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Cognitive Rhetoric 2.1. Background; classical rhetoric; Aristotle 2.2.Types of rhetoric 2.3.Cognitive rhetoric 2.4.

Cognitive rhetoric and critical thinking 2.5. Overview 2.1. Background; Classical Rhetoric; Aristotle A good precedent of Aristotles (Art of) Rhetoric (in three books) is Isocrates Against the Sophists, the opening declaration of his School of Rhetoric; however, the major sources in the field also include Aristotles exact contemporary Demosthenes (384-322), other authors writing in the peripathetic tradition, and then the famous speeches and writings of the Roman teachers of rhetoric Cicero (106-43) and Quintillian (30?-?AD); all these form the essential basis and framework for all subsequent contributions in the field. Classical rhetoric divides communication into three main componentsspeaker, message, and audienceto which a fourth one is immediately added, i.e. the context, with two main concerns, the place in which the message was hear or seen and the purpose of this message. As far as the speaker is concerned, classical theory finds that his/her character is absolutely important, i.e. whether he is known to the audience, whether he is reliable or trustworthy (compare with Wayne C. Booths reliable and unreliable narrators in his Rhetoric of Fiction, 1961); both Aristotle and Quintillian emphasize that speakers should make sure that they seem polite, friendly, and well-disposed to the audience, that they should demonstrate common sense and good judgment, plus a spotless moral reputation. This character and disposition of the speaker should be favourably reflected on the ways in which the message is composed, in both its content and style; the message should also suit appropriately the audience, the place, and the purpose of the discourse; the precalculated effect will be produced only it the delivery is well organized and controlled from all points of view (images, turns of phrase, facial expression, gestures, etc). In so far as the message itself is concerned, ancient rhetoric and its many followers, down to modern semiotics, seems to have taken for granted that a common code for communication is the latters necessary and sufficient condition, since it assures an initial process o f encoding performed by the speaker and a final process of decoding carried by the audience. But it has gradually become obvious that human languages are extremely rich codes, so that a number of implications occur: (a) the same message can be encoded in two or several different ways: (b) a message encoded in some way can be decoded in another way; (c) the coded, very frequently, can communicate more that is actually encoded; (d) there always is the possibility of paraphrase or translation in the general meaning of the word This will form the basis of much work in contemporary cognitive rhetoric, which no longer views the coded communication of a well-defined paraphrasable meaning as the norm, but rather treats it as a never-encountered theoretical limit (Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson among others); paraphrasable and unparaphrasable effects are no longer treated as a departure from the norm (consider here the ways in which cognitive stylistics departs from traditional stylistics), but are treated as normal communication. Thus, Sperber, Wilson and

others define communication as a more or less controlled modification of the mental landscape, of the cognitive environment of the receiver by the sender rather than as a process of meaning being reproduced from the communicators into the audiences head. We will probably have to return to these aspects. The audience is far from being an inert participant, and the speaker, in order to communicate successfully, effectively, has to know his audience, its interests, and expectations, its intellectual level, its moral and social concerns and so on; the formulation of the message, how you encode and transmit it are fundamentally determined by the kind of audience you address. The message design also depends on the place where the communicative event takes place; this is true for both oral (meeting room, amphitheatre, open space, large building) and written (magazine or newspaper, book, bulletin board, computer screen) messages; in other works, the content, style and form of presentation depend very much on the cultural context in which the communication takes place. Classical rhetoric advised classical speakers to have a clear, definite, practical purpose in mind, i.e. to know exactly what they were trying to achieve; moreover, that purpose should not be lost sight and control of throughout the presentation, from beginning to end. Aristotle himself dies not really have a consistent definition of rhetoric, since in his theory of the persuasive he seems more interested in applying numerous concepts and arguments coming from his ethical, psychological, and especially logical writings; thus, at the very beginning of Book I he mostly attempts to situate rhetoric in relation with dialectics, with which it has several common features; both are concerned with both sides of an opposition, rely on the same theory and practice of induction and deduction, both apply the so-called topoi a.s.o. Hence also our impulse of dedicating a section to the relationship between rhetoric