Chaim Perelman (Rhetoric in the Modern Era)

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The adherence of an audience is also determined by the orator's use of values, a further key concept of the New Rhetoric. Perelman's treatment of value and his view of epideictic rhetoric sets his approach apart from that of the ancients and of Aristotle in particular. Aristotle's division of rhetoric into three genres — forensic, deliberative, and epideictic — is largely motivated by the judgments required for each: forensic or legal arguments require verdicts on past action, deliberative or political rhetoric seeks judgment on future action, and epideictic or ceremonial rhetoric concerns values associated with praise or blame and seeks no specific decisions.

For Aristotle, the epideictic genre was of limited importance in the civic realm since it did not concern facts or policies. Perelman, in contrast, believes not only that epideictic rhetoric warrants more attention, but that the values normally limited to that genre are in fact central to all argumentation. These values, moreover, are central to the persuasiveness of arguments in all rhetorical genres since the orator always attempts to "establish a sense of communion centered around particular values recognized by the audience" , p.


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All argumentation, according to Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca, must proceed from a point of agreement; contentious matters in particular cannot be introduced until sufficient agreement on prior or related issues has already been established. The bases of agreement are divided into two categories: the first deals with facts, truths, and presumptions; the second with values, hierarchies, and loci of the preferable.

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Both facts and truths are normally established prior to argument; these are aspects of reality that would be agreed to, for instance, by the universal audience as conceived by the orator. Neither facts nor truths provide opportunity for dispute; as Perelman explains, "if we presuppose the coherence of reality and of our truths taken as a whole, there cannot be any conflict between facts and truths on which we would be called to make a decision" , p.

Presumptions, like facts and truths, need not be defended. Should the argument require opposing presumptions, however, the orator may overturn previous opinion by proving an opposite case. Values, both concrete and abstract, may also constitute starting points, although none should be treated as universal. Establishing and reinforcing common values is necessary, according to Perelman, because they influence action and determine acceptable behaviour , p. Values, moreover, are normally arranged in hierarchies that can also serve as starting points for argument.

An audience will value both justice and utility, for example, but an argument may require a determination of preference between the two. Like values, hierarchies can be abstract or concrete; they may also be homogeneous, in the case of degrees, or heterogeneous, in the example of honesty and truthfulness. Both values and hierarchies can be justified by the final point of agreement, which Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca term loci of the preferable.

These loci or commonplaces are derived from the third book of Aristotle's Topics and allow agreement according to the determination of which, between two loci , is more preferred. Thus, an argument may begin from the determination that an intrinsic quality, such as health, is preferred over a contingent quality, such as beauty. The final aspect of argument starting points discussed in the New rhetoric is the creation of "presence. As Perelman explains, "things present, things near to us in space and time, act directly on our sensibility, " yet if things distant — from the past or future — are more relevant to the argument, they may be lent presence through specific rhetorical figures, such as hypotyposis or anaphora , p.


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  8. All points of agreement, moreover, may be distinguished as primary or secondary according to the purpose of the argument and the composition of the particular audience. This is accomplished, Perelman notes, by linguistic categories that allow the orator to mount arguments "under the guise of a descriptive narrative" ibid. Because non-formal argument is concerned with the adherence of an audience — rather than the mere demonstration of propositions proper to formal logic — the orator must ensure that the audience adheres to each successive element of an argument.

    Perelman outlines two ways the orator may achieve this acceptance or adherence: the first involves associations according to quasi-logical arguments, appeals to reality, and arguments that establish the real; the second approach responds to incompatible opinions through the dissociation of concepts.

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    Quasi-logical arguments, Perelman explains, are "similar to the formal structures of logic and mathematics" , p. Definition is a common quasi-logical approach that is used not only for establishing the meaning of a term but also for emphasizing certain features of an object for persuasive purposes.

    Other quasi-logical arguments include relations of division, arguments of reciprocity, and arguments of probability. While these techniques appear to share the qualities of formal demonstrations, Perelman notes that for all quasi-logical approaches, "complementary, nonformal hypotheses are necessary to render the argument compelling" , p. The remaining associative techniques involve appealing to reality and establishing the real.

    Arguments of the former category can be further divided into those conveying succession and those dealing with coexistence. Relations of succession include causes and effects, such as the consequences of a particular action, or means and ends, such as the projected outcome of an event or process. Relations of coexistence, on the other hand, associate a person or essence to a specific act, and include arguments from authority. Like appeals to the real, arguments that establish the structure of reality can be divided into two categories: arguments from example or model, and arguments by analogy.

    The former rely on generalizations derived from a single situation, in the case of example, or on the conformation of a single situation to an accepted practice or ethos , in the case of models. Appeals to the real that rely on analogy are common and, according to Perelman, are "typical to Plato , Plotinus , and all those who establish hierarchies within reality" , p.

    These appeals establish the relation between two terms by noting their similarity to another, more familiar set of terms; for example, "truth is to Socrates what gold is to a miser.

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    When orators seek to reconcile incompatible opinions, they may gain adherence by a dissociation of concepts. The final technique discussed by Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca is a common approach in metaphysics that opposes appearances to reality. Perelman's new rhetoric as philosophy and methodology for the next century.

    This book presents the New Theory of Argumentation, popularly known as the New Rhetoric, as an innovative theoretical and methodological system which will become increasingly important. Two factors determine the importance of this philosophy: 1 The collapse of all modern ideologies, many sociopolitical systems and their associated philosophies, whether of the right or the left, means that the era of the quick, dogmatic perception of how to force people to feel free and happy is over. The solutions sought must work best for the greatest number of people and must be flexible enough to allow the reinterpretation of all our determinations, from the very beginning.

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