Neo-Aristotelian Reference

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In Defense o£
Neo-Aristotelian Rhetorical
Criticism
J. A. HENDRIX*

i HE PREDOMINANT FORM of rhetorical criticism is labeled "neoAristotelian" and is condemned by Professor Edwin Black in his Rhetorical Criticism—A Study in Method on the grounds "that variety is wanting in the methods of rhetoric, that the options available to the critic need to be multiplied, and above all, that the prevailing mode of rhetorical criticism is profoundly mistaken."^

It is not my purpose in this essay to refute the contentions that variety is wanting in the methods of rhetorical criticism and that the options available to the critic need to be multiplied. It is my thesis that the prevailing mode of rhetorical criticism is not "profoundly mistaken," at least in its theoretical conception.

Rhetoric, as it is related to speech, is designed to produce a discrete communication operative within a specific context, and it is designed to accomplish a specific purpose or to exert a particular influence upon the behavior of the audience within that context.^ Neo-Aristotelian rhetorical criticism, therefore, consists of two constituents: historical and judicial. Firet, the critic seeks historically to reconstruct the context within which the rhetoric was operative. Second, he attempts to judge the effectiveness of the speaker's use of the principles of rhetoric ia accomplishing his desired goal.

Black has raised the objection, however, that neo-Aristotelian rhetorical criticism does not accomplish what he assumes to be tkree objectives of general criticism. Using as his point of cteparttire a^^etician Theodore M. Green's presumption that critidsm involves three constituentsthe historical, the re-creative, and the judicial—Black ofalperves diat tbe * Mr. Hendrix is Associate ProfoiOT oi Speedi Aits, The Aiaerican LlniveiHty> Washington, D.C.

York, 19K, p. viii.
iln this paper the tens "iheloric"
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