and critical thinking. There are, however, significant differences between the two disciplines; while rhetoric can be used in practical and public matters, dialectic can be applied to absolutely anything; rhetoric is concerned with particular topics (about which we cannot gain general knowledge), while dialectic is concerned only with general questions; as distinct from dialectic, rhetoric can and does use non-argumentative means of persuasion (Aristotles rhetorician is one who is always able to see w hatever element that is persuasive) As a matter of fact, even though he never puts it in these words, Aristotles rhetoric is the art/techne of identifying and applying in any given situation the most likely means of persuasion. Consistently enough, even though classical rhetoric tended to emphasize the relevance of pathos in the process of persuasion, Aristotle insisted on all the three components, ethos, logos, and pathos, and particularly on logos, itself underlined by taxis, i.e. the configuration, ordering, and structuring of the discourse; the good rhetorician is primarily an expert in syllogisms. While the ethos and the pathos are constructed by the discourse itself and are shaped during the evolution of the discourse (are internal to it), the logos grows out of argumentation. Consequently, three technical means of persuasion are possible, having their origin, as already suggested, (a) in the character of the speaker, (b) in the (emotional) state of the audience, and (c) in the logos or argument itself. The speaker must appear as reliable or credible by displaying practical intelligence (pragmatics), a virtuous character, a good will. The tricky point here (which, again, will be taken up by cognitive rhetoric) is that the

speaker does not actually have to be virtuous, but must appear so through what he says; conversely, a pre-existing good character does not guarantee a good rhetorician. Finally, the mood of the audience (very much like the jury in a court of law) depends a lot on how the orator can arouse emotions, can motivate them and, ultimately, make them better persons. The third component, however, the argument or logos is the most powerful means of persuasion, through either induction (proceeding from particularsexamplesto the general or universal), and deduction or sullogismos (general suppositions the results of which point to individual cases); the deduction in dialectics has its form in rhetoric as the enthymeme: the inference from premises to a conclusion is guaranteed by premises alone (sayings, short arguments based upon a contradiction or paradox, even proverbs). Many enthymemes fall under the heading of a topos (place, location) and form thus an argumentative scheme based upon the memorization of a number of items by associating them with successive places (the mere mention of a place makes us recall things/elements/enthymemes). Aristotelian rhetoric and its long following contains quite a number of other technical elements, but we can sum up by evaluating briefly what the old master has achieved: he himself concedes that his art of rhetoric can be misused, i.e. even though it may look as a mental tool, rhetoric can be used by all sorts of persons (politicians included), for both good and bad purposes; on the other hand, it could be objected here that rhetoric seems to be useful only for those who intend to conceal their real aims (why would one need rhetorical tools instead of being straightforward and tell the truth?). Aristotles point of view here is that affecting the decisions of an audience (a jury or an assembly, for instance) is a matter of persuasiveness, and not simply of knowledge; what is just and true does not always appear as such to each and every one; Aristotles people have a natural disposition for the true, just as there also exists a gap between commonly held opinions and what is true, and this gap can be bridged because of a fundamental affinity between the persuasive and the true, between rhetoric, therefore, and dialectic, or rhetoric and critical thinking. 2.2. Types of Rhetoric In spite of the long line of Aristotelian followers for many centuries, rhetoric came quite soon to be regarded as the rival of logic and also fell into a field of study that brought it closer to literary study, whence, for instance, the development of such approaches as rhetorical literary criticism or the commonly accepted synonymy between rhetorical figures and literary figures of speech. An important shift occurred between the Renaissance and Enlightenment (17 th and 18th centuries)including the Ramist revolutionwhen a difference came to be noted between the cognitive and performative modalities of language, or between language as a referential code and language as a phenomenon of code; the sciences of the language fall more and more under the rubric of dialectics and the cognitive modalities of this complex code are emphasized; language is no longer a reflection or a sum of signifiers, but it can, by itself, give access to knowledge of the outside world; this revolution may also be regarded as the dawn of modernism. A couple of centuries later, someone like James Berlin was to distinguish among types of rhetoric according to where the real is located in each of them: if the real is located in the

