Augustine Rhetoric Summary

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Augustine Rhetoric Augustine of Hippo has long been recognized as an important figure in the history of rhetoric. Some scholars believe that without his influence, rhetoric, the central study in the Roman educational system, might not have survived into the Christian era. Certainly the fact that the most influential theologian of the time had been a professor of rhetoric meant that someone who really knew what was at stake came to guide the thought of his day. Disillusioned though he was with the rhetorical practice of his own time − the self-serving rhetoric of display practised by the orators of the second sophistic period − Augustine yet knew what the value of rhetoric was. His famous defence of rhetoric in On Christian…show more content…
A certain amount of commonality is a prerequisite if communication is to happen: we must share a time, a place, and a medium, such as language, or find techniques for overcoming the problems imposed by the lack of such sharing For example, writing (and today electronic technology) overcomes barriers of time and place, translation overcomes barriers of medium. But if there were complete commonality, there would be no need to communicate. It is because we are partially divided from one another that communication is necessary; it is because we are partially united that it is possible. He calls this situation the invitation to rhetoric; and the object, the purpose, of rhetoric is to bring about a greater degree of unity, or, as he calls it, identification. One of the features of this theory is that it typically perceives communication as taking place most effectively when the power is most evenly distributed between the source and the recipient. That Burke=s theory connects with Augustine=s is no accident: Burke was himself a student of Augustine and his The Rhetoric of Religion draws upon Augustine=s work. The theological nature of his theory of Identification is apparent in his alternative term for it: Consubstantiality.12 He does not, so far as I know, specifically attribute this theory to the influence of Augustine, but for anyone familiar with the work of both, that influence strongly suggests
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