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On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse
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On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  2,164 ratings  ·  94 reviews
This new edition of George A. Kennedy's highly acclaimed translation and commentary offers the most faithful English version ever published of On Rhetoric. Based on careful study of the Greek text and informed by the best modern scholarship, the second edition has been fully revised and updated. As in the first edition, Kennedy makes the work readily accessible to modern s ...more
Paperback, 337 pages
Published July 1st 2006 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published -322)
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Aristotle defines. Unmercifully. And The Art of Rhetoric is no exception. Aristotle disdained the sophist tradition of ancient Greece as much as Plato, but he also understood that rhetoric was a popular study of the day and it became another discipline he sought to master. With a scientific eye and a mind toward philosophical value, Aristotle studied rhetoric as “the power to observe the persuasiveness of which any particular matter admits” (pg. 74; Ch. 1.2). Rhetoric, when used appropriately, b ...more
Alp Turgut
Aristoteles'in Platon'un "Gorgias"da bahsettiği Retorik kavramını bir üst seviyeye taşıdığı eseri "The Art of Rhetoric / Retorik", insani tutumlara dair mükemmele yakın tanımlamarıyla adeta bir hayat sözlüğü niteliğinde. Kıskançlık, kibir, gurur, hırs, yaşlılık, gençlik gibi bir sürü kavramın açıklamalarını okuma şansı bulduğumuz eserde özellikle ilk iki kitabı okurken ünlü filozofun zekasına ve gözlemlerine hayran kalıyorsunuz. Öte yandan, eğretileme ve konuşma tekniklerinden bahsettiği daha ço ...more
Not Aristotle's clearest or best organized work, but still part of the core curriculum of a liberal education.

Why read Aristotle today? Because he is one of the greatest minds in Western history, and such a person's well-considered thoughts are inherently worth reading, if anything is.

In addition, this book was deliberately aimed at those seeking to play an active role in a democratic society, to help them fulfill their function as citizens of a free society. We in the West imagine ourselves (mo
Paul Haspel
You may never have read anything by Aristotle; but if you've ever taken a college writing course, you've had him as your teacher. The Art of Rhetoric did so much to define how subsequent generations, and civilizations, regarded the task of crafting persuasive language that it can truly be regarded as a founding text. Methodically, Aristotle sets forth his sense of how the writer's handling of character and emotion contributes to success in rhetorical terms. His insights regarding style and compo ...more
The first book of Aristotle’s highly taxonomical Rhetoric opens with a parsing of dialectic and rhetoric. He sets up the latter as an art of persuasion related to but nevertheless distinguishable from the former. After exploring the usefulness of syllogisms and enthymemes for both arts, Aristotle sets out his three basic categories of rhetorical discourse: deliberative, judicial (or forensic), and epideictic. He spends the rest of the first book exploring topics (related to the Greek topos, for ...more
This book is obviously a classic to the field of rhetoric. It also contains what is essentially the first treatise on human psychology, in addition to systematically analyzing the art of persuasion.

I have never read any other editions of this book, but I would recommend this edition to everyone who wants to read it. George Kennedy's translation and his commentary are incredibly helpful, even amusing at times. His sheer knowledge of Aristotle and this work (he must have spent decades on it) is st
Daniel Gonçalves
Lido para a disciplina de retórica, obviamente. Um marco na história da civilização.
Jesse Broussard
I'm sure it's excellent, necessary, brilliantly designed, etc. But so is a sewer system, and you don't want to spend too much time there either.
Gwen Burrow
Read this when I barely knew what "rhetoric" meant. So I should sift through it again.
I need an Idiot's Guide type book to help me with this one because this is just not sinking in. Perhaps I need to reread it. ehh. I'm not really a fan of rhetoric to begin with but this is certainly the book for orators, politicians, and lawyers to be. Proof, proof, proof, make sure you can back up what you say, but when you don't have proof, at least say it with style and panache, that's half the battle. An interesting read during election season.

