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Aristotle's Rhetoric & Poetics

e., contingent variables), visavis what is specifically true and indicative of X set of general conditions. A Sign (the Winesap apple is red) supports a general statement that the apple is ripe (ripe Winesap apples are red). The fundamental point is that the sense (or Probability) of an idea or conclusion is contingent on a set of proofs, each capable of being harnessed in support of the general statement.

The perception of the validity of a general statement or proposition rests not merely on whether the statement is valid but on the strength of its support and presentation. In other words, a statement or idea may be true or false, but if it is argued ineptly enough in the case of a true statement, or cleverly enough in the case of a falsehood, then there is every chance that the perception of credibility rather than credibility itself will govern the rhetorical process. Aristotle's discussion of what he calls the modes of persuasion is relevant here:

Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word

there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the

personal character of the speaker; the second on putting the

audience into a certain frame of mind; the third on the

proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the

speech itself. . . . It is not true, as some writers assume

in their treatises on rhetoric, that the personal goodness

revealed by the speaker contributes nothing to his power of

persuasion; on the contrary, his character may almost be

called the most effective means of persuasion he possesses.

Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the

speech stirs their emotions. . . . Thirdly, persuasion is

effected through the speech when we have proved a truth or

an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments

suitable to the case in question (R 245).

Aristotle understands that it ...

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Aristotle's Rhetoric & Poetics. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 02:31, April 25, 2015, from
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