Tuesday, October 21, 2008
When Rhetoric as Persuasion is Counterproductive
An interesting post from my dad. Not to piggy-back too much on his post, but, I do think we have the tendency use rhetoric and argument to try to persuade others to see things our way. And I think this is in part the fault of thinking about rhetoric only in terms of persuasion. Seen in this way, rhetoric is only useful if we can use it to strengthen our arguments, hence, persuade people that our argument is correct. When does rhetoric become the art of persuasion and when does it become something else? When does rhetoric become a mere means of stylin' and profilin' for purposes not exclusive to argument? I think rhetoric as persuasion really applies to this election. On one hand, we say the candidates use rhetoric to persuade/strengthen their chances of being elected. But for voters, we use rhetoric to persuade others that our candidate is the best. And we've seen people use rhetoric to persuade a certain campaign that racist tactics are unfair. The moral of the story: Quit tryin to persuade people that racism is wrong. We know that. It's time that we work on ourselves.