He restricted rhetoric to the domain of the contingent or probable: those matters that admit multiple legitimate opinions or arguments.
The contemporary neo-Aristotelian and neo-Sophistic positions on rhetoric mirror the division between the Sophists and Aristotle.
Painting depicting a lecture in a knight academy, painted by Pieter Isaacsz or Reinhold Timm for Rosenborg Castle as part of a series of seven paintings depicting the seven independent arts. Rhetoric is the art of discourse, wherein a writer or speaker strives to inform, persuade or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the European tradition.
Rhetoric typically provides heuristics for understanding, discovering, and developing arguments for particular situations, such as Aristotle's three persuasive audience appeals, logos, pathos, and ethos.
In "Gorgias," one of his Socratic Dialogues, Plato defines rhetoric as the persuasion of ignorant masses within the courts and assemblies.
Among the many scholars who have since pursued Burke's line of thought, James Boyd White sees rhetoric as a broader domain of social experience in his notion of constitutive rhetoric.Simultaneously, the neo-Sophists threaten to expand rhetoric beyond a point of coherent theoretical value.Over the past century, people studying rhetoric have tended to enlarge its object domain beyond speech texts.Yet, even as he provided order to existing rhetorical theories, Aristotle extended the definition of rhetoric, calling it the ability to identify the appropriate means of persuasion in a given situation, thereby making rhetoric applicable to all fields, not just politics.When one considers that rhetoric included torture (in the sense that the practice of torture is a form of persuasion or coercion), it is clear that rhetoric cannot be viewed only in academic terms.