Truth Embedded Rhetoric...Rhetoric Embedded Truth

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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Truth Embedded Rhetoric...Rhetoric Embedded Truth

Post by spiritus » Sun Sep 07, 2008 4:05 am

"Change we can believe in." --- Obama

"America first!" --- McCain

The most effective and persuasive rhetoric, (according to the Aristotelian definitions) is that which conveys truth and reveals reason.

Choose wisely.

“When they had once got it by heart, the sheep developed a great liking for this maxim, and often as they lay in the field they would all start bleating ‘Four legs good, two legs bad! Four legs good, two legs bad!’ and keep it up for hours on end, never growing tired of it.” --- George Orwell, Animal Farm

I'm seeking clarity, possible discussion, and learned wisdom, as to the origin, meaning, earliest and present usage, in a political context, of the word, "rhetoric".
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Re: Truth Embedded Rhetoric...Rhetoric Embedded Truth

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:33 am

This is somewhat of a digression from your ostensible query, but here are a couple of links that you may find interesting if you haven't already seen them -- partly because they depict the ways that rhetoric can be used for purposes that are contrary to the Aristotelian ideal (which means they are frequently resorted to by politicians):

The Art of Controversy by Arthur Schopenhauer at http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/s/ ... plete.html (a summary of the tactics can be found at http://www.searchlores.org/schopeng.htm);

and a discussion of the tactics used by newsgroup trolls and the like at http://www.searchlores.org/trolls.htm.
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Re: Truth Embedded Rhetoric...Rhetoric Embedded Truth

Post by spiritus » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:19 pm

Uh...OK.
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Re: Truth Embedded Rhetoric...Rhetoric Embedded Truth

Post by PhilHunt » Tue Sep 09, 2008 10:12 am

spiritus wrote: I'm seeking clarity, possible discussion, and learned wisdom, as to the origin, meaning, earliest and present usage, in a political context, of the word, "rhetoric".
For the origin, meaning and earliest usage you can look here.
Its earliest use in English was 1300s, imported from French, and was probably always used in a governmental context as most of our words for government come from the French occupation and administration of Britain.
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Re: Truth Embedded Rhetoric...Rhetoric Embedded Truth

Post by spiritus » Thu Sep 11, 2008 6:50 am

I thank you PhilHunt, for the link.

I high rank you Erik, for the think.

I now seek to know the cosmetic preferences of a pig, named Napoleon.

Though I suspect, to some, my comments, seemly could just as well be Greek (as in pithanon), I would argue that an English-speaking, lip-stick wearing pit bull, provides adequate evidence of the rhetorical power of dogs and face-shifting pigs.

In addition, I believe, 'political-rhetorical-anthropomorphism', should be highly regulated.
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Re: Truth Embedded Rhetoric...Rhetoric Embedded Truth

Post by spiritus » Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:38 am

PhilHunt wrote:
spiritus wrote: I'm seeking clarity, possible discussion, and learned wisdom, as to the origin, meaning, earliest and present usage, in a political context, of the word, "rhetoric".
For the origin, meaning and earliest usage you can look here.
Its earliest use in English was 1300s, imported from French, and was probably always used in a governmental context as most of our words for government come from the French occupation and administration of Britain.
Thanks PhilHunt,

I found the definitions useful and revealing. However, I find the ontology of a five-year-old child and my metaphysical insights equally useful and revealing.

For the adventurous adult and less adventurous non-metaphysical reader; but still, a self proclaimed, 'lover of English', below is a link (dated, yet, as I see it, no less relevant) to one of Western literature's canonical author's perceptions regarding the subject at hand:

George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," 1946 http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm
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Re: Truth Embedded Rhetoric...Rhetoric Embedded Truth

Post by PhilHunt » Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:31 pm

A very interesting article by Orwell, though one gets the feeling that he is sometimes trying to find fault because of a nostalgia for the language he grew up using.
An interesting illustration of this is the way in which English flower names were in use till very recently are being ousted by Greek ones, Snapdragon becoming antirrhinum, forget-me-not becoming myosotis, etc. It is hard to see any practical reason for this change of fashion: it is probably due to an instinctive turning away from the more homely word and a vague feeling that the Greek word is scientific.
I read a modern linguist who said that people who bang on about a decline in the English language (and Orwell is one of many who has done this throughout history) tend to fix 'proper English' to the type of English they studies when they were at school.

I do, however, empathise with this quote.
Meaningless words. In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.† Words like romantic, plastic, values, human, dead, sentimental, natural, vitality, as used in art criticism, are strictly meaningless, in
When I worked in the arts it was common practise to write press releases about shows using stock phrases such as 'work about the body', 'the artist is questioning the true nature of art' or 'provocative' or 'vital' to describe anything. I read one arts correspondent last year who said that 'unmissable' was the new stock phrase where every single show in the year was apparently unmissable, which put a lot of pressure on the poor gallery visitor.
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Re: Truth Embedded Rhetoric...Rhetoric Embedded Truth

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:18 pm

Phil, your point about the standard of the publicity that frequently attends art shows is well made.

In my experience, a show that can only be appreciated with the help of artists' statements and exegetic third-party marketing is not worth looking at.

More often than not, the descriptions descend into a realm of ludicrous bathos in which the artist is attributed with the heroic persona of someone bestowing their unique insights on a public that ought to be more grateful than it is.

Unfortunately, because art education in the schools of the Anglo-Saxon cultures of the West is generally poor or non-existent (I cannot comment regarding the art education available in other countries), the perpetrators all too often succeed in drawing a veil of mystique over their enterprise, which ultimately rebounds on many of those whose output is actually worthwhile.

This is because it is easier for viewers to allow themselves to be hoodwinked by plausible bullshit than to disregard it and actually think for themselves about what they are looking at or experiencing, which tends to leave the artists that refuse to play this game at a competitive disadvantage.
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Re: Truth Embedded Rhetoric...Rhetoric Embedded Truth

Post by PhilHunt » Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:12 pm

Absolutely spot on Erik.
The truth is, the art world has been nothing more than a collectors/investors market for years, with very little ground breaking work going on. I used to work at several major galleries in London as an art handler, as well as running my own little gallery. In the major galleries the viewing public would be made up mainly of students, artists and critics. The buying public would be made up of businessmen looking for investments, interior designers looking for something to match the curtains and whimsical buyers who believed in the 'spirituality' of it all.
The average person doesn't go to commercial galleries but museum shows, and the work that gets into museums is usually dictated by an elite, usually the gallery owners, collectors and major buyers. This means that once a piece of work makes it into the Tate it is no longer due to public attention (as once may have been the case in the salons in Paris) but due to commercial pressures and personal interests. This is partly why press releases these days are so sfumato or hyperbole, because essentially most of the work got there for commercial reasons and not on its merits.
In many ways it mirrors modern politics. When a politician says 'we are invading to liberate the people' he is not saying 'and then we can build a pipeline through the country making us lots of money'.
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End of topic.
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