One of the most central issues around rhetoric that I think students should ponder is just how much rhetoric influences us in strong, often unconscious ways. How many times have you been triggered more strongly than you expected by an article or statement or social media post that you disagree with? How often do you find yourself being sucked into a touchy topic and have a deep, overwhelming repulsion or disgust to someone’s actions or statements?
While the human mind is something that is incredibly complex and able to engage in remarkable reasoning, that doesn’t mean humans actually act reasonably. In fact, recent studies have explored just that: with new technology, we can tell that the reasoning parts of the brain often begin to work well after a person has made up his or her mind. In other words, our initial gut feeling about something is what decides our opinion, and our brain goes back and uses reason to defend that response.
As we move towards a topic that is a bit more sensitive, it’s important that we recognize and really think about how people truly are swayed. What impact does this have on your understanding of rhetoric?
In order to pause and truly reflect on your own relationship with rhetoric, begin by reading this
(Links to an external site.)
This will serve as the text for your second response. In roughly 1.5 pages I want you to do two things; 1. summarize briefly what the conversation is saying, and 2. Reflect on how this influences your own understanding of rhetoric. The central question I want you to answer is what convinces me personally in an argument or speech or discussion? Do you agree with what Haidt is describing?