GREEK PHILOSOPHY - II.
An offshoot of political science and of dialectic is Rhetoric, or the art, or
"faculty," not of persuasion, but of discovering the
possible means of persuasion (as medicine is the art, not of curing disease, but
of finding and applying all possible remedies that cure or tend to cure); for
it is the science or quasi-science of that kind of discourse, particularly,
whose propositions are drawn from "political science" and whose method is
borrowed from, or formed after, that of dialectic.
It is not a science, because
neither in theory nor in practice does it aim at exact truth but only probable
truth of matter, or employ perfect rigidity of method. It adapts the truths of
political science and the principles of dialectic to the
ordinary life and mind. It differs, further, from dialectic in
aiming at the production of conviction and not merely at the
artistic and effective logical combination of propositions(1).
Persuasion may be the result of two classes of "proofs," or
means of persuasion, designated as scientific and unscientific.
In the former are comprised arguments, the character of the speaker,
the disposition of the audience; in the latter, witnesses, tortures,
properly taking advantage of the state of the laws, deeds, and oaths.
Arguments truly adapted for persuasion must possess at least a quasi-syllogistic
character and must be composed of propositions that are, or seem to be,
true or highly probable. The speaker must appear to be a person having ability, principle, and
good-will towards his hearers. The only honorable and otherwise properly
rhetorical means of controlling the feelings of an audience are to be found in the honesty and good-will of the speaker himself and the knowledge of the
passions and dispositions of men. True rhetorical method does not consist in
warping the mind by firing the passions(2). There are three branches of Rhetoric:
one treating of the "means of persuasion which address themselves to the
understanding," another of style, and another of the arrangement of the parts of the discourse(3). There are three kinds of oratory: that which finds place in the
deliberative assembly, has for its end the expedient, and is termed Deliberative
Oratory; that which finds place in irregular as well as regular public
assemblies has for its object the honorable, is panegyrical or vituperative, and
is termed Demonstrative (έπιδεικτική) Oratory; that which finds place in the
courts of law, has justice for its object, and is termed Judicial Oratory(4). Rhetoric is a useful and legitimate art, because it is in harmony with the
general tendency in human nature towards truth and justice, and is better
adapted than science to ordinary intelligence, trains the mind to look at both
sides of a question, and is such a means
of defence for the mind as gymnastic skill is for the body(5).
Poetical, o Poietical, Philosophy
Poietical philosophy, or the philosophy of art, is the theory of the
"habit of making joined with right reason". Art, together with conduct
(or "doing"), has to do, we have seen, with the contingent, whereas
wisdom, including intuition and science, is concerned with being. Art,
as a form of knowledge, is superior to experience, and stands next in
rank to wisdom. Under art as a whole is included house-building and
other purely productive arts as well as the "imitative" arts, poetry,
music, sculpture, etc. In art there are three processes: production,
contrivance, and contemplation. The immediate end of works of art as
such is in the works themselves(6) (not in the artist). Art either
"imitates," or represents, or it perfects that which nature has left
imperfect(7). As "imitative," art makes prominent the universal element
in things(8). The "imitative" arts—poetry, music, painting,
sculpture—may have for their effects amusement and relaxation, rational
enjoyment and the purification of the feelings, and moral discipline. As
a source of amusement and relaxation, art "heals" the pain of labor(9).
A rational enjoyment arises from the perception of the fact of
resemblance between things "imitated" and their "imitations," and the
discovery that the imitations are representations or symbols of the
objects imitated, a discovery that partakes of the character of an
acquisition of new knowledge. ("All men have by nature a desire and
impulse towards knowledge". (10) Purification of the feelings takes
place when, after an ecstasy of soul produced by works of art, we
relapse into our normal state, experiencing "pleasurable feelings of
relief"(11). Art affords moral discipline, and influences character by
teaching men to "enjoy right pleasures and entertain right feelings of
liking or dislike".
This it does by "imitating," or representing,
such pleasures and feelings, and producing effects similar to
those produced by the original causes of them. In music, as has
been stated, an ethical effect is produced by the Dorian
melodies and harmonies, an emotional by the Lydian, and a
physical by the Phrygian. Poetry consists in the imitation of
actions, manners, and sentiments by means of rhythm, melody, and
measure,—i.e., by some or all of these—, in narrative or in
The characters imitated may be better or worse, or neither better nor
worse, than ordinary characters. In tragedy, better, in comedy, worse,
than ordinary characters are "imitated". Tragedy is the
pleasing language by means of persons acting and not merely by means of narration, of
an action having dignity, completeness, and magnitude; producing, by its effect
upon the emotions of fear (or terror) and pity, a purification of the mind of
such feelings(12). The fear and pity (which must not be confounded here with horror
and compassion) awakened by tragedy arise from the contemplation of a worthy character undergoing
misfortune through some short-coming incident to human nature(13). Comedy is the
imitation of only such worse than ordinary characters as are ridiculous merely. Epic poetry resembles tragedy in having for its subject an important action
having beginning, middle, and end, but differs in requiring a more extended
action, in admitting a larger degree of the wonderful, in being narrative and
employing neither music nor the spectacle, and in requiring a nobler diction and
more stable metre. Tragedy excels epic poetry for the following reason: it
possesses every excellence of the latter and, besides, greater perspicuity and a
greater degree of simplicity and unity(14). The chief point to be attended to in
both kinds of poetry is the fable, or story, of the action. As compared with
history, poetry is the more philosophical, because it gives more truthfully the
universal element of human life(15).
(1) Rhetoric, Bk. I. chs. 1, 2.
(2) Rhetoric, Bk. I. ch. 3; Bk. II. ch. 1; Bk. I. ch. 2.
(3) Ibid., Bk. II, ch. 26 and Bk. III. ch. 1.
Ibid., Bk. I. ch. 3.
(5) Rhetoric, Bk. I, ch. 1. Attention may here be called to the remarkable discussion of the passions and aspirations of men in the first seventeen chapters of Bk. II.
(6) Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. VI. ch. 4, and Metaphysics, Bk. I. ch. 2.
(7) Physics, Bk. II. ch. 8.
Poetic, ch. 9.
Bk. V. chs. 5 and 7.
(10) Metaphysics, Bk. I. ch. 1; Poetic, ch. 4; Rhetoric, Bk. I. ch. 4.
(11) Politics, Bk. V. ch. 7.
Poetic, ch. 6.
Poetic, chs. 13 and 14.
Ibid., ch. 26.
Ibid., ch. 9.