This will not be a complete nor an exhaustive (or exhausting) review of definitions of rhetoric. What it will be is some definitions of rhetoric and some of my early thoughts on them.
Plato: “Socrates: Is not rhetoric in its entire nature an art which leads the soul by means of words, not only in law courts and the various other public assemblages but in private companies as well? And is it not the same when concerned with small things as with great, and, properly speaking, no more to be esteemed in important than in trifling matters?” (132).
I liked the idea of an art which leads the soul. I also like the idea that “words matter” that is implicit in this description.
Aristotle: “Rhetoric may be defined as the faculty of observing [discovering] in any given case the available [appropriate] means of persuasion” (160).
This has led me in the past (and occasionally continues to lead me) into a path through which I attempt to limit persuasion. When is something persuasion? Is everything persuasion?
I’ve heard a presentation on how clothing says something about us, which I think it does. But the speaker specified what the clothing not only said but what the wearer meant for the clothing to say. I am not sure of the correctness of her interpretation–or even either of her interpretations.
Is wearing clothing persuasion? I don’t wear jeans to work as a measure against persuading the tenure and promotion committee that I should not get tenure. So I suppose I think clothing is persuasion.