self, the rhetoric is expressionistic; knowledge is a matter of discovering and expressing the self and represents essentially a personal vision (from Plato to Berkeley, Hume and Freud); language is thus a transparent medium through which both the sender and the receiver get a version of the real; passively accepting ideology, expressionistic rhetoric implies that knowledge varies from individual to individual, though there may be a certain amount of general knowledge common to all members of a community; there is one more connection here, coming from the fact that as it emphasizes on individualism, expressionistic rhetoric can be used to promote the principles and values of capitalism. If knowledge is thought to be constructed socially and it is the product of the dialectic between individual and community as inscribed in the language, then the rhetoric is socialepistemic; social-epistemic rhetoric consequently claims ideology as its own and also claims that, being generated by a society through language, an alteration of the language has as its effect an alteration of the society, and this type of rhetoric can be used for that purpose; it looks like a new version of the structure of rhetorical revolutions, by which a change in the dominant rhetorical theory produces a change in society; this may have as an implication the subordination of writing to reading on one hand, or of regarding the audience as the equivalent of an ideological text that can itself be read and analyzed; finally, socialepistemic rhetoric may be seen as producing audiences prepared to question and subvert the dominant mainstream ideology. If the real is located in the material world, the type of rhetoric we are having is cognitive, which again obviously assumes that language is a transparent medium; it is produced by late capitalism in the late 20th century, and its practitioners are thus shaped as to maintain the existing economic, social, and political conditions. From a different point of view, that sends us back to the Aristotelian dilemma, there is a type of pragma-rhetoric, that takes logic as the ground in discourse construction; it distinguishes and combines at the same time the communicative with the persuasive intention, both logos and ethos therefore. 2.3. Cognitive Rhetoric Again in the Aristotelian vein, cognitive rhetoric combines basic intentional components with emotive components or other psychological aspects involved in the communication between speaker and hearer; now the roles of sender and receiver change alternatively in the production of discourses (see literatures the author is dead or the various aspects of reception theories and types of discourse analyses). It seems obviousat least from our explorations this farthat cognitive rhetoric is the heir of traditional rhetoric. Cognitive rhetoric basically focuses on the composing process (thus, especially in writing) and the psychological implications involved, the mind being studies as a set of structures and processes performing in a rational manner; consequently, the process of education forms an important part of the research efforts. Truth being impossible without language, one of the assumptions is that the writer must considervery much like the old rhetoricianthe role of the discourse and of the audience in making meaning, but also that of society by and large. Another assumption is that everything is a text and each text represents cultural codes that, in turn, represent hierarchies, which a good thinker (a critical one), a good writer or a good citizen has to question; one has to think critically (see next section) about all this variety of texts around us, about who produces them, and by resisting these cultural

codes we can effect changes in the culture we share; thus (James Berlin) rhetoric becomes a political act, which is different from the fact that rhetoric is used in politics; once again, in cognitive rhetoric, knowledge is the result of a dialectic that involves observer, material conditions, and discourse community. Since our main purpose is not a consistent presentation of cognitive rhetoric, but rather its inclusion in the larger set of disciplines known as cognitivism, we may confine ourselves to listing Dan Sperbers nine conditions from his 1975 Rudiments of Cognitive Rhetoric; they also are part of a larger project defined as a cognitive approach to verbal communication known as Relevance Theory. His central concept is that of cognitive environmentthe mental landscape/brainscape?/ in the addressees head modified as a result of the communication process controlled, to some extent at least, by the addresser. The essential move here is from considering denotation and connotation, or, closer to the issue, meaning and rhetorical effects, to including both under the concept of cognitive effects. As a result, inference plays an important role; instead of the audience adopting the decoded meaning patterns as thoughts of their own, comprehension is achieved through inferential processes that exploit largely unconscious processes for evidence; so the processor of any given piece of information obtains a relevance of its cognitive effect that is an inverse proportion with the effort involved in the processing; the greater the conscious effort, the lesser the relevance for the processor. The principle of relevance consists in the fact that any utterance conveys