Title

Aristotle's Rhetoric as a Work of Philosophy

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1986

Abstract

“Aristotle's Rhetoric stands out as an anomaly in his corpus; his other works – except for other anomalies like the Constitution of Athens – are explorations of philosophic and scientific problems, while the Rhetoric looks like a handbook teaching speakers how to be persuasive. It's not surprising, then, that people in departments of English and Speech have appropriated it, while philosophers, apart from occasionally quoting its treatment of the emotions for comparisons to the Ethics, have ignored it. I propose to make a case for looking at the Rhetoric as a piece of philosophy, that is, as a sustained and systematic inquiry into the principles of some area of knowledge, action, or production. I think that the Rhetoric can be profitably read, by modem standards, as a work of philosophy, without ignoring the evident differences between it and what Aristotle means by a science; like the Organon and the History of Animals, the Rhetoric will be of philosophic interest without itself being scientific knowledge by Aristotle's standards.”