 2. In both periods rhetoric provides adynamic methodology whereby rhetor and audience may jointly have access to knowledge.
Qualifying Distinction: According to Aristotle, rhetor and audience come into a state of knowing which places them in a clearly defined relationsip with the world and with eacch other, mediated by their language. The prevailing modernist world view compels rhetoric to operate without any such clearly articulated theory of the knower and the known.
- 3. In both periods rhetoric has the potential to clarify and informactivities in numerous related fields.
Qualifying Distinction: Aristotle's theory establishes rhetoric as an art and relates it clearly to all fields of knowledge. Despite the effortsmodern rhetoricians, we lack any systemmatic, generally accepted theory to inform current practice.