In the introduction of Richard Toye's Rhetoric: A very short introduction Toye talks about the power that the Nazi regime held and the ways they used rhetoric to retain it and recruit other members. The Nazi rhetoric involved everything down to their sentence structure and word choice. Every word was chosen specifically to build the party and take down a common “enemy”. Toye goes on in the introduction to talk about how influential rhetoric is on our current society and how it has always played a role in our lives. Even though rhetoric can carry this negative connotation we have to accept the place it has in this world. In our everyday conversations we are constantly taking positions on right versus wrong and using rhetoric to tell others why we think this way and why they should to. Rhetoric in its simplest form is translated to “the art of persuasion” and is used to express ideas and show the way they are generated.
In Chapter 1 Toye talks about the first signs of evidence of rhetoric. He took it all the way back to the Sophists. They were brilliant minds who used rhetoric through their teachings while also focused on identifying and developing it in other writings. These professors were very opinionated and therefore rhetoric went hand in hand. As the chapter goes on Toye talks about the impact that rhetoric had on many different generations on many different aspects. Rhetoric was used in education, governing, and rule making. He talks more about how important it is to understand rhetoric and distract it when trying to understand complex topics in government and and social atmospheres. These arguments identify what significant issues are to a community and how to control and attack them.
After reading these two chapters some questions I had were:
- How can we change rhetoric to have a positive connotation? There are many positive outcomes of rhetoric, so how do we bring those to the front line?
- If rhetoric is so powerful, powerful enough to make other people kill other people, where do we draw the line between inappropriate mind manipulation and rhetoric.
Reading: Toye, R. (2013). Rhetoric: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.