Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics

Influences on Aristotle's Rhetoric by Plato and Isocrates

What does it mean to be human? We are “decision-making creatures capable of overruling [their] own instincts.” It naturally follows that those tools which enable humans to exhibit these unique characteristics are the most essential to human existence and evolution. For thousands of years, Rhetoric has proved to be this ubiquitous tool. Rhetoric is a device by which humans can explore and explain the otherwise unexplainable and persuade others of the subsequently derived probabilities, all the while integrating emotion and psychology into the process. No other art, science, or communicative tool can match the intellectual potential inherent to rhetoric.

Aristotle’s work Rhetoric, titled after the exclusive nature of its content, explicates the enigmatic definition of rhetoric in the first book of the three-part series, and suggests ways to employ rhetoric for any conceivable end in the second and third parts. In his opening chapter, Aristotle defines rhetoric as the ability to “see the persuasive and the apparently persuasive” in any case. Proceeding from this definition, Aristotle explains the means of persuasion, the importance of projected character in persuasion, and the importance of understanding and incorporating the...

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