Chapter 14

Using Words to Persuade: The Art of Rhetoric

In This Chapter

arrow Discovering the nature of rhetoric

arrow Using rhetoric to wow when giving a presentation

arrow Boosting a failing argument with rhetorical tricks

arrow Analysing a series of rhetorical statements

Rhetoric is the study of how to persuade with words. It's an ancient topic, as ancient as anything academics talk about. Perhaps the dominant theme of this book, in line with most Critical Thinking advice one way or another, is how to impose structure on ideas, turn claims and counter-claims into arguments, while allowing other kinds of thinking only a supporting role to the central role that logic plays.

But real life isn't like that. Most of the things you hear people say, or even read, aren't arguments in any sense: they're more like descriptions, exclamations or instructions. When people try to persuade you, the chances are that they don't come up with much by way of a rational argument, but instead try to appeal to your hopes, fears and emotions. They may even tell a few jokes.

You can call these tactics rhetorical flourishes if ...

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