simultaneously the presumption of its own relevance; otherwise, the listener does not pay attention, and this type of rhetoric is based on how to claim someones attention. The listener is presumed to attempt to identify the effects the speaker could have anticipated and thus the relevance is guaranteed. Only intended effects (compare with Wimsatt and Beardsleys intentional fallacy in literary studies) are considered to make the message adequately relevant to the audience; if a presumption of relevance is communicated then the interpretation is consistent with the principle of relevance, the guiding criterion in the comprehension process; in other words, no interest in the process, no communication takes place. And in Aristotles words, his might mean knowing what you audiences expectations are. But here are Sperbers conditions (translated by Sarah Cummins) that have to be met in order for the speaker to be able to make his point: 1. There exists a conceptual representation of the utterance such that the proposition expressed by the utterance is in the restricted field of relevance (the audience knows and understands what the communicator is talking/writing about; one does not go to listen to a lecture in genetics or watch a TV commentary on rhetoric unless one has some interest in one or another of the topics and also has some background knowledge to go with it. 2. The proposition uttered is neither too informative (the knowledgeable receiver might feel insulted, or take it as a waste of time)nor too uninformative (assuming a higher level of cognition than the case really is, for instance); it is maximally relevant (in that it contains both sufficient information and its relevance as well). 3. The linguistically determined focus ranking (the accessibility of the vocabulary and the organization of the discourse) of the entailments of the proposition corresponds to their degree of relevance (whatever connotations the proposition might have are accessible to the listener).

4. An implicature is not more relevant that the relevance that implicates it (an utterance may have propositional implicatures as well as lexical or sub-porpositional implicatures that Sperber calls gaps-ellipses, semantic anomalies or contra dictions; what is not explicit requires from the hearer to invent and add constituents in order to (re)construct the sentence, and the relevance is the same). 5. The complete interpretation of an utterance with a gap must maintain the logical functions expressed syntactically in the utterance (gaps cannot and should not be filled at random or, more interestingly, according to anything like wishful thinking; in other words, the gap should really belong to the utterance). 6. In a gapped utterance, the omitted element fills a function which, on the basis of mobilized shared knowledge, can be filled only by conceptually equivalent constituents, so that Conditions I-III are met (when the speaker is too uninformativecondition IIand has not uttered the most relevant proposition of the conceptual representation he wished to convey, then the shared knowledge conditions I and IIIdoes not allow the gap to be unequivocally filled). 7. An utterance takes on a figural value when mobilized shared knowledge is insufficient to assign to it a conceptual representation in accordance with Conditions I-VI and this deficiency is not attributed to the speakers incompetence or recalcitrance (literature is the best case in point here: the figural value may be attributed to the speakers intention, but may also be the result of other factors, such as the evolution of the language outside the respective text, the complexity of the readers capabilities of association or interpretation, the presence of an unusual cultural context). 8. When an utterance takes on a figural value, the unsatisfied condition responsible for its figural character is focalized; evocation is used to restore the condition and thereby correct the initial conceptual representation (a second reading of the text or of the recordingwill allow the receiver to realize how the evoked knowledge could be invoked; any second reading of a complex literary text will reveal aspects that even the most attentive reader missed the first time). 9. When an utterance has received a symbolic interpretation under Conditions 7 and 8, the utterance act itself is symbolically interpreted. Attention is focused on the inadequacy of shared knowledge and a second evocation attempts to reconstruct the conditions under which the first evocation would have been superfluous that is, the conditions under which the information that was first evoked could have instead been invoked (Hamlets staging of a play that is a figuration of the play he is a hero of). Sperbers conclusion refers specifically to this ninth condition; /I/f there is a difference, it is not between different types of discourse but between different levels of conceptual representation. The figure is not in the text and is not a function of the text alone. It resides in the conceptual representation of the text and is a function of both the text and shared knowledge. Rhetoricians may debate whether, alongside phonological, syntactic, and semantic figures, there also exist figures of thought. I have tried to suggest that there are only figures of thought, /see George Lakoff and Mark Johnson/ for which phonological, syntactic, and semantic properties may play the role of