One of the most interesting moments in this boo
While reading this I often found myself simultaneously appreciating Aristotle's meticulous exploration of the topic even as I felt exhausted by his litany of examples for nearly every point. But despite that, I thought this was one of the best studies of rhetoric I've read. Aristotle's style is always a challenge, but George Kennedy's translation is as accessible as could possibly be hoped for, and the footnotes are invaluable for understanding the terms and historical contexts of the work. I wo ...more
While this is a book about rhetoric the broad definition that is used by Aristotle allows for excursions into philosophy, government, history, ethics, and literature. Thus when discussing the proper organization of a speech Aristotle draws on literary examples from Homer and Herodotus to Sophocles. No one can deny the strength of Antigone's argument when she says, "But when mother and father have gone to Hades there is no brother who can be born again".(p 271)
The work is difficult for Aristotle
Tim McIntosh
In addition to reading Aristotle's Rhetoric, I took a class about the revival of Aristotle.

Rhetoric was -- thanks largely to Aristotle, Seneca, and Cicero -- a "queen" of the sciences in the ancient world. It was that discipline that summoned, combined and strengthened other disciplines. But during the Enlightenment rhetoric fell on hard times. It became what it is today: The study of elaborate language. Or, to put it less politely, the study of how to blow hot air.

But thanks to Chaim Perelman'
Eric McLean
There is a lot of good stuff here (obviously-it's Aristotle, man!) and it almost feels wrong not giving this 5 stars, but alas...I just didn't find all of it very interesting. I struggled to finish this, mostly because there were some great points on rhetoric surrounded by mountains of definitions that don't really seem to define rhetoric as it is today. I'm sure there are some more modern texts that get at the same ideas in a more modern context-but we all owe a lot of that to Aristotle.

María I.
Escrito probablemente entre los años 329-323 aC. este tratado conserva aún significativa vigencia. En su época El arte de la Retórica logró superar el conflicto existente entre Filosofía y Retórica, desdeñada por los filósofos que la consideraban una práctica sin rigor, solo interesada en el despliegue de la elocuencia. Aristóteles en esta obra instituyó definitivamente las leyes de la Retórica, fijó con exactitud el objetivo específico del arte oratorio y declaró la naturaleza de sus elementos ...more
Throughout the book Kennedy places On Rhetoric into its important historical context. Starting with the Prooemion and through the introduction, Kennedy shows how clearly Aristotle's theories deviated from Isocrates, Plato and Socrates. For example, Aristotle’s “instinctive feeling for philosophy came to be far more pragmatic than Platonic idealism” (2). But, Kennedy also shows how Aristotle combined the important overlapping aspects of philosophy and rhetoric, mainly from Plato and Isocrates.

Daniel Rumbell
This book has special value to me due to its immediate use upon purchase without prompting from a third party. When I returned to college five years after my first semester had ended badly, I was a writer, but not an academic writer. When it came time to write my first academic paper, I used the emotional discussions and definitions in this book to frame my argument. When it resulted in an A on my first college essay, I was pleased and encouraged and it is entirely due to the usefulness of the t ...more
Elliott Bignell
To read Aristotle on rhetoric is to be present at the birth of a new science, as this was the footing upon which the Philosopher sought to place the idiom. While this concept of "science" is a far cry from Popper's conjecture and refutation and the modern synthesis of scientific thinking, it is closer than one might think. Aristotle seeks to provide a theoretical framework based in the minds of listeners, to classify and taxonomise species of argument and to back it all up with concrete, quasi-e ...more
I read this for a graduate course on rhetorical theory and it is great. If you've never read Aristotle before, just give it some time - once I read the first few pages, I started to get the feel for Aristotle's tone and style and began to appreciate his wealth of ideas.

