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Scholars Day 2005, Wednesday, April 13

Toward an Ancient Rhetorical Theory: Aristotle and Cicero on Common Sense

From the Ancient school of common sense our pedagogues, Aristotle and Cicero, promote a rhetorical theory for the people, by the people. Aristotle’s rhetorical theory is enacted by the identification of common sense as a physiological process whereby the five senses unite to construct our basic images of the world. This physiological process establishes rhetoric as part of our ontology, because it is rooted in common sense which is our initial guide to decision-making. If humans possess an innate capacity to engage in rhetoric as Aristotle suggests in Rhetorica when he writes that “[o]rdinary people do this [engage in rhetorical practices] either at random or through practice and from acquired habit,” then invention, which according to Cicero is “[t]he discovery of valid or seemingly valid arguments,” must begin with the recognition and application of the common sense of the “ordinary people” (1354a, 5, De Inventione vii. 9).

Presenter: James Cianciola (Faculty)
Topic: Communication
Location: 107 Holmes
Time: 11:15 am (Session II)