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ENGL / COMM 4103: Rhetoric & Persuasion. Francis Bacon: Rhetoric & Empiricism. Glenn: Renaissance Women’s Rhetoric. “Rhetoric, in the most traditional sense, remained the province of men, the product of teaching and practice, a means of achievement and power” (Glenn 141).

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Engl comm 4103 rhetoric persuasion

ENGL / COMM 4103:Rhetoric & Persuasion

Francis Bacon: Rhetoric & Empiricism

Glenn renaissance women s rhetoric
Glenn: Renaissance Women’s Rhetoric

“Rhetoric, in the most traditional sense, remained the province of men, the product of teaching and practice, a means of achievement and power” (Glenn 141).

Observations from rhetoric retold
Observations from Rhetoric Retold

  • Renaissance women continued to have little power.

    • “By marriage, the husband and wife became one person in law—and that person was the husband” (Stone qtd. in Glenn 121).

    • Exceptional women were mostly aristocratic:

      • Queen Elizabeth I:

        • “Superbly educated . . . accomplished and prolific in rhetoric and poetics” (118).

      • The Tudor Women:

        • Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Parr, and Lady Jane Grey all demonstrated exceptional educations and awareness of rhetorical theory and practice (129 – 131)

Observations from rhetoric retold1
Observations from Rhetoric Retold

  • English Rhetoric:

    • Leonard Cox, The Art or Crafte of Rhetoryke(1530)

      • First systematic English version of a Ciceronian approach to invention (Glenn 139)

    • Thomas Wilson, Arte of Rhetorique (1553)

      • First complete English version of a full Ciceronian rhetoric (139).

    • Style, persuasion, and poetics:

      • During the Renaissance, English rhetoric became closely associated with poetry and style:

        • “The English language must be elevated, beautiful, and rhythmic to be memorable and persuasive” (140)


  • Reaction to both Scholasticism and Classicism:

    • Rejected the closed and often useless Scholastic emphasis on precise definition and syllogistic logic.

    • Rejected much accepted Classical scientific knowledge:

      • Scientific knowledge should be primarily based on repeated observation.

      • The deductive process – moving from general assumptions to specific conclusions – was flawed in regard to scientific enquiry.

  • Empiricism and the Individual:

    • Empiricism emphasized the individual’s ability to accurately observe, record, and interpret natural phenomena.

Empirical bacon
Empirical Bacon

For Bacon, the discovery of a New World . . . Demanded a corresponding discovery of a new mental world in which old patterns of thinking, traditional prejudices, subjective distortions, verbal confusions, and general intellectual blindness would be overcome by a new method of acquiring knowledge. This method was to be fundamentally empirical. (Tarnas 272)

Francis bacon empiricism
Francis Bacon & Empiricism

  • Bacon’s Empirical Approach:

    • Theological:

      • Science as “the material and human counterpart to God’s plan of spiritual salvation. Man was created by God to interpret and hold dominion over nature . . . Science was therefore his religious obligation” (Tarnas 273).

    • Philosophical:

      • Bacon felt it was necessary to rigorously question and often reject received philosophical foundations for human knowledge:

        • “To fill the world with assumed final causes, as did Aristotle, or with intelligible divine essences, as did Plato, was to obscure from man a genuine understanding of nature on its own terms” (Tarnas 273).

        • “The true philosopher directly approached the real world and studied it, without falsely anticipating and prejudicing the outcome” (Tarnas 273).

        • “The Aristotelian search for formal and final causes . . . [was] just [a] distortion, deceptively attractive to the emotionally tainted intellect” (Tarnas 274).

Francis bacon psychology
Francis Bacon & Psychology

  • Faculty Psychology

    • Faculty psychology, as developed by Bacon, was the dominant understanding of the psyche for three centuries (Bizzell and Herzberg 737).

    • Faculty psychology is the belief that all people are endowed with certain mental faculties:

      • Bacon cites three faculties:

        • Reason, memory, and imagination (and two others: appetite and the will)

      • All people possess each of the faculties in varying degrees.

        • The faculties can be developed through education and practice.

    • Preview!

      • Later iterations of faculty psychology (in the 18th century) focus on the faculties of judgment and taste.

The four intellectual arts
The Four Intellectual Arts

  • Bacon divides intellectual activity into four “arts”:

    • Invention

      • Aristotelian: “To draw forth or call before us that which may be pertinent to the purpose which we take into our consideration” (740)

    • Judgment

      • Deduction is ok, but is often flawed and pointless.

      • Induction is the way to go!

    • Memory

      • Systems of memorization are usually cumbersome and ridiculous.

      • Prenotion:

        • Mental systems for organizing memories.

      • Emblem:

        • Visual mnemonic devices.

    • Delivery

      • Oral or written; rhetoric a must here.

Bacon s four idols
Bacon’s “Four Idols”

  • Bacon described four major impediments to human understanding and knowledge:

    • Idols of the Tribe

      • Human nature.

    • Idols of the Cave

      • Individual idiosyncracies.

    • Idols of the Marketplace

      • Human communication.

    • Idols of the Theatre

      • Flawed philosophical systems

Bacon s definition of rhetoric
Bacon’s Definition of Rhetoric:

“The duty and office of Rhetoric is to apply Reason to Imagination for the better moving of the will” (743).

Bacon and rhetoric
Bacon and Rhetoric

  • Two part focus:

    • The application of reason to human emotion to produce an effect.

      • Rhetoric “links morality and reason” (Bizzell and Herzberg 738).

      • “Logic handleth reason exact and in truth, and Rhetoric handleth it as it is planted in popular opinions and manners” (Bacon 744).

      • Rhetoric is, in this sense, applied philosophy.

      • Bacon’s defense of rhetoric:

        • “Rhetoric can be no more charged with the colouring of the worse part, than Logic with Sophistry, or Morality with Vice” (Bacon 743).

Bacon and rhetoric1
Bacon and Rhetoric

  • To combat the effects of the Idols of the Marketplace.

    • The problem:

      • “The ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obstructs the understanding” (Bacon 746)

      • Definitions do not necessarily help alleviate the confusion (746).

      • “But words plainly force and over-rule the understanding , and throw all into confusion, and lead men away into numberless empty controversies and idle fancies” (746)

    • The solution:

      • A scientific approach to language:

        • Observation, observation, observation, all of which leads to

        • General conclusions about the nature of words and language (Popkin 331).

      • Knowledge (of rhetoric) is power.