The translation is well done, with numerous insightful notes. Rather than read them as they came up in the text, I started to read a full chapter of Aristotle's text first, then review the chapter again for all the notes. This wa
Mérite d'être lu par tous ceux qui cherchent à mieux communiquer et transmettre des idées, que ce soit pas l'oral ou par l'écrit. Par contre, j'ai trouvé le texte peu divertissant à lire, sauf pour certains arguments et exemples. Aussi, une première lecture ne m'a pas vraiment permis de digérer la plupart des arguments. Ceux-ci portent autant sur les aspects moraux, logiques et stylistiques du discours, et sont assemblés de telle manière, et accumulés avec tant d'exhaustivité qu'il est difficile ...more
Brittany Petruzzi
I cleared my one-star rating for being a purely subjective impression as a college freshman. Never have I read a more unpersuasive and engaging treatment of the art of persuasion. Perhaps I would have found it more so with a better translation? Someday I may pick up a Sachs translation and give it another go.
Regretfully, I didn't spring for the extra money to purchase the penguin edition, which I suspect is not only a superior translation, but also includes copious footnotes and a thorough introduction. That being said, for the general reader, I'd recommend skipping the bulk of sections I and II, and going straight into reading section III. I say this because the first two sections, while interesting from a historical and philosophical perspective, are largely outdated and provide little to no insig ...more
I am glad to be reminded of this wonderful book, although I read it some time ago. It is effectively practical advice in nature which perhaps I did not completely appreciate at the time. Perhaps it is time to read it again.
Seth Pierce
I struggled with this book due to its classic status, and its being the first work to systematic rhetoric, and its sometimes statements of the painfully obvious. Nevertheless, I did find much to highlight and refer back to when formulating various presentations. I did find some of the examples difficult to follow as many of the Greek names were unfamiliar to me, however most of the time the example was plain enough. I appreciated the clarity of how to perform the epilogue as well as the analysis ...more
This version of Aristotle's On Rhetoric, translated by George Kennedy, was a fun read. I especially appreciated Kennedy's notes on historical/cultural context, additional explanations on Greek word translation choices, and the extra appendix with additional works from Socrates, Isocrates, Demothenes and others. I researched other versions before choosing the text translated by Kennedy, and I was not disappointed--I'm glad I purchased this particular edition. Not sure why the picture shows Kenned ...more
The book is a mix of argumentation and examples -lots of them indeed- on how to talk well. It explains how the content, style and delivery should be made -delivery explained very briefly, though- in order to capture the audience.

It is sort of the guide for giving a good speech with psychological explanations both for the orator and the audience.

Plus, the notes provided by the editor/translator H. C. Lawson-Tancred do help a lot in fully understanding the book. I strongly advise a future-reader
Je me suis régalé avec Aristote.
Elias Vasilis Kontaxakis
“Persuasion occurs through the arguments when we show the truth or the apparent truth from whatever is persuasive in each case.”

Whereas the Poetics concerned itself with the nature and composition of art, On Rhetoric is Aristotle’s examination of its effect on the audience. And not just art, but any compelling medium such as debate, storytelling, or speech. He again picks the subject apart and labels its organs, gives each a purpose and analyzes their effective use.

The Philosopher first distin
The Thousander Club
Adam C. Zern offers a few thoughts . . .

"Reading Aristotle's Rhetoric was a good idea that ended up being far more painful that I would have liked. It is common for me to read the recommended or referenced books of intellectuals that I admire. Although I don't quite remember where I heard or read Rhetoric referenced, it did find it's way on my Amazon Wish List. I can now say I've read it, but I wouldn't say much more than that about it. (Word of warning: Rhetoric is extremely referential to Ari
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  • Rhetorica ad Herennium
  • Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student
  • Phaedrus
  • Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Vol 1, Books 1-5
  • Sextus Empiricus: Outlines of Scepticism
  • Menander: The Plays and Fragments
  • Conversations of Socrates
  • A Rhetoric of Motives
  • A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms
  • On Politics and Ethics
  • Plato I: Euthyphro. Apology. Crito. Phaedo. Phaedrus. (Loeb Classical Library, #36)
  • The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present
(Greece: Αριστοτέλης)
(Arabic: أرسطوطاليس)

Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.) numbers among the greatest philosophers of all time. Judged solely in terms of his philosophical influence, only Plato is his peer: Aristotle's works shaped centuries of philosophy from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance, and even today continue to be studied with keen, non-antiquarian interest. A prodigious researcher and wri
More about Aristotle...
Politics The Nicomachean Ethics Metaphysics Poetics De Anima (On the Soul)

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“What makes a man a 'sophist' is not his faculty, but his moral purpose. (1355b 17)” 6 likes
“If there are two definitive features of ancient Greek civilization, they are loquacity and competition.” 1 likes
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