Eugene Carver looks at the ways Aristotle presented a modest rhetoric. First of all, he points out that Aristotle considered rhetoric to be easy and not type of specialized knowledge. Further, Aristotle did not consider rhetoric to be an episteme or a way to get new knowledge. Thus, rhetoric was not a way to get wisdom. Carver claims that Aristotle was too modest because there is evidence that rhetoric can be a type of wisdom, because a specialist can use rhetoric to persuade his audience of the truth of his argument. However, this is one reason Aristotle cautions against professionalism. In Aristotle’s view, rhetoric needs to be an end in itself and that rhetoric which is the result of competition or performance is suspect. In other words, “eloquence makes for bad citizens.” He points out the Sophists married charm and style with rhetoric and tends to act as if they know something because of their external motives. This zeal to win seen in sophistry is problematic. Later on, Cicero would try to unite wisdom with eloquence through rhetoric; however, Aristotle disagreed with this because rhetoric was supposed to be universal and not the domain of any specialist. In addition, this view suggests that when rhetoric reveals scientific principles, it then becomes science. Aristotle provides a very narrow definition of rhetoric in terms of rhetoric being only the discovery of the different means of persuasion. In contrast, the sophist can’t stop at this, but must try to persuade. One of the consequences of this view is the assertion that if the rhetor has knowledge that the audience doesn’t, the relationship becomes unequal. Aristotle wants the rhetor to be one with the audience without any ulterior motive outside of presenting the best argument for the best end. Thus, the deliberative view, in which the audience makes judgments about the facts presented them by a credible speaking, is considered to be the best medium for this type of rhetoric. Aristotle’s modest understanding of rhetoric brings up the Q question that Richard Lanham points out, whether, as Quintilian points out, virtue can be taught by rhetoric.
Schnakenberg examines why classical rhetoric has had little influence on 1950-1960s writing instruction. In her view, the emphasis on practice during that time wasn’t compatible with the view that rhetoric wasn’t practical. This was reinforced with the fact that rhetorical scholarship wasn’t present in textbooks. Textbooks don’t propagate change, which meant that they didn’t reflect in an interest in classical rhetoric as seen in scholarship. When rhetoric was introduced, as in Richard Weaver’s textbook, the result was a focus on modes only. Argumentation was virtually ignored. Weaver further argued that philosophy secures truth while rhetoric presents it, further supporting the focus on rhetoric as patterns of discourse. This perspective supported the current-traditional practice of teaching modes of writing. Later on, Corbett introduced the most widely adapted textbook based on classical rhetoric and Aristotle was the central figure in the text. He moved towards an emphasis on the different appeals by looking at how central probability was, specifically moving away from the modal approach. He further argued that it was okay to be moved through emotional appeal, rather than just logic or reason as earlier argued, through being influenced by expressivist philosophies of Whately and Campbell. One limit of Corbett’s perspective is that he discusses very little of the role of audience and his pedagogy was mostly dependant on his presentation of Aristotle only. Further, Corbett was still influenced by current-traditional perspectives.