additional focalizers, neither sufficient nor necessary, that trigger the mechanism of figural interpretation. (Rudiments de rhetorique cognitive, in Poetique, 23, pp.414-415) His later commentary (2006when Sarah Cummins translated it for Rhetoric Society Quarterly) contains an even more relevant conclusion, namely that the use of figures of speech evokes ideas nut just about the topic of the utterance, but also about the shared background knowledge (i.e. a certain culture) of the ones involved in the communication process. Having mentioned Lakoff and Johnson, let us also remind contributions coming from Mark Turner, who, alongside research done by Eve Sweetser, Vera Tobin, Manuel Imaz, David Benyon, Sean McAlister or Margaret Freeman focused on conceptual blending a process of conceptual mapping and integration that pervades human thought; there are mental spaces, which can be arrayed in mental space networks, which, in their turn, can become conceptual space networks that contain several blended mental spaces; this theory of conceptual blending has been applied in almost all types of cognitive disciplines, including cognitive rhetoric; since many of the elements, methods, and principles come from neuroscience and artificial intelligence, we shall leave it at that here. 2.4. Cognitive Rhetoric and Critical Thinking Since everything may be regarded as a text (because truth is impossible without language) and texts contain cultural codes that represent hierarchies, questioning these hierarchies can be done by questioning all these texts (see supra); and this is critical thinking, since this is a process of thinking critically about texts around us and who produces them; change in the culture around us can be effected through such knowledge of the texts, and knowledge may be regarded as the result of the dialectic involving observer, the discourse community and the material conditions of existence; people learn to think critically by deconstructing written and nonwritten texts, by dissecting the language as it is used culturally, i.e. politically, socially, stylistically Thus, very much like rhetoric and cognitive rhetoric, critical thinking has a seminal importance in education and so it would not be too much to quote at length from The Delphi Report put together by Peter A. Facione and forty-six co-workers in 1998: We understand critical thinking to be purposeful, self/regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based. Critical thinking is essential as a tool of inquiry. As such, critical thinking is a liberating force in education and a powerful resource in ones civic and personal life. While not synonymous with good thinking, critical thinking is a pervasive and self-rectifying human phenomenon. The ideal critical thinker is habitually inquisitive, well-informed, trustful of reason, open-minded, flexible, fair-minded in evaluation, honest in facing personal biases, prudent in making judgments, willing to consider, clear about issues, orderly in complex matters, diligent in seeking relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria, focused in inquiry, and persistent in seeking results which are as precise as the subject and circumstance of inquiry permit. Thus, educating good critical

thinkers means working towards this ideal. It combines developing critical thinking skills with nurturing those dispositions which consistently yield useful insights and which are the basis of a rational and democratic society. (Internet source) It is easy to notice that cognitive rhetoric has its origin in many of these aspects of critical thinking; if rhetoric consists in ways in which arguments are put together to persuade, critical thinking is fundamentally based upon arguments, whether deductive or inductive; consequently, critical thinking fallacies (argumentum ad hominem, ad verecundiam, ad antiquitatem/novitiatem, ad baculum, ad misericordiam, ad populum, ad numerum, ad ignoratiam, petitio principii and the rest) are rhetorical fallacies. Moreover, in view of the assumption that most things can be viewed as texts, critical thinking asks the same questions as rhetoric: what is the purpose of the text? What is the author trying to accomplish? What issues or problems are raised? What evidence is given? Is it perspective justified? Similarly, critical thinking involves all the processes of rhetoric; logical thinking and reasoning based on such skills as comparison, classification, sequencing, cause and effect, patterning, webbing, analogies, forecasting, planning, hypothesizing, and, obviously, critiquing. Overview With critical thinking as its foundation and rhetorical principles, processes, and methods elaborated along a history of at least twenty-five hundred years, cognitive rhetoric comes, at the beginning of this century with a number of changes of emphasis and a few theoretical developments. Side by side with social epistemic rhetoric, expressionistic rhetoric and pragma-rhetoric more recently, cognitive rhetoric evolved as an interdisciplinary discipline (dialectic, psychology, theory of argumentation) with important implications in educational practice; intentionalism and relevance are, most likely, its main claims to some originality within a long and complex tradition.