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Rhetoric is the ”language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect, but which is often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.” This can be used both in writing & speaking, more so in public speaking. Content plays a minimal role in rhetorical public speaking. It is generally presumed that the political discourse heavily relies on this form. Audience is left with no takeaways or learnings. * He has only a heart full of sentiments to carry home.* Rationale & logic are the losers. Rhetoric can play a hypnotic role on the uninitiated.

The lesser the clarity of purpose and conviction, the more is the likelihood of using this form of speech. The beauty is that is is bereft of preparation yet extracts more than its pound of flesh. Election speeches & religious discourses of various types falls in this category. Economic & social thought sans logic & research also work on the same logic. The urgency to sway the audiences necessitates the speakers to practice this style. Its success is directly proportional to low level of education, skills & competencies of the audience.

Aristotle calls it, ”the faculty of observing in any case the available means of persuasion.” An art as old as the humans. The art of philosophising is an excellent strand of this line of thought. Societal benefits at the abstract level provides the meat for this argument. Stuffed with oratorical skills, there is nothing to percolate down.

Give it a thought as to what percentage of our talk shows & social media inputs fall in this category? The neatly calibrated motivational pronouncements also fall in this category. The ultimate touchstone is the lack of potential to make change. It’s a make believe world & its practitioners feel, so should it be. To elevate a society addicted to this form of speech & writing needs a long protracted war. A war against superstition, hearsay & blasphemy. The antithesis of rational thinking & action, based on empirical thought, objective research and data driven mind, may be in the making.


Sanjay Sahay

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