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A “scientistic” view of language was dominant among philosophers and linguists who affected to develop a scientific analysis of human thought and behavior in the early part of this century. Under the force of this view, it was perhaps inevitable that the art of rhetoric should pass from the status of being regarded as of questionable worth (because although it might be both a source of pleasure and a means to urge people to right action, it might also be a means to distort truth and a source of misguided action) to the status of being wholly condemned. If people are regarded only as machines guided by logic, as they were by these “scientistic” thinkers, rhetoric is likely to be held in low regard; for the most obvious truth about rhetoric is that it speaks to the whole person. It presents its arguments first to the person as a rational being, because persuasive discourse, if honestly conceived, always has a basis in reasoning. Logical argument is the plot, as it were of any speech or essay that is respectfully intended to persuade people. Yet it is a characterizing feature of rhetoric that it goes beyond this and appeals to the parts of our nature that are involved in feeling, desiring, acting, and suffering. It recalls relevant instances of the emotional reactions of people to circumstances—real or fictional—that are similar to our own circumstances. Such is the purpose of both historical accounts and fables in persuasive discourse: they indicate literally or symbolically how people may react emotionally, with hope or fear, to particular circumstances. A speech attempting to persuade people can achieve little unless it takes into account the aspect of their being related to such hopes and fears.

Rhetoric, then, is addressed to human beings living at particular times and in particular places. From the point of view of rhetoric, we are not merely logical thinking machines, creatures abstracted from time and space. The study of rhetoric should therefore be considered the most humanistic of the humanities, since rhetoric is not directed only to our rational selves. It takes into account what the “scientistic” view leaves out. If it is a weakness to harbor feelings, then rhetoric may be thought of as dealing in weakness. But those who reject the idea of rhetoric because they believe it deals in lies and who at the same time hope to move people to action, must either be liars themselves or be very naive; pure logic has never been a motivating force unless it has been subordinated to human purposes, feelings, and desires, and thereby ceased to be pure logic.

(A) It is a sterile, abstract discipline, of little use in real life.

(B) It is an essential element of persuasive discourse, but only one such element.

(C) It is an important means of persuading people to act against their desires.

(D) It is the lowest order of discourse because it is the least imaginative.

(E) It is essential to persuasive discourse because it deals with universal truths.

正确答案: B 耗时:
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