Aristotle on Rhetoric
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) was a Greek philosopher, educator, and scientist. He was able to combine the thoughts of Socrates and Plato to create his own ideas and definition of rhetoric. He wrote influential works such as Rhetoric and Organon, which presented these new ideas and theories on rhetoric. Much of what is Western thought today evolved from Aristotle's theories and experiments on rhetoric.
Aristotle was born in 384 B.C., in Northern Greece. His father was a physician to the king of Macedonia, Amyntas II. Amyntas II was the grandfather of Alexander the Great. When Aristotle was still a boy, both of his parents died; so he was raised by a guardian named Proxenus. At the age of seventeen, he went to Athens to attend Plato's school, the Academy. Aristotle stayed at the Academy for twenty years as a student, a research assistant, a lecturer, and a research scientist. After Plato died, he moved and lived with Hermeias, a former pupil of Plato. During his three year stay, Aristotle married princess Pithias, Hermeias's daughter. The couple had two children: a son named Nicomachus and a daughter. In 342 B.C., Aristotle was invited to educate Alexander by Philip of Macedon. He taught Alexander until King Philip was assassinated, then Alexander became ruler. In 335 B.C., he left Macedonia and returned to Athens to found a school named Lyceum. Twelve years later, when Alexander died, the Athenians charged Aristotle with impiety because they resented his relationship with Alexander and other influential Macedonians. Aristotle said that he would not let the Athenians "sin twice against philosophy" (Soll, 663), so he fled to Chalcis. One year later he died at the age of sixty-two.
Aristotle's Writings and Philosophies
Aristotle's writings can be categorized into three groups: popular writings, memoranda, and the treatises. His popular writings were written for a general audience and modeled after Plato's dialogues. The memoranda is a collection of research materials and historical records. Most of the writings from these two groups have been lost. The third group, the treatises, was written for his classes, to teach his students. They were either lecture notes or textbooks. These treatises were made only for the students and are the only writings that still survive today. Aristotle's early writings showed his admiration for Plato by imitating Plato's style. He wrote in dialogue form and his themes were variations of themes that Plato had developed. Later on, his writings strayed from Platonistic views and they compared concrete fact to the abstract and often clashed with the views of Plato. Two of his most important writings concerning rhetoric are Organon and Rhetoric.
Organon was a collection of papers that included the Categories, the Prior and Posterior Analytics, the Topics, and On Interpretation. The word organon means instrument. In these papers Aristotle investigates thought, which is the...