Rhetoric is ANY method of convincing no matter what devices you use.

[edit: ok, you’re not looking for the detail below. I’ll shorten it on top here:
Rhetoric is ANY method of convincing no matter what devices you use. Usually convincing metaphors are #1. The most convincing metaphors depends on the era, but nowadays, metaphors to physical systems or medical are most convincing. Example: “these people are a plaque on society” – is a very convincing bit of rhetoric because it’s a powerful metaphor. But of course people aren’t plaques. But we’re usually instantly convinced — end edit]

Now, I’m no expert, just learning as I go. But from what I can see, to understand Byzantine Rhetoric you have to understand what’s NOT Rhetoric but can be used “as part of Rhetoric”.

In most “how to think” classes, the gold standard is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectic – coming to the truth of the matter through reasoned discussion. Socratic method. Aristotle.

The roads usually end there, with rhetoric being placed as a “part of” dialectic, a part they usually consider bad form.

But there’s a level deeper than Dialectic and that is Rhetoric.

Rhetoric is “the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.” – a definition as good as any.

When you use even reasoned discussion, you are using rhetoric.

Rhetoric isn’t “language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.” — which is how rhetoric is portrayed by those who see Dialectic as the ultimate way.

[realized you want something short – editing to put something quick on top]


So for example, if you’re using “logic” to convince? you’re really using rhetoric. If you’re using “appeal to [x]”, you’re using rhetoric. If you start mocking someone, that’s rhetoric. It’s always rhetoric if it’s designed to persuade someone.


Once rhetoric is put in its proper place (ie – it’s all bullshit, even this or the most “logically consistent argument”), you can see more clearly the games people play and that nothing is forbidden when trying to convincing someone of something.


Well, from the little I know, it was the highest of study in the University of Constantinople. They didn’t split up into “fields” — this was in Byzantium where they did things differently. The Scholastic movement was an entirely different way of thinking, from the 11th century in the West, so it’s hard to make direct comparisons between how we do things (Scholastic) vs how they did things.

But it seems that all of their study led up to Rhetoric. They learned all the ancient Greek philosophers, but not as “Philosophy subject’ but rather as building up to Rhetoric. If they studied sciences they weren’t split into different scientific fields but rather part of the process of leading up to rhetoric.

So, the more studied you are in everything the better you are at rhetoric.


Contrast with how we do things: For example, you can get into a never-ending battle with an internet philosopher and find yourself accused of fallacy after fallacy, as if that will destroy your argument once and for all.

But if you think about it: that’s just game-playing. There’s rules, and if you break the rules you lose.



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