Philosophy and Persuasion. Critique of the Non-Pragmatic Conception of Philosophical Argumentation
Keywords:Argumentation, Aristotle, Belief, Logos, Peithó, Persuasion, Persuasive, Pistis, Rhetoric
Many philosophers and writers retain that persuasion is an act of communicative deception, is coercive (as to say an act which the recipient is subjected to) and scarcely logical (as to say based on emotional irrationality). Though with careful examination of the Aristotelian texts and with specific references to the concepts of Logos, pistis and peithò, it can be shown that persuasion – the assumption of the possibility of it occurring – is a logical act. It corresponds to a judge’s verdict, to an act of deliberation of a syllogistic choice which is in free acceptance and revision by the judge, of the reasons and arguments developed with rhetorical syllogism (the enthymeme). In addition to this, the recipient of persuasion is not passive but active : the entire argument is built on the basis of the listener’s characteristics, his common views and the argumentative patterns he is most used to and understands better, and the idea that the verdict is the real purpose of the rhetorical act. So long as it can easily mature, it is appropriate to offer enthymemes that are brief and clear. Persuasion therefore comes about in a transparent communicative process, such as in an institutional context in which it is achieved (even if there can be hidden goals that we want to achieve through persuasion and argumentation itself).