Whence Rhetoric for The Good Life?

Joshua Butcher July 19, 2017

Presented at:
SCL Summer Conference 2017


Most, if not all, classical educators acknowledge the importance of rhetoric in the curriculum of the liberal arts. Many also recognize that the skills of rhetoric are not limited to one or two classes taken on the subject and persuasive writing or public speaking, but are inculcated throughout the education of a child; from getting Jack or Jill up in front of folk to recite Scripture or play the role of Achilles, to their using the tools of language through progymnasmata exercises, to their imitating great writers and speakers of the past and present. Yet when it comes to thinking about formal instruction in rhetoric for one, two, or maybe three years at the end of a child's "high school" education; what ought the rhetoric curriculum offer? By consulting the educational philosophies for rhetorical training among the Greeks, Romans, and Early Christians, modern classical educators can sharpen our conceptions of what a program of rhetorical training can and ought to be. More specifically, I argue that since the practice of rhetoric is inseparable from questions of Truth, Justice, and "the good" in the polis, any educational program of rhetoric in which these matters aren't pervasive throughout undermines the classical foundations of the art.


Education Educators Rhetoric The Good Life


Joshua Butcher

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