Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week 6: Rhetoric and Persuasion

Images can act as a stimulus to a certain action made by people. Given the image signs that can mean protest to people can influence the people to join the fight. Given a sexual image to people makes people horny and such. This is done by persuasive effects that are shown by the image to us. And usually, what sparks our interest in getting involve is because we are shown what we can relate to thus we make a move. What I am discussing for this week’s journal is about Rhetoric and Persuasion.

Rhetoric from since antiquity has always been associated with arguments and when applying the rhetoric, usually it is done by using language or verbal. According to Blair (2004), in his book called The Rhetoric of Visual Arguments, “arguments have traditionally been thought of as verbal phenomena”. Thus, many rhetoricians protested that a visual can provide rhetoric. Which can be opposed because our perception of the truth can be influenced also by an image.

For example, the Non-smoking signs in Brunei. When the non-smoking policy was veto in Brunei, people has lessened their smoking activity in public. Of course, this is achieved by imposing the non-smoking signs. What persuades us to stop smoking in public is because we already know the consequences of smoking in public and that is, we get fined for $150 for the first strike and double for second. The threat by the government (if we get caught :p) makes us abide the law because we do not want to waste our money on the government. The sign Non-smoking, even without words, is already legit and it is stuck in our mind about all of the consequences we will get. It is done metaphorically, so to speak.

To prove how the example above can have rhetoric on the audience, let me try to explain it here. According to Blair (2004), he stated that in rhetorics there must be proposition and also an argument. Now, the proposition proposed by the Non-smoking sign is simply, no smoking! From here the argument is that we should not smoke in wherever the sign is imposed or, in Brunei, in public. There is also a deductive reasoning here which has two premises, the major premise is no smoking in public and the minor premise is you will be fined $150. The conclusion here is you will be fined smoking in public. 

In rhetoric as mentioned by Aristotle, has an enthymeme which is the unexpressed feeling or idea of the particular object or in our respect, image. Which for most of the non smoking sign in Brunei is, may I say, sponsored or marked with the Ministry of Health’s logo. Judging from the sign given with the mark of the MOH, the enthymeme here is, do not smoke otherwise you’d get sick. One way or another, with all of the distinctive features in the sign, it is still going to warn you about health. I think, perhaps, proves my point.

In this paragraph, I’m going to try to apply rhetoric on a video. But first lets see the video.

Yeah. Haha! Over dramatic, right? As you can see there were three parts of advert in the video that advertises the same thing, that is, the Cheers Beer. From what you can see (me too) its about being able to achieve something that is considerably important to us. The first video is about holiday from work. Second, is about being able to find a parking spot. And the last advert is about having the last crab. The rhetoric here are that all three of them has a kind of a wise saying always at the end of the video and that is, I quote, “to every little good thing in life”. From what I can interpret in this video is that, Cheers beer can be your friend to cherish every little thing that you have accomplished in your life. Thus, the proposition being offered here is that, drink the beer to cherish accomplishments even little ones. There is also an enthymeme in this video and that is, celebrate your moments with Cheers Beer or hence the name, we can cheer you. What makes it persuasive for me (not that I am a drinker, I am not I swear), I want to feel as good as those people in the video when I achieve something in life. Hence, I can be persuaded.

In conclusion, rhetoric is a tool of persuading people to act or motion to an event. We always are persuaded with things that we consider has some relation to us. Thus, with using the art of rhetoric or persuasion, we can be tempted to do something that has been influenced to us. The strength of rhetoric is the enthymeme or the unexpressed feeling that has been stated but left unexplained makes us confirm ourselves to act to it.


Blair, J.A. (2004). The rhetoric of visual arguments. In hill, C.A., and Helmers, M.H. (eds.). Defining visual rhetorics (pp 41-61). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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