Aristotle, and W. Rhys Roberts. Rhetoric. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2004. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Book I, chapter 2
Aristotle now moves to systematic principles of rhetoric, beginning with a definition. “Rhetoric may be defined as the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion” (Aristotle I.2, B. 1355b). He distinguishes between spoken persuasion and non-verbal persuasion, such as torture, written documents, and the like. In spoken persuasion, three essential elements are the speaker’s character, the modification of the audience’s mindset, and the “proof, or apparent proof” (Aristotle I.2, B. 1356a) provided. Persuasion, then, is not based entirely on facts but often on the presentation of information. The information being presented may be inductive, as in a case study, or it may be an enthymeme, the term Aristotle uses to be a synonym for syllogism in the discipline of dialectic (Aristotle I.2, B. 1356b).
It is important to realize that not every step of an argument will necessarily be proven. Aristotle points out (Aristotle I.2, B.1357a) that there are some pieces of common knowledge which do not need to be deliberated and that in many arguments the steps are not necessarily true, but only probably true. This is a distinction between rhetoric and dialectic. In a study of dialectic the conclusion must be necessary. In rhetoric, it need only be reasonably probable.
Aristotle closes the chapter by discussing the fact that general arguments ultimately become distanced from very specific disciplines. There are basic lines of argument which apply to universals. Those are the realm of dialectic and rhetoric. When moving into the specific minutiae of a particular discipline the general arguments may become less relevant (Aristotle I.2, B.1358a).