chapter  5
42 Pages

Rhetorical education: Topoi, stases, li, and yue

I have discussed so far that, to both Aristotle and Confucius, rhetorical thinking functions mainly in the non-dualistic or relational realm between permanence and chance; furthermore, the differences between the two rhetorics are in emphasis but also important. Aristotle and Confucius both deem probable knowledge, eikos-dao, important to seeking the truths of things, noesis-tian. Both reason enthymematically, inductively as well as deductively, multi-directionally as well as linearly, with the characteristic of epieikeia-ren and in the kairic moments of yi. The differences between the two rhetorics are in emphasis but also important. Aristotle emphasizes progressive clarity and Confucius emphasizes deferential relations. While Aristotle highlights the deductive aspect of the rhetorical invention of probable knowledge in his description of the enthymeme, Confucius focuses on the inductive aspect of it in his teaching of ren-the-equitable. These differences shape the different cultural ethos of clarity or resilience, confidence or disequilibrium. Even though the ultimate metaphors of truths as the form and as the way are both relational, Aristotle and Confucius differ in the emphasis on the mean or on the yinyang, ideals that are a kind of intermediate that is an extreme and is simply right or that are a kind of movement that is closer now to one extreme, now to the other. In short, the similarities between Aristotle’s and Confucius’ rhetorical thinking are profound, but the differences between the two are also meaningful. To help foster better understanding and communication between the two cultures informed by these two kinds of rhetorical thinking, comparative rhetoricians will do better by refraining from drawing hasty and overgeneralized conclusions and by attending to the multifaceted and significant nuances of detail within as well as between the two kinds of rhetorical thinking.