Aristotle’s Lying for Dummies

The readings this week reminded me heavily of the discussions we’ve been having in class thus far.  While many of the issues we’ve been talking about were very relevant in the Aristotle reading in particular, the one that really interested me was the concept of audience.  He says that “We must also take into account the nature of our particular audience when making a speech of praise; for, as Socrates used to say, ‘it is not difficult to praise the Athenians to an Athenian audience.’”  This reminded me of the story of car sales in class.  You really have to be aware of your audience, who they are and what they value in order to be effective with your persuasive rhetoric, don’t you?  Even though Aristotle talks about using logos (logic) and ethos (credibility), it seems that before one can even use words to appeal to the audience through logos, ethos, or pathos (emotional), one has to decide how to attack the argument, map out a game plan.  In order to do that, the audience itself needs to be taken in as an active part of the equation, and isn’t catering to people and their priorities very much pathos?
Also, I was taken aback by his Book 3, Chapter 7.  It basically reads like how to pass a lie detector test, doesn’t it?  I’ve seen many of the things he mentions used in political and emotional discourse and always disliked them: “Oh, EVERYONE knows that” just to get out of explaining reasoning, etc.
I suppose with these tricks up their sleeves, it’s a small wonder Plato had a distaste for rhetoric, isn’t it?

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