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Universality, The Art Of Persuasion, Description, History, General Assessment, Bibliography

Rhetoric governs the effective use of verbal and nonverbal communication designed to influence an audience. Understood in its broadest sense, it is practiced more or less deliberately in all societies. Even the animal world seems to apply some of its principles. But in its original and historical form, rhetoric is associated with the use of human discourse to persuade and can be defined as the art of speaking, of speaking well, or of speaking effectively with the aim of persuading. Rhetoric is at once technical, practical, pedagogical, and analytical. It deals with opinions, rather than truths and certitudes, and as such, it can be abused as a means of manipulation.

Since originating in Sicily in the fifth century B.C.E., rhetoric has reflected a keen awareness of all the conditions that, taken together, influence an audience in one way or another. Rhetoric has established itself as a systematic and exhaustive synthesis of all the human sciences, as they are called, and of all practices from which it can draw a benefit, from philosophy to psychology, linguistics to literary theory, and anthropology to sociology. What is specific to rhetorical synthesis and what gives it its universal validity is its transdisciplinary dimension. Rhetoric is an art of synthesis that controls a series of approaches, which together—and only together—contribute toward bringing about the desired effect.

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