Distinctions Between Classical and Modern Rhetoric

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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

Classical Rhetoric

Modern Rhetoric

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

Qualifying Distinction: Aristotle addresses himself primarily to the oral use of language; our is primarily an age of print.

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.

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.

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