Transformations of Classical Rhetoric in Modern Public Discourse
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Purpose – the purpose of this article was to present the main features of classical rhetoric and to reveal their transformations, focusing, in particular, on Aristotle’s theory of categories of persuasion, an important technique of rhetoric applied in modern public discourse. Design/methodology/approach – the paper is based on scientific literature analysis and comparative analysis of different types of public speeches from ancient times to the present day. Findings – the final thesis of this article states that, although the requirements for public speech have been modified throughout history, the ability to reach rhetorical persuasion depends on the capacity to speak under the canons of classical rhetoric. Moreover, the most effective communication strategy is based on the synthesis of logos, ethos and pathos categories and their application in modern public discourse. Practical implications – the paper reveals several practical implications important for leadership development. Ethical and effective eloquence is the key to leadership, encouraging young members of contemporary society to be equally responsible for preserving common values and overcoming global issues. The modern public discourse demonstrates an obvious tendency towards opposition in speaking and acting processes. This situation is conditioned by an obvious lack of synthesis of the logos, ethos and pathos categories in daily rhetoric activities. Although it is common to speak eloquently and convincingly, spoken words do not always match the actions taken, particularly in political discourse. Therefore, rhetoric values, such as res non verba taken from Antiquity, the cradle of European culture, ought to be included in the education and development system of future leaders. Research limitations/implications – the speakers selected for the scope of this review differ in terms of their intentions, purposes, and types of speeches, i.e. some are informative, while others are emotional or appealing. The difference in structure and type of public speeches limits the scope of the analysis. Moreover, an additional factor of distinct variables has to be taken in consideration analyzing modern public discourse, namely historical period, culture, age, religion, gender and occupation, and, last but not least, the circumstances of a public speech which can all have a negative impact on the evaluation of paper making the analysis superficial and incomplete. Originality/Value – within the great variety of rhetoric theories and conventions, some have been modified over time, although the fundamental ones remain unchanged to this day. This has not, however, reduced the significance of public speaking quite on the contrary public speaking has become a daily activity in everyone’s life. Therefore, Aristotle’s theory of rhetorical categories is an important approach to every public speaker and the most effective strategy leading to rhetorical persuasion. Moreover, the dissemination of rhetoric is promoted by a significant growth of communication throughout the world. Furthermore, stylistics, structural poetics, text linguistics, logic, advertising theory, pedagogy, psychology and other sciences are also based on the research of classical rhetorical traditions and transformations. By comparison, in the context of cultural integration, eloquence and the ability to communicate has become particularly important in social, political, educational or entrepreneurship activities.
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