Classical Me Classical Thee (Part 5)

I’m going to combine the next 2 chapters into one post covering Logic & Rhetoric:

“Unfortunately many grown people in America couldn’t think their way out of a brown paper bag. They can’t connect one thought to another because they’ve never been shown how to do it, and this means they will fall for all kinds of nonsense. They are like a person with no immune system — they’ll catch whatever bug is going around …

That’s what your study of logic has been. You’ve been taught what cheating looks like in a line of argument, you’ve been taught how to spot it, and hopefully you’ll become the kind of person who doesn’t fall for it. Your classical education is a lot like self defense. In the marketplace of ideas there are many people who are going to try to mug you — and your teachers, your parents, and your school board are trying to give you the necessary skills to fight them off …

I prefer Plato’s definition of rhetoric over Aristotle’s anyway, and he says that rhetoric is the ‘art of enchanting the soul.’ …

A leader is someone who can change people’s minds, who is compelling enough that others want to follow. A leader makes people want to step out from wherever they were in order to come across and fall into step. Rhetoric is the class that’s trying to turn you into a leader. You can resist if you want, but that’s what it’s there for. You’re being taught how to persuade — and it’s just an obvious fact that persuasive people end up at the front of the pack. Maybe that seems dull and boring and stupid — but only to someone who isn’t interested in leading and only wants to follow …

But the skills you are learning in rhetoric are actually all about beauty, about expression, about learning to articulate clearly and communicate precisely in order that truth will seem desirable to the hearer.

It’s about making the truth so utterly compelling that believing it is obligatory.”

Leave a Reply