Lunsford, Andrea and Lisa Ede "On Distinctions between Classical and Modern Rhetoric"

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Andrea A. Lunsford and Lisa S. Ede

In “On Distinctions Between Classical and Modern Rhetoric,” Andrea Lunsford and Lisa Ede address the common distinctions made between classical rhetoric and modern rhetoric. However, the point of their essay is to demonstrate how similar classic and modern rhetoric are (398). Lunsford and Ede say that major distinctions made about classical rhetoric include that it was based on a rational being living in a socially cohesive society, focused on rational proofs (logos), based on one-way communication with a selected audience, and the overall goal was to persuade. While distinctions about modern rhetoric include that rhetoric is based on symbol-using men who live in a less cohesive society, there is a focus on the emotional proofs (pathos), there is understood two-way communication, and the overall goal is communication not persuasion (400).

Ede and Lunsford maintain that one of the sources for this emphasis comes from an imperfect understanding of the way in which Artistotle's Rhetoric fit in with the rest of his philosophical system. They argue for the contextualization of his ideas; "One of the most essential characteristics of Aristotle's philosophical system is its integration." They cite the relationship between dialectic and rhetoric as on of the key means towards understanding Aristotle's views on communication.

In arguing for an integration of Aristotle's ideas, they also lay the framework for how a "new" rhetoric might be conceptualized (fitting with their desire to break down some of the aforementioned distinctions), using one of Aristotle's more well-known concepts, the three pisteis, logos, ethos, and pathos. They should not be viewed as discrete elements that may dominate one aspect of rhetorical discussion, but rather "inseparable strands that link people engaged in discourse."

Lunsford and Ede continue to dissect Aristotle’s arguments throughout the essay to show the relationship between classic and modern rhetoric. For them, some similarities include that both classic and modern focus on uniting emotion with reason through argumentation, allow both the rhetor and audience access to knowledge, and use rhetoric in various fields (404). Overall, Lunsford and Ede are calling for rhetors and rhetoricians to realize how connected modern and classic are. They write, “ If rhetoric is to reach its full potential in the twentieth century as an informing framework …then we must define ourselves not in opposition to but in consonance with the classical model” (408).

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