Some notes of Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca from Contemporary Perspective on Rhetoric

Perelman’s educational and academic background shed a light on his core of the new rhetoric theory, which is how speakers deliver his own axiology to the audience. Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca think the method by rhetoric is better than by logic. In order to elaborate this belief, they distinguished the argumentation and demonstration first. The whole new rhetoric is the art of argumentation.

 The distinction between argumentation and demonstration

As far as I read the Contemporary textbook, it is my understanding that the most significant distinction between argumentation and demonstration is subjective verse objective. I think argumentation is the personal process that the speakers aim at striking a chord with the audiences by using some reasonable human language. The reasonable means some common sense and practical argumentation. On the other hand, the demonstration is pure reasoning, and the aim of which doesn’t lie in the interaction with the audiences but using some rational and logical techniques or mathematical languages.   

 Perelman’s claim on argumentation and Burke’s theory on identification have something in common; both of them stress the interaction between the audiences and the speaker. Burke argues the effect of argumentation will strengthen by certain tie by sharing the commons. Argumentation from Perelman’s theory highlights speakers sharing the common premise with the audience.

 By distinguishing the argumentation and demonstration, Fosses continue their argument that the aim of argumentation is not “to prove truth of the conclusion from premise, but to transfer to the conclusion the adherence accorded to the premise.” (P90) Speakers tried to persuade the audience accept the premise and then give the nod to the conclusion.

 Then as we have discussed in the class, clear and precise techniques of argumentation are put forward.


1. Perelman and Olberechts-tyteca’s method is followed German logician Gottlob Frege. (PP85)

2. Aristotle divided rhetoric into forensic, deliberative, and epideictic oratory. (P85) Deliberative and forensic speaking is concerned with matters of policy and fact, epideictic oratory is concerned with matters of value. (P86) How can we evaluate the epideictic oratory?



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