Pleasure In Aristotle's Rhetoric '

According to Aristotle, pleasure can be created by certain natural onsets (emotions) that engage a person’s soul. In On Rhetoric near the end of Book 1, Aristotle defines pleasure as “a certain movement of the mind and a collective organization of sensual perception reaching into [an individual’s] fundamental nature” (87). He goes on to say that “movement into a natural state is thus necessarily pleasurable for the most part, and especially whenever a natural process has recovered its own natural state” (87). Aristotle continues with a discussion on how pleasure has many originations; some of the major variables he claims it stems from are changes, desires, habits and memories. All of these variables are considered pleasurable because they …show more content…
He states that “emotions are those things through which, by undergoing change, people come to differ in their judgements and which are accompanied by pain and pleasure, for example, anger, pity, fear, and other such things” (113). He makes the connection between pleasure and emotions by explaining that emotions are a major part of pleasure because they are natural human tendencies. He outlines that focusing on peoples’ emotions is a major factor of rhetoric because emotions give rise to certain desires, which in turn make them pleasurable. Thus, rhetoric through its exploitation of emotions, makes people feel pleasurable, and since all people enjoy pleasure, good rhetoric will employ this technique in order to reach its goal. The first half of Book 2 is largely composed of Aristotle explaining how “the emotions are created and counteracted,” so rhetoricians are able to see how emotions can be generated to give rise to pleasure, and how this process of creation can be utilized in rhetoric (147). His thorough examination of emotions further reiterates his belief that rhetoric is largely psychological. As William Covino states in The Classical Art of Wondering, “Rhetoric […] is an activity at once logical, political, philosophical, and psychological” (25). Aristotle provides many examples to support his claims concerning pleasure and …show more content…
Friendship is an important variable rhetoricians can utilize because it also arouses pleasure. Aristotle describes friends as people who take each other serious, and “find pleasure in them” (126). Additionally, friendship leads to memories, which Aristotle initially points out as a phenomena that leads to pleasure. Therefore, employing the use of the essence of friendship in a speech can prove to be beneficial to speakers, playing on an audience’s emotions and psyche. Aristotle again makes a direct connection with rhetoric, stating that when one has an understanding of how friendship affects the human mind, “then, it is evident that it is possible [for a speaker] both to demonstrate that people are enemies and friends and to make them so when they are not and to refute those claiming to be” (128). Aristotle defines kindliness as “a service to one in need,” and further states that “needs are desires” (137). As stated earlier, desires lead to pleasure. Again, he provides another instance of how this knowledge can be used in rhetoric in order to control and utilize peoples’ pleasure for the benefit of the speaker, stating “it is clear that [speakers] should derive it from these sources, showing that some people either were or had been in such pain and need and that others had performed some such service in time of want or were doing so” in order to

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