Spaciousness of Rhet

Spaciousness of Rhet - Leong 1 Com 331 The Spaciousness of...

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Leong 1 Com 331 1/28/10 The Spaciousness of Rhetoric Weaver’s article on, “The Spaciousness of Old Rhetoric”, summarizes old rhetoric in three distinct parts. The first part of an old orator’s speech consists of logic, the second part, aesthetics, and the third, epistemology. Weaver discerns at the very beginning of his essay that the type of rhetoric used in the old days was that of special occasion, that people would travel for miles and miles to hear an orator of great skill even just for an hour. This, Weaver says, is immensely different then the discourse that we hear today, and that if we listen to a speech the first thing we become aware of is its “spaciousness”. The spaciousness of old rhetoric is concerned with the difference between what the 19 th century orator’s speeches incorporated and what an orator of today’s time would include. When comparing old rhetoric to modern rhetoric, Weaver first discusses the logic of the speech. In 19 th century speeches, Weaver talks about the “uncontested term”, or the term that seems to invite a contest. The “uncontested term” is ambiguous and general, but it is also agreed to by everyone. The “uncontested term” is risky in the sense that it cannot provide a solid argument for the orator because of its generality. The modern orator would never use such vague and undefined terms because the risk of using them would discredit their argument. Weaver says that no knowledgeable speaker would use such terms today because they are too controversial to give the speaker any significance of credibility. However, the old rhetorician will use “uncontested terms” in his oration because he knew something of the audience’s way of thinking and is certain of the effect it will have on his audience. The “uncontested term” is merely one of the aspects of logic when dealing with spaciousness of rhetoric. Another aspect of logic in rhetoric is the spaciousness of meaning both historical and literal, which Weaver refers to as resonances. These resonances are the combination of what is being said and the thing that is being signified. Weaver says, “Civilization has made some generalizations which are the premises of other arguments but which are not the issues themselves,” (Weaver 170). Weaver asserts that
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Leong 2 the old orator did not need to argue the significance of everything because some topics are naturally assumed for us. When an oration was conducted in the 19 th century, the speech was given to an already persuaded audience. The subject of the speech is one that the audience was already well aware of, but simply just being reminded of. People today are much more interested in matters of fact and concrete details then being reminded of things they already know. The orator of the 19 th century, in this sense, was at an advantage to the modern orator because the audience would be much more accepting of the material being presented in the speech because they were merely being reminded of what they already knew. Spaciousness of rhetoric can also be defined as opacity.
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This note was uploaded on 01/10/2011 for the course COMS 331 taught by Professor Duffy during the Winter '09 term at Cal Poly.

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Spaciousness of Rhet - Leong 1 Com 331 The Spaciousness of...

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