Sunday, June 23, 2013

Nibley on Rhetoric

Hugh Nibley was gifted in using words but despised rhetoric in the sense of "the technique of skill of persuading the many." He wrote a number of critiques of rhetoric, with some trenchant lines:

Philosophy plus rhetoric produces Sophistry. "The Old Sophistic," says Philostratus, "considered rhetoric necessary to Philosophy." The man who first most successfully promoted the formal study of rhetoric was that same Gorgias whom the Sophists hailed as the father of their art. By mixing rhetoric with philosophy he turned it to Sophistry, for which offense Plato takes him grimly to task. The charge is that he is turning his talents from the honest search for truth to the business of cultivating appearances. (Hugh Nibley, "Victoriosa Loquacitas," in CWHN 10:245-46).